Assigned on Briefs September 3, 2014
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Madison County No. 12-629 Roy B. Morgan, Jr., Judge
Daniel J. Taylor, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Caleb Wayne Dehoog.
Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; James G. (Jerry) Woodall, District Attorney General; and Rolf Hazlehurst, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.
ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE
The defendant was indicted for two counts of attempted aggravated burglary, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated criminal trespass, and one count of unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon, arising out of his appearing at the back door of the victims' house late at night and brandishing a machete.
Steve McRae,  one of the victims, testified that he lived at 311 Harts Bridge Road in Madison County, Tennessee, with his wife, Amy McRae, and their nine-year-old daughter. On April 11, 2012, around 9:45 p.m., he and Amy were watching television in the living room when their dogs started barking and they heard the lawn furniture on their deck being moved. Steve went to check on their daughter, who was watching television in her parents' bedroom, and to retrieve his gun. He went to the back door of the house and looked around, but he did not see anything. He then went to the sliding glass door off the kitchen and stepped out onto the deck. As soon as he stepped outside, the defendant ran toward him wielding a machete over his head. Steve jumped back inside, closed the door, and locked it. The defendant grabbed the door handle and began jerking on the door, while hitting the glass with the machete.
Steve testified that he stepped back and told his wife to call 911. The defendant kept hitting the glass. Steve thought the defendant was going to make it into the house, so he shot at him through the glass door. Steve only fired his gun once, as it jammed after the first shot. He cleared the misfired cartridge and went outside. He looked around but did not see anyone. However, when he got to the other end of the deck, he saw the defendant lying on the ground on his stomach, moaning. Steve monitored the defendant from the deck until the police arrived.
Steve expressed that he was in fear for the lives of him and his family when he saw the defendant running toward him with a machete over his head. Even after he got back inside the house and locked the door, Steve was afraid that the defendant was going to come through the door after them. Steve said that he did not give the defendant permission to be on his property or try to enter his house.
On cross-examination, Steve recalled that, when the defendant came toward the sliding glass door, he was saying something that Steve could not understand and was making animal sounds "like a dog growling when he was coming towards you." He said that the defendant did not appear to be impaired. However, Steve acknowledged that when asked at the preliminary hearing, "'Did he act like he was having mental issues or impaired, '" he responded, "'Impaired a little.'" On redirect, Steve stated that the defendant appeared to know what he was doing during the encounter. On re-cross examination, Steve agreed that the defendant's actions of trying to pull open the sliding glass door and the sounds he was making did not make any sense to him.
Amy McRae testified similarly to her husband. She recalled that the defendant pounded on the sliding glass door with "a large knife in his hand" and an "angry look on his face" as he jerked on the door handle. She said that she did not give the defendant permission to be on their property or attempt to enter their house. She relayed that she was "terrified" during the incident and felt "like something out of a horror movie, [with] that big knife and him banging and trying to get in my home." Amy said that their home was not located close to any neighbors and was down a long driveway from the road. On cross-examination, Amy recalled that the defendant appeared to be "growling or screaming or something of that nature" when he was on the other side of the sliding glass door.
Officer Richard Butler with the Jackson Police Department testified that he was dispatched to a burglary in progress on April 11, 2012, and, while en route, was informed that the suspect had been shot while "actively trying to get into" the victims' home. When the officer arrived, Steve pointed to his gun, which was lying on a chair, and told Officer Butler that the suspect was around the corner. Steve appeared frightened and nervous. Officer Butler walked around the corner and saw the defendant lying on the ground. The defendant tried to raise up, but groaned and fell back down to the ground. He had a large wound to his abdomen, and there was a machete lying beside him. Officer Butler maintained the scene and waited on other officers to arrive.
Officer David Evans with the Jackson Police Department testified that he responded to the scene to collect evidence. Officer Evans collected a machete, an unspent .22 caliber bullet, and a silver house key, all of which were "right in the proximity of where the suspect was lying on the sidewalk." Officer Evans described the machete as having a silver blade, approximately sixteen inches in length, with "a black handle woven, some type of basket weave or fiber woven into the handle." He explained the chain-of-custody for the machete.
Officer Amy Allen, an evidence technician with the Jackson Police Department, further explained the chain-of-custody for the ...