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State v. Kirkland

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

December 11, 2014


Session: August 19, 2014.

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Blount County No. C20685 Tammy Harrington, Judge.

Steven B. Ward, Madisonville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Janice Kirkland.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner and John H. Bledsoe, Assistant Attorneys General; Mike Flynn, District Attorney General; and Betsy Smith, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Robert L. Jones, Sp.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Camille McMullen, JJ., joined.



I. Procedural History and Facts

At approximately 4:00 on the morning of October 19, 2011, Brett Lindsey and his wife awoke to the sound of someone shouting and pounding on their front door. Thinking it was his aunt, Mr. Lindsey opened the door and found instead a stranger standing on his porch. The woman was the Appellant, Janice Kirkland. Stepping close to Mr. Lindsey and pointing her finger in his face, she shouted a stream of curses and threats about Mr. Lindsey's brother and his brother's Senate campaign. Mr. Lindsey neither has a brother nor knew anyone involved in a campaign for the Senate. After telling his wife to call 911, Mr. Lindsey stepped outside, locking the door behind him.

Mr. Lindsey testified that he tried without success to convince the Appellant that she had made a mistake. He asked repeatedly that she leave his property. The Appellant continued to berate and threaten Mr. Lindsey, saying that she would kill him and make his family suffer. Stepping off the porch into the rain, Mr. Lindsey attempted to shepherd the Appellant away from his home and family and toward her car, which was parked in the driveway. As he did so, the Appellant began "rummaging" through her purse as if looking for something. Based on her threats and behavior, Mr. Lindsey feared that she might have a gun in the bag. He reached his hands out over the Appellant's, not touching her, but prepared to stop her if she did pull a gun. The Appellant then punched him in the face, hitting him on the cheekbone. At that point, Mr. Lindsey grabbed the purse, pulling the Appellant off balance and causing her to fall. Several pill bottles spilled from the purse onto the ground in the scuffle. Mr. Lindsey picked them up and dropped them back into the purse. He did not put his hand in the purse or look inside it. He testified that he was afraid the Appellant might have hypodermic needles inside, and he did not want to "get stuck with anything."

The Appellant demanded that Mr. Lindsey return her purse. To get her as far away from his family as possible, Mr. Lindsey walked to the end of his driveway. The Appellant followed, still insisting that he return her purse. When they reached the street, Mr. Lindsey stood at the end of the drive and waited for the police.

Sergeant Chad Simpson of the Maryville Police Department testified that when he arrived at the Lindsey home at approximately 4:30 a.m., he saw Mr. Lindsey standing in the rain wearing only a white t-shirt and boxer shorts. The Appellant sat on the opposite side of the driveway from Mr. Lindsey. Because radio dispatch had reported that a woman caused the disturbance, Sergeant Simpson spoke with the Appellant first. He asked if she would like to sit in his patrol car to get out of the heavy rain. He explained that Maryville Police Department policy required anyone placed in the back of a patrol car to be handcuffed. The Appellant agreed to the restraints. Sergeant Simpson testified that the Appellant was "a little bit out of control, irate, upset, mad ... [and] loud." She told him that Mr. Lindsey had taken her purse and that he was hiding her sister in his house. She also told the officer that she had hit Mr. Lindsey.

Sergeant Simpson testified that Mr. Lindsey was polite, fairly calm, and "a little relieved" that Sergeant Simpson was there. He gave Sergeant Simpson the Appellant's purse. Mr. Lindsey corroborated the Appellant's admission that she had hit him, and Sergeant Simpson noticed a red mark on Mr. Lindsey's cheek that seemed to confirm both statements.

Sergeant Simpson testified that the Appellant's purse was "really heavy." When he looked inside, he found a revolver loaded with "four rounds of .38 special ammo." Sergeant Simpson placed the purse and the gun in the trunk of his patrol car to be deposited in the evidence locker at the Maryville Police Department.

By this time, another officer had arrived on the scene. Leaving the second officer to watch the Appellant, Sergeant Simpson went into the house with Mr. Lindsey. After speaking further with Mr. Lindsey and his family and ascertaining that the Appellant's ...

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