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Flannel v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

December 17, 2014


Assigned on Briefs November 4, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 03-07354 Carolyn W. Blackett, Judge

Eric Mogy, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Leon Flannel.

Robert E. Cooper, Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Paul Hagerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Alan E. Glenn, J., joined.



Leon Flannel ("the Petitioner") appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the trial court erred when it found that the evidence presented at the error coram nobis hearing would not have resulted in a different judgment at trial. We conclude that the statute of limitations bars relief in this case, and even if the petition had been filed timely, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying relief on the merits.

Factual and Procedural Background

On March 23, 2007, [1] a jury convicted the Petitioner for one count of murder in perpetration of a theft and one count of premeditated murder. State v. Leon Flannel, No. W2007-00678-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 4613829, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 13, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. March 23, 2009). The convictions were merged, and the Petitioner was sentenced to life in prison. Id. This Court affirmed the convictions on direct appeal. Id. The Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, and this Court affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief. Leon Flannel v. State, No. W2011-00942-CCA-MR3-PC, 2012 WL 3156599, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 1, 2012).

On July 24, 2013, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for writ of error coram nobis. Counsel was appointed, and an amended petition was filed. In his amended petition, the Petitioner claimed that he was never informed of Dr. Fred Steinberg's, the defense's expert witness, recommendation that the Petitioner may have been able to use diminished capacity as a defense at trial. As his newly discovered evidence, the Petitioner attached a report, written by Dr. Steinberg, which summarizes the expert's findings based on a number of psychological tests he performed on the Petitioner. The Petitioner claimed that he never received copies of the individual tests Dr. Steinberg performed and that those tests were not introduced at trial. Had the tests and their results been introduced at trial, the Petitioner argued that the jury would have been able to conclude that the Petitioner was suffering from diminished capacity and it is likely that the Petitioner would not have been convicted as charged.[2] After a hearing, the trial court denied the petition, and the Petitioner filed a timely appeal.

Trial Proceedings

At trial, the State introduced two different confessions from the Petitioner. The first was a statement the Petitioner gave to the police, which was transcribed and then signed by the Petitioner. Leon Flannel, 2008 WL 4613829, at *3. In this statement, the Petitioner admitted to shooting the victim multiple times after the victim made unwanted sexual advances toward him. Id. He said that the victim had previously shown him a gun that the victim kept on a dresser. Id. The Petitioner asked the victim if he could see the gun, and after the victim handed the Petitioner the firearm, the Petitioner "put [as] many holes as I could put in him." Id. The Petitioner left the scene with the victim's keys and cell phone, but he threw them away in a field next to a gas station. Id.

The State also introduced a three-page letter, which indicated the Petitioner was the author. Id. at *4. In that letter, the Petitioner said that he had accompanied the victim to the victim's house. Id. They drank a "few beers, " and the victim fell asleep. Id. The Petitioner found the gun, woke up the victim, and robbed him. Id. When the victim told the Petitioner that he did not have any money, the Petitioner "hit him six times in the head" and took the victim's wallet, the little money he had, his watch, and his cell phone. Id. The Petitioner called Keeiyona Hill and told her that he was about to kill the victim, but in the letter, the Petitioner admits that, at the time he called Ms. Hill, the victim was already dead. Id.

Dr. Steinberg testified at trial as the defense's expert witness. On direct appeal, this Court ...

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