Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Session June 17, 2014
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2011C2451 J. Randall Wyatt, Jr., Judge
David A. Collins (on appeal) and Jeffrey Thomas Daigle (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Craig Patrick Hebert.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Victor S. Johnson, III, District Attorney General; and Brian Ewald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
J. Robert Carter, Jr., Sp. J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Roger A. Page, JJ., joined.
J. ROBERT CARTER, JR., SPECIAL JUDGE
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
The defendant was indicted for a single count of aggravated assault arising out of an incident at Southern Thrift Store in Nashville, Tennessee on March 14, 2011.
At trial, the victim, Sandra Dodson, testified that she was the assistant manager at the store on the day in question. Ms. Dodson testified that store policy dictated that the doors be locked at closing time, which in this case was 6:30 p.m. She further testified that the defendant entered the store at closing time or shortly thereafter. Another store employee, Tyrese Buggs, told the defendant that the store was closed, to which the defendant responded, "not by my clock." After being repeatedly told that the store was closed, the defendant became angry and demanded that the employees call their district manager. Ms. Dodson testified that while she was on the telephone with her district manager, the defendant began circling her, cursing her, and threatening to sue the store. Upon a recommendation from her manager, she activated a silent alarm that summoned the police.
Ms. Dodson described feeling threatened by the defendant as a result of his continued yelling and cursing. The defendant left the store but returned and threatened Mr. Buggs with violence. After finally leaving the store, the defendant got into a pick-up truck to leave. Ms. Dodson testified that she went to the parking lot and attempted to write down the license number of the vehicle. She testified that at this time, the defendant told her that he would run over her if she attempted to obtain the tag number. The defendant began backing his truck toward Ms. Dodson, and she had to run out into a lane of traffic to avoid being struck by the defendant's truck. Ms. Dodson testified that she was scared because she was almost hit by a car traveling down the road.
Ms. Dodson testified that the events inside the store were captured by a surveillance camera but that it did not record sound. The events in the parking lot were not covered in the security video.
Tyrese Buggs testified that he was present when the defendant came in the store and would not leave. Mr. Buggs described the defendant as irate and testified that the defendant kept trying to goad him into coming into the parking lot to fight. Mr. Buggs observed Ms. Dodson's attempt to get the license number from the defendant's vehicle and witnessed the defendant backing up toward her in the truck. He testified that Ms. Dodson ran all the way into traffic in an effort to avoid the defendant's truck.
Detective Adam Weeks testified that approximately a week after the incident, he reviewed the security video with Ms. Dodson. He testified that it contained no sound and showed only the events inside the store. His understanding was that the offense in question occurred in the parking lot. He spoke with the defendant at some point, who described being upset as a result of what he considered the "early closing" of the store and agreed everything began to escalate after that initial encounter. Detective Weeks testified that he did not obtain a copy of the video but thought that the store retained a copy. Following the testimony of Detective Weeks, the State rested.
The defendant testified that he arrived at the store and was told that it was closed. He agreed that there was an argument that escalated into shouting. The defendant testified that he left the store and that Ms. Dodson followed him out and went toward the rear of his vehicle. He denied that she was ever directly behind his truck or that he in any way forced ...