Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs January 22, 2015
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Hamilton County No. 286972 Barry A. Steelman, Judge
Chris Dixon, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dewayne Lee Williams.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Assistant Attorney General; William H. Cox III, District Attorney General; and Amanda Morrison, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.
ROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE
On September 15, 2010, the Defendant pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary in case number 271899 and received a four-year sentence to be served on probation. On November 15, 2011, a probation violation report was filed alleging the Defendant was arrested for multiple charges including aggravated burglary and vandalism. The report also alleged that the Defendant failed to "provide required documentation to his Officers" and to pay supervision fees and restitution and that he absconded from supervision. Following a probation revocation hearing on May 21, 2013, the trial court ordered the Defendant to return to probation after serving eleven months and twenty-nine days in confinement. Also on May 21, 2013, the Defendant pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and to vandalism in the present case and was sentenced to an effective three years to be served on probation after serving eleven months and twenty-nine days in confinement. The court also ordered that the Defendant have no contact with the victim, Sharika Jones, and that the sentence run consecutively to his sentence in case number 271899.
On January 7, 2014, a probation violation report was filed alleging that on December 18, 2013, the Defendant and Antonio Nichols were charged with aggravated burglary, vandalism, and malicious mischief for attempting to break into the residence of Byron and Alisha Morgan. The affidavit of complaint states that Ms. Morgan was home at the time, that she called 9-1-1, and that she reported the suspects were attempting to enter her home through the front door. Ms. Morgan reported that she heard banging on the door, that she became scared, and that she locked herself in her bedroom and called the police. The investigating officer noted in the affidavit of complaint that the front door handle was broken but that it had not been broken earlier that day. The report also alleged that the Defendant was $400 in arrears in supervision fees and had not made any payments since February 11, 2011.
At the probation revocation hearing, the parties stipulated that Mr. and Ms. Morgan were present at the preliminary hearing relative to the new criminal charges but that neither could identify the Defendant as one of the men attempting to break into their home. The prosecutor told the trial court that because the victims could not identify the Defendant and because Investigator Michael Early was unable to attend the preliminary hearing, the charges were dismissed by the State in the general sessions court. The prosecutor explained that the case would later be presented to the grand jury.
Chattanooga Police Officer Jeff Lancaster testified that on the night in question, he responded to a burglary-in-progress call. The caller told the 9-1-1 dispatcher that someone was beating on her door and that it sounded as though "they" were attempting to open the door. When Officer Lancaster arrived at the scene, other police officers were "dealing with" two people inside a white Ford Crown Victoria parked in front of the home. He entered the home and spoke with the "juvenile female" who lived there. He identified the Defendant as the driver of the parked car outside the house and said Antonio Nichols was in the passenger seat.
Officer Lancaster testified that he attended court on the day the preliminary hearing was scheduled but that Investigator Early was unable to attend the hearing. He stated that because the victim who was home at the time of the incident could not identify the Defendant, the case was dismissed.
On cross-examination, Officer Lancaster testified that he arrived at the scene about three or four minutes after the 9-1-1 call. He said the Crown Victoria was parked toward the right side of the front yard, not directly in front of the house. He agreed that police dispatch did not provide information about the suspects or their vehicle. Sergeant Burns was the first officer at the scene and saw the Crown Victoria parked along the road in front of the residence.
Officer Lancaster testified that his investigation showed the handle to the front glass door was broken and removed from the door. He said Officer Clay found the handle in the side yard. Officer Lancaster did not recall seeing damage to the main door, and he did not know if the glass door was locked. He briefly spoke to the Defendant and Mr. Nichols but did not question them about the incident.
On redirect examination, Officer Lancaster testified that Investigator Early was called to the scene and interviewed the Defendant. On recross-examination, he stated that the Crown ...