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State v. Armstrong

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

February 9, 2015


Assigned on Briefs November 18, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 97491 Steven Wayne Sword, Judge

J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Derick D. Armstrong.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith DeVault, Senior Counsel; Charme Allen, District Attorney General; and Ta Kisha M. Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.



Facts and Procedural History

This case arose when the defendant shot the victim several times. The victim testified that on May 30, 2010, Bear Hines contacted him to see if he was interested in purchasing a set of rims for the tires of his vehicle. The victim drove to Catalpa Avenue to meet with Mr. Hines. Mr. Hines was sitting in the passenger's seat of a vehicle, and the victim approached him to discuss the tires. While the victim was speaking with Mr. Hines, the defendant, with whom the victim was acquainted slightly, emerged from a house and began shouting at the victim, "Where the money at?" The victim explained that he was talking to Mr. Hines, and the defendant continued to shout at the victim and ask him where the money was.

The victim became upset with the defendant and began shouting back at him, and the defendant pulled out a gun. After seeing the gun, the victim began to return to his car, at which point the defendant opened fire. The victim testified that when the defendant began firing, he was standing in a driveway near a gray house. The victim was shot in his arm and abdomen. Realizing that he was wounded and bleeding, the victim attempted to start his car to escape, but the car would not start. The victim believed that a bullet struck the radiator of the car, disabling it, and the hood of his vehicle suffered bullet damage. After the car would not start, the victim ran to the back of the car to shield himself from the gunfire.

The victim believed that he called 911 while hiding behind his car. A man whom the victim knew as "LA" arrived in a pickup truck, and the victim got into the truck. LA offered to take the victim to the hospital, and the victim told LA to drive to the fire department because the fire department had an ambulance and EMT equipment. LA drove to the fire department, where he told a police officer what happened.

Shanese Moore testified that she was visiting her grandparents, who lived on Catalpa Avenue, when she heard "two or three popping noises." She rushed outside and saw the defendant shooting at another individual. She called 911 and told the operator that "[s]omebody's been shot." She provided a description of the shooter to the operator and stated that he "ran up the driveway." Ms. Moore noticed that the defendant was at the end of the driveway belonging to a gray house, and she observed him shoot "maybe two more times" before running back up the driveway. She again called 911 after she witnessed the bloodied victim getting into a truck.

Investigator Lynn E. Clemons, Jr., of the Knoxville Police Department testified that he initially was dispatched to Catalpa Avenue but was redirected to the fire station where the victim was located. When Investigator Clemons arrived at the fire station, the victim was on a stretcher being placed in an ambulance and appeared to be in a great deal of pain. Investigator Clemons briefly spoke with the victim, who told him that "Little Derick" shot him. The use of the defendant's first name helped Investigator Clemons in identifying the defendant as a suspect in the crime. Investigator Clemons later showed the victim a photograph line-up at the hospital containing an older photograph of the defendant, and the victim was unable to identify anyone as the shooter.

The victim was hospitalized for two and a half weeks. The bullet went through the victim's stomach and liver, his gallbladder was removed, and doctors had to "take a section of [his] stomach out and sew it back up." While the victim was hospitalized, Investigator Clemons compared the statements of witnesses to obtain a more accurate description of the defendant, and he discovered that the defendant recently updated his driver's license photograph. The witnesses described the defendant as having longer hair "that looked like dreads" at the time of the offense, a hairstyle depicted in the defendant's driver's license photograph. Investigator Clemons created a second line-up nearly one month later that included the more recent photograph of the defendant, and the victim identified the defendant. Ms. Moore also ...

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