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State v. Martin

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

February 10, 2015


Assigned on Briefs November 4, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 11-05719 Chris Craft, Judge.

Lance R. Chism (on appeal) and Paul K. Guibao (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rhakim Martin.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Alexia Crump, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., joined. Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., Not Participating.




This case arises out of the carjacking of the victim, Christie Currie, on May 22, 2011, when she drove by her boyfriend's house to check his mailbox for him.

Motion to Suppress

Prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion to suppress the victim's photographic identification of him, asserting that it should be suppressed because the victim viewed his photograph in an online database of jail inmates prior to making the identification at the police station.

At the hearing, Detective Phillip Gooch, with the City of Bartlett Police Department, testified that he was assigned to the FBI Safe Streets Task Force on May 22, 2011, investigating violent crimes. On that date, he interviewed the victim of a carjacking, who relayed that she was inside her Toyota Camry reaching out to the check the mail when a man approached her. The victim told him that the man came up behind her, held her at gunpoint, took her purse, and demanded that she exit the vehicle. The man then entered the vehicle and drove off. Detective Gooch recalled that a suspect was eventually developed when the victim's vehicle was involved in a traffic crash. The victim's vehicle was unoccupied when it was located, but an officer found traffic citations in the defendant's name inside the vehicle. A "very short time later, " the officer recognized the defendant in the area of the crash, and the defendant was taken into custody.

Detective Gooch testified that he was notified that the defendant was in custody and, on June 14, 2011, asked his partner to prepare a photographic array containing the defendant's photograph to show the victim. Before viewing the array, Detective Gooch explained to the victim that the carjacker may or may not be included in the array. When shown the array, the victim "immediately" identified the defendant as the carjacker. The victim circled the defendant's photograph and wrote, "This is the guy that carjacked me on 5/22/11 at gunpoint."

Detective Gooch testified that before he showed the victim the array, she told him that "once she was notified by the police that her car had been located, she got online to the Shelby County Who's In Jail website and . . . began clicking through recent bookings and that while doing that she had seen the person that carjacked her." Detective Gooch said that he never told the victim to look on the website and was not present when she did so. Detective Gooch explained that the website was

designed for the public, you can enter a defendant's name if you know their name. I believe you can search for one by booking number, or you can just click on a tab and there's a recent bookings tab. And it has just a list of names and booking number. It doesn't show the charge on that screen. But it's just names, booking numbers, dates, and times and it lists all the inmates that have been booked in the Shelby County jail, I think males and females. There's dozens of photographs. I think every inmate for the last 48 or 72 hours or some time period like that is under that tab.

On cross-examination, Detective Gooch admitted that he noted in his supplement that the victim reported that she had gone onto the website and saw the carjacker's photograph on the day she went to the police station to view the array. However, he clarified that he was not actually sure when the victim viewed the website and did not know when she was notified that her car had been recovered. The detective stated that the defendant's jail booking photograph had been used in the array.

The victim testified that she was called and informed that her car had been recovered and was asked to come in and view an array of possible suspects. She was not told whether anyone had been arrested in regards to the recovery of her car. She said that she had viewed the "Who's In Jail" website before she was called and asked to come to the police station to view the array. She explained that she had been regularly checking the website since the time of the carjacking. Prior to viewing the array, the victim told the officers that she "went online and was just clicking different names until [she] s[aw] the person that carjacked [her]."

The victim testified that she looked at the website on her own initiative and that no one was present when she viewed the website telling her whom to pick. When she picked the defendant out of the array at the police station, she did so because "that was the person who carjacked [her], " and she was positive of her identification. The detective did not tell her that a photograph of the person who carjacked her would be in the array.

The victim testified that, when she looked at the website, she clicked on "maybe six" photographs before she saw the person who carjacked her. She was never told that the perpetrator had been arrested. She said that she looked online and saw the perpetrator's photograph "[n]o more than a day" before being called to come in and view an array. The victim stated that the online photograph of the person she recognized as the perpetrator did not tell her the offense for which the person was arrested. She explained that she started looking at the photographs from the top of the list but narrowed her search based on the arrestee's date of birth, elaborating, "Of course I looked at the date of birth. I'm not going to pick anyone that's date is 1969 or nothing like that because it wasn't an older person. So that narrowed it down looking at the date of birth."


At trial, the victim testified that, around 8:30 p.m. on May 22, 2011, she drove her 2011 Toyota Camry to her boyfriend's house to check his mail. When she pulled up to the mailbox, she rolled down the window and stuck her hand in the box. As she did so, a man, later identified as the defendant, came up behind her, put a gun to the back of her head, and told her to give him everything she had. The victim reached over for her purse, and the defendant "came around and told [her] to get out of the car." She noticed that the defendant was on a bicycle. The victim got out of the car and ran to a neighbor's house. While waiting for the neighbor to answer the door, the victim looked back down the street and saw the defendant sitting in the driver's seat of her car and another man "loading the bike in [her] car." She was able to see inside the car "because the lights were on because the door was open."

The victim testified that, at the time of the carjacking, it was not yet dark outside but "was getting dark." There was a street light across the street and one between the two houses. The lighting was good, and the victim could see clearly. She described the gun the defendant pointed at her as a black automatic. She recalled that the defendant came around from behind her so that she could see him, and he stood about six feet away as he pointed the gun in her face and told her to get out of the car. She looked at the defendant and the gun for about fifteen seconds. The victim was "terrified" and afraid that she was "going to die or be shot." She had her purse, containing her phone, driver's license, and social security card, in the car and that was taken with the car.

The victim testified that, once inside the neighbor's house, the neighbor called the police to report the incident. In describing the perpetrator to the police, the victim said that he was wearing a black shirt and dark pants and was "young seventeen to twenty, dark skin, no facial hair, long hair cut, and I'd say he had like beady eyes." She reiterated that he had distinctive, "beady eyes." She said that about three weeks later, on June 14, 2011, a detective called and asked her to come to the police station to view a photographic array. She was given a form that explained the process of selecting someone from an array, and then was shown the array. She identified the defendant in the array and was 100% sure that he was the carjacker. She said that she picked the defendant from the array because he was "the person who did it and [she] was sure of it."

The victim testified that between the time of the carjacking and when she was notified that her car had been found, she visited a website called "Shelby County who was in jail" a few times. The website displayed photographs of inmates, and the victim thought that she could identify the carjacker if she saw a photograph of him "[b]ecause [she] never forgot his face." She looked at the inmates' birth dates to decide which photographs to view. The victim clicked on five to seven photographs before she saw the defendant's photograph. She recognized the defendant as the carjacker, but the website did not tell her what the defendant had been arrested for or charged with. When she met with Detective Gooch to view the array, she told him that she had looked on the website and found the perpetrator. However, she said that she picked the defendant out of the array because "that was who did it, " not because she had seen his photograph on the website. The victim was adamant that she saw the defendant's photograph on the website before she was called and asked to come in to view an array.

Officer Alex Hudson with the Memphis Police Department testified that he was patrolling in the Frayser area on June 14, 2011, around 2:00 a.m. when he saw a black Toyota Camry coming at him on the wrong side of the road. He pulled over, and the car drove by him at a high rate of speed. He could not see the driver of the car because the car was traveling too fast. He turned around to follow the car and found it "empty wrecked out" at the gate of an apartment complex. Officer Hudson ran the VIN number on the car in order to tow it and discovered that it had been carjacked. He also ran the license plate number and discovered that it belonged to another Toyota Camry. Inside the car, Officer Hudson found two cell phones and two traffic tickets in the front console. Both tickets had been issued to the defendant. He ran the defendant's driver's license number, which was on the tickets, and obtained a photograph of the defendant.

Officer Hudson testified that about fifteen to twenty minutes after he began inventorying the Camry, he saw a Chrysler Concord coming out of the apartment complex. He and another officer at the scene saw that the vehicle had an expired license plate, so they stopped the vehicle. Officer Hudson recognized the defendant, who was driving the Concord, as the same person to whom the tickets in the black Camry had been issued. There were two other people in the vehicle with him. When Officer Hudson asked the defendant about the black Camry, he said that he had been driving the car and that he got it from his cousin, Terrence Butts. The defendant was taken into custody.

Officer Michael Spearman, a crime scene investigator with the Memphis Police Department, testified that he processed the black Toyota Camry on June 14, 2011. Officer Spearman took photographs of the vehicle and collected property from inside it, which he tagged into evidence. He dusted the car and two traffic tickets found inside it for fingerprints. He found no fingerprints on the vehicle but collected latent prints on the traffic tickets, which he sent for analysis.

Officer Christopher Parker with the Memphis Police Department identified a traffic citation that he issued to the defendant on May 30, 2011. The vehicle the defendant was driving at the time was a four-door Toyota Camry.

Officer Laneeze Stepney, also with the Memphis Police Department, identified a traffic citation that he issued to the defendant on June 7, 2011. The defendant was driving a black four-door Toyota Camry at the time of the stop.

Robert Winston, a latent print examiner with the Memphis Police Department, testified that he received various prints from the victim's Toyota Camry to analyze on June 14, 2011. Winston determined that a palm print and fingerprint lifted from the outside of the driver's side door belonged to Terry Jacobs. Two fingerprints lifted from the passenger side vent window and one palm print from a piece of paper in the car belonged to Quintrell Earl Austin. A final print found on one of the traffic tickets belonged to Officer Hudson. None of the prints lifted from the car matched the defendant's.

Special Agent Thomas Zimmer with the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the "criminal investigative arm of the insurance industry, " testified that his office's records indicated that the Memphis Police Department received a complaint on May 22, 2011, that the black Camry had been taken in a carjacking and that the victim reported the carjacking to her insurance company.

Detective Phillip Gooch with the City of Bartlett Police Department testified that he was assigned to the case the day after the carjacking. Detective Gooch interviewed the victim, and she gave him a description of the two suspects involved in the crime. She described the perpetrators as "black males, one of them a darker complexion, one of them a medium complexion. She guessed that their age was approximately seventeen to twenty." The victim told Detective Gooch that she saw one of the perpetrators "very well." This individual was the darker-complexioned of the two, had no facial hair, was wearing dark clothes, and was armed with a dark-colored handgun.

Detective Gooch testified that he was notified that the victim's vehicle had been found on June 14, 2011. He explained how the defendant was developed as a suspect:

Just before the vehicle was recovered the Memphis Police Uniformed Officers had seen the vehicle and the vehicle became involved in some type of traffic crash. The driver of the Camry at that time fled the scene and the Memphis Police Officers found two traffic ...

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