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State v. Grambling

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

February 12, 2015


Assigned on Briefs September 16, 2014

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Blount County No. C-21571 Tammy Harrington, Judge

Mack Garner, Maryville, Tennessee (at trial), and J. Liddell Kirk, Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, Thearon Antonio Grambling.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; Michael L. Flynn, District Attorney General; and Clinton E. Frazier, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Roger A. Page and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.



I. Factual Background

At trial, the victim testified that she lived in Ohio with her mother until June 2011 when her mother decided to go to Florida with her boyfriend. During the drive to Florida, her mother decided to leave the victim with the appellant, the victim's father, in Blount County. Before she came to Blount County, the victim had little interaction with the appellant. She said that she expected to stay with the appellant for five or six weeks.

The victim said that in early August, her older brother went to live with their mother in Florida. Her mother's boyfriend did not want to share a home with the children, and she refused to let the victim live with her. Therefore, the victim had to stay with the appellant. The victim said that her mother's abandonment upset and depressed her.

On August 5, 2011, the victim went with the appellant to Kentucky so he could buy Four Loko, an alcoholic beverage that was not available in Tennessee. When they returned to the appellant's apartment, they sat in the living room, drinking the Four Loko and smoking marijuana. The victim, who was wearing basketball shorts and a tank top, announced that she wanted to go to bed. The appellant got angry because she "wasn't drinking it all or whatever." She finished her drink and consumed some of his beverage then went into her bedroom to change into pajamas. She thought someone was following her but decided she was being paranoid because she was "high."

The victim said that when she bent over to remove her panties, she saw the appellant's foot behind her. She turned around to ask what he was doing. The appellant "wrestled" her to the floor, held her legs down, and licked her vagina. The victim attempted to crawl away, but the appellant grabbed her legs and pulled her back toward him. He put his weight on her back to prevent her from moving then penetrated her vagina with his penis. Afterward, the appellant got up and walked out of the room, pulling on his clothes. The victim got up, shut the door, and locked it. She put her clothes back on, crawled into bed, and eventually fell asleep.

The victim said that the next morning, the appellant came to her door and told her he was going to work and would return later. The victim remained in bed, pretending to be asleep. After she heard the appellant's car leave, she took a shower, put on the clothes she was wearing the night before, and went outside to borrow a telephone. She did not see anyone nearby, so she went to the manager's officer and knocked on the door but got no response. She returned to the apartment and tried to use the appellant's computer, but it was "unhooked." The victim said that the appellant did not have a home telephone and that she believed he had taken her cellular telephone.

The victim said that she did not know the appellant's address, so she took a piece of mail and left the apartment. She walked down the street, found a family that was having a yard sale, and obtained permission to use their telephone to call the police. The police responded and transported her to the Child Advocacy Center (CAC). She was interviewed, and a sexual assault examination was performed. Thereafter, the victim was remanded into the State's custody and taken to the Holston Group Home.

On cross-examination, the victim said that she had not seen her father much before she moved to Tennessee. She acknowledged that while living in Ohio, she had used drugs and alcohol and sometimes "bumped heads" with her mother. She said that as they were driving from Ohio to Florida, her mother made a "spur of the moment" decision to take her to Blount County to visit her father. The victim did not ...

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