Assigned on Briefs October 7, 2014
Direct Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 12-04164 James Lammey, Jr., Judge
Vicki M. Carriker (on appeal) and Michael Scholl and Michael Campbell (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Eric Williams.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Stacy McEndree and Marquis Young, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Camille R. McMullen and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.
NORMA MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE
I. Factual Background
In July 2012, the Shelby County Grand Jury indicted the appellant for first degree premeditated murder in count 1 and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony in count 2. The charges resulted from the shooting of William Frank Yancey.
Mamie Yancey, the victim's mother, testified that in December 2009, the victim was forty-five years old and lived with her on Burgess Drive in Memphis. Ms. Yancey's daughter, grandson, and granddaughter lived with them. On the night of December 18, the victim left home with the appellant. While the victim and the appellant were gone, the appellant's car was at Ms. Yancey's home. The victim returned home after midnight, ate, and talked on the telephone. At some point, Ms. Yancey heard the appellant's car pull into the driveway. She told the victim that someone was there, and the victim went outside. Ms. Yancey did not see the victim alive again.
On cross-examination, defense counsel asked Ms. Yancey if she knew the appellant, and she stated, "I just heard my son call his name." Defense counsel asked if the victim and the appellant were friends, and she answered, "Far as I know they were." She said that when the victim went outside, she did not hear him cursing or arguing with the appellant. She did not know if the victim left with the appellant, and the victim never told her that he was afraid of the appellant.
Marquise Relliford testified that the appellant and the victim lived near his cousin, Shelton Malone, and that he had known both of them for seven or eight years. On December 19, 2009, Malone dropped off Relliford at Chocolate City, a nightclub. Relliford said that the appellant and the victim were there but that he did not see the victim "till we left." Sometime between 2:00 and 3:00 a.m., Relliford left the club with the appellant, the victim, and a man he did not know. The four of them got into a Chevrolet Avalanche with the appellant sitting in the front passenger seat, the victim sitting behind the appellant, and Relliford sitting behind the driver. Relliford said that during the drive, the appellant and the victim began arguing and that the argument was "a little heated." Relliford stated that he told them to stop arguing and that they did so "for a minute." However, the arguing resumed. Relliford said he did not know what they were arguing about and did not want to be in the truck during the argument, so he told the driver to drop him off at Chevron Road and Shelby Drive. The driver dropped off Relliford, and that was the last time Relliford saw the victim alive.
Relliford testified that he had been drinking alcohol "all day" before he got to the club. He said that people consumed alcohol at Chocolate City and that he saw the appellant with "one cup in his hand." However, he never saw the appellant stumble or heard the appellant use slurred speech.
On cross-examination, Relliford testified that he began drinking alcohol about 2:00 p.m. on December 18 and that he consumed seven, twenty-four-ounce cans of beer before he got to the club about 11:00 p.m. He acknowledged that during the drive from the club, the appellant and the victim were intoxicated and extremely angry and that he was concerned their argument would become physical. He also acknowledged that the appellant and the victim were good friends.
Roderick Johnson testified that in December 2009, he lived on Burgess Drive and that the victim lived nearby. On the night of December 18, Johnson hosted a party for his wife at Chocolate City. He invited the victim, whom he had known about four years, and the victim invited the appellant, whom Johnson had known about three years. About 10:00 p.m., the appellant and the victim arrived at Johnson's house and rode with him in his Chevrolet Avalanche to the club. Johnson said that the victim "stayed on the dance floor" and that the appellant "stayed over talking to the other guy [Marquise]" for most of the night. Johnson did not know if they consumed alcohol.
Johnson testified that about 2:00 a.m., he and the victim went outside to leave the club. Johnson told the victim to go inside and get the appellant, and the appellant came out of the club with Marquise Relliford. The appellant expected Johnson to give Relliford a ride home. The victim told the appellant that the appellant should have asked Johnson first because Johnson did not know Relliford, and the appellant and the victim "kind of said a few words to each other." Johnson told the victim that he "didn't have a problem giving [Relliford] a ride."
Johnson testified that the appellant sat in the front passenger seat and that the victim sat directly behind the appellant. During the drive, the appellant and the victim continued to argue about Johnson's having to drive Relliford home. Johnson said that at some point, he dropped off Relliford because "they was arguing so bad" that Relliford wanted out of the truck. Johnson stated that after Relliford got out, the appellant "got out of his seat to turn around to grab Frank in the neck." Johnson grabbed the appellant's arm, and the appellant "turned back around in his seat." The appellant told the victim that he had had enough of the victim's getting into his business and that he was going to do something to the victim. The victim told the appellant that he was not afraid of the appellant and that "go on and do what you got to do." The appellant told the victim, "[W]hen I do something to you, I'm going to make it count."
Johnson testified that when he got to the intersection of Chevron Road and Burgess Drive, he told the appellant and the victim to get out of his truck. Johnson said he drove down the street, turned around, and shined his headlights on the appellant and the victim. The appellant and the victim were pushing each other but stopped and "went to talking." Johnson said he heard the victim tell the appellant that they "needed to stop playing because somebody will eventually get hurt" and that the two men began walking. He said that he assumed they walked to the victim's house and that he drove to his own home. About five or ten minutes later, Johnson heard the appellant's Mustang "drive off." Ten to twenty minutes later, he heard the appellant's car again. During the night, Johnson learned that something had happened between the appellant and the victim. The police showed him a photograph array, and he identified the appellant's photograph.
On cross-examination, Johnson testified that he did not know if the appellant and the victim consumed alcohol or smoked marijuana before they went to the club. Johnson said he took "all kind[s]" of whiskey and liquor to the party and that he saw the appellant and the victim drinking alcohol out of cups. When the four men left the club, nothing indicated to Johnson that the other three had consumed alcohol. Johnson denied that the appellant and the victim were "tussling" in his truck and said that he dropped them off because "neither of them [would] be quiet."
Johnson acknowledged giving a statement to police about 7:00 a.m. on December 19 in which he stated that during the drive home, the appellant "got up several times wanting to hit Frank and I wouldn't let him do it." He also acknowledged telling the police that the appellant and the victim "tussl[ed]." Johnson explained to the jury, "That's [when] Eric got up to choke Frank, . . . and I just grabbed his arm." He acknowledged that he never told the police that the appellant "choked" the victim and said that he "[e]vidently . . . left it out." He stated that the victim never touched the appellant and that the appellant "got up out of his seat to grab Frank and to me they were just playing." Johnson said, "If I had [known] . . . the situation was [as] bad as it was, I never would have dropped both of them off where I dropped them off at . . . . That's why I dropped both of them off. Both of them knew each other before they knew me." Johnson acknowledged that he never told the police that the appellant claimed he was going to "make it count."
Marquez Yancey, the victim's son, testified that in December 2009, he lived on Burgess Drive with the victim; his grandmother, Mamie Yancey; and his aunt. On the night in question, Marquez saw the victim getting ready to go to a party. The victim went to the party with the appellant and "Rod, " who was driving. Marquez said that when the victim returned home, the victim went to the victim's bedroom and was "[l]aying across his bed eating." The appellant knocked on the front door of the home and asked for the victim, so Marquez went to get the victim. He said the appellant and the victim walked into the front yard and appeared to be arguing or "exchanging words." Marquez stood at the window and watched them but could not hear what they were saying. Marquez said he noticed a gun in the appellant's hand but did not think anything of it because "I myself knew Eric. My daddy knew Eric, and I would have never thought that the things that happened would have happened. If I would have thought that, I would have did something different." Marquez saw the appellant and the victim leave in a Mustang.
On cross-examination, Marquez acknowledged that he was surprised about the shooting because the appellant and the victim "hung out together" and were good friends. When Marquez answered the door on December 19, the appellant did not appear to be angry and waited on the front porch while Marquez went to get the victim. The victim went outside, and Marquez heard both of them arguing. Marquez looked outside to see what was going on and saw the appellant holding a shotgun in his right hand. Marquez said that the appellant had his left arm around the victim and that, by that time, they appeared to be "just talking." The men talked for twenty to thirty minutes, got into the Mustang, and left. Marquez stated, "I would say that they were calmed down if my dad is getting in the car with him and they're pulling off together." On redirect examination, Marquez testified that the appellant and the victim were outside about forty minutes.
Candace Maples testified that she knew the victim and the appellant "[f]rom around the neighborhood" and that she had known them since she was a teenager. About 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. on December 18, 2009, Maples began "hanging out" with Shelton Malone and Marquise Relliford. She said that they were "riding around" in Malone's black SUV and that Relliford was not with them the entire time. Malone drove, and Maples sat in the front passenger seat.
Maples testified that at some point, she and Malone ended up at the appellant's house. Malone pulled up behind the appellant's Mustang, and the appellant's porch light was on so that Maples could see into the appellant's car. She said that the appellant was sitting in the driver's seat, that the victim was sitting in the passenger seat, and that "it looked like it was confrontation in the car." Maples saw the appellant using hand gestures and pointing, and the victim was "just looking" at the appellant. Maples said that she heard "a lot of fussing" and that Malone told the victim to get out of the Mustang and get into Malone's SUV. The appellant was "cussing" and said he was tired of the victim "F'ing with him."
Maples testified that the victim got into Malone's vehicle and sat behind her. Maples told the victim that the appellant was crazy, and the victim replied, "[Y]eah, he crazy." Maples said that the appellant's garage was open slightly and that she heard the appellant tell his son to "go get the gun." The appellant's son went into the house and came out with a shotgun. Maples acknowledged that she served in the military, spent time in Iraq, and was familiar with guns. She said that the gun was a twelve-gauge shotgun but that she could not see whether it was a single- or double-barrel shotgun. Maples said the appellant got the gun from his son and was "pacing back and forth, putting the gun in the garage and then getting it. He did that, like, two or three times." Maples said that she got out of Malone's SUV because she "felt like something was going to escalate" and that she asked the appellant's son why he got the gun.
Maples testified that she heard the appellant say twice, "I'm going to kill this [N]." The appellant was standing at the driver's side of Malone's vehicle. She said that the rear door on the driver's side was open and that the appellant was "jugging" the victim's side with the gun. The appellant's wife came outside, and the appellant shot the victim. Maples said that after the shooting, the appellant walked away and was "talking out loud" to himself. She said she heard the appellant say, "I told him to stop F'ing with me."
Maples testified that she went to the driver's side of the SUV. The victim was leaning to his left, and Maples pushed him over. The victim was hot from the gunshot, and blisters formed on Maples' hands from touching the victim. Maples found a pulse in the victim's neck, and Malone began driving them to the hospital. During the drive, the victim did not talk but shook his head. When they arrived at the hospital seven or eight minutes later, Maples could no longer find a pulse. Later that day, the police showed her a photograph array, and she identified the appellant as the shooter.
On cross-examination, Maples acknowledged that she had been drinking alcohol before the shooting. She said that she began drinking beer at 6:00 p.m. and that she continued to drink beer and vodka while she was riding around with Malone and Relliford. However, she denied that she was intoxicated. She said that sometime before the shooting, Malone drove to Chocolate City and dropped off Relliford. Maples said that she did not go into the club and that she saw the appellant in the parking lot.
Maples testified that when Malone pulled up in the appellant's driveway for the second time, the appellant got out of the Mustang, and Malone got out of the SUV. The appellant began telling Malone what was happening and seemed very angry and "hyped." Malone told the victim to get into the SUV and that he would take the victim home. Maples said that when the victim got into the SUV, she got out because she thought something bad was going to happen and did not want to be near the victim.
Maples acknowledged that she gave a statement to the police at 9:48 a.m. on December 19. She also acknowledged telling the police that when she and Malone pulled into the driveway, the appellant said, "[G]et this [N*****] out of this car and take him home." Maples acknowledged telling the police that she and Malone got out of the SUV and tried to calm down the appellant. She said she only remembered getting out of Malone's SUV one time: when the victim got into the vehicle. She also acknowledged that in her statement, she claimed that the appellant told his son to get the "shotgun" and that "they got to arguing again." She said that the appellant was the only person arguing and that the victim "wasn't saying nothing." She said that she saw the appellant shoot the victim but acknowledged that she did not say in her statement that she witnessed the shooting. She also did not say in her statement that she talked to the appellant's son or that the appellant said after the shooting, "I told him to stop F'ing with me." Regarding the inconsistencies between her statement and her testimony, she said that she was in shock when she gave her statement and that "[i]t's a lot of things I'm sure that I didn't tell then that I'm telling now." She noted that the shooting occurred four years before trial and that she "had been drinking then."
On redirect examination, Maples acknowledged that she previously failed to appear in court for a proceeding related to this case and that she was arrested and jailed. She said that the State had not promised her anything in exchange for her testimony and that the State did not tell her what to say. She said she never saw the victim with a weapon or put his hands on the appellant.
Shelton Malone testified that he was thirty-one-years old, that he and Candace Maples used to go to school together, and that he had known her since he was a teenager. Malone had known the victim for more than twenty years and the appellant about ten years, and both of them were older than Malone. On the night of December 18, 2009, Malone was "[j]ust riding around" with Maples and Malone's cousin, Marquise Relliford. At some point, Malone dropped off Relliford at Chocolate City. Neither Malone nor Maples went into the club. Afterward, Malone and Maples continued to ride around. Malone was driving his SUV, and Maples was sitting in the front passenger seat. Malone said that Maples was drinking alcohol but that he was not.
Malone testified that while he was driving on Chevron Road, he saw the appellant's Mustang. The appellant was driving, alone, and speeding. Malone turned around and drove to the appellant's house. He pulled into the driveway behind the Mustang, which was "still running." Malone got out of his SUV and saw the appellant come out of the appellant's house. Malone said he did not remember if the appellant had anything in the appellant's hands. The appellant seemed angry, and Malone tried to talk to him. However, the appellant got into his Mustang and told Malone to let him out of the driveway. Malone backed out the SUV, and the appellant backed out the Mustang. Malone said that he tried to follow the appellant but that the appellant "pulled off too fast."
Malone testified that he took Maples to the store and that they returned to the appellant's house about ten minutes later. The Mustang was in the driveway, and Malone pulled in behind it. He saw two people in the car, and they appeared to be arguing because they were "face-to-face." Malone walked up to the Mustang and saw the appellant sitting in the driver's seat and the victim sitting in the passenger seat. Malone could not figure out what they were arguing about and told the victim to get into the SUV.
Malone testified that he got back into the driver's seat of the SUV and that the victim got into the back seat. The appellant opened the SUV's rear door on the driver's side and said, "Got me F'ed up." The appellant was yelling, cursing, and trying to hit the victim. Malone got out of the SUV and tried to move the appellant away from the vehicle but could not, so he went to the house to get the appellant's wife. Maples remained in the SUV.
Malone testified that he told the appellant's wife to "come get him" and that he saw the appellant poking the victim's side with a shotgun. The appellant's left hand was under the barrel of the gun, and his right hand was "[a]round the trigger." Malone heard Maples say, "You done shot him." Malone went to the SUV and saw that the victim had been shot. Maples climbed from the front seat to the back seat, and Malone ...