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State v. Dotson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 31, 2015


Assigned on Briefs December 9, 2014

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Williamson County No. ICR016169 Michael Binkley, Judge

Dana M. Ausbrooks, Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carl C. Dotson.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Alcock, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; Kelly Lawrence and Nicole Douche, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Thomas T. Woodall, P. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.



I. Background

Susan Winn testified that she lived at 3809 Perkins Road in Thompson's Station. On July 28, 2011, at approximately 11:00 to 11:30 p.m. Mrs. Winn heard a noise that she thought was one of her sons coming home. The next morning Mrs. Winn's husband woke her up and informed her that there was a car in the woods near the house. Mrs. Winn went out and looked inside the car to verify that no one was inside of it. She noted that the car appeared to be a "family" vehicle, and she found it strange that no one came to her door after the accident.

Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Trooper Chris Copeland responded to the scene at 3809 Perkins Road at approximately 7:29 a.m. on July 29, 2011. He observed a silver Volvo station wagon "off in the woods, no one around the vehicle." Trooper Copeland noted that there were "track marks coming from the roadway through a yard, across the driveway and off into the woods, " and the vehicle was damaged. There was also a "Bud Light" container at the scene. He later had the vehicle towed to a secure lot.

James Wolff testified that he had left his silver 2001 Volvo V70 station wagon at Veach's Automotive Repair located near the Factory in Franklin on July 28, 2011, to have a sensor repaired. Mr. Wolff noted that he drove the car regularly and that it was well maintained and in good or above average condition. He testified that the business was closed when he left the vehicle, and he placed his keys in the "drop box." Mr. Wolff called Veach's Automotive on July 29, 2011, to inquire about his car. Mr. Veach informed Mr. Wolff that he could not locate the Volvo or the keys to the vehicle. Mr. Wolff and his wife then drove to Veach's Automotive Repair to check on the vehicle's whereabouts. They could not locate the car or the keys. Mr. Wolff then called police, and an officer arrived at Veach's Automotive Repair and took a report on the missing vehicle.

Mr. Wolff testified that he next saw his car a few days later at an impound lot on Columbia Avenue in Franklin. He said that the vehicle was "pretty messed up, " and his wife did not recognize it. Mr. Wolff testified that his insurance company classified the car as totaled and valued the vehicle at $6, 700. After the deductible, he received a check for $6, 200. Mr. Wolff testified that he did not know Defendant, and he never gave Defendant permission to drive his vehicle.

Officer Scott Savage of the Franklin Police Department testified that he responded to a call at Veach's Automotive Repair on July 29, 2011, regarding the theft of a vehicle. He spoke with Mr. Wolff and took a report on a silver Volvo V70. Officer Savage then entered information from the stolen vehicle into the National Crime Information Center ( N.C. I.C.). He later notified Mr. Wolff that the vehicle had been located by Trooper Copeland and towed to Crafton's tow yard located on Columbia Avenue in Franklin. Officer Savage noted that the vehicle was damaged, and the airbags had been deployed. He also noticed a "slight odor of alcohol" from the inside of the vehicle while he was standing outside the vehicle.

Detective Chad Pace of the Franklin Police Department was assigned to investigate the theft of Mr. Wolff's vehicle. He drove to the accident site and spoke with Mrs. Winn. She advised him where the vehicle had been located, and she told him about the noise that she heard at approximately 11:00 p.m. the night before the vehicle was found. Detective Pace found a black tee shirt at the crash site which read "31 South Grill, " a pair of mirrored or chrome aviator style sunglasses, a Bud Light beer can, and an "opened and used" 18-pack of Bud Light. Inside the Bud Light carton Detective Pace found a pay stub from United Carbide Industries, Incorporated that bore Defendant's name. He noted that United Carbide Industries was located across the street from Veach's Automotive Repair.

Detective Pace next drove to Crafton's tow lot and observed Mr. Wolff's car. Inside the vehicle, Detective Pace found a note written by Mr. Wolff to Mr. Veach concerning the vehicle not being able to pass the emissions test. He also found a second check stub from United Carbide Industries that bore Defendant's name. Based on the pay stubs, Detective Pace began looking for Defendant. He drove to United Carbide and found Defendant working there. Defendant had a black eye, and there were scratches on his face. ...

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