Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs March 25, 2015
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2012-C-2652 Monte Watkins, Judge
Frank McLeod (at trial) and Richard C. Strong (on appeal), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Davidson Hamby, Jr.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Victor S. Johnson, District Attorney General; and Hugh Ammerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.
JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On July 8, 2012, the defendant struck his ex-girlfriend in a parking lot and forced her to come upstairs and into his apartment against her will. He was subsequently arrested and remained in jail, where he committed numerous disciplinary infractions, including flooding his cell and throwing feces.
On the morning of the October 14, 2013 trial, the defendant refused to come to the courtroom or participate in the trial. In the course of arguments about the feasibility of ordering the defendant's appearance, the prosecution suggested the defendant was obstructing the judicial process, citing a phone conversation before an earlier court date where the defendant had told a relative, "I know how to get this thing continued for a month or so." The prosecution also stated for the record that the defendant had been evaluated by a mental health professional and found "competent and sane." Defense counsel agreed that the defendant had been evaluated but requested a further mental examination, asserting that "[i]n light of this new episode by [the defendant], he needs to be re-evaluated." During the discussion regarding the forced appearance of the defendant, defense counsel referenced the defendant's history of mental illness but stated that the defendant had consulted with him the previous day about trial strategy and had decided to waive his right to a jury trial by asking the judge to try his case. The trial court noted that the defendant could have been referring to new legal representation in the comment regarding a continuance. The court questioned whether it could "override medical staff, with regard to ordering one to appear in a particular place." Before taking a recess, the trial court found that the defendant had been "quite lucid and … understood everything" at a court appearance approximately two weeks prior to the trial.
The record does not reflect any concrete details regarding the events of the morning nor does it reveal the manner in which the defendant's initial refusal to participate was resolved. The transcript merely resumes with the appearance of the defendant, who waived his right to a jury trial, and with the presentation of evidence.
The victim, Melissa McComb, testified that she had a history of crack addiction after losing a child in 1993. The defendant was her ex-boyfriend, and they had spent some time at a motel together a few weeks prior to July 8, 2012, but at the time of the crime, they were no longer romantically involved.
The victim had been smoking crack with Peter York, a friend, the night before the July 8, 2012 kidnapping. That morning, they were planning to do drugs, and she and the defendant had been exchanging text messages. Mr. York and the victim picked the defendant up off the street in front of his apartment complex. Both the victim and the defendant bought drugs. The victim testified that on the way to the defendant's apartment, she was in the back seat and the defendant was in the passenger's seat of the two-door vehicle. As they approached the defendant's apartment, the defendant kept asking her if she was coming in, but she did not respond because she did not want to go in or to anger him by refusing to go. When they arrived, she got out of the back of the car so that she could get into the front seat. The defendant accused her of having a relationship with Mr. York. The victim refused to go into the defendant's apartment. After her refusal, the defendant struck her in the face, grabbed her arm, and began to walk up to his apartment with her. She could taste blood after the defendant hit her. The victim testified she wanted to leave but was afraid he would hit her again if she broke away.
When they entered the apartment, the defendant showed her a ten- to eleven-inch knife, and she saw a larger knife under the couch. They went to the bedroom, she produced the crack, and they smoked it. The victim testified that the defendant forced her to remain in the apartment but did not force her to smoke crack. The victim later heard a knocking at the door, and the defendant looked outside and said it was the police. He walked her into the bathroom, opened the shower curtain, and told her to get in the bathtub and be quiet. The victim overheard him tell officers that no one else was there, and she coughed loudly in the hope of being heard.
Mr. York confirmed that he and the victim had been together prior to the kidnapping, doing drugs. However, Mr. York denied being under the influence of drugs at the time of the offense. Mr. York testified that he and the victim had been in contact with the defendant by phone and that they then picked him up. They made two stops, and the "main outcome" was to "score drugs." Mr. York testified that the purpose of contacting the defendant was not to acquire drugs and that Mr. York could get his own drugs. According to Mr. York, the victim was in the passenger's seat and the defendant in the back seat. When they pulled into the defendant's parking lot to drop him off, the victim did not want to get out. Mr. York testified he did not want the victim to go with the defendant because the defendant had threatened to kill her. The victim raised the car seat to allow the defendant to get out. Mr. York testified that the defendant went out through the passenger's ...