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Todd v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

May 6, 2015

JAMES TODD
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

Session Date: March 3, 2015

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 07-00075 James M. Lammey, Judge

Marvin Adams III (on appeal and at hearing), Larry Copeland and Samuel Rodriguez (at hearing), Germantown, Tennessee, for the petitioner, James Todd.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Amy Weirich, District Attorney General; and Bryce Phillips, Assistant District Attorney General, for the respondent, State of Tennessee.

Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

OPINION

TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE

Procedural Background

This is an appeal from the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of Petitioner's petition for post-conviction relief.

On Father's Day, June 19, 2006, Petitioner attacked Paula Fowler and her three-year-old son inside their home. On August 22, 2006, the Petitioner admitted to a police detective that over a period of five minutes, he struck Ms. Fowler's head with a brick approximately forty times and also hit her son with a brick three times on the head. A Shelby County jury convicted Petitioner of attempted first degree murder, a Class A felony, and aggravated assault, a Class C felony. The trial court ordered an effective sentence of thirty-five years. Petitioner's convictions and sentences were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. James Todd, No. W2009-01475-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 198635 (Tenn. Crim. App. Jan. 12, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. July 15, 2011).

On June 4, 2012, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief with an accompanying brief. On August 6, 2012, the post-conviction court appointed counsel, who filed an amended petition on June 6, 2013, alleging that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance in pursuing a motion to suppress Petitioner's statement to police. The post-conviction court held an evidentiary hearing on February 27, 2014, and denied the petition the same day. A timely notice of appeal was filed.

Factual Background

The record does not contain a transcript of the suppression hearing, but the following facts were set forth in this Court's decision on Petitioner's direct appeal.

Robert Wilkie, a detective with the Memphis Police Department, testified that in June 2006 he was assigned to the case involving the attack of Paula Fowler and her three-year-old son. Detective Wilkie stated that Lieutenant Mark Mitchell of the West Memphis Police Department notified him that Todd, [Petitioner], was willing to talk to him regarding the case.
On August 22, 2006, Detective Wilkie drove to the West Memphis Police Department and observed Todd standing at the front of the station smoking a cigarette. He asked if Todd would be willing to come [to] the Memphis Police Department so that he could ask him some questions, and Todd agreed. Todd said that he was concerned about not having a ride home to West Memphis, and Detective Wilkie assured him that he would have a ride back home if he needed one. Todd rode in the front seat of Detective Wilkie's unmarked police car back to Memphis and was not handcuffed.
Upon arriving at the Memphis Police Department, Detective Wilkie took Todd to an interview room on the eleventh floor. Detective Wilkie and Todd sat in silence for approximately five or ten minutes until Lieutenant Miller entered the room. At that point, Detective Wilkie did not immediately advise Todd of his Miranda rights. Detective Wilkie first asked Todd if he had known Charles Fowler. Todd explained that he had known Charles because he was a friend of Charles's brother, Sam. He said that he did not know what had happened to Charles's family other than the fact that Charles had committed suicide. Detective Wilkie testified that Todd was not under arrest and was ...

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