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Colbert v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

May 13, 2015


Session February 03, 2015.

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 12-00762 J. Robert Carter, Jr., Judge.

Douglas A. Trant, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dimitrie Colbert.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; J. Ross Dyer, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Josh Corman, Assistant District Attorney

General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Camille R. McMullen and Roger A. Page, JJ., joined.




The general facts and circumstances surrounding the murder were summarized by the prosecutor at the hearing on the plea agreement, which was introduced as an exhibit at the post-conviction hearing. According to the prosecutor, the petitioner killed the victim, his girlfriend Janette Corria, after abducting her:

The facts giving rise to the indictment had the matter gone to trial would be that on August 28, 2011, at approximately 3:15 a.m., Memphis police received a call claiming Dimitrie Colbert had killed his girlfriend . . . and a body was in the back of Dimitrie Colbert's 2007 Ford 500 located 262 Chelsea here in Shelby County, Tennessee. There was a lengthy pursuit that ensued. The Ford driven by Dimitrie Colbert wrecked at Winchester and North Lauderdale, and after a short foot pursuit Colbert was taken into custody. [The victim] was found in the rear passenger floorboard. Paramedics made the scene and pronounced her dead at 4:20 a.m. She was taken to the Regional Forensic Center where Dr. Funte ruled the death a homicide due to several things [B] they couldn't really decide. Cause of death was determined to be homicidal violence. Dimitrie Colbert was taken to Homicide Office where he gave a statement admitting to having sexual relations, beating, shooting, choking, and running over [the victim] with his vehicle before she finally died. At one point she escaped and ran to somebody for help. The person would not help her. He forced her back into his car. It was learned that [the victim] showed up at her home at 7285 Holler here in Shelby County, Tennessee, around 10:30 p.m. on August 27th. The last person she was seen with was Dimitrie Colbert. [The victim's] purse, cell phone and a white T-shirt w[ere] found at the side of her house.

A more detailed account of the events that led to the victim's death was contained in the petitioner's statement to police. The petitioner was apprehended a short distance from his vehicle, which still contained the victim's body. He spent the day at the police station, speaking with investigators and eventually taking them to the crime scenes. The petitioner then signed a formal statement detailing the victim's death:

About 8 pm I parked about three or four houses down from her house but she didn't get home until around 10:50 something. She pulled up in a white car with some guy driving. I knew that it was a guy from her job, I think his name is Vinny. That's the name that she had in her phone. He asked her was she going to be ok because he saw my car pull up and he saw me get out and run up to her and give her a hug. She told him (Vinny) that she would be ok when he asked. We kissed and started talking. We went to the side of the house and I was asking where what [sic] was going on and she said that the guy was just a friend.
We were both telling each other how much we missed each other. From that point on we started kissing and that's when she took off her handbag and she had raised my shirt up and I think I took it off, or maybe she did it. At some point she had my shirt in her hands. We was fixing to have sex on the side of her house but she was saying that she didn't want to do it outside. I asked her if she wanted to go to the car instead and she said yes.
We went to the car and I drove off to another neighborhood and we had sex. The neighborhood was somewhere off of Riverdale, over by the old Ryans. After we finished having sex we started talking some more. I was telling her that I wasn't going to hurt her. She was saying that she was scared and she was telling me that I was going to get in trouble because she was supposed to have been home by 11. But once we got to talking she said that she was going to text her dad and say that she was on the way. We ...

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