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State v. Delgado

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

June 22, 2015

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
PONCHO JUAN DELGADO

Assigned on Briefs April 28, 2015

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Washington County No. 33011 Robert E. Cupp, Judge

The Defendant, Poncho Juan Delgado, appeals as of right his jury conviction for first degree premeditated murder.[1] See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the State failed to prove the element of premeditation. The State responds that ample evidence of premeditation was presented. Following our review, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to establish premeditation, and we therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed

James T. Bowman (at trial and on appeal), and Donna M. Bolton (at trial), Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Poncho Juan Delgado.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Anthony Clark, District Attorney General; and Dennis Brooks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

OPINION

D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE

PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND

I. Procedural Background

This case arises from the violent stabbing death of the victim, Robert Curtis, and the subsequent burning of the victim's house on May 25, 2006. On January 9, 2007, the Washington County Grand Jury returned a true bill of indictment charging the Defendant with first degree premeditated murder and arson.

The Defendant's first trial began on April 8, 2008. However, the next day, the trial judge became seriously ill, and no further action was taken in the case until April 22, 2008. At that time, the trial court held a hearing to determine whether the trial should continue or, instead, whether a mistrial should be granted. At the hearing, several jurors testified that on April 9, 2008, they were instructed by the court clerk that the trial had been delayed. Shortly thereafter, the clerk left jurors a voicemail message informing them that the trial had been "cancelled." Believing that their duties and obligations with respect to the case had been terminated, several jurors admitted subsequently reading newspaper articles about the case, speaking with family and friends about the case, and discussing discrepancies in witnesses' testimony.

At the conclusion of this testimony, defense counsel requested a mistrial, and the trial court granted this request. Defense counsel then moved to have the indictments against the Defendant dismissed. The trial court denied this request, concluding that a manifest necessity existed for the mistrial and, therefore, that principles of double jeopardy did not preclude a retrial on the charges.

The Defendant subsequently pursued an interlocutory appeal challenging the trial court's decision, arguing that principles of double jeopardy precluded retrial. A panel of this court denied the Defendant relief on February 5, 2010. See State v. Poncho Juan Delgado, No. E2008-01228-CCA-R9-CD, 2010 WL 424257 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 5, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 17, 2010). In upholding the trial court's decision, we noted that the Defendant had requested the mistrial, an action which typically "remove[s] any barrier to reprosecution." Id. at *3 (quoting United States v. Jorn, 400 U.S. 470, 485 (1971)). We concluded that "[g]iven the unique circumstances of the instant case, namely the delay due to the judge's illness and the jury's exposure to outside influences, . . . manifest necessity required a mistrial be declared, " and "[b]ecause there ...


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