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Hodge v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

July 8, 2015

SHAUN ALEXANDER HODGE
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

Session February 19, 2015

Direct Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 100532 Mary Beth Leibowitz, Judge

Abby Satterfield and Sam Short, University of Tennessee Legal Clinic Student Attorneys, and Stephen Ross Johnson, Supervising Attorney, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Shaun Alexander Hodge.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ahmed A. Safeeullah, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Leslie Nassios, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

OPINION

NORMA MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE

I. Factual Background

This case relates to the shooting death of Benny Boling in April 1998. In February 2001, the petitioner was tried for the first degree premeditated murder of the victim. The facts presented at trial previously have been summarized as follows:

[T]he forensic evidence established that the victim was slain at a local housing project on April 26, 1998. The victim died after being shot five times by a nine-millimeter semiautomatic handgun. While the victim was initially shot from the rear as he occupied the cab of his pickup truck, he managed to drive himself a short distance away before running off of the road and ultimately fled on foot approximately seventy-five feet up a hill before collapsing near a day care center. There, the victim's body was discovered, with the victim still clutching a $100 bill in his hand. Police recovered a total of seventeen spent shell cartridges from the scene. During the autopsy, the victim's blood tested positive for cocaine.
The murder weapon was never recovered, and none of the forensic evidence definitively connected the petitioner to the victim's shooting. The prosecution's case hinged on the testimony of four eyewitnesses. Debra Turner, who lived in the community, testified that on the day of the shooting, she was at home when she heard someone outside threatening to kill someone if he did not buy drugs. She looked out her back door and saw the petitioner talking to the victim, who was in his truck. After she heard the victim refuse to buy the drugs, she heard a gunshot and saw the victim's truck moving away. The petitioner followed the truck, firing into it. When the truck struck a tree, the victim exited the truck and ran. The petitioner followed him, still firing at the victim. When the victim collapsed, the petitioner stood over him and shot him. Patricia Hamilton, who was visiting Debra Turner at the time of the shooting, testified to essentially the same version of events.
A third witness, Lorraine Young, who lived nearby, testified that she knew the petitioner prior to the shooting. The day prior to the shooting, she saw the victim drive into the housing projects and purchase drugs. On the day of the shooting, Ms. Young was lying in bed when she heard a commotion and looked out her bedroom window. She saw the petitioner and three men standing near the victim's truck having an argument about drugs and money. She heard the victim refuse to buy drugs. She left the window for a moment and then returned to see the victim crash his truck and flee away on foot while the petitioner shot him.
The final eyewitness, Tim Bolden, testified that he had previously sold the victim crack cocaine and did so on several occasions the day of the shooting. At the time of the shooting, Mr. Bolden was gambling with some other men when he saw the victim drive up, looking to purchase additional drugs. However, Mr. Bolden testified that he continued to gamble and that the petitioner approached the victim's truck. Mr. Bolden testified that he heard loud voices, saw the victim leaving in his truck, and saw the petitioner firing at the victim. After the victim's truck struck a curb, the victim left the truck and fled on foot. The petitioner continued to shoot the victim and, afterward, came back down the hill while the men who were gambling fled the scene.
The defense's theory of the case was that the prosecution's four eyewitness identifications were erroneous and that one of those eyewitnesses, Mr. Tim Bolden, may have been the actual killer. The defense presented the testimony of six eyewitnesses in support of this theory. Latroy Askew, a friend of the petitioner, testified that the two rode around all night on Saturday night and that the petitioner went home before the shootings occurred on Sunday. Ms. Glenda Ward, who lived in a complex near the crime scene, testified that she looked out her window one day and saw one man chasing another man up a hill before shooting him. She testified that the shooter was not the petitioner. Reginald Woodruff, a childhood friend of the petitioner, testified that the petitioner came to his house the morning of the shooting and stayed with him, his son, and another man while they were playing video games. Pierre Jarrett, who was playing basketball nearby at the time of the shooting, testified that he heard shots, saw a truck move up a hill before coming to a stop, and saw a man who was not the petitioner standing nearby with a gun. Paul Chandler, a retired army officer who was collecting cans in the area when the shooting occurred, testified that he saw the murder and that the petitioner was not the shooter. Malik Hardin, the petitioner's cousin, testified that he was with the petitioner at the time of the shooting and that Mr. Tim Bolden had, in fact, shot the victim while the petitioner was gambling with others nearby. In addition to these eyewitnesses, the defense presented the testimony of two witnesses who testified that Debra Turner had made statements to them to the effect that she intended to falsely implicate the petitioner in the victim's murder in order to retaliate against the petitioner for beating and hospitalizing her son.

Shaun Alexander Hodge v. State, No. E2009-02508-CCA-R3-PC, 2011 WL 3793503, at *1-2 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Knoxville, Aug. 26, 2011).

The jury convicted the petitioner as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to life. On direct appeal of his conviction to this court, the petitioner raised six issues, including that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction and that he was prejudiced by the testimony of alleged mental patient Lorraine Young. State v. Shawn Hodge, No. E2002-01794-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 22888892, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Knoxville, Dec. 8, 2003). This court found the evidence sufficient. Id. at *11. As to Young, this court stated, "The record in this case contains no reference to, mention of, or corresponding objection about Lorraine Young's mental status. There being no factual support for this issue, it is rejected and needs no further discussion." Id. at *14.

After our supreme court denied the petitioner's application for permission to appeal, he filed a timely pro se petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court appointed counsel, who subpoenaed Young's medical records from Lakeshore Mental Health Institute and received "three full volumes of materials pertaining to Ms. Young's mental treatment at that facility." Hodge, No. E2009-02508-CCA-R3-PC, 2011 WL 3793503, at *3. Post-conviction counsel then filed an amended petition, claiming that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to obtain the medical records, that the petitioner's due process rights had been violated by the State's failure to turn over the allegedly exculpatory records to the defense, and that the records constituted newly discovered evidence of the petitioner's innocence. Id. This court denied the petition for post-conviction relief, stating as follows:

There appears to be no reason in the record for trial counsel to have suspected that Ms. Young suffered from mental health problems. Although the petitioner had known Ms. Young for a period of many years, it does not appear from the record that the petitioner raised the issue of Ms. Young's mental health issues with his trial counsel. Without something in the record to indicate that his trial counsel was placed on notice that Ms. Young suffered from any significant mental health problems, we do not believe that trial counsel fell below an objective ...

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