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State v. Thaxton

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 2, 2016


          Assigned on Briefs September 13, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2014-B-1662 J. Randall Wyatt, Jr., Judge

          David A. Collins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lamonez Deshaun Thaxton.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Jude Santana and Jeffrey Jackson, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert L. Holloway, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.



         The Davidson County Grand Jury charged the defendant with one count each of attempted first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and attempted aggravated robbery, arising out of the robbery and attempted murder of Arterries Chatman and the attempted robbery of Marshaqueze Clark. The trial court conducted a jury trial in August 2015.

         The State's proof at trial showed that, shortly after midnight on December 24, 2013, Mr. Chatman drove Ms. Clark and her four-year-old daughter to Ms. Clark's residence on Nocturne Drive. When the trio arrived at the residence and got out of the vehicle, the defendant appeared out of some nearby bushes brandishing a handgun and told Mr. Chatman to "'come on with it.'" Mr. Chatman took that demand to mean that the defendant intended to rob him, and Mr. Chatman responded that he "'don't got nothing.'" Mr. Chatman recalled that the defendant was pointing the gun at him and that he felt fearful. The defendant instructed Ms. Clark to "'just get you and your daughter and you go on[, ] you ain't got nothing to do with this.'" After Ms. Clark entered her residence, Mr. Chatman continued to argue with the defendant, and the defendant shot Mr. Chatman once in the left leg below the knee. At that point, Mr. Chatman fell to the ground, and the defendant stole his iPhone and $90 in cash. Mr. Chatman testified that nothing was covering the defendant's face and that he "could see him clearly." When asked at trial to describe the level of pain the shooting caused, Mr. Chatman stated, "They say 1 to 10. I'm going to rate it to 1 to 20."

         Ms. Clark testified that she heard the gunshot as she was running away, and she stated that she called 9-1-1 from her mobile telephone as she was entering her apartment. Once she was inside, Ms. Clark looked through her apartment window and saw Mr. Chatman lying on the ground while the defendant searched through Mr. Chatman's pockets.

         Metropolitan Nashville Police Department ("Metro") Officer Bradley Hambrick responded to the call of a shooting at Nocturne Drive, and when he arrived at the scene, he discovered Mr. Chatman seated on the apartment building's exterior steps. Officer Hambrick observed that Mr. Chatman "was in some pain" and noticed that "[t]here was a lot of blood." It was "very apparent" to Officer Hambrick that Mr. Chatman had been shot. Mr. Chatman described the shooter to Officer Hambrick as "an African American male in his early 20s" who was approximately six feet tall, "160 pounds and that he was wearing blue jeans, a red shirt, with a gray hoodie" with "dreadlocks" and "a medium skin complexion." Officer Hambrick recalled that Ms. Clark's description of the shooter matched that of Mr. Chatman's. Ms. Clark admitted at trial that the defendant was related to her brother and that, although she knew the defendant when they were both younger, she did not immediately recognize him on December 24 because he had aged and "look[ed] different." Ms. Clark also conceded that others had contacted her following the shooting and informed her that the defendant was the perpetrator.

         Mr. Chatman was transported to the hospital, where he stayed overnight for treatment of his gunshot wound. He testified that the injury had caused nerve damage and that he had been undergoing physical therapy since the shooting.

         Metro Detective Tim Codling testified that another Metro officer and Ms. Clark had both provided the defendant's name to him as a possible suspect in the shooting and robbery. On January 29, 2014, both Mr. Chatman and Ms. Clark viewed separate photographic lineups prepared by Detective Codling, and both positively identified the defendant as the shooter. The photographic lineups were introduced into evidence, and the photograph of the defendant showed an African-American male with dreadlocks.

         The parties stipulated that Metro officers "came into contact" with the defendant on April 5, 2014; that "a 9mm semi-automatic Ruger" firearm "was recovered in close proximity to the defendant"; that the defendant "had a cut on his hand"; and "that there was blood on the gun." Metro Officer Arthur Hipp testified that he took "DNA swabs" from the Ruger handgun and that the swabs were given to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation ("TBI") for testing.

         TBI Agent Chad Johnson testified as an expert in the field of forensic biology. Agent Johnson conducted deoxyribonucleic acid ("DNA") testing on the swabs taken from the handgun and compared it to a buccal swab taken from the defendant, concluding that the blood matched the defendant's DNA. TBI Agent Jessica Hudson testified as an expert in the area of firearms and tool mark identification. Agent Hudson conducted testing on the firearm at issue and determined that a nine-millimeter cartridge casing recovered from the crime scene had been fired from that weapon.

         With this evidence, the State rested. Following the defendant's motion for judgments of acquittal and a Momon colloquy, the defendant elected not to testify and chose not to present any proof. After taking the defendant's motion under advisement, the trial court denied the motion as to the first three counts of the ...

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