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Wilson v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 2, 2016


          Assigned on Briefs October 19, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 98-D-3052 Steve Dozier, Judge

          James Robert Wilson, Only, Tennessee, Pro Se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and J. Wesley King, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Norma McGee Ogle, JJ., joined.



         I. Facts

         In our opinion disposing of the Petitioner's direct appeal, we summarized the facts presented at trial:

On November 13, 1997, Timothy Wayne Holt (also known as Timbo) was fatally shot three times in the back of the head inside his home located at 713 Oneida Avenue in Nashville. The proof at trial revealed that the victim was a well-known local marijuana dealer and merchant of stolen property. At the time of his death, the victim was married to Julie Holt, and the couple had a four year old son, Blake Holt. The couple maintained two residences, one at 713 Oneida Avenue, and another at 211 Archwood Drive in Madison. Mrs. Holt explained that the couple maintained two residences so that her husband could conduct his drug and stolen property business on Oneida street, while the family slept at their apartment in Madison.
Timbo employed many security devices at the Oneida residence. The home was equipped with a deadbolt lock, security system, and metal security gates on the front and rear door. Mrs. Holt testified that Timbo always kept the doors locked when he was inside. Timbo also kept a pit bull and a boxer for protection. Mrs. Holt testified that both dogs were very protective of the victim and would bark and become fierce when a strange person approached the home. On November 13, 1997, Mrs. Holt and her infant son arrived at the Oneida residence at approximately 7:00 p.m. When she arrived, Timbo was in the process of selling marijuana to a frequent customer, Derek Larkin (also known as Bushrod). Mrs. Holt testified that Bushrod purchased an ounce from Timbo, which Timbo measured by piecing it from a larger brick of marijuana. She stated that Timbo normally stored the brick of marijuana in a large black trash bag in the trunk of a car behind the home. Timbo stored marijuana in three (3) separate locations: (1) in ziplock bags inside the dog food; (2) inside his son's toys in the backyard; and (3) in the trunk of the car parked behind the house. Timbo stored the trunk's key in the top dresser drawer in the master bedroom. Mrs. Holt testified that Bushrod paid Timbo and then left. She also testified that the dogs did not like Bushrod, and often barked when he came to the house. Bushrod's testimony corroborated Mrs. Holt's account of the events on that night. She also testified that Timbo's pit bull usually barked when he was there.
Approximately fifteen minutes after Bushrod left, Mrs. Holt and the baby left to attend a wrestling match. She returned to the Oneida residence approximately two hours later at 9:00 p.m. She stated that although Timbo was not home, she paged him and he arrived at the Oneida residence thirty minutes later. Mrs. Holt testified that [the Petitioner] called the Oneida residence later that night. She stated that she knew that it was the Petitioner because when she answered the phone he identified himself as "B.J." or "Black James." She overheard Timbo and [the Petitioner] discussing a .40 caliber Glock pistol for $400.00. Timbo also informed [the Petitioner] that his brother, Michael Holt was not at his home. Mrs. Holt was well acquainted with [the Petitioner], as he and Timbo were friends and often spent time together. [The Petitioner] had also been a frequent guest at the Oneida residence over the past two years. She recalled that [the Petitioner] often wore a black leather jacket.
Mrs. Holt left the Oneida residence while Timbo was on the phone with [the Petitioner]. As was her common practice, Mrs. Holt called Timbo when she reached the apartment in Madison, at approximately 10:30 p.m. She stated that when she called, the line was busy and although she paged him, Timbo did not respond. Mrs. Holt became alarmed because this was uncommon. She then called Jason Westmoreland, Timbo's "roommate, " who often stayed at the Oneida residence. Mr. Westmoreland stated that he had dropped the victim off at the Oneida residence at approximately 10:00 p.m. She then called Michael Holt, the victim's brother, and asked him to check on Timbo.
Timbo's brother, Michael Holt, lived next door at 711 Oneida Avenue with his wife, Shannon Holt, and their infant son. Michael Holt was also known in the neighborhood as a drug dealer and weapons "merchant" and was incarcerated at the time of trial on a felony drug conviction. Michael Holt testified that on November 13, 1997, his family left home at 5:00 p.m., and returned home at approximately 10:00 p.m. As they were pulling into their driveway, his wife noticed that someone had opened the front door of Timbo's home, peered out, and shut the door quickly. Michael Holt testified that at approximately 10:30 p.m., Julie Holt called him upset because Timbo had not returned her calls or pages. Upon her request, he went next door to check on Timbo. He noticed that although all of the interior lights were on, the door was locked and no one appeared to be home. Seeing no signs of forced entry, he returned home. He then telephoned Julie Holt and asked her to bring the keys to the Oneida residence.
Mrs. Holt testified that when she arrived at the Oneida residence, she detected a "burnt smell" as she walked towards the front of the house. As she entered the home, she noticed that the phone was off the receiver. She then discovered Timbo's body laying face-down on the floor of her son's bedroom, and ran next door to get help. When Mrs. Holt returned, she discovered that Timbo was dead.
Mrs. Holt further testified that the day before Timbo was killed, he had purchased five pounds of marijuana from his supplier. When they found the victim's body, he had $13.00 in his pants pocket. She testified that it was common knowledge that the victim often kept cash and marijuana in the house. Timbo often stored the money from his drug sales in the front pocket of a Levi's shirt, that hung in the closet in the master bedroom. On the night he was murdered, Timbo had $2, 000.00 in the pocket earlier in the evening, in denominations ranging from $5.00 to $100.00. After an initial inspection, Mrs. Holt discovered that the $2, 000.00 was missing. She also noticed that the black trash bag, where Timbo stored the brick of marijuana, was empty on the kitchen table. The key to the trunk of the car where the marijuana was normally stored was also missing, but was later discovered in the passenger seat of the Bronco. However, the victim's stolen radios, and the Holt's [sic] own televisions, VCRs, and jewelry were not disturbed. Mrs. Holt and Michael Holt both testified that everything else in the house seemed to be intact. Although there were no signs of forced entry into the home, it was later discovered that the back door was wide open.
Ms. Lee Carrington, a long-time neighbor, lived at 715 Oneida Avenue. Ms. Carrington testified that on November 13, 1997, at approximately 10:00 p.m., she heard some commotion outside. She testified that the noise sounded like someone banging on a car door three times with a fist. When Ms. Carrington looked out the window, she saw what appeared to be a man standing in the driveway between her and Timbo's home. She then went out on the porch and asked the man if Timbo knew that he was there. The man, who continued to look in the direction of Michael Holt's home, replied emphatically, "ma'am, yes, ma'am; yes, ma'am." She recalled that the man had the voice of an older teenager and was approximately between the ages of nineteen and twenty-one. She testified that he was black and was wearing dark clothing and a large dark bulky jacket that fit slightly below the waist. She observed that the man was standing next to the window of the Bronco, and appeared to be as tall as the window's metal frame. After she turned away, she saw a blur run past her as someone ran through her yard and down Oneida street. She recalled that it was odd that the pit bull in Timbo's backyard did not bark at the man, because he normally barked at strangers. Later, officers ...

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