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State v. Thompson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 4, 2016


          Assigned on Briefs October 4, 2016

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Lawrence County No. 31625 Stella L. Hargrove, Judge

          Brandon E. White (on appeal), Columbia, Tennessee; Claudia Jack, District Public Defender; and Robert Stovall, Jr. (at trial), Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Jonathon Wayne Thompson.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Robert W. Wilson, Assistant Attorney General; Brent A. Cooper, District Attorney General; and Emily Hartman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.



         Factual Background

         In May 2013, the Lawrence County Grand Jury indicted Defendant for one count of theft of property valued over $1000 but less than $10, 000. Defendant was accused of stealing hunting equipment from Daniel "Bud" Smith and John Kress. The case went to trial on September 24, 2015.

         Mr. Smith and Mr. Kress were friends and avid deer hunters. They shared a hunting lease on property located in Lawrence County. The men had set up tree stands, hunting blinds, and game cameras for use during hunting season. After hunting season was over, in March 2013, Mr. Smith went to the property to perform maintenance on some of the equipment. He discovered that several tree stands, hunting blinds, and game cameras were missing. He called Mr. Kress before calling the police.

         Mr. Smith reported that he was missing a Guide Gear Portable Climbing Stand, two "buddy stands, " and "gilly suit material" that he placed along the shooting rails of the tree stands. Mr. Kress reported that he was missing a Summit Viper Climbing Stand, a Field and Stream Climbing Stand, a hunting blind, and two game cameras. Mr. Kress later found one of the cameras on the ground 50 yards away from where it was originally placed.

         Eventually, police discovered three tree stands at a pawn shop in Florence, Alabama. Neither the stands nor the associated pawn tickets showed the brand names of the stands. Defense counsel introduced into evidence photographs showing the brand names Next, Skyline, and Direct Products located on the camouflage fabric on the stands. The police contacted the victims, who were able to identify the stands as the ones stolen from them.

         Mr. Smith testified that his Guide Gear stand is "not a very common stand that people hunt with" because its weight made it less portable. He testified that he believed that his was the only Guide Gear stand within "four surrounding counties" because he had inquired about that particular stand at several sporting goods stores in Loretto, Knoxville, and Franklin, Tennessee, and Florence, Alabama. He eventually ordered the stand from a catalogue as a Christmas present for his son. Mr. Smith testified that the Guide Gear stand came with camouflage made by Direct Products. However, he admitted that he did not specifically mark his stand or put his name anywhere on it. Mr. Smith did not testify as to the value of his tree stand but did state that he was still missing about $200 worth of property.

         Mr. Kress testified that the other two stands belonged to him. He testified that even though his tree stands were similar to others, he had made several additions and modifications to the stands. He testified that the Summit Viper stand had two different types of camouflage material made by Next and Skyline, Inc. He stated that he moved several of the straps to different locations, added his own straps and rope, and pointed out places where the paint had chipped off of the stand. Mr. Smith confirmed that the straps on one of Mr. Kress's stands were not standard "factory" straps. Mr. Kress testified that he added stirrups to the other stand to make it easier to climb. Mr. Kress stated that none of the stands listed the brand names on the stands. Mr. Kress did not testify directly as to the value of his two tree stands but did testify that his unrecovered hunting blind was worth $300 and his unrecovered game camera was worth $150.

         The pawn tickets showed that Defendant had pawned the three stands on February 20, 2013. In completing the bill of sale, Defendant provided his full name and address, showed his driver's license, and signed a statement under penalty of perjury that the items belonged to him and were not stolen. Defendant received $100 for the three ...

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