Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs October 4, 2016
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
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Alan E. Glenn and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 ...