Assigned on Briefs September 7, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 14-03148 W.
Mark Ward, Judge
W. Kuhn (on appeal) and Amy G. Mayne (at trial), Memphis,
Tennessee, for the appellant, Johnny Wilkerson.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee
W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney
General; and Ann L. Schiller, Assistant District Attorney
General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Norma McGee Ogle and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.
W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE
Robinson and Jason Eschhofen were robbed at gunpoint as they
left Ms. Robinson's apartment on January 24, 2014. For
his role in the incident, a Shelby County grand jury indicted
the Defendant for two counts of aggravated robbery. At trial,
the parties presented the following evidence: Ms. Robinson
testified that her apartment was located near the University
of Memphis campus in Memphis, Tennessee. In the early evening
hours of January 24, 2014, she and her boyfriend, Jason
Eschhofen, were leaving her apartment when an
"average-sized African American man" approached
them in a "hurried fashion." Ms. Robinson did not
take much notice of the man until he pointed a small black
gun at the couple and ordered them to sit on the ground
between two cars. The man demanded Ms. Robinson's and Mr.
Eschhofen's wallets and cell phones. The couple complied
with these demands, and the man threatened to kill them if
Robinson testified that, upon seeing the small black gun, she
was "terrified" that she was going to die and also
going to watch Mr. Eschhofen be killed. She further described
the perpetrator as wearing a gray and white striped hoodie.
After taking the victims' wallets and cell phones, the
man again threatened the couple saying, "[I]f you move I
will shoot you." Ms. Robinson recalled being fearful
that the perpetrator was waiting nearby to shoot the couple
once they got up from between the cars. Ms. Robinson surveyed
the ground underneath the nearby cars and, when she did not
see anyone, the couple got up quickly and ran to the
apartment complex. One of Ms. Robinson's neighbors was
leaving at the time, and Mr. Eschhofen used the
neighbor's cell phone to notify police.
Robinson testified that she was "in shock"
following the incident and felt "very shaky." She
cried hysterically and contacted her mother to cancel her
credit cards while Mr. Eschhofen spoke with the police on the
cell phone. Ms. Robinson said that she had $10 in cash and
credit cards in her wallet at the time it was stolen. The
perpetrator also took her blue Samsung phone, which police
later returned to her in working condition.
night of the incident, Ms. Robinson provided police officers
with a description of the robber, and the following day, she
viewed a photographic lineup at the police station. Ms.
Robinson was unable to identify the robber in the first
lineup or a second lineup shown to her several days later. On
January 29, 2014, Ms. Robinson returned to the police station
to view a third photographic lineup and "pretty
quickly" identified the robber.
Ms. Robinson identified the robber, a police officer returned
her cell phone and wallet to her. The wallet contained
"the beginning of one of [her] credit cards" and
her driver's license. Several months later, Ms. Robinson
testified at a preliminary hearing in this case and, during
the hearing, identified the Defendant as the robber. She
further identified the Defendant in court during the trial as
the man who had taken her wallet and cell phone on January
cross-examination, Ms. Robinson testified that, during the
incident, the robber wore the hoodie over his head covering
his hair. She stated that she tried to look at his face but
was more focused on the gun he held. She estimated that the
entire encounter lasted about thirty seconds and said that it
was nighttime. She described there being one light in the
parking lot, and it was not near where she and Mr. Eschhofen
were ordered to sit between cars.
Eschhofen's testifimony about the robbery was consistent
with Ms. Robinson's testimony. Mr. Eschhofen testified
that he was "very scared" during the encounter but
compliant with the robber's demands due to concern for
their safety. Mr. Eschhofen gave the robber his cell phone
and wallet that contained identification cards, credit cards,
and $40 to $50 in cash. Mr. Eschhofen confirmed that he spoke
with the police on the telephone about the robbery and
provided their location. When the police arrived, five to ten
minutes later, Mr. Eschhofen provided a statement about the
robbery and a ...