Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
DENNIS CEDRIC WOODARD, JR.
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Session Date: August 9, 2016
from the Circuit Court for Bedford County No. 10392 Forrest
Durard, Jr. Judge
Love, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Dennis Cedric
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent
C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Robert J. Carter, District
Attorney General; Michael D. Randles, Assistant District
Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and J. Ross Dyer, J.,
H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE
case relates to the shooting death of Scott Shafter. On the
night of April 12, 2001, the Petitioner confronted and
fatally shot the victim after a physical altercation between
them occurred earlier that day. See State v. Dennis
Cedric Woodard, Jr., No. M2002-00122-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL
169082, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Jan. 24, 2003), perm.
app. denied (Tenn. May 12, 2003). The Petitioner
appealed, and in its opinion affirming the conviction, this
court summarized the facts as follows:
The proof offered by the State demonstrated that on the night
of April 13, 2001, the homicide victim, Scott Shafer, was
shot near Derry Street in Shelbyville. Earlier that day, at
around four o'clock, the victim had been visiting the
home of LaShawn Nunnally. Ms. Nunnally testified that
sometime later the [Petitioner] arrived at her house carrying
a gun. The [Petitioner] pointed the gun at the victim and
said, "Nigga, are you real or are you fake?" The
victim responded to the [Petitioner], who was commonly
referred to as "Junior, " by saying, "Junior,
man, quit playing. I'm fucked up." The [Petitioner],
still pointing the gun at the victim, then repeated his
question. At that point, Ms. Nunnally requested that the two
men leave the front of her house. The [Petitioner] and the
victim went to the rear of the house, and Ms. Nunnally
followed. She asked the [Petitioner] for the gun, and he gave
it to her. Immediately thereafter, Jarmaine Hill, Ms.
Nunnally's boyfriend, and Mike Jones arrived. Mr. Hill
inquired what Ms. Nunnally was doing with the
[Petitioner]'s gun. She responded that she was trying to
"prevent trouble." Mr. Hill then demanded that she
return the [Petitioner]'s gun, which she did, but she
kept the clip that contained the bullets and went back around
to the front porch of her house. A few minutes later, the
four men came to the front of the house, and the
[Petitioner]'s mouth was bleeding. When Ms. Nunnally
asked what had happened, the victim replied, "I dunked
him on his head." The [Petitioner] then said to the
victim, "Man, you fucked up my grill." Then the
[Petitioner] smiled at the victim and added, "You are
going to remember this tonight." However, Ms. Nunnally
testified that the [Petitioner] and the victim then hugged,
made up, and left together in the victim's car. After all
the men left, Ms. Nunnally wrapped the pistol clip in toilet
paper and tossed it into a creek.
About two hours later, Ms. Nunnally had gone to another house
to visit with friends. Jarmaine Hill and Mike Jones arrived;
then a few minutes later, the [Petitioner] and the victim
drove up. As the day got later, Ms. Nunnally, her two
daughters, and the victim decided to walk back to Ms.
Nunnally's house to get their jackets. As they returned
from getting their coats, the [Petitioner] walked up, pointed
the gun at the victim, and said, "Nigga, are you ready
to die?" The [Petitioner] then shot the victim, who fell
down. He pulled the trigger several more times, but the gun
would not fire because the clip had been removed. The
[Petitioner], who then ran away, was wearing a yellow shirt,
black denim shorts, black Nike shoes, and black socks. Ms.
Nunnally ran to a pay telephone and called 911. She then
located the victim, who had run a short distance and fallen
down, and she applied a blanket to his wound.
On cross-examination, Ms. Nunnally said that the [Petitioner]
appeared intoxicated while he was at her house. She said that
his speech was slurred and he was staggering. He also
appeared to be intoxicated when she left her friend's
house to get the jackets from her house. She said that when
the police arrived, she was beside the victim, rendering aid.
Thomas Thompson testified that on the evening of April 13,
2001, he was in his house at 101 Byrd Street. At around 7:40
that night, he heard what sounded like a gunshot. He then
looked out his window and saw a white man run between 714 and
716 Derry Street, fall down on the ground, and yell that he
had been shot. Then Mr. Thompson looked behind Smith's
Food Town on Derry Street and saw a black man in a yellow
shirt run behind the store.
James Wheeler testified that at around nine o'clock on
the night of April 13, 2001, a young black man, whom he
identified as the [Petitioner], knocked on his door. Mr.
Wheeler testified that the [Petitioner] was bleeding from his
mouth, and he initially thought that the [Petitioner] had
been in a car accident. However, the [Petitioner] said that
he had been beaten up, and he asked to use the telephone.
While Mr. Wheeler was inside his house retrieving a cordless
phone for the [Petitioner], he decided to call 911 to have an
ambulance come render aid to the [Petitioner]. When Mr.
Wheeler went outside to give the [Petitioner] the telephone,
he observed a car drive up with a young man and woman inside.
Mr. Wheeler recognized the driver of the car as a man named
Matt Kelly. The [Petitioner], who Mr. Wheeler said was
"fidgety" and "obviously wanting to leave,
" got in the car with Mr. Kelly and drove away. On
cross-examination, Mr. Wheeler testified that the
[Petitioner] was having difficulty breathing and speaking
because of the condition of his mouth.
David Williams, an officer with the Bedford County
Sheriff's Department, testified that he accompanied the
ambulance to Mr. Wheeler's residence in response to Mr.
Wheeler's 911 call. As he was driving, he passed a white
Honda Accord. Upon speaking with Mr. Wheeler, he learned that
the subject had left in that car. Officer Williams then
followed the Accord to the emergency room parking lot, where
he stopped the vehicle. The [Petitioner] was in the back
seat, and Officer Williams noticed that he had injuries to
his face, he had blood down the front of his body, and he was
not wearing a shirt. When the officer asked for his name, the
[Petitioner] replied that his name was Simms. However, the
driver of the car, Matt Kelly, told the [Petitioner] to tell
the truth, and the [Petitioner] then told the officer that
his name was Junior Woodard. Officer Williams asked another
officer, D'Angelo Inman of the Tennessee Highway Patrol,
to pat down the [Petitioner] for weapons. Officer Inman
located a Taurus .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol in the
[Petitioner]'s pocket. The weapon had no clip in the
grip. Officer Williams then placed the [Petitioner] in his
patrol car and called for the city police. Officer Williams
testified that he smelled alcohol on the [Petitioner], but
that the [Petitioner] was coherent and had no trouble
walking. Officer Inman, on the other hand, testified that he
did not notice an odor of alcohol about the [Petitioner].
Back at the scene of the shooting, Rod Stacey was the
patrolman with the Shelbyville Police Department who first
arrived. He testified that he located a white male, whom he
recognized as the victim, Scott Shafer, lying on the ground
in between 714 and 716 Derry Street. Officer Stacey observed
an entrance wound and an exit wound in the victim's left
arm and an entrance wound in the victim's abdomen.
Officer Stacey testified that the victim did not tell him who
shot him or the circumstances surrounding the shooting.
Detective Eric Ely of the Shelbyville Police Department
arrived on the scene after other officers had already secured
the area and begun searching for evidence. He was directed to
an area where David Williams of the Bedford County
Sheriff's Department had located a shell casing earlier
that evening. Detective Ely photographed the cartridge and
took it into evidence. He testified that it was the casing of
a .40 caliber bullet. At around 10:25 that evening, Detective
Ely went to the hospital where other officers had the
[Petitioner] in custody. There he received the Taurus pistol
that Trooper Inman had found in the [Petitioner]'s
pocket. Detective Ely stated that he read the [Petitioner]
his rights. Noticing that the [Petitioner] had blood on his
lip and some of his teeth were dislodged, he asked him,
"What happened to your mouth?" The [Petitioner]
replied, "I didn't shoot anybody." The
detective testified that he did not smell alcohol on the
[Petitioner] during this conversation. Later in his
investigation, Detective Ely went to the office of the state
medical examiner, where he received the bullet that had been
removed from the body of the victim.
Teri Arney is a forensic scientist with the Tennessee Bureau
of Investigation. She examined the shell casing found at the
scene of the shooting, the bullet extracted from the
victim's body, and the handgun found in the
[Petitioner]'s pocket. She testified that the gun was a
Taurus model PT140 .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol. She
determined that the bullet and shell casing had been fired
and ejected from the [Petitioner]'s gun.
Jeff Long is the EMT worker who administered medical aid to
the victim. Mr. Long testified that when he encountered the
victim, he was pale and sweating. The victim's lack of
color indicated blood loss, and the perspiration indicated
that he was beginning to go into shock. These signs suggested
that the victim was bleeding internally and needed to be
flown via helicopter to Nashville for surgery.
Jeffery Guy is a surgeon at Vanderbilt Hospital who treated
the victim. He testified that the victim had extremely low
blood pressure when he arrived at Vanderbilt. Despite the
efforts of the surgical team, Scott Shafer died from blood
loss as a result of gunshot wounds to the spleen, pancreas,
Feng Li of the state medical examiner's office performed
an autopsy on the victim's body on April 14, 2001. He
testified that the victim died of gunshot wounds to different
internal organs, and that all of the wounds had been caused
by a single bullet. He also testified that no alcohol or
drugs were detected in the victim's blood.
Rhonda Hill testified that her son Chris received a letter in
May of 2001. She recognized the return address on the
envelope as being the Bedford County Jail; so she decided to
read the letter. The letter was dated May 23, 2001, the day
after the [Petitioner]'s preliminary hearing. The letter
was from the [Petitioner], who referred to himself as
"Juvy." In the letter, the [Petitioner] stated that
a girl named Shawn is "running her
mouth." The [Petitioner]'s letter asked Chris
to prevent Ms. Nunnally from making the June 18 court date,
which is the date on which the [Petitioner]'s case was
presented to the grand jury. Finally, the [Petitioner]
requested Chris to "hook up with Mickey and burn this
[b----] house down." After reading the letter, Ms. Hill
went to the police station and gave the police the letter.
Henry Young, who was in jail with the [Petitioner], testified
that he observed the [Petitioner] writing the letter. Mr.
Young testified that after his preliminary hearing on May 22,
2001, the [Petitioner] mentioned LaShawn Nunnally's
testimony and that it "needed to be taken care of."
After the State rested its case, the [Petitioner] testified
on his own behalf. He stated that, on the afternoon of April
13, 2001, he had been out riding with the victim, Scott
Shafer. The [Petitioner] had drunk three quarts of Budweiser
beer in thirty minutes when he first joined the victim. After
the [Petitioner] left the victim's car, the [Petitioner]
decided to walk to LaShawn Nunnally's house. When he
arrived, the victim was already there. The two men exchanged
words regarding whether the victim had tried to
"holler" at the [Petitioner]'s girlfriend. At
this point, the [Petitioner] testified that his gun was in
his pocket. He handed the gun to Ms. Nunnally, and the
argument between the [Petitioner] and the victim escalated
into a fight. The victim punched the [Petitioner] in the
mouth, and the two wrestled on the ground. During the fight,
the [Petitioner] suffered a busted lip and lost a tooth.
After the fight, the two men apologized to each other,
hugged, and left in the victim's car. The [Petitioner]
stated that when they left, Ms. Nunnally still had the gun.
The [Petitioner] and the victim then went to a store, where
the [Petitioner] bought another quart of beer. After riding
around for awhile, the two men returned to Ms. Nunnally's
house. When they arrived, Ms. Nunnally and Mike Jones were
there. The group was sitting on the front porch talking, when
Jarmaine Hill showed up. Mr. Hill and Ms. Nunnally went
inside the house for fifteen to thirty minutes. When Mr. Hill
came back onto the front porch, he told the [Petitioner] that
he wanted to speak with him. The two men walked down the
street and talked. The [Petitioner] testified that when they
returned, he sat back down on Ms. Nunnally's front porch.
Then the [Petitioner] looked up and observed Mr. Hill
pointing a gun at the victim. The [Petitioner] stated that
Mr. Hill shot the victim. Mr. Hill ran away, but the
[Petitioner] remained on the porch. At that time, Ms.
Nunnally approached the [Petitioner], said "Here, "
and handed him the pistol. The [Petitioner] took the gun and
ran. The [Petitioner] said that he ran past Smith's Food
Town, and he stopped and knocked on the door of James Wheeler
because he did not know how to get to his friend Matt
Kelly's house. While he was at Mr. Wheeler's house,
Matt Kelly drove up, and the [Petitioner] got in his car. The
[Petitioner] testified that they drove to the hospital
because he was concerned about the victim. Later on in his
testimony, the [Petitioner] admitted writing the letter to
Chris Hodge asking him to burn down the house of LaShawn
Nunnally "to make her stop lying on [him]."
The defense called Jarmaine Hill as a witness, but he
asserted his Fifth Amendment privilege against
self-incrimination. Therefore, the trial court declared Mr.
Hill unavailable, and the defense called Randall Lottie. Mr.
Lottie testified that, while he was incarcerated with Mr.
Hill, he heard Mr. Hill say that he killed Scott Shafer. Mr.
Hill said that Mr. Shafer owed him money for drugs, and that
another person was in jail for his crime.
Dennis Cedric Woodard, Jr., 2003 WL 169082, at *1-5.
April 19, 2005, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for
post-conviction relief, alleging that he received the
ineffective assistance of counsel. The Petitioner argued in
his petition that the post-conviction court should toll the
one-year statute of limitations because he did not learn the
supreme court denied his application for permission to appeal
until after the statute of limitations in which to file his
petition for post-conviction relief expired. The
post-conviction court determined that the petition was
untimely and that tolling of the statute of limitations was
not warranted. The Petitioner did not appeal the dismissal of
the petition, but he filed a second petition on May 10, 2013,
requesting post-conviction relief and a writ of error coram
nobis. See Dennis Cedric Woodard, Jr. v. State, No.
M2013-01857-CCA-R3-PC, 2014 WL 4536641, at *5 (Tenn. Crim.
App. Sept. 15, 2014), no perm. app. field. Although
the Petitioner conceded his second petition was untimely, he
requested tolling of the statute of limitations period in the
interests of justice based upon his allegation that trial
counsel deliberately deceived him by failing to disclose that
counsel previously represented one of the State's
witnesses. Id. at *6. The Petitioner, likewise,
alleged multiple grounds of the ineffective assistance of
counsel. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition as
untimely and did not render findings of fact or conclusions
of law relative to the request for a writ of error coram
nobis. Id. This court reversed the summary dismissal
based upon the Petitioner's diligent pursuit of appellate
relief and remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing on
the post-conviction and coram nobis claims. Id. at
evidentiary hearing, trial counsel testified that he had
practiced law for twenty-five years and that he had been an
assistant public defender for sixteen years. Counsel said
that he had worked in the public defender's office for
two years at the time he represented the Petitioner. Counsel
said that he investigated the Petitioner's case by
interviewing witnesses, talking to the Petitioner, following
up on discovery, and reviewing the autopsy and laboratory
reports. He said he interviewed the police officers involved,
although he did not have any records relative to their
conversations. He said the physicians were interviewed before
the trial, although he could not recall whether he or the
investigator interviewed them.
counsel testified that he previously represented Brooke
Whitaker but not when he represented the Petitioner. Counsel
said that relative to the Petitioner's case, he first
heard Ms. Whitaker's name when he read the
post-conviction petition. Counsel was unsure whether he knew
the offense occurred near Ms. Whitaker's home and said
that he did not know where she lived at the time of the
offense and that nobody mentioned Ms. Whitaker's name in
connection with the Petitioner's case.
counsel testified that the Petitioner claimed he was innocent
and that counsel determined a mental health expert was
unnecessary relative to the Petitioner's intent at the
time of the offense. Counsel knew about the Petitioner's
juvenile psychiatric records and said that had an expert
testified, the jury would have heard evidence the Petitioner
had been previously diagnosed with "intermittent
explosive disorder, " which counsel described as
"flying off the handle" and committing violent
acts. Counsel said that he recalled the Petitioner had been
previously evaluated for mental health reasons but did not
recall the Petitioner's being hospitalized in a mental
health facility. Counsel recalled that the Petitioner's
diagnosis was depression caused by legal difficulties.
Counsel said that based upon the diagnosis, requesting an
expert was pointless. Counsel was unsure whether the trial
court would have granted a request for expert funding.
counsel testified that he did not obtain an expert to testify
about the Petitioner's intoxication because the evidence
showed the Petitioner had been drinking on the day of the
offense. Counsel said that after reviewing the records and
the witness statements and speaking with the Petitioner,
counsel determined an intoxication expert was unnecessary.
counsel testified that he was familiar with Henry Young, that
he had represented Mr. Young, and that Mr. Young had been a
long-time client of the public defender's office. Counsel
denied, though, that he represented the Petitioner and Mr.
Young simultaneously. Counsel said that the public
defender's office represented Mr. Young before the
homicide in the Petitioner's case, that Mr. Young pleaded
guilty, and that Mr. Young, ultimately, violated the
conditions of his community corrections sentence. Counsel
said that at some point, Mr. Young incurred additional
charges, that the public defender's office represented
Mr. Young, that Mr. Young pleaded guilty, and that this
charge occurred when the Petitioner's case was pending.
Counsel said that after Mr. Young pleaded guilty in the
subsequent case, counsel received the State's
supplemental witness list in the Petitioner's case, which
included Mr. Young. Counsel said that at that point, the
public defender's office had ended its representation of
counsel testified that the Petitioner reported counsel to the
Board of Professional Responsibility, alleging that counsel
represented the Petitioner and Mr. Young simultaneously and
that counsel advised Mr. Young to testify against the
Petitioner. Counsel denied the allegations and said that the
Board of Professional Responsibility opened an investigation
and, ultimately, dismissed the complaint. Counsel admitted he
represented Mr. Young while the Petitioner's case was
pending but said he did not represent Mr. Young at the time
of the Petitioner's trial. Counsel agreed he represented
the Petitioner when counsel represented Mr. Young at an
August 2, 2001 guilty plea hearing but said that he and the
public defender's office had no information or knowledge
that Mr. Young was involved with or connected to the
Petitioner's case. Counsel agreed the supplemental
witness list relative to the Petitioner's case was
received on October 5, 2001. Counsel said he did not file a
motion to withdraw as the Petitioner's counsel because
neither counsel nor the public defender's office
represented Mr. Young when counsel learned Mr. Young was a
State's witness at the Petitioner's trial. Counsel
said he probably considered whether a motion to withdraw was
necessary but said his office no longer represented Mr.
Young. Counsel recalled that he received the supplemental
witness list sixty days after his office ended its
representation of Mr. Young and that no conflict of interests
existed at that point. Counsel said that the Petitioner knew
counsel represented Mr. Young because the Petitioner
mentioned it to counsel.
counsel testified that Mr. Young's testifying at the
Petitioner's trial was not "as big a deal" as
the woman who testified that she saw the Petitioner shoot the
victim and that the woman was identified as a State's
witness in the initial witness list. He said that although
Mr. Young was not his client when counsel received the
supplemental witness list, counsel spoke to Mr. Young, who
said that he saw the Petitioner write a letter while Mr.
Young and the Petitioner were confined in the jail. Counsel
said co-counsel cross-examined Mr. Young at ...