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State v. Johnson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

November 18, 2016

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
ELLIS JOHNSON

          Assigned on Briefs July 12, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 13-05975 John W. Campbell, Judge

         The defendant, Ellis Johnson, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and was sentenced to thirteen years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that: (1) the trial court erred in allowing the victim to testify about her injuries; (2) the trial court erred in ruling that the State could introduce five of his prior convictions for impeachment purposes; (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; and (4) he is entitled to relief due to the cumulative effect of the errors. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Joshua B. Dougan, Jackson, Tennessee (on appeal); and Micah Gates, Memphis, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Ellis Johnson.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Melanie H. Cox, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Robert W. Wedemeyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE.

         FACTS

         The defendant was indicted for aggravated burglary with intent to commit theft and aggravated burglary with intent to commit assault as a result of his forceful entry into the victims' hotel room during the early morning hours of August 18, 2013. The jury acquitted him of aggravated burglary with intent to commit theft but convicted him of aggravated burglary with intent to commit assault.

         The proof at trial showed that Phyllis Dickson accompanied her friend, Modesta "Missy" Mikell on a trip to Memphis from Central Arkansas so Ms. Mikell could purchase items for an interior design client. The two women checked into the Westin Hotel late in the afternoon on August 17 and then went to Beale Street to listen to blues music and people watch. They each had two alcoholic drinks over the course of the evening.

         When they returned to the hotel around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m., Ms. Dickson decided that she wanted to smoke and asked for the valet to bring her car around. Ms. Dickson sat in her car talking on the phone and smoking cigarettes. Meanwhile, Ms. Mikell sat in the lobby for about an hour and then sent Ms. Dickson a text message that she was going to the room and would leave the lights on. Ms. Mikell got ready for bed, turned on the TV, and dozed off.

         Ms. Dickson smoked half a pack of cigarettes and went back into the lobby, where she talked to the desk manager and left her keys for the valet. It was then around 4:00 a.m. She got onto the elevator to go to her room, and the defendant was already in the elevator. The defendant did not push a button for any particular floor. During the elevator ride, Ms. Dickson began to feel uneasy about the defendant. The defendant got off on the same floor as Ms. Dickson, but when she turned to go right and the defendant went left, she felt at ease again. As she proceeded down the hall, Ms. Dickson heard footsteps behind her. She turned and saw that it was the defendant again. She bent down and pretended to tie her shoe to see if the defendant would walk past her. The defendant walked past her and out of sight, and Ms. Dickson concluded that she was just being paranoid. She then walked to the room she shared with Ms. Mikell at the end of the hallway.

         As soon as Ms. Dickson put her key card into the door, she was pushed forward and the door slammed against the wall inside. She turned around and was nose-to-nose inside the room with the defendant and the door closed. Ms. Dickson called for Ms. Mikell, who had been awakened by the sudden bang of the door. Ms. Dickson retreated further into the room and told Ms. Mikell to call 911. When Ms. Mikell did not take action quickly enough, Ms. Dickson went on the offensive, screaming and cursing and "acting like [she] was a tough bitch." The defendant eventually turned and left the room, and the women called the front desk and the police. When the police responded to the hotel, the women told them what had happened and provided a description of the assailant. Both women identified the defendant from a photographic array within hours of the assault.

         The women left Memphis after finishing their discussions with the police. When Ms. Dickson got home, she noticed a knot on her head and began to experience a severe headache, causing her to stay in bed for three days. On the third day, she went to the emergency room and discovered that she had "a contusion and a knot" on the back of her head. She did not specifically remember getting hit in the head during the incident but, aside from the altercation with the defendant, she experienced no other trauma or incident that could have given rise to her injuries. Ms. Dickson acknowledged telling the police in ...


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