Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs October 25, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 98950 Bobby R.
Deon Mills ("the Petitioner") was convicted of two
counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of
especially aggravated robbery, and one count of aggravated
burglary by a Knox County jury. The trial court sentenced the
Petitioner to an effective sentence of twenty-five years with
release eligibility after service of 100% of the sentence in
the Department of Correction. On appeal, this court affirmed
the Petitioner's convictions. The Petitioner filed a
petition for post-conviction relief, which the
post-conviction court denied. The Petitioner argues on appeal
that trial counsel's performance was deficient and that
he was prejudiced by the ineffective assistance of trial
counsel. On appeal, we affirm the post-conviction court's
denial of relief to the Petitioner.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Douglas A. Trant, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Michael Deon Mills.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Charme P.
Allen, District Attorney General; and Phillip H. Morton,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.
L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE
Factual and Procedural Background
direct appeal, this court summarized the testimony presented
at trial as follows:
[Co-defendant] [t]wenty-two-year-old Brandon Tarver testified
that the [Petitioner and co-defendant Kenneth Spencer] were
his friends. At the time of trial, he had known [the
Petitioner] and [co-defendant Spencer] three and ten years,
respectively. About 6:00 p.m. on August 8, 2007,
[co-defendants] Tarver and Spencer went to [co-defendant]
Tarver's father's house on Apex Drive off Sutherland
Avenue in Knoxville. [The Petitioner] also went to the house.
At some point, [co-defendant] Spencer went back to his home
off Magnolia Avenue. [The Petitioner] also left
[co-defendant] Tarver's father's home on Apex Drive.
[Co-defendant] Tarver said that he and a girl named Tiffany
later met up with [co-defendant] Spencer at [co-defendant]
Spencer's house. At that point, [co-defendant] Tarver
refused to testify further, saying, "I have nothing else
to say. I got my time. I wanna do my time."
Philip Lim testified that in August 2007, he lived in a
two-story home on Bradshaw Garden Drive. On the night of
August 8, he was at home with his then nineteen-year-old son,
Shawn, and thirteen-year-old daughter, Heidi. Shortly before
midnight, Philip was standing in his living room while
watching television and drinking soup. Someone knocked open
the front door, and three or four people wearing bandanas
over their faces came into the house. Philip said a black
male pointed a "long" gun at his face and told him,
"I will kill you. I will kill you." A white male
with an aluminum baseball bat hit Philip a few times on his
back. Philip ran into the kitchen, and the man with the bat
followed him. Philip said that the men wanted to know if he
had any drugs and that he told them, "No. I don't
have drugs. I don't even smoke." Philip said he was
"running scared"; screamed, "Call 911. Call
911"; picked up a barstool; and threw it at the man with
the gun. He said that a second living room and his
children's bedrooms were in the basement and that he
Philip testified that he stumbled on the steps to the
basement and that the man with the bat began beating him.
Philip ran into Heidi's bedroom and tried to hold the
door closed, but the man overpowered him, came into the room,
and hit him on the head and back with the bat. Philip fought
with the man for about five minutes and ran out of the room.
The man followed and continued to beat him, and Philip fell
next to a couch in the basement living room. The man told him
to take off a gold bracelet he was wearing, but Philip could
not get the bracelet off because his thumb was swollen. The
man beat Philip with the bat, yanked the bracelet off his
wrist, and told him to take out his wallet. Philip did as
instructed, and the man took about sixty dollars out of the
wallet. The man also pulled a telephone cord out of the wall.
Philip took a cellular telephone out of his pocket in order
to dial 9-1-1, but the man broke it into two pieces.
Philip testified that the man "cornered" him under
a piano and that he told the man, "Please don't kill
me. I've got beautiful children." The man forced him
to stay under the piano and did not leave him until the
police arrived. At that point, the man broke through the
basement's sliding glass door and ran outside. The police
came into the house and took Philip upstairs, where he saw
his son. He said his head and his son's head were
bleeding. The police captured a black intruder and a white
intruder still in the house. Philip's son asked to see
the two men but did not recognize them. Paramedics took
Philip to the University of Tennessee Hospital. His thumb was
broken, he could not raise his hand, and he had injuries to
his neck and back. He said that the man with the bat had hit
him twenty or thirty times, that his head was split open, and
that he received staples in his head. He was in extreme pain
after the attack and went to physical therapy for months. At
the time of trial, he was still seeing his doctor for
treatment and was in counseling. He said that he did not own
a gun or baseball bat and that neither of those items had
been in his home before the robbery.
On cross-examination, Philip testified that a briefcase
containing jewelry had been in his bedroom closet and that
one of the men found the briefcase and opened it.
Philip's arms were bruised during the attack when he held
them up to protect his neck. He said that the intruders
damaged a couch and mattress, that they broke doors and
windows, and that blood was "everywhere." The
intruders caused eighteen to twenty thousand dollars[']
worth of damage to his house.
Shawn Lim testified that on the night of August 8, 2007, he
was downstairs and getting ready for bed. Suddenly, he heard
his father upstairs yelling, "[C]all 911, help."
Shawn was scared and did not know what was going on. He ran
upstairs and saw a tall black male with a bandana over his
face and holding a gun. Shawn grabbed the gun and struggled
with the man. He said he could not see his father but heard
"other commotion" in the kitchen area. Suddenly,
someone hit Shawn on the back of his head with a baseball
bat. He said he blacked out for a moment, fell over the
couch, and was beaten with the bat and the butt of the gun.
He said two men told him, "Don't try and be brave or
anything, sit down, stay right here." While the men were
with him, Shawn could hear his father screaming downstairs.
The man with the bat left, and the man with the gun moved
Shawn to a bathroom. Shawn grabbed a towel and held it to his
head. The man with the gun told Shawn to sit in the bathroom
and stayed with him until the police arrived. Shawn said that
while he was in the bathroom, he could see someone with a
baseball bat walking "back and forth, " searching
the upstairs bedrooms. He said he could still hear his father
and a commotion downstairs.
Shawn testified that he heard the man with the bat alert the
man with the gun, that the two men tried to find a way out of
the house, and that he heard a bedroom window break. Shawn
saw a police officer, and Philip Lim came upstairs. The
police began searching the house and found the man with the
bat and the man with the gun hiding in an upstairs bedroom.
The police brought them out of the room and took off their
bandanas. Shawn said that only one of the intruders was
black, and he identified [the Petitioner] in court as the
black intruder with the gun. Regarding an in-court
identification of [co-defendant] Spencer, Shawn said that
"it was dark in the living room . . ., so I'm not
sure if he was the one that was in the living room or the one
downstairs that I didn't see." He said that as a
result of the attack, he had a large cut on his head that had
to be closed with fifteen staples. He also had cuts and
bruises on ...