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State v. Hampton

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

November 23, 2016

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
DESHUN HAMPTON, MATTHEW TYLER and DEVONTA HAMPTON aka DEVONTA TAYLOR

          Assigned on Briefs July 12, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County Nos. 13-01803, 13-01807, 13-02893, 13-02895, 13-02894 James C. Beasley, Jr., Judge

         This case represents the consolidated appeals of Defendants Deshun[1] Hampton, Matthew Tyler, and Devonta Hampton. The three Defendants, having entered open guilty pleas to various felonies, challenge only the trial court's sentencing decisions, including its decision to impose partially consecutive sentences. The trial court sentenced Mr. Tyler to an aggregate sentence of sixty-six years, [2] Mr. Deshun Hampton to an aggregate sentence of fifty-five years, and Mr. Devonta Hampton to an aggregate sentence of thirty-two years. Mr. Deshun Hampton and Mr. Tyler, who were between fifteen and sixteen years old at the time of the crimes, assert that their sentences amount to de facto life sentences and are therefore in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. They also challenge the application of certain enhancement and mitigating factors. All three Defendants challenge the trial court's sentencing decisions, asserting that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing partially consecutive sentences. We conclude that the sentences at issue, while lengthy, allow for a meaningful opportunity for release and do not run afoul of the Eighth Amendment, and we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal Court Affirmed; Case Remanded

          Autumn Chastain, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Deshun Hampton; Linda Khumalo, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Matthew Tyler; and Stephen Bush, District Public Defender, and Harry E. Sayle, III, (on appeal), and Michael Johnson (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Devonta Hampton.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Thomas Henderson and Jose Leon, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which ALAN E. Glenn and Robert W. Wedemeyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Defendants came to the attention of law enforcement when Mr. Tyler and Mr. Devonta Hampton committed an aggravated robbery against victim Jose Mateos.[3] The conviction for the aggravated robbery of Mr. Mateos is not at issue in this appeal, but Mr. Mateos nevertheless testified at the sentencing hearing that on January 24, 2013, he was returning home from work when he was approached by two men. He allowed one of the men to use his telephone and that man subsequently pointed a gun at his head and demanded his property and keys. The second assailant then got in Mr. Mateos's truck, and the first assailant attempted to force Mr. Mateos into the truck as well. After a struggle, Mr. Mateos reached the door of his apartment and shouted to his wife to call the police, and the assailants fled.

         Mr. Tyler and Mr. Devonta Hampton were arrested in Mr. Mateos's vehicle shortly thereafter. They both acknowledged their role in the crime against Mr. Mateos, Mr. Tyler admitting that he was the gunman and Mr. Devonta Hampton admitting that he was the driver. Both proceeded to give further statements incriminating the three Defendants in numerous other crimes. Mr. Tyler further pointed the police to certain videos on a telephone belonging to him which was in the custody of law enforcement due to a previous arrest. Mr. Deshun Hampton also gave statements to police acknowledging his role in certain crimes.

         Ultimately, the three Defendants entered open guilty pleas to numerous crimes, and the Defendants now challenge the trial court's sentencing decisions. Each of the three Defendants entered an open guilty plea to one count of aggravated robbery in indictment 13-01803. Mr. Tyler pled guilty to one count of aggravated robbery in indictment 13-01804. Mr. Deshun Hampton and Mr. Tyler also entered open guilty pleas to one count of attempted first degree murder, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of employing a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony in indictment 13-01807. Mr. Deshun Hampton and Mr. Tyler pled guilty in indictment 13-02893 to one count of animal cruelty and one count of killing an animal. Each of the three Defendants pled guilty to one count of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of employing a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony in indictment 13-02894; and to two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of employing a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony in indictment 13-02895.

         The criminal activity at issue in this appeal began in May 2012. At the February 5, 2015, sentencing hearing, Officer Fausto Frias of the Memphis Police Department testified that he interviewed Mr. Tyler after Mr. Tyler was apprehended for the robbery of Mr. Mateos and that Mr. Tyler was "bragging about" various other crimes that he had committed, including a shooting that he claimed to have recorded on a cellular telephone which was in the possession of police. Officer Frias found the telephone in the property room and prepared a search warrant. Two relevant videos emerged. One video was footage of the shooting of a dog. The video depicts the assailants walking up to a barking dog which is behind a chain-link fence, shooting the dog with a gun, and running away laughing. Relative to this crime, the State noted at Mr. Tyler's plea hearing that David Sanchez had reported that he kept his pit bull at his business for security purposes and that the dog was shot through the neck sometime between May 22 and May 23, 2012. Based on the video, Mr. Deshun Hampton and Mr. Tyler were each charged in indictment 13-02893 with one count of aggravated animal cruelty and one count of the intentional killing of an animal.

         The other relevant video recovered from Mr. Tyler's telephone showed footage of an attempted murder which took place a day or two after the shooting of the dog. At the sentencing hearing, James Giggers, Jr., testified that he was working as an armed security guard in an apartment complex on May 24, 2012. In the early morning hours, Mr. Giggers was sitting in the golf cart he used to patrol the complex when he heard a shot, followed by several more shots. The glass on the passenger's side of his car shattered, and he rolled out of the car. Overall, he heard approximately eight shots, but he could not locate the shooter. Mr. Giggers had glass and shrapnel in his eye from the broken window, and he had to wear an eye patch for approximately one month. The video recovered from Mr. Tyler's telephone shows Mr. Tyler and Mr. Deshun Hampton shooting at Mr. Giggers's car.

         Mr. Tyler's statement detailed the incident, including the name of the videographer. Mr. Tyler stated that he was angry because Mr. Giggers had chased him and a group of youths away from the apartments a few months prior to the shooting. During that incident, he claimed that he and Mr. Deshun Hampton stole an iPad from Mr. Giggers's vehicle while Mr. Giggers chased their friends. Mr. Tyler stated that on the day of the shooting, he and Mr. Deshun Hampton were looking for someone to rob when they saw the security guard. Mr. Tyler stated that he "told [Deshun] that I was fixing to walk past the truck and when the security guard gets out to chase me, I told [Deshun] to shoot him in the face." Mr. Giggers did not get out of the truck when Mr. Tyler walked past. Mr. Tyler and Mr. Deshun Hampton moved across the street and hid behind a wall, and Mr. Tyler shot at Mr. Giggers once, then handed the gun to Mr. Deshun Hampton, who "emptied the clip." The video shows the two young men shooting at the car as described by Mr. Tyler. Mr. Tyler and Mr. Deshun Hampton were each charged with one count of attempted first degree murder, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of employing a firearm in a dangerous felony in indictment 13-01807 as a result of these events.

         Shortly thereafter, on June 2, 2012, all three Defendants participated in a home invasion in the same apartment complex. According to the prosecution's presentation of the facts at Mr. Tyler's plea hearing, victims Angelo Lorenzo and Carlos Tercero opened the front door for the assailants and were then robbed at gunpoint of money and telephones. According to Mr. Tyler's statement, the three Defendants and other confederates were "looking for somebody to rob, " and looked inside a window in the apartment complex. They saw two men whom they took to be intoxicated. The assailants took the victims' money and telephones. Mr. Tyler stated that both he and one of the Hamptons had a BB gun. Mr. Tyler stated that he and Mr. Deshun Hampton went to the back of the apartment and saw a woman and some children asleep before they were alerted to leave by other participants in the crime, who were watching for the approach of security officers. Mr. Devonta Hampton's statement also noted that there were other participants and that they chose the victims because they looked through the window and thought the victims were intoxicated. Mr. Devonta Hampton stated that Mr. Tyler had a BB gun and that Mr. Deshun Hampton had a .45 caliber pistol. According to Mr. Devonta Hampton, he and Mr. Tyler were the first to enter, and they left after robbing the victims because he saw some other people asleep in the apartment. Mr. Deshun Hampton also acknowledged participating, but he stated that only Mr. Tyler was armed. As a result, the three Defendants were all charged with two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of employing a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony in indictment 13-02895.

         The three Defendants then participated in another home invasion in the same apartment complex. Margaret Bichon testified at the sentencing hearing that she heard a loud bang on her front door at 1:30 a.m. on July 12, 2012. The men at her door told her that they were police officers, but when she saw that there was no police car in front of her apartment, she called the police. In the meantime, the men forced their way in through the back door. One held her at gunpoint while others went to the bedrooms. The men took her telephone, a laptop computer, and some change. Ms. Bichon was terrified and "just knew [she] was going to get shot." Mr. Tyler's statement was that the three Defendants went to the apartments, where they saw the laptop but did not see anyone through the window. He stated he told the others to pretend to be police, and that he meanwhile broke in the back door. Mr. Tyler held the victim up with a BB gun, and they took a laptop, a telephone, and an orange drink. Mr. Devonta Hampton's statement was that the three Defendants and several accomplices saw the victim alone in the apartment, broke open the back door, and held her at gunpoint. He stated they took the telephone and some change. According to Mr. Deshun Hampton's statement, there were several others youths involved in this crime, and they had seen the victim alone in the home by looking through the window. He stated that she would not open the door and they broke in through the back. According to Mr. Deshun Hampton, Mr. Tyler pointed a BB gun at her and that they took the laptop, a laptop charger, the telephone, and some food. The Defendants were charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony in indictment 13-02894.

         The next crime was committed by Mr. Tyler acting alone. According to the prosecutor's statement of facts, on December 19, 2012, police responded to a robbery at the same apartment complex. The victim, Antonio Arguello, stated that a man had approached him with a gun and taken his wallet and sixty dollars. Mr. Tyler acknowledged that he "was walking around looking for somebody to rob, " when he saw the victim near the victim's apartment. He pulled out the gun and told the victim to "come on with everything." He took the victim's wallet and ran away. As a result, he was charged with aggravated robbery in indictment 13-01804.

         All three Defendants then participated in the aggravated robbery of Luis Ramirez on January 23, 2013. According to Mr. Tyler's statement, he and the Hamptons saw the victim pull up into his apartment complex at around 11:48 p.m., and Mr. Tyler approached him with the black BB gun. The Defendants took the man's money and the keys to his car, which they soon after crashed into a brick wall doing a "donut." Mr. Devonta Hampton's statement was that the three saw the victim pull into his apartment complex and that Mr. Tyler pointed the gun at him while Mr. Deshun Hampton searched his pockets. Mr. Devonta Hampton acknowledged looking through the victim's wallet for gift cards and told police that he then gave the wallet back to the victim. They took the victim's telephone and car, which Mr. Tyler crashed into a brick wall. Mr. Deshun Hampton confirmed in his statement that the three took the victim's telephone, money, and vehicle while Mr. Tyler pointed a weapon. He stated that Mr. Devonta Hampton patted down the victim and gave him the victim's keys so that he could drive. As a result of the crime, the Defendants were charged with aggravated robbery in indictment 13-01803.

         The Defendants introduced mitigating evidence regarding their troubled childhoods. Michelle Hampton, the mother of Mr. Deshun and Mr. Devonta Hampton, testified on behalf of her children. Ms. Hampton stated that she had six sons and that all of her children were diagnosed with a "mild mental problem" and were "easily influenced." The father of Mr. Deshun and Mr. Devonta Hampton was killed in front of the two boys in 1998. She acknowledged that her children went to juvenile court twice for dependency and neglect, stating that she had gone to jail for three years for attempted second degree murder. During her incarceration, Mr. Deshun Hampton lived with her sister, and Mr. Devonta Hampton lived with her mother. According to Ms. Hampton, Mr. Deshun Hampton had difficulties reading, had learning disabilities, was in resource classes, and suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Mr. Devonta Hampton was also in resource class and had been diagnosed with ADHD and bipolar disorder. He had been taking lithium from the age of nine or ten until a little before the commission of the crimes. A psychological evaluation of Mr. Deshun Hampton revealed that he has a borderline IQ of 72 but concluded he was not mentally deficient or mentally ill. Mr. Devonta Hampton was diagnosed in prison with depression and psychosis, including hallucinations. Ms. Hampton acknowledged that she had received warning letters from juvenile court regarding her sons. She acknowledged that Mr. Deshun Hampton and her nephew "broke into a church or something" at eight years old. She testified that Mr. Tyler had stayed with her off and on, that he was "a good boy, too, " and that she could not say whether he was the leader in these crimes.

         Patricia Rambo, Mr. Tyler's grandmother, testified on behalf of Mr. Tyler. Ms. Rambo stated that Mr. Tyler's father had been a member of a gang and had been abusive to his mother. Mr. Tyler had witnessed this abuse. Mr. Tyler was nevertheless very attached to his father, looked up to him, and tried to emulate him. When Mr. Tyler was six years old, his mother's new boyfriend killed Mr. Tyler's father. Mr. Tyler was "hysterical if you mentioned his father at that time, even at the age of six." The man who had killed his father then moved in with the family, which Ms. Rambo testified was particularly traumatic for Mr. Tyler. Mr. Tyler began running away at age eleven. At one point, Ms. Rambo learned that Mr. Tyler was living with an adult "female impersonator, " who went by the name "Peaches." Ms. Rambo contacted the sex crimes unit and was able to find the origin of some telephone calls to determine that "Peaches" had taken Mr. Tyler out of the state. Ms. Rambo believed "Peaches" was prostituting Mr. Tyler, and a police officer had identified certain Craigslist advertisements which police believed were possibly related to Mr. Tyler and "Peaches." In order to separate him from "Peaches, " the family gave up custody of Mr. Tyler to the Department of Children's Services ("DCS"). Mr. Tyler continued to run away from DCS, and Ms. Rambo continued to search for him. At one point, he told her he was staying with the Hamptons. Ms. Rambo stated that Mr. Tyler had expressed remorse about his crimes to her, and that "we recognized they were horrendous also." She acknowledged the existence of a video where "Peaches" is abusing a child and Mr. Tyler is laughing and video recording it.

         The Defendants introduced various certificates they had received in prison. Mr. Tyler had a Certificate of Baptism, a Certificate of Recognition for class participation and willingness to excel, a Certificate of Achievement for class participation and willingness to excel, a Certificate of Participation in a 4th of July Education Program, a Certificate of Participation in Hope Academy East, and a Certificate of Completion for the "Moral Reconation Therapy" program. Mr. Deshun Hampton presented a Certificate of Participation in Hope Academy East.

         Mr. Tyler addressed the court eloquently, stating that he would like to apologize to the victims "for the pain and scars created by my actions." He stated that he had been a "wild and troubled child" who did not realize how his actions affected others. He told the court that he had not meant to hurt anyone ...


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