Assigned on Briefs July 12, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County Nos. 13-01803,
13-01807, 13-02893, 13-02895, 13-02894 James C. Beasley, Jr.,
case represents the consolidated appeals of Defendants
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,  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
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
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.
EVERETT WILLIAMS, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which ALAN E. Glenn and Robert W. Wedemeyer, JJ., joined.
EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Defendants came to the attention of law enforcement when Mr.
Tyler and Mr. Devonta Hampton committed an aggravated robbery
against victim Jose Mateos. 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ...