Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs at Knoxville August 16, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2008-C-2541
Steve R. Dozier, Judge
Petitioner, Bruce Mendenhall, appeals the Davidson County
Criminal Court's denial of his petition for
post-conviction relief from his convictions of three counts
of solicitation to commit first degree premeditated murder
and resulting effective thirty-year sentence. On appeal, the
Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective
assistance of trial counsel. Based upon the record and the
parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Court is Affirmed.
Lords, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bruce
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M.
Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; Glenn R. Funk,
District Attorney General; and Pamela Anderson, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
James Curwood Witt, Jr., and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ.,
MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE
to this court's opinion from the Petitioner's direct
appeal of his convictions,
[i]n 2007, the Defendant was arrested and charged with the
murder of Sara Hulbert. Sergeant Pat Postiglione and
Detective Lee Freeman of the Metropolitan Nashville Police
Department (MNPD) led the murder investigation. Shortly after
his arrest, the Defendant gave a statement alleging that he
had nothing to do with Ms. Hulbert's murder and that
three other individuals were responsible for killing Ms.
Hulbert: Lori Young, Ritchie Kiem, and David Powell. However,
the police were unable to find any evidence connecting these
individuals to Ms. Hulbert's murder. While awaiting trial
for the murder of Ms. Hulbert, the Defendant was housed at
the Davidson County Sheriff's Department's (DCSD)
Criminal Justice Center (CJC) in Nashville, Tennessee. On
August 15, 2008, the Defendant was indicted for soliciting a
fellow inmate, Roy Lukas McLaughlin, to commit the
premeditated first degree murders of Ms. Young, Mr. Kiem, and
Mr. Powell. The Defendant was also indicted for soliciting
another fellow inmate, Michael Jenkins, to commit the
premeditated first degree murders of Sgt. Postiglione and
Det. Freeman. A jury trial on the charges was held from
January 11 to January 15, 2010.
State v. Bruce D. Mendenhall No.
M2010-01381-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 360525, at *1 (Tenn. Crim.
App. at Nashville, Jan. 30, 2013), perm. to appeal
denied, (Tenn. June 11, 2013). The jury convicted the
Petitioner of soliciting Mr. McLaughlin to commit the first
degree premeditated murders of Ms. Young, Mr. Kiem, and Mr.
Powell, Class B felonies, but acquitted him of soliciting Mr.
Jenkins to murder Sergeant Postiglione and Detective Freeman.
Id at *33. After a sentencing hearing, the
Petitioner received three consecutive ten-year sentences.
Id at *1.
appeal of his convictions to this court, the Petitioner
raised various issues, including that the evidence was
insufficient to support the convictions. See id at
*1. This court found the evidence sufficient, noting that Mr.
McLaughlin testified that the Petitioner hired him to kill
Ms. Young, Mr. Kiem, and Mr. Powell and that "wire
recordings reveal[ed] that [the Petitioner] was actively
planning the victims' murders with Mr. McLaughlin."
Id at *64, 66. After our supreme court denied the
Petitioner's application for permission to appeal, he
filed a timely pro se petition for post-conviction
relief, claiming that he received the ineffective assistance
of counsel. Appointed counsel filed an amended
petition. Relevant to this appeal, the Petitioner alleged
that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel
because trial counsel refused to present an entrapment
defense and refused to present witnesses to testify against
evidentiary hearing, the Petitioner testified that two
attorneys represented him at trial but that he met with
co-counsel more often than lead counsel. He acknowledged that
counsel met with him regularly in jail and said that they
discussed "different things that was going on with the
court." The Petitioner said that Sergeant Postiglione
had claimed the police "handed solicitation charges to
my attorney." However, "[t]hat was a lie"
because trial counsel was in Chicago when the indictment was
filed and did not receive the indictment for one week. The
Petitioner told co-counsel that he wanted to use an
entrapment defense, but co-counsel refused. The Petitioner
also gave lead counsel the names of eleven witnesses so she
could have them "refute McLaughlin" at trial, but
she "didn't use nary a one of them." The
Petitioner said that two of the witnesses would have
testified that they overheard Mr. McLaughlin tell fellow
inmates that Mr. McLaughlin had "made a deal with the
State." Regarding discovery, the Petitioner said,
"A lot of it I didn't get." He said that he
asked counsel for discovery but that they said his jail cell
was too small for all of the documents. At the ...