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State v. Hughes

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 29, 2016

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
WILLIE LEE HUGHES, JR.

          Session Date: July 19, 2016

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Williamson County No. I-CR105947 Michael Binkley, Judge No. I-CR126935 Joseph Woodruff, Judge

          The defendant, Willie Lee Hughes, Jr., appeals both his Williamson County Circuit Court jury conviction of aggravated robbery and his guilty-pleaded conviction of failure to appear, claiming that the trial court erred by failing to exclude his statements to law enforcement officers on the basis that the statements were made during the course of plea negotiations and that the trial court erred by classifying him as a persistent offender. Discerning no error, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3; Judgments of the Circuit Court Affirmed.

          Matthew J. Crigger, Brentwood, Tennessee, for the appellant, Willie Lee Hughes, Jr.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; James E. Gaylord, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; and Mary Katharine White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., joined. Timothy l. Easter, J., not participating.

          OPINION

          JAMES CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE

         In October 2011, the Williamson County Grand Jury charged the defendant with one count of aggravated robbery in case number I-CR105947. The defendant's case was scheduled for trial on October 10, 2012, but the defendant failed to appear. The defendant was later charged with failure to appear in case number I-CR126935, and he pleaded guilty to that charge with the sentence to be determined by the trial court at a hearing.

          The defendant's aggravated robbery case proceeded to trial in May 2014. The State's proof at trial established that, at approximately 6:00 a.m. on August 18, 2011, Maria Jaimes was drinking coffee outside her place of employment, Brentwood Magic Cleaners, when a black male accosted her with a large knife. The assailant placed the knife against Ms. Jaimes's stomach and demanded that she "give [him] everything" before taking her iPod, cellular telephone, and handbag. The assailant then ran to a light-colored Chevrolet Blazer parked in front of a nearby hotel and fled the scene; a white shirt concealed the vehicle's license plate. Ms. Jaimes reported the robbery to her manager, who in turn called the police.

         Brentwood Police Department ("BPD") Officer Stanley Boyd responded to the scene and spoke with Ms. Jaimes, who provided a description of the assailant and his vehicle. Upon learning that the assailant had stolen Ms. Jaimes's cellular telephone, Officer Boyd requested that the cellular carrier "ping" the telephone's location. The "ping" returned a location in north Nashville, and Officer Boyd advised officers with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department ("Metro"), who responded to the location.

         Metro Officers Kevin Cooley and Andrew Johnson arrived at the location at approximately 7:30 a.m., and about 30 minutes later, they observed a grey Blazer pull into the driveway of 1806 Elizabeth Road. The officers approached the driver of the vehicle, who identified herself as Lynne Edmonds. While the officers were speaking with Ms. Edmonds, the defendant walked out of the house and identified himself to the officers. The defendant admitted to Officer Cooley that he had been driving the Blazer earlier that morning. Ms. Edmonds gave officers consent to search the Blazer, and Officer Johnson discovered a large folding knife in the rear of the vehicle. At that point, Metro officers contacted BPD detectives and informed them that "we may have got your guy."

         Shortly thereafter, BPD Detective James Colvin arrived at the scene and spoke with the defendant. After Detective Colvin provided the defendant with his Miranda warnings, the defendant stated that he had been at the Elizabeth Road residence "[a]ll morning" and adamantly denied any involvement in the robbery. Eventually, the defendant admitted that someone named "K.C." was driving the Blazer that morning, that K.C. had parked in front of the hotel, and that K.C. returned to the Blazer holding a woman's handbag. The defendant insisted that he had never gotten out of the Blazer.

         Detective Colvin attempted to locate K.C. without any success, and in his subsequent interview with Ms. Jaimes, she stated that the ...


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