Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Session March 8, 2016
from the Circuit Court for Warren County No. F-13595 Larry B.
Stanley, Jr., Judge.
Ray Thompson ("the Defendant") was indicted by the
Warren County Grand Jury for one count of first degree
premeditated murder, one count of first degree felony murder,
and one count of especially aggravated robbery in connection
with the death of his cousin, Tracy Allen Martin ("the
victim"). Following a jury trial, the Defendant was
convicted of first degree premeditated murder, first degree
felony murder, and facilitation of especially aggravated
robbery. On appeal, the Defendant argues that there was
insufficient evidence to show premeditation for his first
degree premeditated murder conviction and that there was
insufficient evidence to prove the underlying felony of
especially aggravated robbery for his first degree felony
murder conviction. Upon review, we conclude that the
Defendant is not entitled to relief. Accordingly, the
judgments of the trial court are affirmed.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit
S. Peters, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chad Ray
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M.
Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; Lisa Zavogiannis,
District Attorney General; and Randall Gilliam and Thomas
Miner, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the
appellee, State of Tennessee.
T. Woodall, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Camille R. McMullen, JJ.,
T. WOODALL, PRESIDING JUDGE
Debuty, the victim's sister, testified that the victim
was "like a child to [her.]" She explained that the
victim suffered from bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive
disorder, and "a form of schizophrenia[.]" The
victim lived in a camper located on Ms. Debuty's property
in Etowah for three years. The victim was unable to maintain
employment, so Ms. Debuty helped the victim enroll for Social
Security disability benefits. Ms. Debuty also had power of
attorney to manage the victim's finances and was
designated as the payee for his disability benefits. The
victim eventually was awarded a lump sum disability payment
of about $20, 000.
victim eventually moved to McMinnville, where he lived with
Ms. Debuty's ex-husband and his sister, Ozella Craven. He
later moved in with his aunt, Teresa Thompson. After the
victim had moved, he called Ms. Debuty and asked for the
remainder of his lump sum disability payment. Ms. Debuty
stated that about $12, 000 remained from the lump sum
payment. She explained to the victim that she was responsible
for his money and that she "couldn't just give it to
him[.]" After speaking with representatives for the
Social Security Administration, Ms. Deputy turned the money
over to Social Security until a new payee could be appointed.
Eventually, Ms. Craven was appointed as the new payee.
later, Ms. Debuty received a call from Ms. Thompson informing
her that the victim was missing and inquiring as to the
whereabouts of the victim's money. During that
conversation, Ms. Debuty also spoke with the Defendant, who
asked about the whereabouts of the victim's money. On
cross-examination, Ms. Debuty acknowledged that she knew the
victim "had a methamphetamine habit" and that
"he was hanging around with the wrong kind of
Craven testified that the victim "showed up at [her]
house" approximately one to two weeks before his death.
Ms. Craven understood that the victim wanted to move to the
McMinnville area to be closer to his children. Ms. Craven
stated that she agreed to serve as payee for the victim's
disability benefits. In that capacity, Ms. Craven received a
check in the amount of $11, 711.12 made out to the order of
herself and the victim. Ms. Craven cashed the check and gave
the money to the victim. The victim counted out $1, 300 and
gave the rest back to Ms. Craven. Ms. Craven clarified that
she did not count the money the victim had given her and did
not know how much he actually took; she simply trusted him
when he said that he took $1, 300. Ms. Craven then took the
victim to a gas station so he could buy a can of gas to take
back to his vehicle. The victim told Ms. Craven that he was
going to his aunt, Teresa Thompson's, house "to take
them out to eat." The victim returned the next day.
Craven said she had bought the victim a handgun and a
television using the money from his check. Ms. Craven gave
the victim the gun when he returned, and the victim went with
the Defendant, his cousin, to pick up the television. The
victim then returned to Ms. Craven's house the next day
asking for more money. He said he wanted to rent a U-Haul and
that the Defendant was going to help him "pack up his
stuff and put it on a U-Haul and bring it down here."
Ms. Craven again saw the victim the next day at Wal-Mart. He
was wearing a yellow and black jacket, blue jeans, and a
black shirt with purple writing. Ms. Craven did not see the
victim again after that.
Craven learned the victim was missing when Ms. Thompson
called to tell her that the victim had left her house with
his money, gun, and two boxes of Sudafed and that she was
worried. Ms. Craven also recalled that she saw the Defendant
at the victim's funeral. There, the Defendant told Ms.
Craven that the victim had said he kept his money in a
lock-box at Ms. Craven's home, and he asked Ms. Craven if
she still had it.
Thompson testified that the victim was her nephew and that
the Defendant was her son. She also stated that she called to
report the victim missing. On cross-examination, Ms. Thompson
said that she did not know of any "bad blood"
between the victim and the Defendant. Ms. Thompson recalled
that the victim brought a gun into her home, which made Ms.
Thompson uncomfortable. She asked the victim to remove the
gun from her house, and she did not see him again after he
Brad Hall of the McMinnville Police Department testified that
he responded to a missing person call. When he arrived at the
caller's residence, he spoke with the Defendant and the
victim's aunt. Officer Hall stated that he did not take a
formal report because the Defendant gave Officer Hall the
impression that "it wasn't unlike [the victim] to
just pick up and move, leave town." Officer Hall issued
a "be on the lookout" ("BOLO") call for
Youngblood testified that he and his son went fishing in
Warren County in November of 2011. While they were fishing,
he and his son noticed something that appeared to be the
bottom half of a body on the bank. Mr. Youngblood initially
thought it was a mannequin or "one of them blow-up
dolls[.]" However, as he and his son approached the
object, they discovered that it was a dead body and
immediately called 911.
Rowland, an investigator for the State, testified that he
responded to the scene after the 911 call. Investigator
Rowland testified that the victim was found on a farm,
roughly half a mile away from the road and that the scene
could not be observed from the road. The victim was wearing a
yellow shirt, blue "jogging pants[, ]" and a
wedding band. Once the victim was removed from the water,
Investigator Rowland checked his pockets for personal
belongings and found that the victim had "absolutely
nothing on him other than that wedding band and a
watch[.]" Investigator Rowland also discovered that the
victim had "some severe injuries to his head." The
victim was transported to the hospital and then to the
medical examiner for an autopsy. Investigator Rowland had
also obtained the BOLO information for the victim before he
went to ...