Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
MARTEZ D. MATTHEWS
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Session October 18, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2009-D-3252
Mark J. Fishburn, Judge
Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Martez D.
Matthews, of first degree felony murder, and a life sentence
was imposed. On appeal, this Court affirmed the trial
court's judgments. See Deangelo M. Moody and Martez
D. Matthews, No. M2011-01930-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 1932718,
at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, May 9, 2013),
perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2013).
Subsequently, the Petitioner filed a petition for writ of
error coram nobis, which the trial court denied. On appeal,
this Court affirmed the trial court's denial of relief.
See Martez D. Matthews v. State, No.
M2014-01663-CCA-R3-ECN, 2015 WL 3814164, at *1 (Tenn. Crim.
App., at Nashville, June 19, 2015), perm. app.
denied (Tenn. Oct. 15. 2015). The Petitioner also filed
a postconviction petition, and the post-conviction court
denied relief following a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner
maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of
counsel and that his sentence is unconstitutional pursuant to
Miller v. Alabama, 132 S.Ct. 2455, 2464 (2012).
After review, we affirm the post-conviction court's
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Patrick B. Newsom, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Martez D. Matthews.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie
E. Price, Senior Counsel; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney
General; and Brian Ewald, Assistant District Attorney
General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which John Everett Williams and Norma McGee Ogle, JJ.,
W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE
April 25, 2009, the sixteen-year-old victim was shot by a
stray bullet while inside her Davidson County residence.
Three individuals, the Petitioner, Lorenzo Ortego Thomas, II,
and Deangelo Monteze Moody, were indicted for the first
degree felony murder of the victim and employing a firearm
during the commission of a dangerous felony. Mr. Thomas's
case was severed from his co-defendants because the State
sought to call him as a witness at the joint trial of the
Petitioner and Mr. Moody. Shortly before trial, according to
the Petitioner's trial attorney ("Counsel"),
Mr. Thomas's attorney announced to the court that Mr.
Thomas refused to testify.
evidence presented at trial showed that, on April 25, 2009,
the Petitioner, Mr. Thomas, Mr. Moody, Quontez Caldwell, and
possibly a fifth unidentified male were driving around in Mr.
Moody's car. As they drove down one road, they observed
Christopher Bridges, a gang member at the time of the
incident, and Deandre Williams walking down the street. Mr.
Thomas observed Mr. Bridges reaching into his pocket for what
Mr. Thomas believed to be a gun. Mr. Thomas responded by
firing his gun into the air. Additional gunshots ensued. Mr.
Caldwell, during a police interview, identified the
Petitioner, Mr. Thomas, and Mr. Moody as participants in the
shooting. The victim sustained a gunshot wound to her torso
from a "stray" bullet that entered the victim's
home during the shooting. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation
testing and analysis confirmed that two 9 mm bullets
recovered during the investigation were determined to have
been fired from the Petitioner's 9 mm weapon. The
Petitioner's black hat was also recovered from the
roadway at the scene of the shooting. On May 12, 2011, a jury
convicted the Petitioner and Mr. Moody as charged. Following
the verdict, the State dismissed the employing a firearm
during the commission of a dangerous felony charge, and the
trial court sentenced the Petitioner to life imprisonment for
the first degree felony murder of the victim.
March 2012, Mr. Thomas pleaded guilty to second degree murder
for a sentence of fifteen years. The following January, the
Petitioner received a letter from Mr. Thomas stating he would
testify on the Petitioner's behalf about the shooting.
The Petitioner sought a petition for writ of error coram
nobis, alleging newly discovered evidence in the form of Mr.
Thomas's statements that the Petitioner was not a
shooter. On July 10, 2014, the trial court held a hearing,
and Mr. Thomas testified that Mr. Caldwell had taken the
Petitioner's gun that was under the front passenger seat
and used it to fire out the car window at Mr. Bridges and Mr.
Williams. He stated that Mr. Caldwell also fired his own gun
at the time. When the Petitioner reached outside the window
to grab his gun away from Mr. Caldwell, his hat fell off onto
the road. Mr. Thomas said that the Petitioner did not fire
the weapon but only took his gun away from Mr. Caldwell. Mr.
Thomas's attorney confirmed that this was the same
account that Mr. Thomas had related to her consistently
throughout her representation. The trial court denied relief,
finding Mr. Thomas was not truthful in his testimony, and
this Court affirmed the trial court's order denying the
petition. See Martez D. Matthews v. State,
M2014-01663-CCA-R3-ECN, 2015 WL 3814164 (Tenn. Crim. App., at
Nashville, June 19, 2015), perm. app. denied (Tenn.
Oct. 15, 2015).
November 6, 2014, a post-conviction hearing was held on the
Petitioner's claim that he had received the ineffective
assistance of counsel. At the hearing, the Petitioner
testified that he was seventeen years old at the time of the
offense and that he was serving a life sentence. The
Petitioner claimed that Counsel failed to adequately explain
felony murder to him. He said that counsel told him and that
he understood that the State would have to prove that he was
the actual shooter in order to convict him.
Petitioner explained that, on the day of the shooting, he was
in the car with four other individuals. He said that he was
seated in the front passenger seat, Mr. Thomas was seated
behind the driver, Mr. Moody was seated in the middle of the
back seat, and Mr. Caldwell was seated in the back behind the
passenger seat. He recalled seeing the two "guys"
walking down the street and one of the two reached like he
had a gun in his pants when the Petitioner heard gunfire. He
said he "looked back" and saw Mr. Thomas firing his
weapon and then saw Mr. Caldwell reach under the passenger
seat and grab the Petitioner's gun. Mr. Caldwell was
holding his own gun in one hand and the Petitioner's gun
in the other. Mr. Caldwell "hung out the window" of
the car and began firing both guns. The Petitioner said that
he "reached up and grabbed [his] gun back." While
doing so, his hat fell off. The Petitioner testified that he
was unaware of any witnesses that were present at the scene
that Counsel tried to interview.
Lyons, a private investigator, testified that Mr.
Thomas's attorney hired him to investigate the case in
March 2012. While at the scene of the shooting, on March 5,
2012, he observed a strike mark on the house across the
street from the victim's residence. This residence was a
rental property and the occupants were not residing there at
the time of the 2009 shooting. He described the strike mark
as on the front right side of the house between the gutter
and the window. He agreed that he had no way of knowing when
the strike mark occurred. He stated that there was a hill
across the street that he understood was where Mr. Bridges
and Mr. Williams fled when the shooting began.
testified that she met with the Petitioner nineteen times
after his case was transferred to criminal court. She said
that she also talked with his mother about the case "a
lot." Counsel provided the Petitioner with a copy of the
discovery and listened to the recorded statements of the
witnesses with him. Counsel recalled discussing felony murder
and criminal responsibility with the Petitioner multiple
times. She used the example of a bank robbery explaining that
if he drove the car and she went inside to rob the bank while
he waited in the car, he would be responsible for her ...