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State v. Young

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

January 9, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
HEATHER YOUNG

          Session November 16, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Morgan County No. 09-CR-9490 E. Eugene Eblen, Judge No. E2015-02240-CCA-R3-CD

         The Defendant, Heather Young, was convicted by a Morgan County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder. See T.C.A. § 39-13-202(a)(1) (2014). The Defendant received a life sentence. On appeal, she contends that the evidence is insufficient to support her conviction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Cashauna C. Lattimore (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee; Joe H. Walker, District Public Defender; and Walter B. Johnson and Alfred Hathcock (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Heather Young.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; Russell Johnson, District Attorney General; and Frank Harvey, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ. joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE

         This case relates to the June 25, 2009 death of Memford Hamby, who was fatally shot while inside his house. Morgan County 9-1-1 dispatcher Amanda Hamby[1] testified that on June 25, 2009, she answered a call from the victim, and the recording of the call was played for the jury.

         In the recording, the victim breathed heavily and told the dispatcher that he had just been shot in the stomach and the leg by the Defendant, who was still present. The victim said, "It's not loaded, stupid, " and told the dispatcher that the Defendant had picked up one of his guns. He stated that he thought she was "wanting to finish the job" and that he had not hurt the Defendant other than "knocking her upside . . . her head with her gun." He said that he had taken her gun away from her, that he thought she was preparing to leave, and that he would not try to stop her. The Defendant said in the background, "Tell her I'm going home to finish the job." The victim repeated the phrase and told the dispatcher that he did not know what the Defendant meant. The Defendant said, "You're going to get caught with all my pills, here?" The victim responded, "It looks like it, don't it." The Defendant told the victim to tell the dispatcher the victim was "hold[ing] my pills for ransom." The victim said, "Out the door with you, whatever you're going to do." The victim said that the Defendant was wiping off her "bloody head, " and he told the Defendant that she could not talk to the dispatcher but could talk to the police when they arrived. The Defendant again told the victim to tell the dispatcher that the victim had her pills, and the victim told the Defendant to "shut up." The victim said that he would not tell the dispatcher anything else. The Defendant again told the victim to tell the dispatcher about her pills, and the victim told her to "shut up, get out of here, or do something. Can't you see I'm trying to talk to this woman, I'm hurting?" The victim said that the Defendant had "got my gun now" and that she was "apparently crazy." The victim said that the gun's safety was engaged, and a gunshot was audible. The victim said that the Defendant had shot him again and that "You'd better hurry." Two more gunshots sounded, the first louder than the second, and a clattering sound was audible. Rustling and clattering noises continued in the background. The dispatcher repeatedly said, "Hello, " but no one responded.

         Morgan County Sheriff's Deputy Samuel Hamby testified that he responded to the crime scene. He said that when he arrived, Deputy Steven Harris was handcuffing the Defendant in the front yard and that no one else was present. Deputy Hamby stated that he went inside the house and found the victim lying on his back on the bathroom floor. Deputy Hamby said that the victim was deceased, that a large pool of blood surrounded the victim's head, that pink foam was around the victim's mouth, and that "some sort of a brown liquid" was on the floor. Deputy Hamby stated that he left the house, that the Defendant was sitting in the front yard, that Deputy Hamby saw a revolver and a bloodstained cloth on the ground beside the Defendant, and that the Defendant had a piece of paper in her hand. Deputy Hamby said that he collected the revolver and placed it on the trunk lid of Deputy Harris's police cruiser, that he told the Defendant to drop the piece of paper, and that the Defendant complied. Deputy Hamby stated that he did not collect the paper. He said that the Defendant had a bleeding cut on her head. He stated that the deputies placed the Defendant in Deputy Harris's police cruiser and secured the scene. He said that Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Special Agent Brad Nealon assisted with the case.

         Agent Brad Nealon testified that when he arrived on the scene, he met with Deputy Hamby and Chief Deputy William Angel and that the Defendant was not present. Agent Nealon identified photographs of the scene, which were received as exhibits. The photographs depicted the exterior of the victim's house, drops of blood in the kitchen, the victim's body as it was found by the police, guns in the house, cartridge casings, and bullet strikes.

         Agent Nealon testified that two bloodstained towels, a bloodstained shirt, and two bloodstained pieces of paper were collected from the front yard. He said that he processed the crime scene and that no weapons other than the .22-caliber revolver Deputy Hamby collected were present outside the house. Agent Nealon stated that the revolver contained four fired cartridges and two unfired cartridges and that he sent the revolver to the TBI laboratory for analysis.

         The papers were received as exhibits. They consisted of ledger sheets reflecting paid and received sums of money with notations reading "doctor, " "med., " "loan, " and other terms.

         Agent Nealon testified that inside the house, he recovered a .22-caliber semiautomatic rifle with the safety disengaged, an "older military type rifle" in the living room, which was covered in dust, several rifles in the corner of the master bedroom, and a .38-caliber revolver in a closed box in the bedroom. Agent Nealon said that drops of blood were found in the kitchen and that bloody shoe prints were found on carpet near the kitchen and in the hallway.

         Agent Nealon testified that a bullet strike was found on the hallway wall, that a fired cartridge was recovered from the baseboard near the strike, and that he determined the bullet was fired toward the kitchen. He said that a second bullet strike was found on the master bedroom door and that he recovered a bullet from a nearby wall stud. He stated that a third bullet strike was found on the master bedroom wall and that a bullet was recovered from the bedroom floor. Agent Nealon said that three .22-caliber bullets and an additional fired cartridge were found inside the house. He noted that the .22-caliber rifle recovered from the house ejected spent cartridges but the revolver did not. Agent Nealon stated that a cordless telephone was found ...


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