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State v. Ridley

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

January 24, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs April 19, 2016

         Direct Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2014-A-258 Cheryl A. Blackburn, Judge

         A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury found the Appellant, Montez Deontay Ridley, guilty of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. The trial court imposed a sentence of nine years. On appeal, the Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his conviction. Specifically, the Appellant contends that he was not at the scene of the crime, that no forensic evidence placed him at the scene, and that it was illogical that anyone would perpetrate the crime in such close proximity to the police. The Appellant also contends that the victims were unable to identify him from a photographic lineup. Finally, the Appellant contends that his confession was the result of lies told by the police. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Nick McGregor (on appeal) and Kyle Parks (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Montez Deontay Ridley.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clarence E. Lutz, Senior Counsel; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Megan King, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Robert W. Wedemeyer, JJ., joined.



         I. Factual Background

          At trial, the victim, Jacob "Jake" Morton, testified that he lived in Baltimore, Maryland, and that he worked as a basketball coach. In August 2013, Morton lived in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Morton had advertised athletic shoes for sale for $200 to $250 on Craigslist. The advertisement included Morton's cellular telephone number. A prospective buyer called him, and they had several conversations about the shoes. The buyer never identified himself by name, but Morton later identified the buyer as the Appellant.

         Morton called the Appellant on the morning of August 16. They arranged to meet at Prince's Hot Chicken in Nashville at "lunchtime, " which Morton thought was around noon or 1:00 p.m. Morton explained that he had sold several items on Craigslist and that he had been comfortable meeting people to whom he was selling the items. Morton took four pairs of shoes he had advertised because the Appellant had mentioned having a friend who wore the same size shoes as he. Morton's cousin, Sally Washington, accompanied him on his drive to Nashville.

         Morton said that he called the Appellant when the Appellant did not come to the restaurant at the prearranged time. At first, the Appellant did not answer the telephone, but Morton kept calling him. Meanwhile, Morton and Washington went shopping, ate, and went sightseeing. Morton eventually spoke with the Appellant around 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. The Appellant suggested they meet at a Family Dollar store near Titans Stadium and gave Morton directions to the location. When Morton arrived, the store was closed. Morton called the Appellant, and the Appellant told Morton to come to an alley behind the store. The Appellant and another man were sitting on a ledge near some apartments. Morton parked but left the car running. The Appellant and the other man got up and walked toward Morton's car.

         Morton got out of the car, but Washington remained in the front passenger seat. Morton walked to the back of the car and opened the trunk to show the Appellant the shoes. Morton and the Appellant talked for a few seconds about the shoes, then the Appellant pulled a gun out of his pocket and pointed it at Morton's side. The Appellant warned, "'Don't turn around.'" The Appellant kept the gun pointed at Morton while the other man searched Morton's pockets and took his wallet. Morton's wallet contained his driver's license, credit cards, "a lot of traveling stuff, " and five or ten dollars. The Appellant and the other man took the four pairs of shoes from the trunk. Morton did not know how many pairs each man had but noticed that both men were carrying shoe boxes when they ran into a neighborhood around the apartments. Morton denied that he bought drugs from or sold drugs to the Appellant.

         Morton said that after the robbery, he drove to a nearby Exxon station and called 911. He told the dispatcher about the ...

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