Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Session November 15, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 103494 Scott
Rodney Lee Scott, was found guilty by a jury of attempted
voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless
aggravated assault, leaving the scene of the accident, and
public intoxication as the result of an incident described as
road rage on December 16, 2013. As a result of the
convictions, Defendant received an effective sentence of six
years. Defendant appeals, challenging: (1) the sufficiency of
the evidence; (2) the denial of a motion to sever; (3) the
denial of a motion in limine which sought to allow Defendant
to cross-examine the victims about their criminal history;
(4) his dual convictions for attempted voluntary manslaughter
and aggravated assault; and (5) the trial court's denial
of a mistrial. After a review of the evidence and
authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court with
respect to Defendant's convictions for attempted
voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, leaving the scene
of the accident, and public intoxication. Because reckless
aggravated assault cannot be a lesser included offense of
aggravated assault based upon fearing imminent bodily injury,
we reverse and dismiss Defendant's conviction for
reckless aggravated assault. On remand, the trial court
should enter judgment forms dismissing Counts Four and Seven
of the indictment.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal
Court Affirmed in Part, Reversed in Part and Remanded
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.,
M. Boucher, Jr. Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Rodney Lee Scott.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Robert
W. Wilson, Assistant Attorney General; Charme P. Allen,
District Attorney General; and Kevin Allen, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE
April of 2014, Defendant was indicted by the Knox County
Grand Jury for attempted first degree murder, aggravated
assault, leaving the scene of an accident, public
intoxication, and theft of property valued at $500 or less
after incidents taking place on December 16, 2013. At around
3:42 p.m. that day, a call was made to 911 to report an
ongoing "road rage" incident involving a black SUV
and two motorcycles.
before the 911 call, J.R. Trisler and his friend Tyler Lakin
met at Moto 4 Us motorcycle shop. The two had plans to ride
motorcycles on Highway 95. Instead, the men rode their bikes
on I-640 and exited at East Town Mall Road where the exit
ramp splits from one lane into two lanes prior to the end of
the ramp. Mr. Lakin was in front of Mr. Trisler by about
"two bike lengths" on the ramp in the right lane. A
black SUV was in front of Mr. Lakin, driven by Defendant.
When the ramp split into two lanes, Mr. Lakin got into the
left lane. Before the SUV got to the end of the ramp,
"[Defendant] swerved to try to hit [Mr. Lakin]."
Mr. Trisler saw the SUV swerve toward Mr. Lakin twice.
had been at the golf course that day but the weather
prevented him from playing golf so he played a few rounds of
cards with his friends instead. He was on the way home from
the golf course when he realized that he needed to run an
errand requiring him to turn left off the exit. He started to
move his vehicle from the right lane over into the left lane
when he changed his mind and decided to just go home. He then
moved back into the right lane so that he could turn right
and head toward his house. At that time, he heard
motorcycles. As the motorcycles and Defendant approached the
end of the ramp, the motorcycles were in the lane to the left
of Defendant's SUV. Mr. Lakin "traded words"
with Defendant at the end of the ramp and accused Defendant
of running Mr. Trisler off the road. Defendant recalls that
he asked the men something like, "What are you
doing?" Defendant claimed that he did not know what Mr.
Lakin was talking about but that he got "angry"
nonetheless and the two men "had some choice words"
between each other. Mr. Trisler recalled Defendant had his
window down and "was screaming that he hated
motorcyclists." Mr. Trisler heard Defendant
"cussing" and using "racial slurs" like
"N ----- " and "yellow boy,
" so he decided to "get his tag number
and call the cops." After the exchange at the end of the
ramp, Defendant turned right and went toward his own house.
Mr. Trisler described Defendant's actions as
motorcyclists followed Defendant down Millertown Pike. At one
point, Defendant "hit the brakes real hard" and
almost made Mr. Trisler "rear end" Defendant.
Defendant started driving again and eventually pulled in to a
Regions Bank parking lot. Defendant sped around the building
in his SUV. Defendant did not stop because he thought the men
on the motorcycles were "going to beat [him] up or do
something like that." Mr. Trisler pulled into the bank
parking lot, hopped off his bike, and screamed at Ben Bellew,
the security guard, to call the police. Mr. Bellew had been
standing inside near the tellers when he "heard the
squalling tires come through" the parking lot. He walked
outside, saw a black Saturn SUV and two motorcycles, and was
told by Mr. Trisler to call 911.
drove his SUV back onto the main road and the motorcycles
continued to follow him. After traveling down the road for a
bit, Defendant stopped the SUV before he got to a stop sign
and "put the brake - - reverse lights on and he backed
up into [Mr. Trisler]." Mr. Trisler claimed
Defendant's "car clipped [his motorcycle]" and
he threw his motorcycle into the ditch to avoid a more
serious accident. The bike sustained a small amount of
damage. Thuan Mai, a nearby resident, was outside and heard a
"quick stop from a vehicle" so he turned around
just in time to see Defendant "put it in reverse"
for one to two car lengths. The motorcycle behind the SUV
tried to avoid the accident and went into the ditch "to
avoid from getting hit." Mr. Mai helped Mr. Trisler get
his bike back up on to the roadway. Mr. Mai observed minor
damage to the motorcycle.
testified the incident at the stop sign was the result of a
traffic back up where he thought "there was enough room
to where [he] could probably get out of there" so he
"backed up" in order to try to drive forward around
other cars and evade the motorcycles. Defendant stated,
"[N]ext thing I knew, one of [the motorcycle riders] is
on the hood of my car. [The motorcycle rider] grabbed my
mirror and he grabbed the area right where my windshield
wipers are, and beat the windshield, and sa[id], 'I'm
going to kill you, you son of a
bitch.'" Defendant described backing up as a
defensive move and admitted leaving the scene. Defendant
testified he drove as fast as possible to get home, though
the volume of traffic made it difficult.
red light, Mr. Trisler yelled for someone to call 911. Joe
Jackson was stopped nearby and overheard this request. He
placed a call to 911 at around 3:42 p.m. During the phone
call, Mr. Jackson reported that a black Saturn Vue just hit a
motorcycle and was trying to leave the scene. He reported the
location of the incident and the license plate number of the
SUV. Mr. Jackson saw two motorcycles following the SUV. He
decided to follow both the motorcycles and the SUV.
Eventually they turned onto Mary Emily Lane where the SUV
pulled into a driveway. Defendant exited the vehicle and
walked into the house.
came out of his house shortly thereafter. Mr. Trisler
informed Defendant that someone had already called the
police, but Defendant was "screaming and he had some
guns in his hands." Mr. Jackson saw the guns, put his
car in gear, and retreated toward the dead end of the street.
Mr. Jackson was able to witness the events by turning
partially around in the driver's seat while he was
driving away. Defendant continued to walk toward Mr. Trisler
and Mr. Lakin. As Defendant approached, Mr. Trisler walked
backward and diagonally away from Defendant. At first, Mr.
Lakin thought Defendant was "just trying to intimidate
[them], . . . so [he] didn't run." Mr. Lakin put his
hands up in the air. Mr. Lakin recalled turning to walk away
around the time Defendant started shooting. Mr. Trisler heard
two or three shots. Mr. Lakin did not immediately fall to the
ground, and actually thought Defendant had "shot over
[him]" in order to intimidate him. Mr. Trisler turned
and started to run away when he heard the shots. When he
turned back around, Mr. Lakin was "lying face down . .
. in the street." Mr. Trisler saw Defendant fire the
first two shots and thought that they were fired
"straight at [Mr. Lakin's] face." The second
two shots were fired "in the back" as Mr. Lakin was
lying on the ground. Mr. Trisler heard Defendant yelling
"racial slurs." "After he shot [Mr. Lakin] two
more times in the back, [Defendant] kept putting a gun to
[Mr. Lakin's] head and pulling the trigger."
Defendant stated that he would "kill" the
"mother f'er." When the shooting was over,
Defendant walked back inside. Defendant exited the house
moments later, drinking a soda. Mr. Trisler called
Mr. Trisler asked Defendant why he shot Mr. Lakin. Defendant
informed him that it was "self-defense."
Jackson called 911 for a second time at 3:48 p.m. to report
the shooting. A review of the recording clearly indicates
that Mr. Jackson was obviously distressed by the situation
and was struggling to breathe. He reported that "this
guy just come out and shot this man" seven or eight
times from "point blank" range. He described the
shooter as an "older white guy" who shot the victim
in the back. Several other neighbors heard shots fired and
Lakin was shot one time in the hand, one time in the
"lower spine area, " one time in the "upper
spine area" and one time on the "right side of
[his] back, about mid - - mid way." He spent about one
week in the hospital. The bullets were not removed from his
Scott, Defendant's wife, was home when Defendant, Mr.
Lakin, and Mr. Trisler arrived that afternoon. Mrs. Scott is
legally blind as a result of macular degeneration. Defendant
had been at the golf course, a place he went regularly to
play golf or cards. Defendant came into the house, shoved her
out of the way, and told her to stay inside. She testified at
trial that she heard Mr. Trisler and Mr. Lakin call her an
"old bitch" and threaten her so she called 911,
"hysterical and terrified" that she "was going
to be killed" by the motorcyclists. She heard
Defendant yelling at them but could not see what they looked
like because they were both wearing helmets. Additionally,
she remained inside and the three men were outside. Mrs.
Scott did not think Defendant was drinking the day of the
described himself as "aggravated" when he pulled
into his driveway because some of the things in his car
spilled all over the place "during . . . the
melee." He opened the car door to clean out the mess and
heard motorcycles. Defendant claimed that he did not call 911
while he was driving because he could not see the phone well
enough to dial without his reading glasses.
entered the house and instructed his wife to call 911.
Defendant went upstairs to retrieve a pistol thinking that
when he went outside with the pistol that the men would
leave. Defendant walked outside and fired the gun in the air.
The men were screaming obscenities at him. There were "a
lot of verbal MF's, both of us, [and] SOB's."
Defendant claimed that he was afraid and that the men
threatened both him and his wife. Defendant walked toward the
men and told them to "go ahead and leave."
Defendant insisted his "gun was down" at that time
when Mr. Lakin's arm reached and came up toward him.
Defendant fired and the pistol went "bam, bam, bam, bam,
bam as [Mr. Lakin] went down." Defendant had "never
fired a pistol before in [his] life" and did not want to
first officer on the scene was Detective Heather Rayda with
Knox County Sheriff's Office Major Crimes Unit, who was
on her way to work and received a
"BOLO" for a "possible road rage
incident." While she was driving, the matter evolved
into a report of a shooting and changed from city to county
jurisdiction. When she arrived on Mary Emily Lane, she
observed "a man lying face down in the grass, "
Defendant "to [her] left standing in a driveway, "
and a third person in her "peripheral vision on the
right." She exited her unmarked patrol car, and
Defendant "raise[d] his hands." Detective Rayda
patted him down and placed him in handcuffs.
Lakin was "struggling to breathe." Once Defendant
was handcuffed, Mr. Trisler came out from where he was
seeking refuge. He and the victim were still clothed in
motorcycle gear. Detective Rayda described Defendant as
"intoxicated" with "bloodshot and red"
eyes and noticed that he smelled of alcohol. He acted
"calm" and "aloof." Detective Rayda
described his speech as "a little bit slurred." Mr.
Trisler and Mr. Lakin were both "extremely upset"
and seemed "petrified."
scene was processed by Kimberly Trotter of the Knox County
Sheriff's Department Crime Scene Unit. She recovered
eight spent shell casings from a .25 caliber gun outside, and
a "small .25 caliber Beretta handgun" from the
garage of Defendant's residence. Officers also found a
bottle of Fireball whisky in Defendant's golf bag. A
toxicology test ...