Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Birchfield

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

February 27, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
FRED BIRCHFIELD

          Session November 15, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Morgan County No. 2010-CR-80 E. Eugene Eblen, Judge

         The Defendant, Fred Birchfield, was found guilty by a Morgan County Criminal Court jury of second degree murder, a Class A felony, and reckless homicide, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-210 (2014) (second degree murder), 39-13-215 (2014) (reckless homicide). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to consecutive terms of eighteen years for second degree murder and three years for reckless homicide, for an effective twenty-one-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his second degree murder conviction and (2) the trial court erred by failing to grant his motion for a change of venue. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Andrew Pate (on appeal and at motion for new trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, and Michael Hatmaker (at trial) and Brent Gray (at trial), Jacksboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Fred Birchfield.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Robert W. Wilson, Assistant Attorney General; Russell Johnson, District Attorney General; and Frank Harvey and Tiffany Smith, Assistant District Attorneys 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 an incident during which the Defendant fatally shot John C. Robbins and Melissa Norris. At the trial, the recording of a 9-1-1 call was played for the jury. In the recording, the Defendant told the dispatcher that two people were dead on the road in front of his home. The Defendant stated that "they" pulled their vehicle over, that "they" pulled out a .44-caliber firearm, and that the Defendant shot "them." The Defendant identified Mr. Robbins and referred to Ms. Norris as Blondie. The dispatcher asked the Defendant to calm down.

         The Defendant told the 9-1-1 dispatcher that Mr. Robbins displayed a .44-caliber pistol, that the Defendant "jumped out" of his vehicle, that the Defendant had a .22-caliber pistol, that Mr. Robbins said he would "blow off" the Defendant's head, and that the Defendant told Mr. Robbins that Mr. Robbins "did not have to do that." The Defendant said that before the shooting, he pulled his vehicle beside the victims' truck because "they came down here starting some stuff." T he Defendant said that his hand was bleeding because Mr. Robbins shot Mr. Robbins's gun at the Defendant and that the Defendant "jerked" Mr. Robbins's gun out of Mr. Robbins's hand. The Defendant said that after he got out of his vehicle, he told Mr. Robbins to shoot him because he would rather be shot by a friend than by someone who "snuck around [his] back." The Defendant said he "just shot" the guns and did not know where the victims had been injured. T he Defendant stated that he fired his gun until it was empty, that he fired Mr. Robbins's .44-caliber gun until it was empty, and that afterward, he threw Mr. Robbins's gun at Mr. Robbins, who was still inside the truck.

         Former Morgan County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Hamby testified that on May 29, 2010, he responded to the scene and that the Defendant waved for the deputy to stop. Deputy Hamby said that the Defendant showed him Mr. Robbins's truck and that the Defendant reported a "gunfight" with Mr. Robbins, who was deceased inside the truck. Deputy Hamby knew Mr. Robbins and said a woman, whom the Defendant referred to as Blondie, was also deceased inside the truck.

         Deputy Hamby testified that although he did not question the Defendant about the shooting, the Defendant stated that the victims had driven by the Defendant's home several times, that the victims were cursing and yelling at the Defendant, and that Blondie called the Defendant a "suck a--." Deputy Hamby said the Defendant reported that he saw the victims turn on the road across from the Defendant's home and that a "short time" later the Defendant heard three or four gunshots, which the Defendant thought sounded like a .22-caliber or a .22-caliber magnum firearm. Deputy Hamby said the Defendant stated that he drove to Lawrence Ellis's home just down the road and that when the Defendant was driving home, the victims pulled their truck beside the Defendant's truck. The Defendant said that Mr. Robbins told the Defendant that the Defendant owed Ms. Norris an apology and that the Defendant refused and said "f--- that b----." Deputy Hamby said the Defendant explained that the Defendant and Mr. Robbins each admitted they were carrying guns, that the Defendant got out of his truck and suggested the men be friends, that the Defendant walked to Mr. Robbins's truck window, that the Defendant "reached for [Mr. Robbins's] gun . . . and that it went off." Deputy Hamby said the Defendant also explained that the Defendant fired his gun until "it went empty" and that the Defendant took Mr. Robbins's gun and fired it until it was also empty. D eputy Hamby said that the Defendant stated, "I didn't mean to kill that girl, but I'm glad they're dead. I don't have to look behind me anymore."

         On cross-examination, Deputy Hamby testified that he arrived at the scene around 1:00 a.m., that the Defendant was cooperative, and that the Defendant's left hand was hurting, although the deputy did not examine the hand. Deputy Hamby said that the Defendant did not appear to have cleaned himself.

         Morgan County Sheriff's Deputy Caleb Pemberton testified that he drove the Defendant to the hospital to determine his blood alcohol concentration and that during the drive, the Defendant said he was "afraid of Morgan County" and feared for his life. Deputy Pemberton said the Defendant explained that Mr. Robbins pulled out a gun, that the Defendant shot Mr. Robbins and took Mr. Robbins's gun, and that the Defendant shot Mr. Robbins again. Deputy Pemberton said that the Defendant stated that before the shooting, the victims turned onto the road across from the Defendant's home, that the Defendant later heard four or five gunshots that he thought came from a .22-caliber or .22-caliber magnum firearm, that the Defendant had been at a friend's home when he heard the gunshots, and that the Defendant decided to go home after hearing the gunshots. Deputy Pemberton said that the Defendant explained that during the drive home, he pulled his vehicle beside the victims' truck on the road, that Mr. Robbins pulled out a gun, that the Defendant pulled out his gun and shot at Mr. Robbins, that the Defendant took Mr. Robbins's gun from Mr. Robbins, and that the Defendant shot Mr. Robbins with Mr. Robbins's gun. Deputy Pemberton recalled the Defendant's saying, "I won't be railroaded by [Mr. Robbins] no more. [ Mr. Robbins] ran over me before[, ] and I'm not going to go through that again."

         On cross-examination, Deputy Pemberton testified that he did not examine the victims' truck but that he saw a gun lying inside the truck. He did not notice any cartridge casings inside the truck. He agreed the Defendant was cooperative.

         Morgan County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Wren testified that when he arrived at the scene, he saw a black truck parked in the middle of the road. He said the truck's lights were on, the engine was running, and the truck was in second gear but not moving. A photograph showed the front bench seat inside the truck. The photograph showed Ms. Norris on the right end of the seat, slumped toward the passenger door, and it showed Mr. Robbins in the middle of the seat slumped toward Ms. Norris. D eputy Wren said that the driver's door was not open when he arrived and that the passenger-door window was shattered. Deputy Wren knew Mr. Robbins.

         Deputy Wren testified that the distance between the ground and the bottom of the driver's side window was four feet, two and one-half inches. He said that a .44-caliber magnum revolver, which was pointed toward Ms. Norris, was found on Mr. Robbins's lap and that the revolver contained cartridge casings. He said that a .22-caliber semi-automatic Ruger, which contained eleven unfired bullets, was also found inside the truck and that the firearm was found between Mr. Robbins and the center console. He noted the Ruger was not visible from the driver's door.

         Deputy Wren testified that a nine-shot revolver, containing eight cartridge casings and one unfired bullet, was found inside the Defendant's truck. D eputy Wren said that forty-four .22-caliber unfired bullets were found inside the Defendant's pants pockets.

         Deputy Wren testified that Mr. Robbins's truck was secured, towed, and searched. Deputy Wren said that inside the cab and the bed of the truck, he found a suitcase, a twelve-pack or eighteen-pack of beer, a bottle of wine, and six to twelve marijuana plants. He said that Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Agent Legg found a bullet lodged in the center console. Deputy Wren recalled that the medical examiner found a bottle of pills and a smoking pipe in Ms. Norris's clothes.

         On cross-examination, Deputy Wren testified that the pipe found in Ms. Norris's clothes appeared to be used to smoke amphetamines and cocaine, but not necessarily marijuana. D eputy Wren agreed that he found open beer cans and a butane lighter inside the truck and that attached to a seat belt, he found a set of leg irons, which he assumed was decorative. He agreed he found boxes of bullets for the .44-caliber and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.