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Moody v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 2, 2017

DEANGELO MOODY
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Session November 8, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2009-D-3252 Mark J. Fishburn, Judge.

         The State appeals the trial court's granting the petitioner, Deangelo Moody, post-conviction relief from his conviction for first degree felony murder after finding that the petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we reverse the post-conviction court's grant of relief and reinstate the judgment against the petitioner.

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

          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 appellant, State of Tennessee.

          Dustin E. Sharp, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Deangelo Moody.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., joined.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE.

         FACTS

         A Davidson County grand jury indicted the petitioner and two co-defendants, Martez D. Matthews and Lorenzo Ortago Thomas, II, for first degree felony murder committed during the attempt to perpetrate a first degree murder and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Mr. Thomas' case was severed, and he pled guilty to a lesser charge. After a trial, the jury convicted the petitioner and Mr. Matthews of first degree felony murder and imposed life sentences. The jury acquitted the petitioner of the employment of a firearm charge.

         The petitioner and Mr. Matthews filed a joint appeal. State v. Deangelo M. Moody and Martez D. Matthews, No. M2011-01930-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 1932718 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 9, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2013). This court affirmed the judgments of the trial court, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied both applications for permission to appeal. Id.

         The underlying facts of the case were recited by this court on direct appeal as follows:

This case involves the shooting death of the victim, a sixteen-year old female, L.J.[1] During a shoot-out that occurred on the street outside her home, the victim was struck by a stray bullet when it entered her home. A Davidson County grand jury indicted appellants and their co-defendant, Lorenzo Ort[a]go Thomas, II, for one count of first degree felony murder and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Codefendant Thomas'[] case was severed from appellants' case, and the trial court conducted their joint trial from May 9-12, 2011.
Inez Johnson, the victim's mother, testified that around 4:00 p.m. on April 25, 2009, she and the victim were at their home on Chesapeak[2] Drive. They were lying down in Ms. Johnson's bedroom when they heard gunshots. Ms. Johnson stated that she "instinctively . . . dropped and rolled." She further stated that "instead of laying low and rolling from the bed, [the victim] raised her body up" and was struck by a bullet. The victim began bleeding from her mouth. Ms. Johnson called 9-1-1 and rendered aid to the victim in an attempt to stop the bleeding. She said that she could not tell from where the victim was bleeding. She recalled, "[B]lood was just everywhere, . . . and I was right there beside her[, ] and I knew [she] wasn't going to make it[, ] and I watched her take her last breath. . . ."
Christopher Cote, a detective with the Metro Nashville Police Department ("MNPD"), testified that around 4:00 p.m. on April 25, 2009, he responded to a call at 3652 Chesapeak Drive. The paramedics were already at the scene when he arrived. Officer Cote was advised that a sixteen-year-old female had been shot. He entered the home and observed the victim lying on the floor, bleeding profusely. The paramedics transported the victim to the hospital, and additional police officers arrived at the scene. Officer Cote stated that he secured the scene and advised his superior officers and investigators as to what had occurred.
Officer Cote recalled that Officer Brian Eaves arrived at the scene. He stated that a witness approached Officer Eaves and gave him a hat that the witness had found. He placed the hat, which the witness found in the street to the right of the victim's house, in an evidence bag and gave it to the crime scene investigators. Officer Cote stated that he also found multiple shell casings of different calibers at the scene.
Lynne Mace, a crime scene investigator with the MNPD, testified that she investigated the scene in this case. She drew a diagram of the scene, which she described for the jury. The diagram depicted the locations of bullet cartridge casings. Investigator Mace also photographed and collected the cartridge casings. Investigator Mace recalled that there were two .45 caliber automatic casings and six 9mm casings. She identified photographs that she had taken of the crime scene, including a photograph of the strike mark of the bullet that entered the victim's house.
Christopher Bridges[3] testified that he lived at 3648 Chesapeak Drive. He stated that on April 25, 2009, at approximately 4:00 p.m., he was walking down Chesapeak Drive with Deandre Williams. As they were walking, a car with four or five people inside of it pulled up and began shooting. Christopher began to run, but he heard more than five shots fired. The State showed him a photograph of a vehicle and asked if it was the vehicle he observed on April 25, 2009, to which Christopher responded, "Yes, sir." Christopher stated that he was given the opportunity to speak with the police about what he observed, but he told them that he "really didn't see anybody, didn't see anything." He said that he did not want to speak with the police and that they forced him to go to the precinct. Christopher admitted that in April 2009, he was a member of the 107 Underground Crips but denied that he was still a member.
On cross-examination, Christopher testified that he did not know why someone would want to shoot at him. He stated that the shooting came from the driver's side of the vehicle. He did not know appellants and said that the first time he saw them was on the news. Christopher stated that he had an adequate opportunity to view the car because it passed him and made a u-turn. He said that the vehicle's license plate was in the window and that the vehicle's bumper was not damaged. Christopher later testified that the vehicle that he identified in the photograph had damage on its bumper. Christopher said that he ran between some houses when the people in the vehicle started shooting; however, the victim's house was not one of them.
Deandre Williams testified that he lived with Christopher and Christopher's family in April 2009. On April 25, 2009, he was walking to a friend's house with Christopher when he heard gunshots. He ran away and was unable to see from where the gunshots originated. He stated that he was sending text messages on his cellular telephone and did not observe any nearby vehicles or people. However, he recalled telling the police that he saw a small blue or green vehicle that looked like a Honda. He explained that he saw the vehicle before he and Christopher began walking. Mr. Williams further testified that he heard more than five gunshots. He estimated that he was three houses away from 3652 Chesapeak Drive when the gunshots began. He ran in the opposite direction from the victim's house.
Mr. Williams denied being a member of or affiliated with the 107 Underground Crips. He stated that he did not know whether Christopher was a member of the gang and denied noticing a tattoo of a gun with the numbers "107" on Christopher's hand.
On cross-examination, Mr. Williams testified that he did not know appellants and had never seen them before the day of trial. Mr. Williams did not know why anyone would shoot at him. He stated that he did not know anything about the incident and was only testifying because the State forced him to do so.
Evan Bridges testified that he is the grandfather of Christopher Bridges and that they lived at 3648 Chesapeak Drive. At around 4:00 p.m. on April 25, 2009, Evan was outside in the backyard of his home. He heard gunshots and went toward his front yard. When he arrived at the front yard, Evan determined that the gunshots were coming from a small green car that was driving down the street. When shown a photograph of a vehicle, Evan stated that the vehicle in the photograph was the same size, but the car he saw on the day of the shooting looked like a Honda. He observed the heads of three African-Americans in the vehicle and stated that the people in the vehicle were "some young guys."
Evan recalled speaking with three or four police officers, but he denied telling Officer Eaves that he saw two of the three people in the vehicle shooting into 3652 Chesapeak Drive. Approximately fifteen to twenty minutes after the shooting ceased, Evan found a black cap in the middle of the street that was not there before the shooting. He thought that it might have belonged to one of the shooters, so he gave it to the police.
On cross-examination, Evan testified that he did not actually see anyone shoot a weapon. He clarified that the vehicle he saw was green and that the vehicle in the photograph looked like it was blue. Evan stated that he did not see the black ...

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