Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Session November 8, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2009-D-3252
Mark J. Fishburn, Judge.
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.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
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.
E. Sharp, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Deangelo
E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., joined.
E. GLENN, JUDGE.
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.
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.
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. 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 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
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
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 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
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
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
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
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