Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs January 10, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Montgomery County No. 40900680
William R. Goodman, III, Judge.
Lambert ("the Petitioner") was found guilty of
first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping by a
Montgomery County jury, for which the Petitioner received a
sentence of life plus eighteen years. This court affirmed the
Petitioner's convictions and sentences, and our supreme
court denied further review. The Petitioner filed a petition
for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of
counsel, which the post-conviction court denied. On appeal,
the Petitioner argues that trial counsel rendered ineffective
assistance based on trial counsel's failure to: (1)
investigate evidence and case law that would have
contradicted the State's argument of premeditation; (2)
discuss jury selection with the Petitioner; and (3) discuss
the decision to testify with the Petitioner. After a thorough
review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the petitioner,
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew
C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney,
District Attorney General; and Lee Willoughby, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Robert W. Wedemeyer, J.,
L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE.
Factual and Procedural Background
court summarized the facts of this case in its opinion for
the Petitioner's direct appeal as follows:
The grand jury returned a multi-count indictment against the
[Petitioner], charging him with the murder and kidnapping of
his wife, eighteen-year-old Ashley Barnes. At trial, the
proof revealed that the victim was in the Army and was
stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. On November 14, 2008,
she married the [Petitioner], and she was deployed to
Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on December 18, 2008.
Clarksville attorney Adrian Bohnenberger testified that
shortly before the victim was deployed, she contacted him
about obtaining an uncontested divorce from the [Petitioner].
A few weeks before the victim returned from overseas, the
[Petitioner] called Bohnenberger and said he would not sign
the divorce papers without being paid "a rather
absurd" amount of money as compensation for the loss of
support he was receiving from the Army. Bohnenberger informed
the [Petitioner] that the victim was trying to have the
[Petitioner]'s military support payments discontinued,
and the [Petitioner] became agitated. The [Petitioner] never
indicated that he did not want to divorce the victim; he was
merely concerned about the money he would receive. After the
[Petitioner]'s refusal to sign papers for an uncontested
divorce, the victim told Bohnenberger she wanted to pursue a
The victim's mother, Michelle Bosarge, testified that on
February 28, 2009, the victim flew to Nashville and that
Bosarge met her there. They spent a few days together at
Bosarge's home in Mobile, Alabama, and the victim left
for Clarksville, Tennessee, on March 5, 2009, to pursue her
divorce from the [Petitioner].
Katelyn Rondeau and her boyfriend, Lavell Traylor, testified
that on the night of Friday, March 6, 2009, the victim stayed
at a Microtel Inn in Clarksville. Rondeau, Traylor, Benita
Gold, and a man named Nathaniel came to the victim's
room, and they watched television and drank alcohol. Rondeau
and Traylor said that the victim never gave any indication
that she might be having an extramarital affair. However, she
did express her desire to divorce the [Petitioner]. While in
the motel room, the victim received calls from the
[Petitioner] on her cellular telephone. The victim used the
speakerphone feature, and Rondeau and Traylor heard the
[Petitioner] beg the victim to not leave him. Everyone in the
motel room was intoxicated and laughed during the call.
Rondeau and Traylor estimated that they, Gold, and Nathaniel
left the motel room sometime around 3:00 a.m. or 4:00 a.m.
The victim was planning to go to bed when they left.
Tiffany Almeyda, a friend of the [Petitioner] who lived in
his apartment complex, testified that on the night of March
6, 2009, the [Petitioner] called and asked her to pick him up
at a gas station in Clarksville. Brittany Randolph Gribble
and Brittany Lester testified that they accompanied Almeyda.
The [Petitioner] was in a good mood. When they arrived at the
apartment complex around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m., the [Petitioner]
asked if he could borrow Almeyda's white 2007 Mercury
Mariner to visit his son, and Almeyda agreed. No knives or
other weapons were in the vehicle at that time.
Jonathan Haynes, a front desk clerk at the Microtel Inn,
testified that around 3:30 or 4:00 a.m., the [Petitioner]
came into the lobby and asked for the victim's room
number, saying that she was his wife and that he was trying
to surprise her for their anniversary. Haynes refused, and
the [Petitioner] offered Haynes twenty dollars to reveal the
information. Haynes offered to call the victim's room to
verify that the [Petitioner] was supposed to be there, but
the [Petitioner] asked him to not do that because it would
ruin the surprise. The [Petitioner] tried to look over the
counter to see the registry or the computer. After his
attempts to discover the victim's room number proved
fruitless, he whispered, "[D]amn." The [Petitioner]
paced in the lobby for about fifteen to thirty minutes,
Haynes asked him to leave, and he left.
Army Lieutenant Shanda Garth, who acted as a liaison between
deployed servicemen and servicewomen and their family
members, testified that the [Petitioner] called her around
6:00 a.m. on March 7. The [Petitioner] had contacted
Lieutenant Garth on previous occasions about support payments
from the Army and to complain that the victim wanted to
divorce him. Lieutenant Garth helped the [Petitioner] with
financial matters but advised him that she could not help
with personal matters. On the morning of March 7, the
[Petitioner] told Lieutenant Garth that the victim was in a
hotel with another man. Lieutenant Garth once again advised
the [Petitioner] that she could not assist him with
relationship matters. After a "pregnant pause, "
the [Petitioner] said, "[A]ll right, ma'am, "
and hung up. Lieutenant Garth denied she advised the
[Petitioner] that he needed photographic proof of the
Doris Henson testified that she arrived at the Microtel Inn
around 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. on March 7, 2009, to relieve Haynes
at the front desk. At 9:18 a.m., the victim, who was alone,
checked out of the motel. Henson noticed that the victim had
long, black hair that was "done up real pretty" and
that she was talking on a cellular telephone. ...