Assigned on Briefs January 18, 2017 at Knoxville
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 09-07892 Lee V.
petitioner, Rodney Watkins, appeals the denial of
post-conviction relief from his 2009 Shelby County Criminal
Court jury conviction of second degree murder, for which he
received a sentence of 25 years. In this appeal, the
petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective
assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed.
A. Timmerman (on appeal) and William B. Kelley (at hearing),
Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rodney Watkins.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew
C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich,
District Attorney General; and Alanda Dwyer, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.,
CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE.
Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the petitioner of
second degree murder, and the trial court imposed a 25-year
sentence. This court affirmed the convictions on direct
appeal. See State v. Rodney Watkins, No.
W2010-02570-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Jackson, Feb. 13,
2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. July 16, 2013).
Rodney Watkins, this court stated the facts of the
case. Lamika Turner, the victim, disappeared on February 3,
2009. Id., slip op. at 1. According to the
victim's mother, the victim "was supposed to have
gone to the [petitioner]'s home." Id., slip
op. at 2. When a police investigator spoke with the
petitioner on February 7, the petitioner stated that he had
last seen the victim getting into a car with a man known as
"'Keevin, '" whom the petitioner later
identified in a photographic lineup as Kevin Lee Harris.
Id. On May 8, police officers discovered a badly
decomposed body inside a bedroom of an abandoned house at
1517 Cella Street, which residence was located next door to
the petitioner's house. Id., slip op. at 3, 4,
6. Through the aid of dental x-rays, the body was positively
identified as that of the victim. Id., slip op. at
who processed the scene discovered pieces of a cinder block
in the bedroom where the victim's body was located.
Id., slip op. at 3. One of the cinder block pieces
"appeared to have blood and black hairs on it."
Id., slip op. at 4. The victim's body was found
face-down underneath two mattresses; she was wearing only a
shirt, and "[b]ased upon the way the victim's
clothing was removed, " officers believed it to be
likely that she had been the victim of a sexual assault.
Id., slip op. at 4, 5. The medical examiner
testified that the victim had sustained skull fractures and
determined that the victim's cause of death was blunt
force trauma to the head. Id., slip op. at 16.
Harris testified and denied any involvement in the
victim's death. Id., slip op. at 10. According
to Mr. Harris, "on the last night the victim was seen
alive, " she visited Mr. Harris' house at 1400 Cella
Street with her sister. Id., slip op. at 7. When the
victim, her sister, and others left at sunrise the following
morning, the victim asked fellow guest, Floyd Jackson, to
"take her to the [petitioner]'s house."
petitioner was interviewed by Memphis police officers in
early July 2009. Id., slip op. at 18. In his first
written statement, the petitioner denied any responsibility
for the victim's death and claimed that he was not
present when she died, blaming the murder on Mr. Harris and a
man known as "Benzo." Id. The following
day, however, the petitioner told officers that he
"wanted to tell the truth":
[T]he [petitioner] stated that he and the victim were at 1517
Cella Street about to have consensual sex when he heard a
noise outside. The [petitioner] said the victim had been
undressing and he had been applying a condom to himself. The
[petitioner] said that he told the victim to dress and that
he picked up a cinder block. The [petitioner] said Benzo came
through the door aggressively. . . . [T]he [petitioner]
claimed he raised the cinder block in the air and hit the
victim, who was standing behind him, on top of the head and
caused her to fall. . . . [T]he [petitioner] stated that
Benzo continued coming toward him aggressively and that the
[petitioner] fell on top of the victim, hitting the back of
her head with the cinder block. . . . [T]he [petitioner]
claimed he and Benzo struggled and that he was able to ...