Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs: January 21, 2016
Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 102170
Steven W. Sword, Judge
Appellant, Jabari Reynolds, was convicted by a Knox County
Criminal Court Jury of first degree premeditated murder, and
he was sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, the
Appellant contends that the trial court erred (1) by allowing
a police officer to testify regarding recordings of telephone
calls the Appellant made while in jail instead of requiring a
telephone company employee to authenticate the calls, (2) by
refusing to instruct the jury on voluntary intoxication, (3)
by refusing to give a special instruction that the
lesser-included offense of second degree murder was
"homicide in the 'heat of passion' without
adequate provocation, " and (4) by accepting the
jury's verdict as thirteenth juror. The Appellant also
contends that he is entitled to relief due to cumulative
error. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
L. Gulley, Jr., (on appeal), and Bruce A. Alldredge and Joe
Lodato (at trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the Appellant,
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ahmed
A. Safeeullah, Assistant Attorney General; Charme Allen,
District Attorney General; and TaKisha M. Fitzgerald,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State
McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Robert W. Wedemeyer and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.
MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE
Appellant's conviction stemmed from the shooting death of
the victim, Desean Lowe, following an allegation by the
Appellant's girlfriend that the victim had raped her.
Hamilton testified that she had known the victim since
kindergarten. Hamilton said that they were friends and that
she thought of the victim as her brother. In May 2013, she
moved into a one-bedroom apartment in the Arbor Place
Apartments complex, and the victim lived with her.
said that she met the Appellant in March 2013 and that he
began staying with her on July 1. The victim spent the night
of July 1 with his mother in Rocky Top, and he returned to
Hamilton's apartment on July 2. On the night of July 2,
the Appellant stayed in the living room, and Hamilton and the
victim were in the bedroom, "hanging out" and
afternoon of July 3, the Appellant, Hamilton, and the victim
were in the living room smoking marijuana when the Appellant
received a call from his girlfriend, Briasha Williams. The
Appellant's cellular telephone was loud, and Hamilton
heard the conversation. Williams told the Appellant that the
victim had raped her, that the Appellant was "up there
with her enemies, " and that she was "going to be
laughing when [the Appellant] come up dead." While the
Appellant was still conversing with Williams, Hamilton and
the victim told the Appellant that the victim had not raped
said that after the call, she and the victim went to
"Dajauna's house." When they returned a short
time later, the Appellant was sitting on the couch in the
living room. Hamilton began sweeping the living room floor.
The Appellant got up, walked behind the couch, and stared at
Hamilton. She asked the Appellant, "'What's on
your mind? Are you good?'" The Appellant responded
either "'[y]eah'" or
"'nothing.'" After she finished sweeping,
Hamilton walked into her bedroom. The victim came into the
bedroom and said that he was leaving. Hamilton responded that
she would leave with him. She walked into the living room and
saw the Appellant sitting on an ottoman in front of a chair.
She told the Appellant that he had to leave the apartment
"[be]cause we ain't on no type stuff for Briasha,
" and he said, "[O]kay."
walked back to her bedroom, and the Appellant followed her.
The victim was standing facing the bedroom closet near the
window. The Appellant pulled out a gun and began firing. The
first shot hit the window, but the next shot hit the victim.
Hamilton ran into the bathroom, hid, and heard the Appellant
call her name before she heard more shots fired. She said
that after the shots ceased, she heard the front door close.
She waited in the bathroom until she was certain the
Appellant was gone then ran into the bedroom. She saw the
victim lying on his stomach on the side of her bed. She
called his name, and he lifted his head. He was covered with
said that she ran to a neighbor's apartment, asked for
help, returned to her apartment, and called 911. While
speaking with the 911 dispatcher, she walked into the living
room and "flipped the TV over." She said she did
not know why she turned the television over. She remained on
the telephone with 911 until the police arrived. Thereafter,
she went downtown with the police to be interviewed.
cross-examination, Hamilton said that on the night of the
shooting, she also overheard the Appellant's telephone
conversation with Donna Locklin, Williams's mother.
Locklin told the Appellant that Williams had said previously
that she had been raped by the victim. Hamilton denied that
the Appellant said he would leave and needed his toothbrush
or that she went into the bedroom to retrieve his toothbrush.
Hamilton said that the victim kept his clothes in the bedroom
could not recall how many shots she heard while in the
bathroom but thought it was "[a]bout four." She
said that she turned the television over because she was
frustrated she could not get help for the victim.
said that the victim and the Appellant did not fight prior to
the shooting. She had never seen the gun before that night
and was unfamiliar with guns; however, she recalled that the
Appellant's gun was silver. She acknowledged telling the
911 operator that "some guy named Jabari did it."
She said that she knew the Appellant but did not know his
last name. She acknowledged that she "hate[d]" the
Appellant for killing the victim.
Alan Mays testified that he was the records keeper for 911 in
Knox County. Mays said that every call into 911 was audio
recorded. Information from each call was entered in to a
computer, which then created a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD)
report. Mays said a CAD report reflected that four calls
regarding the incident came into 911. The first call was at
7:56 p.m. on July 3, 2013, from a location on South Hall of
Fame Drive in Knoxville. The calls were played for the jury.
Police Officer James Lockmiller testified that on the night
of July 3, 2013, he and Sergeant Jonathan Chadwell were
working as security officers for Wood Properties and were on
patrol between Arbor Place Apartments on South Hall of Fame
Drive and Ridgebrook Apartments off of Western Avenue. While
in "parking lot B" of Arbor Place, they received a
report of shots fired at apartment 398.
went to the apartment and saw a female sitting on the steps
outside the apartment and crying. They attempted to talk with
her, but she was upset and "not very coherent." The
officers went inside the apartment and discovered a deceased
male lying face down on the floor of the back bedroom. The
victim's injuries were consistent with gunshot wounds.
Crime scene technician Beth Goodman arrived and began
photographing and documenting the scene.
cross-examination, Officer Lockmiller said that when he
entered the apartment, he walked through the area that
encompassed the living room, dining room, and kitchen. He
thought the television in the living room might have been
overturned but could not recall any other disruptions. He
then walked down a short hallway and into the bedroom. He
noted that the apartment's only bathroom was located in
the bedroom. Officer Lockmiller did not see the Appellant on
the night of the offense.
Goodman, who worked in the Knoxville Police Department's
forensics unit, testified that she went to the scene; met
with her supervisor, Sergeant Bryan Dalton; then began taking
photographs of the apartment. Goodman and Sergeant Dalton
examined the back bedroom and took measurements. The
victim's body was located between the bed and the wall
next to a window. Goodman noticed that a bullet had passed
through the curtain, blinds, and window glass at a point
approximately four feet, six inches from the floor. She found
no other bullet holes. The only blood in the room was on the
wall next to the window. Goodman left the apartment and
collected a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush that were
found in the stairwell outside the apartment.
said that the next day, July 4, she went to the medical
examiner's office and retrieved the victim's
clothing. She also retrieved three bullets that were removed
from the victim's body during an autopsy. Goodman said
that she "confiscated" one unfired bullet and a box
containing a revolver but did not say when or where the items
Police Officer Eric Heitz testified that around 11:00 p.m. on
the night of the shooting, he received a report of a
suspicious person at 230 South Hall of Fame Drive. Officer
Heitz went to The Vistas Apartments complex, which was
located "back to back" with Arbor Place Apartments
and saw the Appellant sitting on the ground in front of
apartment 228, talking on a cellular telephone. Officer Heitz
asked the Appellant what he was doing there, and the
Appellant responded that he was waiting for his girlfriend.
The Appellant had no identification but said his name was
"Jabari." Officer Heitz recalled that the police
had issued a be on the lookout report (BOLO) for someone by
that name earlier in the evening. At Officer Heitz's
request, the Appellant ended his call, telling the person
with whom he was speaking, "'I've got to go,
Mom. They've got me.'"
Heitz handcuffed and patted down the Appellant. He found a
Taurus revolver in the Appellant's right front pocket.
The revolver was loaded with one live .38 caliber round, and
it held five expended cartridges. In the Appellant's left
front pocket, Officer Heitz found a large plastic baggie
containing eight, smaller Ziploc baggies which in turn
contained a green leafy substance that appeared to be
cross-examination, Officer Heitz clarified that the Appellant
"was sitting on the ground against the retaining wall
opposite the door to Apartment 228." The area was
well-lit, and the Appellant was dressed in black clothes.
Officer Heitz heard the Appellant speaking on the telephone
but was unable to "tell if there was any emotion in the
conversation or anything." The Appellant was compliant
when Officer Heitz took him into custody. Officer Heitz
explained that Townview Drive ran around three apartment
complexes: Arbor Place, Townview Towers, and The Vistas. He
said that it took five minutes to walk between the apartment
Knight, the director of the Tennessee Department of Safety
and Homeland Security's handgun program, testified that
the Appellant had never applied for a handgun carry permit.
Arney, a special agent forensic scientist with the Tennessee
Bureau of Investigation's (TBI) crime laboratory,
testified as an expert in firearms examinations. Agent Arney
tested the revolver taken from the Appellant. Agent Arney
explained that the cylinder on the revolver held a maximum of
six bullets. After a bullet was fired, the cartridge case was
left inside the cylinder.
Arney said that one unfired .38 caliber hollow-point bullet
and five fired cartridge casings were in the revolver when it
was confiscated. The bullet and the fired cartridge casings
were removed by the police and submitted to her office. Agent
Arney determined that all five cartridge casings were fired
from the Appellant's revolver. Agent Arney also tested
one bullet and two bullet fragments that were retrieved from
the victim's body during autopsy and determined that all
three had been fired from the Appellant's revolver.
Arney examined the clothing that was removed from the
victim's body prior to autopsy. She found no holes in the
front of the shirt. On the back of the shirt, she found four
holes: the first was near the seam of the right shoulder, the
second was a few inches down and toward the center of the
shirt, the third was directly below the second, and the
fourth was in the lower back area around the center of the
shirt. In the side seam, she found a small hole that may have
been a rip or tear.
cross-examination, Agent Arney explained that "every
time you fire the revolver, the hammer returns to the at-rest
position. So your choices at that point are to manually cock
the hammer to fire it in single action or to simply pull the
trigger and fire it in double action." Three and
three-quarters pounds of pressure were required to fire the
revolver in single action, and "a little" over
twelve pounds of pressure were required for double action.
She had no way to discern whether the revolver was fired in
single or double action.
Arney said that because no gunshot residue was found on the
victim's clothes, she was unable to estimate the distance
from which the shots were fired. She said that the fired
bullets and the unfired bullet "appeared to be the same
type and design."
McLeod, an investigator with the violent crimes unit of the
Knoxville Police Department, testified that on the evening of
July 3, he heard a radio report of a shooting with an
unresponsive victim and proceeded to the scene. Several
officers were present when he arrived. Hamilton, who was
"extremely distraught, " was speaking with some
officers. Investigator McLeod arranged for Hamilton to be
transported to the police department for an interview.
walked into the apartment and saw members of the Knoxville
Fire Department and Rural/Metro, an emergency medical
service, attempting to revive the victim, but he was
deceased. After the crime scene investigators arrived,
Investigator McLeod followed them and examined the scene. The
victim's body was lying on the floor between the bed and
the wall. He appeared to have injuries to his face, the back
of his head, and multiple gunshot wounds to the back. The
police found no gun or shell casings at the scene.
at the scene, Investigator McLeod learned that Hamilton had
said the shooter's name was Jabari and that his
girlfriend was Williams. She later identified the Appellant
from a photograph lineup. The police broadcast a BOLO for the
Appellant, which stated that he was wearing a black or dark
hoodie and black pants or long shorts. Investigator McLeod
left the scene to return to his office. En route, he was
notified that a suspect had been apprehended at The Vistas.
Investigator McLeod drove to The Vistas and arrived as the
Appellant was being placed into custody.
Appellant was taken to police headquarters and placed in an
interview room. Investigator McLeod began to interview the
Appellant at 12:14 a.m. on July 4, 2013. Investigator McLeod
advised the Appellant of his Miranda rights, and the
Appellant signed a waiver of his rights. Investigator McLeod
said that during the initial part of the interview, the
Appellant "hemmed and hawed a little bit." The
Appellant then said he would tell what happened if he could
have a cigarette. Investigator McLeod gave the Appellant a
cigarette and took him to the sally port to smoke. A
recording of the interview was played for the jury.
recording reflects that the Appellant said he was not staying
at Hamilton's apartment and was there that day to visit
Hamilton. He said he had been in the apartment for
approximately ten minutes. He first said that Williams had
told him about the rape two months before the shooting then
stated that she had told him about it a week after it
happened. He thought the rape happened some time the previous
year. He stated that he and the victim began fighting in the
living room and that the fight continued into the bedroom.
During the fight, the victim hit him in the jaw. He denied
that the gun was his, stating that the victim took the gun
from a bedroom closet and that he got the gun after knocking
it from the victim's hand. He acknowledged taking the gun
with him when he left the apartment.
Appellant told Investigator McLeod that before the shooting,
he had a "three-way" call with Williams and her
mother. During the call, the Appellant's cellular
telephone was "on speaker." Williams accused the
victim of sexually assaulting her several months earlier,
maybe the previous October. The Appellant asked Williams,
"'What do you want me to do? I'm staring right
at him.'" The Appellant said that he and the victim
began fighting on the couch in the living room. The victim
produced a gun, and he and the Appellant fought for it. The
Appellant knocked the gun from the victim's hands and
shot at him. The Appellant said that the victim went to the
closet for a gun. The Appellant fought the victim, took the
gun, and shot at him in the bedroom. Investigator McLeod did
not see any injuries to the Appellant.
McLeod said he learned that Locklin was Williams's
mother. He spoke with Locklin but never spoke with Williams.
Investigator McLeod was unable to find a report by Williams
or Locklin concerning the alleged rape.
cross-examination, Investigator McLeod said that the
Appellant's clothing, which was dark gray or black,
matched the description of the suspect's clothing.
Investigator McLeod did not notice any stains on or damage to
the Appellant's clothes, and the police did not take his
McLeod clarified that he was at the scene while it was
processed. He then left the scene, spoke with Locklin, left
Locklin, and was en route to police headquarters when he was
advised the Appellant had been apprehended. He estimated that
the Appellant was found a couple of hours after Investigator
McLeod left the crime scene. When Investigator McLeod arrived
at The Vistas, the Appellant was being taken to a patrol car.
McLeod said that Officer Heitz and Investigator Madison were
also present in the sally port with the Appellant and him.
Investigator McLeod recalled that during the interview, the
Appellant said that he and the victim fought in the living
room and the bedroom. Investigator McLeod asked the Appellant
numerous questions about the incident "to see if the
story would change." He maintained that the Appellant
first said that the fight began in the living room then
stated the fight began in the bedroom. Investigator McLeod
thought the Appellant was describing "two separate
McLeod said that after the interview, he thought that the
Appellant "had known for some time" Williams had
been sexually assaulted by the victim and that it was
confirmed during the telephone conversation immediately
before the shooting. Investigator McLeod said the Appellant
never acknowledged that he knew "the entire time"
that the victim was the alleged rapist; instead, the
Appellant maintained that he "barely knew" the
victim and "only knew his first name." The
Appellant said he "went for" the victim after he
got the gun from the closet. They had a physical altercation,
during which the gun was knocked from the victim's hand.
At that point, the Appellant picked up the gun.
McLeod said that the Appellant asserted the gun did not
belong to him. The Appellant said that he did not leave the
apartment with a toothbrush and toothpaste and did ...