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Burrell v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 9, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs January 10, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Lincoln County No. 2013-CR-57 Forest A. Durard, Jr., Judge

         Henry Lee Burrell ("the Petitioner") pled guilty to six counts of first degree murder and was sentenced to four concurrent and two consecutive life sentences under the terms of a plea agreement. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. The Petitioner now appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, contending: (1) that the post-conviction court erred in denying his request for a psychological examination at the post-conviction hearing; (2) that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary; and (3) that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the post-conviction court's denial of relief.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed.

          Melissa L. Thomas (post-conviction hearing), Fayetteville, Tennessee, and Elizabeth Russell (on appeal), Franklin, Tennessee for the appellant, Henry Lee Burrell.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Robert J. Carter, District Attorney General; Ann L. Filer, Deputy District Attorney General; and Michael D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., joined.



         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Guilty Plea Submission Hearing

         On January 22, 2014, the Petitioner entered a guilty plea to six counts of first degree premeditated murder. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the Petitioner received six life sentences; two life sentences were to be served consecutively to each other and the remaining four life sentences were to run concurrently. The State offered the following recitation of facts in support of the Petitioner's guilty plea:

The [Petitioner] in this case[] . . . met an individual named Warren Vincent Crutcher while both of these men were incarcerated prior to 2012.
In 2012, Warren Crutcher was engaged in the sale of illegal drugs, and [the Petitioner] became a member of Mr. Crutcher's crew. In the fall of 2012, another individual named [co-defendant] Zakkawanda Moss had been released on parole. And [the Petitioner] brought [co-defendant] Moss into the drug operation as well.
Warren Crutcher had expressed a desire or an interest in relocating his operation to Atlanta, Georgia, or to ceasing his operation and ending his involvement in the drug business. But the move to Atlanta . . . would have left the [Petitioner] and [co-defendant] Moss without their current livelihood of selling drugs.
In addition Mr. Crutcher was thought to have been using drugs himself by the [Petitioner], to the point that [the Petitioner] considered Warren Crutcher to be unreliable in the business.
The [Petitioner] and [co-defendant] Moss decided that they would murder Warren Crutcher. And [they] decided that they would steal his money and his drugs, which [the Petitioner] and [co-defendant] Moss knew were customarily hidden at the Lincoln County home where Warren Crutcher resided, at the time[, ] [with] two of his female[] companions and those females' children as well as his.
On October the 21st, and into October 22nd, the [Petitioner] lured Warren Crutcher to meet [the Petitioner] and [co-defendant] Moss at one of those residences here in Lincoln County, Tennessee.
Unbeknownst to [the Petitioner], Warren Crutcher had a friend with him, a relatively new girlfriend named Amber McCaulley.
Ms. McCaulley was executed, and her body was dragged from the vehicle inside the garage of the Huntsville Highway house here in Lincoln County, Tennessee, and ultimately placed or thrown into a makeshift laundry room inside the garage of the Huntsville Highway house. . . .
Thereafter, the [Petitioner's] crime spree moved inside the Huntsville Highway house. This house was then occupied by a pregnant female named Chabreya Campbell as well as her two young sons; including 16-month-old [R.R.], [1] who was ultimately stomped to death by [the Petitioner] and [co-defendant] Moss. And the State's theory is that this was to coerce information from Chabreya Campbell.
Chabreya Campbell was ultimately beaten, tied up, and placed in a bathtub partially filled with water, where Chabreya Campbell was ultimately strangled by means of ligatures around her neck, where she died.
Chabreya's unborn daughter at the time was an eight-month-old fetus, [who] died along with her mother. That baby has since been named[] and buried. Her name was [ N.C. ].
Thereafter, the [Petitioner] and [co-defendant] Moss moved their killing spree to the home of another individual, a female named Jessica Brown. . . . Inside Ms. Brown's house, Jessica lived with her two-month-old son.
The two men entered the house and beat and subdued Ms. Brown, tying her up and putting her in the bathtub, again, partially filled with water.
There, Jessica Brown was tortured with ligatures around her throat, pulled tight, pulled repeatedly, ultimately the cords and strings cut multiple times into the flesh of Jessica Brown, and ultimately killed her.
The . . . Huntsville Highway house and . . . [Ms. Brown's house] were ransacked by the two men, including the [Petitioner], and ultimately looted by the two men.
Warren Crutcher was then executed. He was shot from behind, while he was seated in a white rental car, a Hyundai Elantra. Warren Crutcher bled copiously as his body was taken from the murder location in Tennessee, to a secluded wooded spot located just across the Alabama state line, and dumped, before being covered with branches and leaves on the dumpsite. And this was located just off of BH Reeves Road, several hundred yards south of the state line and ultimately in Madison County, Alabama.
[Co-defendant] Moss and [the Petitioner] drove . . . Warren Crutcher's vehicle to Huntsville, Alabama. The vehicle was dropped off at an apartment complex on Sparkman Drive in Huntsville, where [the Petitioner's] girlfriend was summoned to pick [the Petitioner] and [co-defendant] Moss up.
When [the Petitioner] and [co-defendant] Moss got into the girlfriend's vehicle, they had blood on them, [and] they had the odor of blood on them as well.
[The Petitioner] was wearing gloves. [Co-defendant] Moss was carrying weapons. And these weapons were taken from the deceased Warren Crutcher.
The men then tried to get more money by using the deceased Warren Crutcher's debit card at a location on Sparkman Drive, the Wal-Mart shopping center.
In addition, these individuals stopped again at a Wavaho Gas Station on Winchester Road in North Madison County, in an effort to use the deceased Warren Crutcher's debit card, to again get more profit or more gain ...

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