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State v. Rahman

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 9, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs: November 1, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 15-01981 John Wheeler Campbell, Judge

         A jury convicted the Defendant, Yusuf Rahman, of one count of attempted second degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of domestic assault. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to thirty years for attempted second degree murder, fifteen years for each aggravated assault conviction, and eleven months and twenty-nine days for domestic assault. The trial court ran the sentences concurrently and merged the aggravated assault convictions. The Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support the attempted second degree murder conviction and that the trial court should have instructed the jury on self-defense. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal Court Affirmed.

          Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Tony N. Brayton, Assistant District Public Defender (on appeal); and John Zastrow and Patrick Newport, Assistant District Public Defenders (at trial), for the appellant, Yusuf Rahman.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Josh Corman and Meghan Fowler, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Camille R. McMullen and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.




         A Shelby County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant for one count of attempted first degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of domestic assault. The Defendant was accused of the attempted murder of a man and the domestic assault of a woman, following a dispute involving alcohol between the Defendant and the victim of the attempted murder.

         Mr. Marvin Jackson, the victim to the attempted second degree murder and aggravated assaults, testified that he had known Ms. Felisa Grant, the Defendant's girlfriend and the domestic assault victim, for approximately eleven or twelve years. He described their relationship as a friendship. He explained that he has gout, which makes it difficult for him to walk, and that Ms. Grant assisted him by cleaning his apartment and doing his laundry for him.

         On November 22, 2014, Ms. Grant and the Defendant went to Mr. Jackson's apartment to visit. After their arrival, the Defendant went to the liquor store to purchase liquor for Mr. Jackson. When the Defendant returned from the liquor store, he grabbed a knife in the kitchen and stabbed Mr. Jackson's table. Mr. Jackson testified that he asked the Defendant why he stabbed the table, and the Defendant did not respond. Mr. Jackson said the Defendant went to where Ms. Grant was sitting in the apartment and "slapped her up side the head a couple of times." Mr. Jackson testified that after the Defendant struck Ms. Grant, he told the Defendant to leave, the Defendant refused to do so, and then Mr. Jackson left the apartment because he felt that "something was fixing to happen" and that his "life was in danger." When Mr. Jackson left the apartment, the Defendant followed Mr. Jackson with the knife he used to stab the table. The Defendant then approached Mr. Jackson from behind, and Mr. Jackson turned around to face the Defendant. Mr. Jackson stated, "He come around with the knife. … I caught the knife. I broke the knife." He described the knife as being about eight inches before it broke and about four to five inches after it broke. After Mr. Jackson broke the knife, the Defendant began stabbing Mr. Jackson with the knife, five times in total to the stomach and back. Mr. Jackson testified that the stabbing left him weak, bleeding, and feeling like he was dying. After the offenses, Mr. Jackson identified the Defendant as the assailant in a photographic lineup conducted by the police.

         On cross-examination, Mr. Jackson testified that he did not have any problem with the Defendant before the attack and that the Defendant "had no reason to assault [him]." Mr. Jackson admitted that on the day of the attack, he drank a pint of liquor, but he maintained that he was not intoxicated. Mr. Jackson acknowledged that he had told a treating nurse that he had only consumed beer that day. He denied being too intoxicated to remember the details of the attack and instigating the fight with the Defendant.

         On re-direct examination, Mr. Jackson testified that during the attack, the door knob to his apartment door was damaged. He stated the door knob looked like the Defendant "took both feet and kicked the door knob and broke the door knob." He testified that he saw the Defendant kick his door.

         Officer William Smith of the Memphis Police Department was one of the responding officers to the 911 call concerning Mr. Jackson. He described the scene upon arrival as "pretty gruesome." He noted that Mr. Jackson was lying on the ground "with multiple stab wounds and surrounded by blood." He testified that the suspect was not on the scene when he arrived but that he was able to determine the identity of the perpetrator. Officer Smith said Ms. Grant was able to recall what had occurred and who was responsible. He collected information from Ms. Grant and reported details about the suspect to the police department for broadcast. He stated that he did not believe Ms. Grant was intoxicated while they spoke with each other, although he did detect alcohol on her breath. Officer Smith testified that he found a broken knife handle on the scene several feet away from Mr. Jackson. He also testified that Mr. Jackson's door was "split" and "broken up" and that the lock to Mr. Jackson's door "had been knocked off" and was on the ground. On cross-examination, Officer Smith stated that Ms. Grant was somewhat "hysterical" and was crying.

         Mr. Allen Courtney, with the Memphis Fire Department, was a responding paramedic to the crime scene. The trial court accepted Mr. Courtney as an expert in defensive wound identification. He testified that after he made his assessment of Mr. Jackson, he determined that Mr. Jackson needed to be taken into surgery. He observed that Mr. Jackson

had multiple stab wounds to his shoulder blade area, upper back. They ranged 1 inch to 2 inches … in length. He also had three in his abdomen. He also had what … I've been taught to look for and stuff especially in stab wounds is defensive wounds to his hands when you get stabbed or when you're being attacked or however you want to look at it. You're always going to try to defend yourself. So you're going to grab whatever someone has. He had cuts to his fingers.

Mr. Courtney testified that upon their arrival to the hospital, the hospital staff immediately brought Mr. Jackson in for surgery.

         On cross-examination, Mr. Courtney testified that there was blood around Mr. Jackson and "further down the hallway." He did not know whether the blood belonged to Mr. Jackson. He stated that he did not see the suspect at the scene and did not know ...

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