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State v. Abraham

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 13, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs February 7, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 15-00697 Glenn Ivy Wright, Judge.

         A Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Shanerick Abraham, of aggravated robbery. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support his aggravated robbery conviction because the victim voluntarily gave the defendant money, and the alleged taking was temporally remote to the subsequent act of violence. The defendant additionally alleges ineffective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Samuel J. Muldavin, Memphis, Tennessee (on appeal), John Scott, Memphis, Tennessee (at trial), for the appellant, Shanerick Abraham.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Austin Scofield, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          J. Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Camille R. McMullen, J., joined.


          J. ROSS DYER, JUDGE

         Facts and Procedural History

         On October 17, 2014, Larry Saulsberry, the defendant, and others were shooting dice. Eventually, only Mr. Saulsberry and the defendant remained in the game. Initially, Mr. Saulsberry was losing several hundred dollars to the defendant. However, when Mr. Saulsberry started to win his money back, the defendant became angry. Having won his money back and because the defendant was upset, Mr. Saulsberry left, accidentally leaving his cell phone behind. About thirty minutes later, Mr. Saulsberry returned to retrieve his phone but could not locate it and accused the defendant of stealing it. The defendant pulled out a gun and said, "You feel like I got your phone; you give me everything." Mr. Saulsberry backed away in fear, trying not to draw attention to the situation.

         Meanwhile, the victim, Samuel Washington, was drinking beer with a coworker outside a nearby neighborhood store when he saw the defendant waiving a gun around and walking toward Mr. Saulsberry. As Mr. Saulsberry backed away from the defendant, the victim heard the defendant say, "You need to drop that off, " slang for "give me whatever is in your pockets." The victim intervened, stood between Mr. Saulsberry and the defendant, and told the defendant to put down the gun. According to the victim's trial testimony, the defendant then said, "Well, you can drop it off, too." While the victim testified he was not in fear, the defendant was holding a gun, and the victim hoped "he wouldn't do nothing foolish with it, " so he immediately took $63.00 from his pocket. According to the victim, he would not have done this had the defendant not wielded a gun. The defendant then grabbed the money and smacked the victim in the face with the gun, rendering him unconscious. The victim was unsure about how long he was unconscious.

         Mr. Saulsberry offered slightly different testimony regarding the events occurring that evening. According to Mr. Saulsberry, once the defendant pulled out his gun and started walking toward him, the victim intervened and said, "Jamal, [1] why are you doing this? We are all family. If it's about some money; here's some money." The victim subsequently handed the defendant money from his pocket, and the defendant smacked the victim in this face with his gun.

         After the attack, the victim was transported to the hospital and underwent surgery to repair his broken jaw. Detective Steven Foglesong with the Memphis Police Department visited the victim at the hospital to get more information regarding the sequence of events. There, the victim informed Detective Foglesong he had been robbed and assaulted by the defendant. Detective Foglesong interviewed Mr. Saulsberry as well, and Mr. Saulsberry also identified the defendant as the victim's assailant. At trial, the victim, Mr. Saulsberry, and Detective Foglesong all identified the defendant in the courtroom.

         The State called the victim, Mr. Saulsberry, and Detective Foglesong to testify at trial. Following a Momon hearing, the defendant declined to testify and did not call any witnesses. The jury found the defendant guilty of aggravated robbery. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the defendant as a Range I, standard offender, to nine years in confinement. The ...

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