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State v. Williams

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 21, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
CHRISTOPHER LEE WILLIAMS

          Session: February 14, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2014-D-3138 J. Randall Wyatt, Jr., Judge

         Defendant, Christopher Lee Williams, was convicted of reckless endangerment, aggravated kidnapping, and domestic assault. Defendant raises the following issues on appeal: (1) whether dual convictions for aggravated kidnapping resulting in bodily injury and domestic assault based on bodily injury are proper, and (2) whether the trial court failed to consider a statutory mitigating factor in fashioning Defendant's sentence. After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Joshua L. Brand (on appeal), Jamaal L. Boykin and Kyle Parks (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Lee Williams.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Amy Hunter, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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

          OPINION

          TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE

         Factual Background

         Defendant was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury in October of 2014 for one count of aggravated assault by strangulation, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping with serious bodily injury, and one count of domestic assault with bodily injury after Defendant and his live-in girlfriend, Jessica Head, got into an argument on September 8, 2014.

         At trial, Ms. Head explained that she and Defendant started dating approximately eight years prior to the incident. The couple met at Nashville State College where they were taking classes. Ms. Head moved in with Defendant and his parents shortly after they started dating. A few months later, the couple moved in to their own apartment, and they were living together at the time of the incident. Ms. Head worked as a server at Logan's Roadhouse Restaurant. Ms. Head acknowledged that she had a prior conviction for theft and that she was placed on probation as a result of that conviction.

         The morning prior to the incident, Ms. Head worked at Logan's from approximately 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. After work, Ms. Head went home and "collected laundry." She was at the apartment for "about an hour and [a] half" and left with her friend Cheryl Witherow to do laundry at another location because she did not like the laundry facilities at the apartment complex. Ms. Head was gone for between two to two and a half hours before returning home to "drop the laundry off around ten o'clock that night." Defendant was at the apartment when she returned. Ms. Head again left with Ms. Witherow "because she had to go pick a friend up from [their] job and take her home and she didn't want to ride by herself at night."

         Ms. Head eventually made it back to the apartment around 1:00 or 1:30 a.m. Defendant was "very upset and hostile" and accused Ms. Head "of cheating on him." He called her a "whore and a slut." Ms. Head did not want to fight with Defendant so she "sat down on the couch and just agreed with him." When Ms. Head sat down, she "stuffed the keys inside the couch" because she did not want Defendant to take the car, which they shared. As she did so, she felt something in the couch. She pulled a letter "in a female's handwriting" out from between the couch cushions.[1] Ms. Head "started reading the letter" and asked Defendant about who wrote the letter. She called him a "Bitch." Defendant "snapped and he grabbed [Ms. Head] by the hair on [her] head." Defendant "grabbed [her] with two hands full of [her] hair and threw [her] onto the ground, right in front of the couch." Then he repeatedly slammed Ms. Head's head onto the carpet, telling her to read the letter. Defendant claimed that the letter was written for someone else. Defendant eventually got on top of Ms. Head, kneeling on top of her body and pushing he face into the carpet so that she felt his entire body weight.

         Ms. Head was unable to defend herself because she "couldn't move" with Defendant on top of her. At one point, she was in a fetal position and Defendant "had his knees on [her] side and both of his hands on top and on the side of [her] head pushing [her] into the floor." Ms. Head was not able to breathe "normally" and could not take a "full breath" for approximately "3 to 5 minutes." Defendant hit her in the left side of the head with his closed fist.

         Defendant finally allowed Ms. Head to get up from the floor. She went upstairs "to look in the mirror to see what damage had been done and [she] noticed that [her] eyes were swollen like to the point where [she] could barely recognize [her] nose." Ms. Head was spitting blood, had carpet burn on her face, and had busted blood vessels in one of her eyes. She thought that she needed to go to the hospital because she suspected her nose was broken. Ms. Head stayed upstairs for approximately fifteen minutes. When she went downstairs she told Defendant that she wanted to go to the hospital. Defendant told her she was "not going anywhere." Ms. Head claimed that she tried to leave through the front door six or seven times and the back door several times but Defendant refused to let her leave, using force to "pull [her] away from the doors." Ms. Head recounted the episode as follows:

I got my hand on the doorknob I think maybe once, but every[] [time] he would grab my shirt or he would grab my arm or he would grab my shoulder, and he would throw me to the floor, into the wall, or onto the couch or just to get ...

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