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Hildred v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

April 10, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs September 7, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 11-03840 Paula L. Skahan, Judge

         The Petitioner, Warren Hildred, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of second degree murder and resulting seventeen-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner claims that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

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

          Iclem Jaber, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Warren Hildred.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Samuel David Winnig, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.



         I. Factual Background

         On the afternoon of February 19, 2011, the Petitioner shot and killed the victim, Stephanie Brown, at his home in Memphis. State v. Warren Hildred, No. W2012-01032-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 3329011, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Jackson, June 27, 2013), perm. to appeal denied, (Tenn. Nov. 13, 2013). The Petitioner and the victim had been in a relationship and had a son together but were estranged at the time of the shooting. See id at *1, 3. At trial, an eyewitness to the crime testified that on the day of the shooting, the victim went to the Petitioner's home to get the victim's insulin medication and the battery charger for the victim's cellular telephone. Id. at *1. The victim, who was standing on the Petitioner's front porch, asked the Petitioner through a closed, wrought-iron storm door to get her medicine. Id. The Petitioner opened the door, threw some of the victim's clothes onto the porch, and closed the door. Id. The victim knocked on the door and asked the Petitioner for her medicine and battery charger. Id. The Petitioner opened the door again and fired one gunshot at the victim, striking her in the upper abdomen. Id. at *1, 2. The victim fell on the porch, and the Petitioner went into his house and sat on his living room sofa. Id. at *1. The witness said the victim never opened the front door or stepped inside the Petitioner's house. Id.

         A police officer arrived on the scene and found the victim lying on her left side on the porch. Id. at *2. The Petitioner later told the officer that the victim had tried to break into his home and that he shot her. Id. A second police officer examined the storm door and found no evidence of forced entry. Id. at *3. An investigator testified that he photographed the crime scene and that the photographs showed a glucose meter, test strips, and the victim's medicine on the porch. Id. at *2. A second eyewitness testified that none of those items were on the porch at the time of the shooting. Id.

         The police arrested the Petitioner, and he gave a statement in which he said the following: The Petitioner opened the storm door, placed the victim's medicine on the porch, and locked the door. Id. at *3. The victim asked for her battery charger and "'must have gotten mad and then she started pulling on the door.'" Id. The victim "'had the look in her eyes'" and took about five steps into the house. Id. The victim had a blue object in her hand. Id. The Petitioner did not know what the victim was going to do, so he shot her. Id. The victim "'fell back out the door.'" Id.

         Officer Isreal Taylor testified that he conducted a second interview with the Petitioner. Id. The Petitioner told Officer Taylor that he and the victim began arguing over her clothes, that he put her "stuff on the porch, and that he retrieved his gun from a closet because he feared for his life. Id. at *4. The Petitioner noticed a blue, "'rag tipped' comb" in the victim's hand, and he thought she was going to use it as a weapon "'[b]ecause of previous incidents.'" Id. The Petitioner said that he meant to shoot the victim but that he did not mean to kill her. Id. After the shooting, the Petitioner put the gun on a coffee table and telephoned the Memphis Police Department's non-emergency number. Id.

         The Petitioner testified at trial that the victim had been violent toward him in the past by hitting him in the head with a brick. Id. at *5. The Petitioner was hospitalized, and the victim was arrested. Id. In other incidents, the victim attempted to stab the Petitioner with a knife and shoved him against the corner of his house, tearing his rotator cuff. Id. On the day of the shooting, the victim arrived at the Petitioner's home and told him that "I'm going to show your ass something, " which he took as a threat. Id. He retrieved his handgun and shot the victim when she "'snatched'" open the door and approached him with the blue comb. Id. He maintained that he thought the victim was going to use the comb as a weapon and that he was trying ...

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