Assigned on Briefs September 7, 2016
from the Circuit Court for Lake County No. 16-CR-10199 R. Lee
Moore, Jr., Judge.
Petitioner, Darrell Jennings, filed a petition in the Lake
County Circuit Court seeking habeas corpus relief from his
first degree felony and second degree murder convictions and
resulting life sentence, alleging that he is entitled to
relief because he was convicted of an offense that was not
alleged in the indictment and because the trial court failed
to instruct the jury on lesser-included offenses. The habeas
corpus court summarily denied the petition, and the
Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of
the habeas corpus court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Darrell Jennings, Pro se, Tiptonville, Tennessee.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David
H. Findley, Senior Counsel; and C. Phillip Bivens, District
Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Robert W. Wedemeyer and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.
MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE
1998, the Shelby County Grand Jury indicted the Petitioner
and a codefendant for first degree premeditated murder and
first degree felony murder committed during the perpetration
of robbery. In August 1999, a jury convicted the Petitioner
of second degree murder as a lesser-included offense of first
degree premeditated murder and first degree felony murder.
After a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the
convictions and sentenced the Petitioner to life. On direct
appeal of his felony murder conviction, this court gave the
following factual account of the crime:
In August 1998, sixteen-year-old Delmar Mason resided in
Memphis with his seventy-one-year-old grandfather, Joe H.
Mason. The proof established that Joe Mason conducted an
[unlicensed] pawn shop business from his residence and
routinely accepted for pawn or purchase cars, jewelry, and
clothing, along with other items of property. In addition, he
made cash loans and would cash checks. At approximately 12:30
a.m. on August 24th, Delmar, his grandfather, his uncle, and
his grandfather's friend had retired to bed when James
"Gucci" Patterson and Kelvin Hooks arrived at the
residence with a third-party check they wanted cashed. Joe
Mason informed Patterson and Hooks that "the check
wasn't no good." The two men left.
Approximately thirty minutes later, Patterson and Hooks
returned to the residence accompanied by the Appellant. The
Appellant was carrying "some Tommy Hilfiger clothes and
[Hooks] came with . . . a leather jacket . . . ."
Patterson, without saying a word, "sat on the couch, the
opposite from [Joe Mason.]" Delmar Mason asked the
Appellant "how much he wanted for the clothes." At
this point, "Kelvin Hooks pulled his gun out on [Delmar]
and told [him] to lay down." Delmar sat on the couch
next to his grandfather. The Appellant and Hooks demanded
money and the Appellant drew his weapon. Joe Mason stood up
but was warned by the Appellant, "Don't move old
man." Disregarding the admonition, Joe Mason responded
that he did not have any money and advanced toward the
Appellant, grabbing the gun away from him. Gunshots were
fired and Delmar ran to his bedroom. James Patterson
testified that after "Mr. Joe shot the gun, "
"that's when K-mack [Hooks] done what he done. He
pulled his pistol . . . and went to shooting Mr. Joe."
The perpetrators fled the residence.
When Delmar returned, he saw his grandfather staggering by
the coffee table. Eventually, Joe Mason fell to the floor.
Mason died as a result of four gunshot wounds to his chest.
Delmar Mason gave accurate descriptions of the Appellant,
Hooks, and Patterson. He also identified the Appellant as one
of the perpetrators from a photographic lineup a few hours
after his grandfather's murder.
Memphis Police Officer Laneeze Stepney and his partner
responded to the call to the Mason residence. Upon arriving
at the scene, they discovered the body of Joe Mason. Delmar
Mason, his uncle and another individual present were
questioned as to the events. These witnesses provided
descriptions of the suspects. One twenty-five-caliber shell