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Jennings v. Parris

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

April 10, 2017

DARRELL JENNINGS
v.
MICHAEL PARRIS, WARDEN

          Assigned on Briefs September 7, 2016

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Lake County No. 16-CR-10199 R. Lee Moore, Jr., Judge.

         The 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.

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

          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.

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

          OPINION

          NORMA MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE

         I. Factual Background

         In 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 ...

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