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State v. Morgan

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

April 13, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
WILLIE MORGAN

          Assigned on Briefs January 5, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 13-06170 James M. Lammey, Jr., Judge

         The defendant, Willie Morgan, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and was sentenced to a term of eleven years. On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction and that the trial court erred in excluding testimony about the victim's compensation fund. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Barry W. Kuhn (on appeal), John Zastrow and Joshua Stanton (at trial), Assistant Public Defenders, for the appellant, Willie Morgan.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Tyler B. Parks and Gavin Smith, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE.

         FACTS

         The defendant and a co-defendant, Ashley Proctor, were indicted for aggravated robbery arising from their taking almost $10, 000 from the victim at gunpoint on July 28, 2013.

         At trial, the victim, Gregory Bernard, testified that he withdrew $10, 000 from his credit union in order to purchase a home at 2087 Hubert, as well as another house in the same neighborhood, to remodel and resell for a profit. He elaborated that he began flipping houses after retiring from the City of Memphis Sewer Department and "draw[ing]" $100, 000. On July 28, 2013, he went to the Hubert address to obtain a confirmation letter from the seller. While he waited for the seller, the victim sat with some friends under a tree across the street from the house. He knew people in the neighborhood from his job at the sewer department and had hung out there after work for several years. People in the neighborhood knew that he planned to buy the house on Hubert.

         The defendant, with whom the victim was acquainted, approached and joined the victim and his friends. The defendant told the victim that Ashley Proctor had asked about him and then called Ms. Proctor from the victim's phone. The victim also spoke to Ms. Proctor and said that he would come by and see her when he finished speaking with his friends. The defendant did not want to wait, so the victim asked his friend, Otis, to drive them. On the way, the defendant asked the victim to stop at a store and buy a beer for him. The victim paid for the beer with cash, pulling the bills from his right pocket as the defendant stood beside him. The victim had $70 or $80 in his right pocket and the "big cash" in his left pocket.

         When they arrived at Ms. Proctor's, the victim saw a tall, slim African-American man standing near the driveway. The victim entered the house, visited with Ms. Proctor's grandmother, and then spoke with Ms. Proctor in the hallway. The defendant entered the hallway twice during the victim's five-minute conversation with Ms. Proctor. The first time, the defendant gave Ms. Proctor "a look, " which the victim surmised to be "a jealous look." The second time, the defendant mumbled something that the victim could not hear. The victim thought the defendant was acting "funny" or "anxiously."

         As the victim prepared to leave, he saw Otis, the friend who had driven him to the house, driving away. The defendant, who was standing near the side of the house in the driveway, reported that Otis was going to the store and would return. As the victim stood on the porch preparing to call Otis, the tall, slim African-American man, whom the victim observed when he arrived, approached from around the corner of the house. The man pointed a handgun at the victim and ordered him to lie down. The victim lay down on the porch, and the man placed the gun against the back of his head. The victim believed that the gunman was about to kill him. As the victim lay face-down on the concrete, he felt the man's feet beside his head and other people moving around him. The victim felt hands simultaneously searching all of his pockets, while the gun was still held to his head. The victim could tell that the hands searching ...


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