Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Session October 18, 2016
from the Circuit Court for Franklin County No. 2013-CR-93
Thomas W. Graham, Judge
Defendant, David G. Jenkins, appeals his conviction of first
degree premeditated murder for which he received a sentence
of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant contends that
(1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction;
(2) the trial court erred in admitting post-mortem
photographs of the victim; (3) the trial court improperly
commented on the evidence in front of the jury; (4) the trial
court erred in limiting defense counsel's
cross-examination of a witness; (5) the trial court erred in
its rulings on various hearsay evidence; (6) the trial court
erred in denying the Defendant's request to give his own
closing argument to the jury; and (7) reversal is warranted
due to the cumulative effect of the errors. Upon reviewing
the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of
the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
D. Cross (at trial and on appeal) and Howell G. Clements (at
trial), Monteagle, Tennessee, for the appellant, David G.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent
C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Mike Taylor, District Attorney
General; and Steve Blount and Courtney Lynch, Assistant
District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of
Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Norma McGee Ogle and Robert W. Wedemeyer, JJ., joined.
EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE.
evidence presented at trial established that the victim,
Corey Matthews, was a member of the Aryan Nation and was
serving as a confidential informant for law enforcement.
After other members of the Aryan Nation learned of the
victim's actions, the Defendant and his co-defendants,
Todd Dalton, John Corey Lanier, and Coty Holmes drove the
victim to a remote location where they beat the victim. Mr.
Lanier used a knife to cut an "X" over the
victim's Aryan Nation tattoo on his abdomen. The
Defendant then struck the victim on the head and face
multiple times with a ball-pein hammer, resulting in the
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Amanda Matthews, the victim's wife, testified that at the
time of the victim's death on Saturday, March 23, 2013,
they and their two-year-old daughter were living in Cowan,
Tennessee. The victim's truck needed repairs, so they
were renting a red Chevrolet Impala. On March 23, the victim
left in the Impala between noon and 2:30 p.m. and told Mrs.
Matthews that he would not be gone long.
victim returned home between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. with Mr.
Dalton. Mrs. Matthews looked outside and saw the Impala and
Mr. Dalton's white Chevrolet Z71 truck. She also saw the
Defendant, Mr. Lanier, and Mr. Holmes standing around the
truck. Mrs. Matthews knew Mr. Dalton, Mr. Lanier, and Mr.
Holmes but had never met the Defendant. Mrs. Matthews said
that the victim and Mr. Dalton were members of the Aryan
Nation and that Mr. Holmes and Mr. Lanier were associated
with the gang.
victim retrieved a black portfolio from a desk and gave it to
Mr. Dalton. Mrs. Matthews stated that the portfolio contained
tattoo stencils, Aryan Nation symbols, and information
regarding the Aryan Nation's rules, its members, the
ranks of the members, and their telephone numbers. The
victim, the Defendant, and the three co-defendants left in
Mr. Dalton's truck.
the victim did not return that night, Mrs. Matthews began
calling the victim and sending him text messages, but he did
not respond. Her calls went to the victim's voicemail.
When the victim did not return the next morning, Mrs.
Matthews called Mr. Dalton and then the police. Mrs. Matthews
filed a missing persons report and learned of the
victim's death later that afternoon.
cross-examination, Mrs. Matthews testified that the victim
was comfortable with Mr. Dalton and voluntarily entered Mr.
Dalton's truck. Mrs. Matthews never heard the victim
Coty Holmes, one of the co-defendants, testified that in
exchange for his truthful testimony, he reached an agreement
with the State in which he would plead guilty to aggravated
assault, robbery, and kidnapping. Under the agreement, he
would receive an effective sentence of fifteen years, with
three years to be served in confinement and the remainder to
be served on probation. He denied that his agreement with the
State influenced his testimony at trial. He said he received
the offer from the State several months after he was jailed
on the charges.
Holmes testified that he met Mr. Dalton and Mr. Lanier while
incarcerated at the Coffee County Jail on prior offenses. Mr.
Holmes said Mr. Dalton was a member of the Aryan Nation and
drove a white Z71 GMC pickup truck. Mr. Holmes met the
Defendant on a few occasions at Mr. Dalton's home and
said that it appeared the Defendant and Mr. Dalton knew each
other well. The Defendant did not indicate to Mr. Holmes
whether he was affiliated with an Aryan organization.
two weeks prior to the victim's death, Mr. Holmes
attended a meeting of the Aryan Nation and began
"prospecting, " the process by which a person
becomes a member of the Aryan Nation. Mr. Dalton sponsored
Mr. Holmes, which Mr. Holmes said meant that if Mr. Dalton
"calls and needs … me [to] come do something, I
go." Mr. Holmes said he did not have a "patch,
" or a "tattoo letting everyone know that
you're affiliated" with the Aryan Nation.
Holmes testified that on March 23, 2013, at approximately
10:00 a.m., Mr. Dalton called him and asked that Mr. Holmes
come to his shop. Mr. Holmes learned that the victim was to
be kicked out of the Aryan Nation because the victim had been
serving as an informant for law enforcement. Mr. Holmes said
he understood that the victim would receive a
"beat-out" and that the victim's
"patch" or tattoo would be "covered." Mr.
Holmes explained that the victim's tattoo would either be
cut or covered with another tattoo. Mr. Holmes said the
Defendant was present during the conversation about what was
to happen to the victim.
Defendant arrived at Mr. Dalton's shop at approximately
1:00 p.m., and the Defendant, Mr. Dalton, and Mr. Holmes
drank beer and moonshine. Mr. Dalton had several vehicles in
his shop that he was repairing, including the Defendant's
vehicle. Mr. Dalton, Mr. Holmes, and the Defendant left the
shop around 3:00 or 3:30 p.m. in Mr. Dalton's truck. Mr.
Holmes said that before they left, the Defendant retrieved a
ball-pein hammer from the back of his truck. The Defendant
sat in the front seat, and Mr. Holmes sat in the back seat
behind Mr. Dalton. They went to Mr. Lanier's home located
approximately five miles away, and Mr. Lanier got into the
backseat of Mr. Dalton's truck with Mr. Holmes. They then
went to the Hilltop Market, a convenience store, and
four men went to Tractor Supply in Winchester, Tennessee, to
meet the victim. They waited thirty to forty-five minutes for
the victim to arrive. Upon arriving, the victim got into the
backseat of Mr. Dalton's truck with Mr. Lanier and Mr.
Holmes. They drove to the home of a friend of the victim,
where Mr. Dalton purchased tires for his truck. They remained
at the home for thirty to forty-five minutes. They went to a
convenience store to purchase beer and cigarettes and then
returned to Tractor Supply where the victim's car was
Holmes testified that the victim and Mr. Lanier got into the
victim's car and that Mr. Lanier drove the victim's
car because the victim did not have a driver's license.
They went to the victim's home where Mr. Dalton planned
to retrieve an item from the victim. Upon arriving at the
victim's home, the victim and Mr. Dalton entered the home
and remained for approximately ten to fifteen minutes. All
five of the men then got into Mr. Dalton's truck. Mr.
Holmes turned off his cellular phone, and Mr. Dalton placed
it in the glove compartment of his truck. Mr. Holmes believed
everyone turned off their cellular phones and put them away.
Dalton drove to a cemetery located approximately ten to
fifteen minutes from the victim's home. Mr. Holmes stated
that he had been drinking alcohol all day and that while he
was not "completely drunk, " he "had a good
buzz." He did not recall anything about the road leading
to the cemetery. Upon arriving, everyone got out of the truck
and stood at the back of the truck while drinking beer.
Holmes testified that the victim was pushed into him and that
they "tangled up, threw a couple of punches, [and] went
to the ground." Mr. Holmes said that he punched the
victim "a couple of times" and that while the
victim was lying on the ground, the other four men hit and
kicked the victim "a couple of times." Someone then
pulled up the victim's shirt, and Mr. Lanier used Mr.
Holmes's pocketknife to cut the victim's tattoo. Mr.
Holmes said that at that point, the victim was "[j]ust
beat up a little bit."
Holmes testified that the Defendant retrieved a ball-pein
hammer from the back of Mr. Dalton's truck and began
hitting the victim in the head with it. Mr. Holmes said he,
Mr. Lanier, and Mr. Dalton yelled at the Defendant to stop.
Mr. Holmes stated that the Defendant hit the victim five or
six times, stopped, and then resumed hitting the victim five
or six more times. Mr. Holmes also stated that the victim was
making a "snoring, half choking" noise. Mr. Holmes
said that once he, Mr. Lanier, Mr. Dalton, and the Defendant
got back into the truck, the Defendant acted excited and told
Mr. Holmes and Mr. Lanier that they "had earned [their]
Holmes testified that he was shocked and did not
"exactly know what to think or how to feel about
it." They returned to Manchester, Tennessee, where the
Defendant purchased beer at Tops, a convenience store. Mr.
Holmes stated that the Defendant was "acting like
nothing happened." The Defendant had blood on his arms
and stated that "the lady in the store looked at him
like he was crazy because he had blood on his arms."
Holmes said they went to Fire Lake in Coffee County where
they threw a pocketknife and the victim's cellular phone
into the water. Mr. Holmes stated that because they knew that
they would be questioned about the victim's
disappearance, they agreed to state that they last saw the
victim after dropping him off at the Bullpen Market in Cowan.
Mr. Holmes did not know what happened to the Defendant's
hammer. They remained at Fire Lake for thirty to forty-five
minutes. At some point, Mr. Holmes retrieved his cellular
phone, and they returned to Mr. Lanier's house. Mr.
Holmes and Mr. Dalton then returned to Mr. Dalton's
Holmes stated that Mr. Dalton owned a trailer on Mr.
Dalton's property where a man named "Shorty"
lived. Mr. Holmes and Mr. Dalton went to the trailer, and Mr.
Dalton told "Shorty" what occurred.
Holmes testified that he was first contacted by the police
early Monday morning following the victim's death on
Saturday. He told the officers essentially the same story
that he and the other men decided to tell while at Fire Lake.
Approximately one week later, officers came to Mr.
Holmes's home and transported him to the jail where he
gave a detailed statement about what occurred. After speaking
to the police, Mr. Holmes was released and fled to Florida.
He explained, "I just didn't want to be arrested and
go to jail at that exact time."
cross-examination, Mr. Holmes testified that he was initially
charged with first degree murder relating to the victim's
death and that the State offered an agreement whereby he
would plead guilty to kidnapping, robbery, and aggravated
assault. Mr. Holmes had two prior convictions for theft of
property valued more than $1, 000 and a prior burglary
conviction. After Mr. Holmes fled, he remained in Florida for
Holmes acknowledged sending a text message to Felicia
Phillips, with whom he was romantically involved, at 11:01
a.m. on March 23, 2013, stating that he had to go to the home
of Mr. Dalton or "Iron Wings" because they had
something they had to do. Mr. Holmes explained that while he
knew that Mr. Dalton wanted Mr. Holmes to accompany him, Mr.
Holmes did not know exactly what Mr. Dalton needed him to do.
Mr. Holmes agreed that he told police officers that he first
learned that the victim would be beaten during the drive from
Tractor Supply to the victim's home, and Mr. Holmes
acknowledged that this statement was untruthful. Mr. Holmes
said Mr. Dalton assisted him financially and paid him to
complete tasks around Mr. Dalton's shop.
Holmes acknowledged that he was untruthful in his initial
statement to police officers. He did not mention to the
police officers that he and Mr. Dalton went to
"Shorty's" home. Mr. Holmes acknowledged that
he did not tell the officers "exactly everything that
happened." He told the officers that the victim was
unconscious when the Defendant hit the victim with a hammer
and that he and the other men yelled at the Defendant to
stop. Mr. Holmes said his hand was sore after the victim was
beaten. He told the officers that his hand was sore from
tying steel and working on a car. He also told the police
officers that Mr. Dalton told Mr. Lanier what to do and that
Mr. Holmes followed suit.
Holmes stated that he told the police officers that the Aryan
Nation would ensure that he would not survive prison. Mr.
Holmes explained that at the time, Mr. Lanier was an
"enforcer" for the Aryan Nation and that the
members were upset because Mr. Holmes, a nonmember, was
present when the victim was killed.
John Cory Lanier testified that he was incarcerated on
charges of first degree premeditated murder and felony murder
for the victim's death. He said he reached an agreement
with the State in which he would receive a fifteen-year
sentence of which he would serve three years in confinement
in exchange for his testimony at the Defendant's trial.
Lanier said he met Mr. Dalton and Mr. Holmes while they were
incarcerated on prior offenses. Mr. Lanier attended an Aryan
Nation meeting a few weeks prior to the victim's death.
The Defendant told Mr. Lanier that he was associated with the
Aryan Brotherhood. Mr. Lanier had met the victim on two prior
occasions and knew that he was a member of the Aryan Nation.
Mr. Lanier said he was told of the plan to remove the victim
from the Aryan Nation shortly before the victim was beaten.
Mr. Lanier maintained that at the time, he did not know why
the victim was being removed from the gang. Mr. Lanier had
been to the homes of Mr. Dalton and "Shorty" in the
days leading up to the victim's death.
Lanier testified that as he was returning from work in
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, on the day of the victim's
death, Mr. Holmes called him and asked what he had planned
for the evening. Mr. Lanier told Mr. Holmes that he would
probably stay home. Mr. Holmes, Mr. Dalton, and the Defendant
were waiting for Mr. Lanier in Mr. Dalton's truck when
Mr. Lanier returned home. Mr. Lanier said Mr. Holmes, Mr.
Dalton, and the Defendant had been drinking alcohol. They
were going to Winchester to purchase tires and asked Mr.
Lanier to go with them because Mr. Lanier was the only one
who had a valid driver's license. Mr. Lanier agreed to go
and sat in the backseat of Mr. Dalton's truck. The
Defendant sat in the front passenger seat. They went to
Tractor Supply in Winchester to meet the victim who was
supposed to accompany them to the home of the person from
whom Mr. Dalton had planned to purchase tires. Mr. Lanier
believed that on the way to Tractor Supply, they stopped at a
convenience store and purchased a twelve pack of beer. Upon
arriving at Tractor Supply, the victim got into Mr.
Dalton's truck, and they went to a house in Estill
Springs to purchase tires. They remained at the house for at
least one hour. They then returned to Tractor Supply to
retrieve the victim's vehicle. Mr. Lanier was not sure
whether they purchased beer along the way and said they
stopped two or three times that night to purchase beer.
Lanier testified that upon returning to Tractor Supply, they
decided to go to the victim's home. The victim asked Mr.
Lanier to drive his car back to his home because he had a
blinker light or taillight out and did not have a valid
driver's license. Mr. Lanier said the men stated that
they "were going to hang out for a little bit and talk
about some stuff." Mr. Dalton, Mr. Holmes, and the
Defendant followed Mr. Lanier and the victim to the
victim's home. Upon arriving, Mr. Lanier gave the victim
the keys to his vehicle. The victim and Mr. Dalton entered
the victim's home, and Mr. Lanier got into Mr.
Dalton's truck with the Defendant and Mr. Holmes. At some
point, Mr. Lanier turned off his cellular phone and put it in
the glovebox of Mr. Dalton's truck.
Lanier stated that the men initially planned to go to a rock
quarry upon leaving the victim's home. The victim said
that they would not be able to access the rock quarry because
it was blocked off but that they could go to his family's
cemetery located about a quarter of a mile from his home to
Lanier testified that upon arriving at the cemetery, the
victim got into the front seat with Mr. Dalton to roll a
marijuana cigarette while everyone else got out of the truck.
When Mr. Dalton and the victim got out of the truck, Mr.
Dalton told the victim, "You [have] been talking to the
police. You know what that means." Mr. Lanier said the
victim began "back peddling" and yelling at Mr.
Dalton, while the Defendant and Mr. Holmes went after the
victim. Mr. Dalton pushed Mr. Lanier from behind and told him
to "get" the victim, so Mr. Lanier tackled the
victim. Mr. Lanier said he hit the victim twice. When the
other men began kicking the victim, Mr. Lanier got up, and
Mr. Dalton instructed him to retrieve a utility blade from
the console of the truck. When Mr. Lanier returned with the
blade, Mr. Dalton instructed him to "X" out the
victim's tattoo. The utility blade was knocked out of Mr.
Lanier's hand, and he was unable to find it because it
was dark outside. Mr. Holmes gave Mr. Lanier a pocketknife,
which Mr. Lanier used to "X" across the
victim's chest three times. The men then began kicking
the victim in the head and stomping him.
Lanier testified that they left the victim and got into the
truck to leave. Mr. Dalton started the ignition, turned the
truck off, and said, "F this. I'm not going to jail
over this." Mr. Lanier said he and Mr. Holmes got out of
the backseat of the truck and ran around to the front of the
truck where Mr. Lanier saw Mr. Dalton and the Defendant
standing over the victim. Mr. Lanier heard Mr. Dalton yell
out and saw the Defendant hit the victim in the head with a
ball-pein hammer. Mr. Lanier said the Defendant hit the
victim with the hammer three or four times. Mr. Lanier yelled
at the Defendant to stop, and the Defendant finally stopped
hitting the victim. Mr. Dalton, the Defendant, Mr. Lanier,
and Mr. Holmes then got into the truck and left. Mr. Lanier
said that while driving away, Mr. Dalton was talking on his
cellular phone, and the Defendant told Mr. Lanier and Mr.
Holmes, "Don't look at me weird. This is just how I
Lanier testified that the victim was conscious when Mr.
Lanier cut him and was semi-conscious and making sounds
before the Defendant struck him with the hammer. Mr. Lanier
did not see from where the Defendant retrieved the hammer and
said the Defendant did not have the hammer when they first
got out of the truck at the cemetery.
Lanier stated that they returned to Manchester where he
believed that the Defendant purchased more beer at a
convenience store. They then went to Fire Lake where they
"washed up" and discussed what they would say
happened to the victim. Mr. Lanier said they agreed that if
someone asked, they would state that they last saw the victim
when they dropped him off at the Bullpen Market in Cowen. Mr.
Lanier did not see the Defendant with the ball-pein hammer at
Fire Lake and did not know what happened to the hammer. Mr.
Lanier said the pocketknife and the victim's cellular
phone were thrown into the lake. Mr. Lanier's cellular
phone was returned to him, and Mr. Dalton drove Mr. Lanier
officers first contacted Mr. Lanier around 1:00 or 2:00 a.m.
on Monday morning following the victim's death on
Saturday. Mr. Lanier told the officers that he last saw the
victim when Mr. Lanier, Mr. Dalton, Mr. Holmes, and the
Defendant dropped off the victim at the Bullpen Market in
Cowan. Approximately one month later, while Mr. Lanier was
jailed on the charges related to the victim's death, he
gave a statement to the police which was consistent with his
testimony at trial. At that time, Mr. Lanier did not tell the
officers that he cut the victim's chest but provided this
information to the officers approximately one week later. Mr.
Lanier said he provided the information before he reached a
deal with the State regarding his pending charges and
maintained that his agreement with the State did not
influence his testimony at trial.
cross-examination, Mr. Lanier acknowledged that he had a
prior conviction for obtaining precursor drugs by false
pretenses and two other drug-related convictions. He said
that while he had an issue with drugs during most of his
life, he was not using drugs during his association with the
Lanier said he was a "regular member" of the Aryan
Nation and was not an "enforcer." He left the gang
following the victim's death. He said the Defendant was a
member of the Aryan Brotherhood and not the Aryan Nation. A
few days prior to the victim's death, Mr. Lanier attended
a meeting at the home of "Shorty" and Tabatha
Roulette Jones. Mr. Lanier attended one formal meeting of the
Aryan Nation during which rankings were discussed. The victim
said he was an "enforcer" with the gang, which Mr.
Lanier believed meant that the victim ensured that people
followed the rules. Mr. Lanier said a member who violated the
rules of the Aryan Nation could have his tattoo removed.
Lanier acknowledged that his initial statement to the police
was not true. He also acknowledged that approximately one
month later, he lied to the police when he told them that Mr.
Holmes cut the victim's chest. Mr. Lanier stated that the
Defendant had blood and brain matter on him when he purchased
beer at the convenience store following the victim's
death. Mr. Lanier saw a statement from Mark Luttrell in his
discovery received from the State in which Mr. Luttrell
admitted to ordering Mr. Dalton to remove the victim's
tattoo or "patch."
redirect examination, Mr. Lanier testified that when he was a
member of the Aryan Nation, he believed that "blood out,
" during which a member was removed from the gang, meant
that the member was beaten and not that the member was
killed. Mr. Lanier did not recall the Defendant saying
anything about the blood and brain matter on him upon
returning from purchasing beer following the victim's
Tabatha Jones testified that in March 2013, she and
Christopher "Shorty" Bryan were renting a trailer
from Mr. Dalton located next to Mr. Dalton's home. Ms.
Jones said Mr. Bryan, Mr. Dalton, and the victim were members
of the Aryan Nation. Mr. Lanier was a new member, and Mr.
Holmes was a "prospect." Ms. Jones had attended a
meeting of the Aryan Nation, and members gathered at her
residence at times.
Jones stated that on Friday, March 22, 2013, Mr. Dalton came
to her home and began calling other members of the Aryan
Nation to come over, including Mr. Lanier. When the members
arrived, Mr. Bryan produced his tattoo kit and said they were
planning to cover up the victim's Aryan Nation tattoo or
"patch." Mr. Dalton said the victim was
"narcing." Ms. Jones said it appeared that Mr.
Bryan was going to cover the victim's Aryan Nation tattoo
with another tattoo. She stated that when a member's
tattoo is "taken, " there is also a "beat
down" or a physical fight. She also stated that in her
experience, the member is not killed during the "beat
Jones testified that on March 23 between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m.,
she was sleeping when Mr. Dalton came to her home. She stated
that Mr. Dalton appeared to have been drinking alcohol and
was talking "[b]ig" as if he was "[e]mpowered
by something." Ms. Jones testified that as she was lying
in bed, she overheard Mr. Dalton tell Mr. Bryan that Mr.
Dalton, Mr. Lanier, Mr. Holmes, and the Defendant kicked and
beat the victim for about twenty minutes while in a cemetery.
Mr. Dalton stated that as they were getting ready to leave,
the Defendant jumped out of the truck and grabbed a ball-pein
hammer. Mr. Dalton said he instructed the Defendant to kill
the victim. Mr. Dalton stated that the victim had two
cellular phones, which they "snapped" in half and
threw into the river.
Jones testified that after Mr. Dalton left, Mr. Bryan sat
down on the side of the bed and began crying. She explained
that she and Mr. Bryan did not contact the police because
they hoped that it was not true and that they were scared.
Ms. Jones learned of the victim's death the following day
and contacted the Franklin County Sheriff's Office. Ms.
Jones stated that Mr. Bryan later died at the age of
thirty-two after an "ex-Aryan Nation gave him a
Jones testified that she had seen the Defendant a few times
with Mr. Dalton at her home and at Mr. Dalton's garage.
She said the Defendant and Mr. Dalton appeared to be
"best friends." She had heard that the Defendant
was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. She stated that while
the Aryan Brotherhood and the Aryan Nation shared the same
ideas, the Aryan Brotherhood was more violent and believed
"blood in, blood out."
cross-examination, Ms. Jones testified that the Defendant did
not attend the meeting at her home the day before the victim
was killed. The Defendant was not with Mr. Dalton when Mr.
Dalton came to Ms. Jones's home following the murder.
Rather, Mr. Lanier was with Mr. Dalton, and Ms. Jones saw
blood on Mr. Lanier's sleeves and shirt around his
stomach. Ms. Jones never saw the Defendant at an Aryan Nation
meeting. She did not believe that a member of the Aryan
Brotherhood was supposed to attend a "beat out" of
an Aryan Nation member.
Brad Weaver with the Cowan Police Department testified that
during the months prior to the victim's death, the victim
provided him with information related to theft and drug cases
that he was investigating. As a result of the victim's
death, Investigator Weaver was unable to "make any
cases" using the information that the victim provided.
George Dyer with the Franklin County Sheriff's Office
testified that the victim was a confidential informant for
him from the fall of 2012 until December 2012 or early 2013.
As a result of the information that the victim provided,
Investigator Dyer prosecuted crimes involving guns, theft,
methamphetamine manufacturing, and marijuana cultivation. The
victim was compensated as a result of his assistance.
Investigator Dyer said he stopped using the victim as a
confidential informant because the victim became careless
about whom he told of his assisting Investigator Dyer and
about assisting other officers. Investigator Dyer told the
victim that the victim's actions were dangerous and could
result in the victim's death.
Shelby Stewart, who once worked with the victim, testified
that on March 23, 2013, the victim called him about parts to
an automobile that Mr. Stewart was selling. The victim
informed Mr. Stewart that he knew someone who was interested
in purchasing the parts. Between 4:15 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. that
evening, the victim came to Mr. Stewart's home located
between Winchester and Tullahoma, Tennessee, in a white GMC
pickup truck with four other men. There were two older men
and two younger men. One of the older men was the driver of
the truck and purchased the parts from Mr. Stewart. The other
older man was wearing a pair of tan Carhartt pants and an
orange or reddish orange shirt.
Stewart said that the victim and the other men remained at
his house for approximately one hour and that the victim was
not acting in any unusual way. The other four men were
laughing amongst themselves and "cutting up." Mr.
Stewart said the men had been drinking alcohol and threw away
an empty box of beer at Mr. Stewart's shop.
March 2013, Ms. Tina Stephens lived on Slagtown Road, a
gravel road in Cowan, Tennessee, near Jackson Cemetery. Ms.
Stephens testified that her father was buried in the cemetery
and that she mowed the cemetery and watched over it to
prevent vandalism. Ms. Stephens said that on March 23, 2013,
at approximately 7:30 p.m., she was traveling down the gravel
road when she saw lights at the cemetery and a white truck
exiting the cemetery as she passed by. She did not see who
was inside the truck.
Mike Holmes with the Cowan Police Department testified that
on March 24, 2013, the dispatcher called him to take a
missing person's report from Mrs. Matthews regarding the
victim. Mrs. Matthews told Officer Holmes that Mr. Dalton had
picked up the victim, and she gave him Mr. Dalton's
cellular phone number. Officer Holmes called Mr. Dalton and
spoke to him and prepared a report.
Holmes testified that after preparing the report, he began
driving around and ended up at Jackson Cemetery, a secluded
area near the victim's home where people would go to
think or fight. Officer Holmes found the victim's body in
a cut cornfield approximately thirty yards from the gravel
road that separated the cemetery and the cornfield. The
victim was wet because it had been raining. His shirt was
pulled up, and
Holmes saw a tattoo on the victim's abdomen that had been
crossed out with a knife or razor blade. The victim's
eyes were black and swollen shut, and he had a large
laceration and a round dent in his head. Officer Holmes was
unable to identify the victim due to the condition of his
face but said the victim's clothing matched the
description of the clothing that Mrs. Matthews said the
victim was wearing when she last saw him.
Brian Brewer with the Franklin County Sherriff's Office
testified that he was called to the scene where he saw the
victim's body lying in a wet cornfield that had been cut.
He said it was a very wet and windy day. He observed several
wounds to the victim's head and said that the tattoo on
the victim's chest had been crossed out with a sharp
object. Investigator Brewer saw three blood stains close to
the victim's body and a Keystone Light beer can three or
four feet away from the victim's head.
Brewer stated that the investigation led officers to develop
the Defendant, Mr. Dalton, Mr. Lanier, and Mr. Holmes as
those who were with the victim on Saturday, March 23, 2013,
prior to his death. Investigator Brewer spoke to Mr. Dalton
two days later and gained access to his white GMC Z71 pickup
truck. Investigator Brewer observed Keystone Light beer cans
in the back of Mr. Dalton's truck that matched the beer
can found at the scene. Upon opening the door of the truck,
Investigator Brewer smelled a strong odor of bleach that
appeared to have been coming from the floorboard. He said the
odor was "so strong it would almost burn your
nose." He observed bleach stains on the floorboard and
decided to have the truck transported to the crime laboratory
of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). TBI Special
Agent Chip Andy took a few swabs from the interior of the
truck prior to its transportation to the crime laboratory.
the course of the investigation, officers obtained videotapes
of the Defendant, Mr. Dalton, Mr. Holmes, and Mr. Lanier
recorded by several convenience stores on March 23. At 4:06
p.m., the Defendant, Mr. Holmes, and Mr. Lanier entered the
Hilltop Market in Manchester, purchased beer, and left in Mr.
Dalton's truck. The Defendant was wearing an orange
shirt, but officers were never able to locate the shirt. At
6:45 p.m., Mr. Dalton's truck drove up to the SAK-N-PAK
Market in Estill Springs, and the Defendant, Mr. Dalton, Mr.
Holmes, Mr. Lanier, and the victim exited the truck. Mr.
Lanier purchased a twelve-pack of Keystone Light beer.
Investigator Brewer said that while he received information
that the Defendant and the co-defendants stopped at another
convenience store to purchase beer after killing the victim,
he was unable to place any of the men at a particular
convenience store during that time period.
Brewer also brought in divers to search the lake for the
victim's property and a knife used to cut the victim.
However, the divers were unable to locate the items.
cross-examination, Investigator Brewer said he attempted to
familiarize himself with the Aryan Nation as a result of the
case. He said he was told that Mark Luttrell was the state
president and that Mr. Dalton was the vice president of the
area. Investigator Brewer stated that while he interviewed
Mr. Luttrell at the jail and at Mr. Luttrell's home, he
had since been unable to locate Mr. Luttrell. Mr. Luttrell
told Investigator Brewer that he ordered Mr. Dalton to
complete the "beat down" of the victim. Mr.