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Johnson v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

April 21, 2017


          Session February 14, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2006-A-396 Mark J. Fishburn, Judge

         A Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Myron Lorenzo Johnson, of first degree felony murder, first degree premeditated murder, and especially aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the convictions for first degree premeditated murder and felony murder and ordered an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus sixty years. On appeal, this Court affirmed the trial court's judgments. See State v. Myron Lorenzo Johnson, No. M2008-02198-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 521028, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 12, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 12, 2010). The Petitioner then filed a post-conviction petition in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective, and the post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

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

          Manuel B. Russ, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Myron Lorenzo Johnson.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Courtney N. Orr, Assistant Attorney General; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Janice Norman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Timothy L. Easter, J., joined.



         I. Facts

         On direct appeal, this Court summarized the evidence presented at the Petitioner's trial as follows:

On July 22, 2001, Detective Brad Corcoran with the Nashville Metropolitan Police Department was called to the scene of an abandoned truck off Old Hickory Boulevard. The body of the victim, Eugene "Juan" McAdams, was discovered in the bed of the truck covered with a white sheet; his ankles and wrists had been duct-taped. Following an autopsy, the cause of death was determined to be asphyxia and blunt force trauma to the head.
Initially, investigators were unable to develop a suspect. Several years later, Alvin Stokes, aka "Brother Gold, " was facing federal drug trafficking charges. In the hopes of receiving favorable consideration on his sentence, Stokes provided Detective Derry Baltimore with the names of the [Petitioner], Christopher Nunley, and Paul Anderson as the possible perpetrators of the killing of the victim. Detective Baltimore interviewed Nunley on February 17, 2005. Nunley took Det. Baltimore to the house where the murder occurred, and Det. Baltimore also verified Nunley's phone number. After interviewing Nunley, Det. Baltimore proceeded to interview Anderson on May 12, 2005. Anderson provided details about the murder of the victim.
Anderson testified against the [Petitioner] at trial. Anderson stated that he met the [Petitioner] in 2000, and the two became good friends. Anderson moved into the [Petitioner]'s girlfriend's house, and Anderson confirmed that he was drug addict during this time. He had also met Nunley on at least two occasions prior to the murder and knew him as "Skinny." According to Anderson, the [Petitioner] and Nunley were involved together in the sale of drugs, and they often went to Stokes to get drugs.
On July 20, 2001, around 10:00 a.m., the [Petitioner] came over to the place where Anderson was temporarily residing. The [Petitioner] made a proposition to Anderson: In exchange for $500 and an ounce of cocaine, Anderson was to set up a drug deal with the victim and rob him of his drugs and money.
Anderson stated that the [Petitioner] and Nunley were angry with the victim because he had tried to go around them in the drug trade; normally, they would purchase cocaine from the victim for $22, 000 and then sell it for $26, 000. However, the victim had slipped a note into the cocaine, providing a cell phone number and stating to the second buyer to deal with the victim directly. Anderson did not know the victim prior to July 20.
Nunley called the victim and arranged the deal. The plan was for Anderson to arrive to purchase four ounces of cocaine from the victim, but instead he would rob everyone. They were to later split the drugs and money. The [Petitioner] arrived in his truck with Nunley around 7:00 p.m. that evening to pick up Anderson, and they went to Nunley's house. However, the [Petitioner] and Nunley stated that they wanted to change the amount to eighteen ounces, "a half of key." Anderson no longer wanted to participate because he feared that there would be repercussions for stealing such a large amount of cocaine. The [Petitioner] instructed him to be quiet and sit down; Anderson complied. Nunley phoned the victim requesting the increased amount of cocaine.
While they were waiting on the victim to arrive, the [Petitioner] went out to his truck and retrieved a shotgun and a white bag. Inside the bag was a box of latex gloves. The [Petitioner] placed the bag and the gloves on the top of the refrigerator. The victim then entered the house and asked Anderson, "Do you want to buy some dope?" According to Anderson, the [Petitioner] then jumped up from the table and hit the victim in the head with the butt of the shotgun, rendering the victim unconscious. As soon as the victim fell to the floor, Nunley put on a pair of gloves and began wrapping duct tape around the victim's head. The [Petitioner] also put on gloves. They taped the victim's head "completely up, " also taping his hands and feet. When the victim started to come to, he was unable to breathe and began "flopping around just like a fish dying . . . ." The victim soon ceased moving.
The [Petitioner] then removed a gold necklace from around the victim's neck. The [Petitioner] went outside to the victim's truck; meanwhile, Nunley was cleaning up blood on the floor. Thereafter, they carried the victim to a bedroom window and pushed him out the window into the bed of the victim's truck. Nunley handed the [Petitioner] a sheet, which he wrapped around the victim. The men then left the house; Nunley driving the victim's truck, and the [Petitioner] driving his truck with Anderson as a passenger. They drove to Old Hickory Boulevard near Blueberry Hill and left the truck on the side of the road. The [Petitioner] took the victim's compact disc case out of his truck. Nunley got into the [Petitioner]'s vehicle, and they returned to the [Petitioner]'s girlfriend's house. The [Petitioner] and Anderson showered, and the [Petitioner] collected their clothes. Nunley then left after receiving his share of the cocaine; the [Petitioner] took Anderson back to Anderson's place. The next day, the [Petitioner] gave Anderson cocaine and money and rented Anderson a room in a local motel. Anderson later told Stokes about the murder.
In September 2007, the [Petitioner] and Anderson were being transported on a bus together. Anderson was in protective custody, separated from the [Petitioner] by a cage. The [Petitioner] yelled threats at Anderson, warning him not to testify against him. Inmate Timothy Flener was present on the bus and heard these threats. He was also placed in a cell with the [Petitioner] following the bus ride, and the [Petitioner] told Flener that he and Anderson were involved in a murder together.
The [Petitioner]'s wife and former girlfriend in July 2001, Tammi Renee Battle, was shown a box of gloves. She confirmed that the box in the photograph was the same type of gloves that she had brought home from work.
Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Deering testified as to the victim's cause of the death. He also stated that, when a person was losing the ability to breathe, they might start thrashing around.
A check of Nunley's phone records showed that Nunley phoned the victim on the day of his murder. The victim's phone records revealed that the victim had phoned Nunley several times the evening he was murdered.
Jafton Richardson, an inmate serving a sentence for practicing law without a license, testified that, while incarcerated, the [Petitioner] told him he was involved in a homicide at Nunley's house. The [Petitioner] relayed that there was a phone call to the victim, and he was to meet with them at the house for a drug deal. However, they intended to rob him of his drugs and weapons, but instead the victim was hit in the head with the butt of a shotgun and died. The [Petitioner] also stated that he wore gloves during the robbery and that he got the gloves from his wife who worked at a hospital. According to Richardson, the [Petitioner]'s attitude about the murder was "nonchalant."
Later, the [Petitioner] came to Richardson in jail and asked him to sign an affidavit that the [Petitioner] had never spoken to him about the murder. Richardson complied because he feared for the safety of his family.
The [Petitioner] testified on his own behalf, asserting that he had no involvement in the murder of the victim. He denied that he ever knew the victim, asserted that he never sold drugs, and claimed that he never owned a shotgun.

State v. Myron Lorenzo Johnson, No. M2008-02198-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 521028, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 12, 2010), perm. app. ...

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