Assigned on Briefs April 11, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 08-05557 W.
Mark Ward, Judge
Petitioner, James Britt, appeals the denial of his petition
for post-conviction relief from his premeditated first degree
murder conviction, alleging he received ineffective
assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Mogy, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, James Britt.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P.
Weirich, District Attorney General; and D. Gregory Gilbert,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Timothy L. Easter and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.
E. GLENN, JUDGE
Petitioner was convicted of the premeditated first degree
murder of his wife and sentenced to life imprisonment. This
court affirmed the trial court's judgment on direct
appeal, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied the
Petitioner's application for permission to appeal.
State v. James Britt, No. W2010-02090-CCA-R3-CD,
2012 WL 2022692, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 5, 2012),
perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 18, 2012).
facts giving rise to the Petitioner's conviction were
recited by this court on direct appeal as follows:
Kelly Czekalski spoke to her sister, Jennifer Britt (the
victim), on February 24, 2008, sometime between 7:30 and 9:00
p.m. in a phone conversation. The victim was very upset and
sounded as though she had been drinking or using drugs. Ms.
Czekalski testified that she spoke with the victim for thirty
to forty-five minutes and calmed her down. She said that the
victim wanted to know the whereabouts of her daughter, who
had been staying with the victim's aunt in Wisconsin. Ms.
Czekalski's grandmother later called her around 2:00 a.m.
and said that the victim had been killed.
Kristi Tackett, the victim's neighbor, testified that
during the day on February 24, 2008, she and her children
were looking out a back window and saw the victim and
[Petitioner] fist fighting in their front yard. The two then
went inside the house and came back out around dark and
continued fighting. Ms. Tackett explained that the victim and
[Petitioner's] house did not have any electricity, and
the couple used the street light between the two houses for
light. Ms. Tackett saw the victim hit [Petitioner] in the
face "with something or her hand." She testified
that the victim and [Petitioner] then went back inside the
house and continued fighting, and she then heard two gunshots
approximately twenty minutes later. Ms. Tackett testified
that some other neighbors called police, and she saw
"the big guy" who lived with [Petitioner] and the
victim run outside, and he was "running in circles
saying he shot her." When police arrived on the scene,
Ms. Tackett told an officer what she had heard. Ms. Tackett
testified that [Petitioner] and the victim "would fight
all the time."
Renee LaMondue, a communications supervisor for the Memphis
Police Department, testified concerning the 911 call of the
shooting. She said that a female neighbor called the police
department for a "male neighbor, stating that the male
can't speak with us, stating that he has accidently shot
his wife in the head."
Officer Joseph Johnson of the Memphis Police Department was
the first officer on the scene. There were a
"handful" of people in the front yard of the
residence, and he spoke to [Petitioner] who said that he had
accidently shot his wife. Officer Johnson went inside the
residence, which was dimly lit, and saw the victim lying on a
bed located to the left side of the door in the living room.
He saw that the victim had a gunshot wound to her head, and
he immediately "backed out" of the house and
secured the scene. Officer Johnson testified that the house
was messy and "extremely dirty."
Daryl McConnell, a firefighter paramedic for the Memphis Fire
Department, responded to the scene of the shooting. He walked
inside the residence and saw the twenty-five-year-old victim
lying on her right side in the bed with a gunshot wound to
her head. "She had no pulse, was not breathing, was not
moving. Her lips were purple, had the beginning stages of
lividity, which is basically purpleness around the chest
area, which is indicative of no circulation in the
body." Mr. McConnell testified that he placed a heart
monitor on the victim, and it showed no electrical activity
in her heart. There was a .357 Magnum revolver lying on the
Crime scene investigator Marlon Wright secured the evidence
and photographed the scene. He found the victim lying in the
bed fully clothed with a gunshot wound to the back of her
head, and the pistol was lying next to her. Officer Wright
testified that the house did not have electricity, and he and
other officers used several flashlights to light the area. He
examined the gun and found blood and human tissue on the
barrel and cylinder. Officer Wright looked inside the
cylinder and noted that two of the six rounds had been fired.
He said that one of the fired bullets was at the twelve
o'clock position and the other was at the six o'clock
position. Officer Wright also noted that if a gun had been
fired twice in rapid succession, the bullets would have fired
in order. Gunshot residue tests were obtained from