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State v. Hawkins

Supreme Court of Tennessee, Jackson

May 1, 2017


          Session November 2, 2016

         Automatic appeal from the Court of Criminal Appeals Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 0806057 Chris Craft, Judge

         A jury convicted the defendant of the premeditated first degree murder of his girlfriend, who was the mother of his three children. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202(a)(1) (2014). The jury also found the defendant guilty of initiating a false report concerning her disappearance and of abuse of her corpse, based on his sawing off her head, hands, and feet and throwing the remainder of her body over a bridge in Mississippi. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-16-502 (2014); id. § 39-17-312(a). At the conclusion of a separate sentencing hearing on the first degree murder conviction, the jury imposed the death sentence, finding that the prosecution had proven two statutory aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt, id. § 39-13-204(i)(2), (13), and had established that these aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt, id. § 39-13-204(g). For the remaining convictions, the trial court imposed consecutive sentences of twelve and six years, respectively, and ordered these sentences served consecutively to the death penalty. The defendant appealed, raising numerous issues, and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his convictions and sentences. State v. Hawkins, W2012-00412-CCA-R3-DD, 2015 WL 5169157 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 28, 2015). The case was thereafter automatically docketed in this Court for review, as required by statute, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-206(a)(1), (c)(1). We hold that: (1) the defendant's sentence of death was not imposed in an arbitrary fashion; (2) the evidence supports the jury's findings that the aggravating circumstances were proven beyond a reasonable doubt and that these aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt; and (3) the sentence of death is neither excessive nor disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases, considering both the nature of the crime and the defendant. We also hold that: (1) admission of the defendant's statements was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion by refusing to allow the defendant to enter guilty pleas to the noncapital offenses pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(b) at the beginning of trial, after the jury had been sworn; (3) the trial court did not err by admitting testimony about the victim's threats to call the police about the defendant's conduct as this testimony was non-hearsay; (4) the trial court did not err by admitting the victim's application for an order of protection against the defendant, pursuant to the forfeiture by wrongdoing exception to the hearsay rule; (5) the trial court did not violate Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b) by permitting the defendant's children to testify about his acts of violence and sexual abuse because this testimony was offered to prove motive and premeditation; and (6) any error in the prosecutorial rebuttal argument was not so improper or inflammatory as to prejudice the defendant. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the Court of Criminal Appeals and the trial court upholding the defendant's convictions and sentences. With respect to issues not specifically addressed herein, we affirm the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals and include relevant portions of the intermediate appellate court's decision in the appendix to this opinion.

         Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-206(a)(1); Judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals Affirmed

          Steven C. Bush, District Public Defender; Phyllis Aluko and Barry Kuhn, Assistant Public Defenders (on appeal); Gerald D. Skahan, Larry Nance, and Kindle Nance, Assistant Public Defenders (at trial), for the appellant, James Hawkins.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andrée Blumstein, Solicitor General; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Patience Branham, Marianne Bell, Jennifer Nichols, and Danielle McCollum, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Cornelia A. Clark, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Jeffrey S. Bivins, C.J., and Holly Kirby, and Roger A. Page, JJ., joined. Sharon G. Lee, J., filed a concurring opinion.



         I. Factual Background

         A. Guilt-Innocence Phase of Trial

         On September 11, 2008, the Shelby County Grand Jury indicted the defendant, James Hawkins, for the premeditated first degree murder of Charlene Gaither, his girlfriend and the mother of his three children. The indictment also charged him with initiating a false report relative to her disappearance and with abuse of her corpse. The State filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty as to the first degree murder charge, relying upon two aggravating circumstances: (1) "[t]he defendant was previously convicted of one (1) or more felonies, other than the present charge, whose statutory elements involve the use of violence to the person"; and (2) "[t]he defendant knowingly mutilated the body of the victim after death." Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-204(i)(2), (13) (2014).[1]

         The defendant moved pretrial to suppress a statement he gave to the police on February 16, 2008. The proof offered at the pre-trial suppression hearing and during the guilt-innocence phase of the defendant's trial[2] established that the defendant, thirty years of age, and the victim, twenty-eight years of age, had dated sporadically since high school and had three children together-a twelve-year-old daughter, K.T., an eleven-year-old son, J.W.I, and a nine-year-old son, J.S.I.[3] The defendant had been absent from the victim's and the children's lives since 1999 or 2000 until September 2007, when he and the victim began communicating again by telephone. At that time, the victim resided in Covington, Tennessee-forty miles from Memphis-with her husband of four years, Melvin Gaither. She worked full time at the Tipton County Adult Developmental Center, where she earned a reputation as an "extraordinary" person who was "inspiring to other people" and "a wonderful, wonderful co-worker and employee." The victim also had a good relationship with her father, Louis Irvin, Jr., and talked often with him before the defendant returned to her life.

         However, on October 18, 2007, the victim and the children abruptly moved from their Covington home into an apartment with the defendant, located at 3461 Wingood Circle in Memphis. Afterwards, near Thanksgiving 2007, the victim failed to show up for work at the Tipton County Adult Developmental Center and never returned.

         The victim, the defendant, and the children spent Thanksgiving 2007 at the home of the victim's paternal aunt, and the victim's father was there as well. According to Mr. Irvin, the defendant and K.T. stayed off to themselves and did not "mingle" with the rest of the family. The victim was bothered by the attention the defendant paid K.T. and asked Mr. Irvin, "[S]hould a child be so drawn to [her] father[?]" Mr. Irvin assured his daughter that K.T. was merely responding to the defendant returning to her life after a long absence.

         Mr. Irvin had little contact with his daughter after Thanksgiving 2007, but other proof showed that the victim's concerns regarding the defendant's relationship with K.T. rapidly escalated, even as the victim's relationship with the defendant deteriorated. For example, the victim contacted her ex-husband, Melvin Gaither, on Christmas Day 2007, and met him for a movie and dinner. The victim told him that the defendant had been threatening her life, and Mr. Gaither encouraged her to get away from the defendant.

         Records introduced from Methodist LeBonheur Children's Hospital showed that K.T. was treated on December 26-27, 2007, after she suffered a miscarriage. K.T., who was ten weeks pregnant at the time of the miscarriage, reported to medical staff that the pregnancy had resulted from her consensual sexual relationship with a school classmate, but she refused to discuss the pregnancy further or provide additional details.

         Less than ten days after K.T.'s hospitalization-January 5, 2008-the victim again contacted Melvin Gaither, telling him that she "believe[d] [the defendant] want[ed] to kill [her]." Mr. Gaither again encouraged her to get away from the defendant.

         A week later, on January 12, 2008, Officer Nancy Trentham of the Memphis Police Department ("MPD") responded to a call at 3461 Wingood Circle-the apartment the victim shared with the defendant. The victim, who was standing outside the apartment with her two sons, told Officer Trentham that she and her sons were leaving and that she wanted K.T. to leave with them. The victim told Officer Trentham that she believed "something inappropriate was going on" between K.T. and the defendant. Officer Trentham and another officer spoke with the defendant, who was "very cooperative . . . polite . . . [and] calm." Officer Trentham also talked privately with K.T. in another room of the apartment. She described K.T. as "very quiet" and "very soft spoken." After speaking with the victim, the defendant, and K.T., Officer Trentham advised the victim that the police could not remove K.T. from the defendant's custody against her will because no custody arrangement existed between the victim and the defendant. Hearing this, the victim became very upset and repeated her belief that something inappropriate was occurring between K.T. and the defendant. Although Officer Trentham completed a memorandum to the Child Advocacy Center, she did not refer the victim for an order of protection, because she did not observe any signs of abuse-domestic or otherwise.

          After speaking with Officer Trentham, the victim and her two sons met Milton Harris, to whom she was married from 1998 until 2002, at a Pizza Hut. According to Mr. Harris the victim was "hysterical" and "very upset" because she had left K.T. with the defendant. However, when Mr. Harris spoke with the victim by phone the next day, K.T. was with her. Several days later, the victim and her three children showed up at FedEx where Mr. Harris worked. Because the victim was "really terrified" and "wanted to leave" the defendant, Mr. Harris gave her the keys to an apartment in Memphis that he still had under lease-Prince Rupert Number Four. He also gave her money to obtain a restraining order against the defendant.

         On January 15, 2008, the victim went to Citizens Dispute, a Shelby County government agency that assists citizens with the application process for orders of protection, and obtained assistance completing an application for an order of protection against the defendant. In describing the basis of her request for an order of protection, the victim reported that the defendant had become violent on January 12, 2008, and that he had pulled her hair when she told him that she and the children were leaving. The victim also expressed concern that the defendant had been sleeping in the same bed with K.T., but she noted that both the defendant and K.T. had denied that any sexual abuse was occurring. The victim stated that she wanted the defendant to "just stay away." An ex parte order of protection issued that same day, but it was never served on the defendant, and the case was dismissed before the end of the month.

         On January 16, 2008, one day after seeking the order of protection, the victim met again with Mr. Gaither and again told him that the defendant was threatening her and that the children would not leave with her. Mr. Gaither did not hear from nor meet with the victim again.

         On February 12, 2008, the defendant called the MPD and reported the victim missing. As a result of the report, MPD Officer Kimberly Houston was dispatched to Prince Rupert Number Four to interview the defendant. When Officer Houston arrived, the defendant and all three children were outside unloading groceries from the trunk of a vehicle, which was later identified as the vehicle the victim drove, although it was registered to Melvin Gaither. After confirming that the defendant had called in the report, Officer Houston suggested they talk inside, so the defendant could continue putting away the groceries. The defendant agreed. As they walked upstairs to the defendant's apartment, Officer Houston noticed mothballs scattered near the entrance. The defendant told her the mothballs were to keep away neighborhood cats. Noticing the door to an adjacent apartment ajar, Officer Houston asked if anyone lived there, and the defendant told her the apartment was vacant.

         Upon entering the defendant's apartment, Officer Houston noticed "a strong smell of bleach and a mixture of ammonia . . . so strong that [her] eyes had started to water up." Officer Houston asked why "the smell [was] so strong[, ]" and the defendant said "that one of the kids had dropped a bucket of bleach and he was trying to get the bleach smell out with the ammonia smell." Officer Houston asked the defendant to keep the door open, and she stayed near the door because "the scent was too strong." Regarding the missing person report, the defendant told Officer Houston that the victim had left around 9:00 a.m. about three days earlier, Saturday, February 9, 2008, after he and the victim "had gotten into an altercation." The defendant said that he and the victim "argued all the time" and explained that it was not unusual for the victim to leave after an argument and later return. The defendant said he had become concerned on this occasion because the victim had failed to return home or to answer phone calls, so he decided to report her missing.

         The defendant was unable to describe the clothing the victim had been wearing when she left, so he asked K.T if she remembered what her mother had been wearing. Neither K.T. nor her brothers were able to describe the victim's clothing, and ultimately, Officer Houston failed to obtain a description of the victim's clothing because "[o]ne thought she had on one color, one thought . . . another color, so they didn't know." Officer Houston noticed K.T. appearing "real angry" during the interview, so she asked K.T. if she was okay. K.T. replied "yeah" and returned to putting away groceries, "slamming doors and the refrigerator and things" as she did so. K.T. eventually left the kitchen with her brothers. When the defendant could not give Officer Houston a description of the vehicle in which the victim left, he called K.T. back to the kitchen to describe it. K.T. said her mother had left in a "dark vehicle, " but she could not remember the make or model of the vehicle or anything else about it. The defendant also could not remember any names or contact information for the victim's family and friends.

         The defendant told Officer Houston that he had called and talked with the victim not long after she left on February 9th. According to the defendant, he ended the call because the victim asked him not to call her again. The defendant told Officer Houston that he had tried to reach the victim later on multiple occasions, including earlier that very day, February 12, 2008, but she had not answered any of his calls. The defendant gave Officer Houston the victim's cell phone number, but when she dialed it, she reached a recording advising that the service had been disconnected. Officer Houston thought this was strange, because the defendant had just told her about calling the number earlier that same day and receiving no answer. When Officer Houston asked, the defendant denied disconnecting the victim's cell phone. Officer Houston described the defendant's demeanor as "calm but just confused, " explaining that he "couldn't . . . give [her] a straight answer with anything that [she] asked him" and had answered most questions with, "I don't know, I don't remember[, ] or you'll have to ask someone else."

         After interviewing the defendant, Officer Houston "put out a broadcast" consisting of the victim's name, age, height, weight, and the date she had last been seen. She also prepared a written missing person report, which was not the standard policy. In fact, Officer Houston's supervisor reprimanded her for filing this written report and asked her why she had done so. Officer Houston told her supervisor that "everything on that scene . . . that day just [had not] seem[ed] right . . . ."

         Information soon came to light confirming Officer Houston's suspicions. In particular, on Valentine's Day 2008, just two days after Officer Houston interviewed the defendant, Lance McCallum, an employee with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, discovered a "body with the hands cut off above the wrist, both feet cut off above the ankles, and the head and neck removed." Mr. McCallum, who was repairing holes on the Coldwater River Bridge on Highway 78 West in Mississippi, saw the body on an embankment below the bridge. He could tell from his vantage point on the bridge that the body was a female, because the body was nude and facing upward. Mr. McCallum and his coworkers immediately called 9-1-1 and waited on the bridge for law enforcement authorities, who arrived just minutes later.

         One of the officers who responded to the 9-1-1 call, Detective Mike Pate of the DeSoto County Mississippi Sheriff's Department, described the body as having three very deep cuts "to the bone" on the thigh, knee, and mid-shin of the right leg but no stab or gunshot wounds. Based on dirt in the wounds, Detective Pate concluded that the dismembered body had been dropped from the top of the hill and had rolled down the embankment. Mississippi authorities extensively searched the areas in the vicinity of the body but never located any of the severed body parts. The condition of the body prevented Mississippi authorities from initially identifying the victim.

         On the evening of February 14, 2008, Lieutenant Toney Armstrong of the MPD[4]received a telephone call from a friend, who was the victim's brother-in-law, alerting him that a female body had been discovered in Mississippi and asking him for advice. Lieutenant Armstrong instructed his friend to contact the Mississippi authorities and agreed to start looking into the case himself the next morning. As promised, on the morning of February 15, 2008, Lieutenant Armstrong met with Mississippi law enforcement authorities concerning the discovery of the body, learned of the defendant's missing person report concerning the victim, and learned that the body matched the victim's description. Mississippi authorities thereafter collected a buccal swab from the victim's mother for purposes of DNA testing and, through this testing, eventually identified the body as that of the victim.

         After learning that the body matched the victim's description, Lieutenant Armstrong contacted the defendant and asked the defendant to come to his office on the eleventh floor of the building located at 201 Poplar Street in Memphis, explaining that the police were seeking additional information for their investigation of the victim's disappearance. According to Lieutenant Armstrong, the defendant became "very defensive" and asked why it was "necessary for [him] to come downtown, " which "just rolled [Lieutenant Armstrong's] suspicion because it wasn't behavior that you would think that someone that had a loved one missing would display." Lieutenant Armstrong reiterated that the defendant needed to come downtown, but the defendant responded that he was at work at Nike, would not get off until 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., and would call Lieutenant Armstrong later that day.

         After ending the conversation with the defendant, Lieutenant Armstrong met with two MPD investigators-MPD Sergeant Anthony Mullins and MPD Lieutenant Caroline Mason-and informed them of the missing person report the defendant had filed on the victim, the body that had been discovered in Mississippi, and his conversation with the defendant, whom he described as "evasive on the phone." Lieutenant Armstrong instructed Sergeant Mullins and Lieutenant Mason to go to the Nike Warehouse and locate the vehicle the defendant was driving, but if it was not there, to go to the Prince Rupert Number Four apartment complex. Lieutenant Mullins also assigned Sergeant Vivian Murray to serve as case coordinator.

         When Sergeant Mullins and Lieutenant Mason notified Lieutenant Armstrong that the defendant's vehicle was not at Nike, he repeated the instruction for them to proceed to the Prince Rupert apartment complex. Afterwards, Lieutenant Armstrong called the defendant a second time and asked if he still intended to come downtown later that day. When the defendant said he could not because he did not have "anyone to watch the kids, " Lieutenant Armstrong offered to "arrange for a family member to watch the kids." The defendant "still refused to come."

         A short time later, Sergeant Mullins and Lieutenant Mason located the vehicle the defendant was driving parked in front of the Prince Rupert Number Four apartment. They drove around for two or three minutes and parked so they could watch the vehicle, but not long after they had parked, the defendant, followed by an unmarked police vehicle, drove past their location. Sergeant Mullins and Lieutenant Mason followed both vehicles. Sergeant Mullins was about to radio for a marked squad car to meet them and stop the defendant, when the defendant turned around and came back towards them. Sergeant Mullins turned on the blue lights mounted inside his vehicle "so [the defendant] would know it was a police officer." The defendant stopped his vehicle in front of them so that the defendant's and Sergeant Mullins's vehicles were "head to head." Sergeant Mullins and Lieutenant Mason got out of their vehicle, and the defendant did as well. The investigators introduced themselves and asked the defendant for identification to ensure they had "the right person, " although they were merely verifying what they knew already because they already had the defendant's photograph. Three children were in the vehicle with the defendant.

         Sergeant Mullins described the defendant as very nervous, "visibly shaking, " and "looking around side to side." The defendant asked why MPD homicide wanted to speak with him, and he wanted to talk about the missing person report "right then and there . . . in the middle of the parking lot." Sergeant Mullins told the defendant they could go back to his apartment to talk, and the defendant agreed, saying he did not have a problem with speaking to the officers but was concerned about who would "watch [his] kids." They returned to the apartment, and the defendant sent the children up the landing and into the apartment. Sergeant Mullins called Lieutenant Armstrong and told him that they had located the defendant and that they were all waiting at the apartment for Lieutenant Armstrong to arrive with some of the victim's family members to care for the children.

         When they arrived, the defendant was standing outside with "several investigators and uniform officers." Lieutenant Armstrong asked the defendant about the strong odor of bleach emanating from the defendant's apartment, and the defendant explained that he had been "doing some cleaning." According to Lieutenant Armstrong, the defendant seemed "extremely agitated to talk to us, almost to a paranoid state." Sergeant Mullins said the defendant was not "very thrilled" that members of the victim's family had arrived to care for the children "but really couldn't complain much." According to Lieutenant Armstrong, the defendant was "looking around as if he [were] looking for an escape route." Believing the defendant "was going to run, " Lieutenant Armstrong instructed the officers "to place him in the backseat of a squad car to prevent that." Sergeant Mullins said the defendant ultimately agreed to accompany them to MPD headquarters to give a statement. Although the defendant was transported in the backseat, Sergeant Mullins did not recall the defendant being handcuffed, but he conceded it was possible. Sergeant Mullins said the defendant was not under arrest and the purpose of the interview was to obtain a formal statement, consisting of as much background information as possible about the victim's disappearance, including details of what she may have said or done before leaving, information about her habits, credit cards, ex-husbands, and family, and whether she had ever disappeared before. According to Sergeant Mullins, the missing person report taken on February 12, 2008 "was not a detailed formal statement." The defendant, Sergeant Mullins, and Lieutenant Mason left the apartment complex around 4:15 p.m. on February 15, 2008. Lieutenant Armstrong remained at the apartment, secured the scene, and obtained a search warrant for the apartment.

         MPD officers began executing the first search warrant later that same day, February 15, 2008, after the defendant was transported to the homicide office, but the search extended into the next day after another search warrant issued. On the first day of the search, officers noticed a strong odor of bleach and observed that an eighteen-inch square of carpeting had been removed from the master bedroom flooring. Officers applied Luminol, a chemical that visibly reacts with hemoglobin, and discovered the possible presence of blood on the bed rail in the master bedroom and throughout eighty percent of the hallway bathroom. Officers were unable later to perform DNA testing of these areas because Luminol degrades DNA.

          When the defendant arrived at MPD headquarters, he was placed in an interview room, locked from the outside, and questioned about the victim's disappearance. He was not advised of his Miranda rights[5] or handcuffed, but he was not free to leave the room, although he had access to a buzzer that allowed him to inform the officers if he needed to leave the room for bathroom breaks.

         The defendant gave a statement around 9:04 p.m. on February 15th, which was largely consistent with the statement he had given Officer Houston. The defendant said that he and the victim had argued on the morning of Saturday, February 9, 2008, because she had suspected him of "cheating, " and the victim left after the argument, sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m., and he had no knowledge of her whereabouts thereafter. The defendant told officers that his nine-year-old son, J.S.I., had seen the victim get into a dark colored car "with a light skin woman and some dude." Consistent with his initial statement to Officer Houston, the defendant stated that he had spoken with the victim by telephone the afternoon of the day she left, but he added that the victim had told him to raise the children. According to the defendant, the victim contacted him again on Sunday, February 10th, and reiterated that he should raise the children. The defendant consented to provide a DNA sample via a buccal swab and did so. Afterwards, he told Sergeant Mullins and Lieutenant Mason that he had told them everything he could tell them about the victim's disappearance and was ready to go home. He denied having anything to do with her disappearance and indicated he did not want to talk anymore. The investigators told him they still had more questions and needed clarification and continued to question him, although Sergeant Mullins indicated that they would have taken the defendant home had he adamantly made the request, having had no reason to arrest him.

         In any event, during the time the defendant remained in the interview room and after he gave the statement around 9:00 p.m., other MPD officers interviewed the children. Although these interviews were conducted without the defendant's knowledge, other family members of the children were present during these interviews. Officers noted several discrepancies between the children's and the defendant's statements, and as a result, at 3:00 a.m. on February 16, 2008, they obtained an order from a judicial commissioner granting a "48 Hour Detention For Probable Cause." Sergeant Mullins described this "48 hour hold" as an option officers use when they "believe [they] have probable cause that [they] could charge somebody with a crime but [they are] not prepared to do so" and need additional time to "confirm or deny" information obtained in the investigation, which was, in this case, the inconsistencies between the defendant's and the children's statements. The defendant was then booked into the jail on a first degree murder forty-eight-hour hold.

          Later that same day, February 16, 2008, MPD officers searched the defendant's apartment a second time. Using a "blue light" capable of detecting evidence not visible to the human eye, officers discovered evidence of heavy cleaning in the hallway bathroom, which had a bathtub. The master bathroom had only a shower. On the floor of the master bedroom officers found a pair of child's panties on top of dark blue adult pajama bottoms. In the kitchen, officers noticed indentations in the linoleum flooring consistent with marks made from a heavy kitchen appliance once resting there. Officers documented scrape marks across the kitchen floor consistent with a large appliance having been moved through the kitchen. Officers also searched an unlocked vacant apartment adjacent to the defendant's apartment and discovered an unplugged "extremely clean" upright freezer with a "very strong odor of bleach." All of the shelving in the freezer had been pushed to the top. MPD officers also searched area garbage dumpsters but were unable to locate any additional evidence. The children told officers the defendant had purchased and later returned a saw from a nearby Kmart on the day the victim went missing. Officers were able to locate at that same Kmart three Craftsman saws like the one the defendant had purchased and returned, and all three had been purchased and returned. Although the officers were unable to determine which, if any, of the three was the saw the defendant had purchased and returned, they retained one of the saws as evidence to illustrate the type of saw. MPD officers also retrieved video surveillance footage from Kmart showing the defendant and the children at the store on February 9, 2008, the day the victim had gone missing.

         After confirming various aspects of the children's statements, some of which were inconsistent with the defendant's statement, MPD officers decided to interview the defendant a second time. To do so, they moved him from the jail to an upper floor of the same building. Because he was detained in the jail on the forty-eight-hour hold, MPD officers advised him of his Miranda rights before the interview began. The defendant refused to sign the rights waiver form, but he "emphatic[ally]" stated that he understood his rights and would agree to give a statement. Officers then confronted him with inconsistencies between his initial statement and the children's statements and questioned him about evidence discovered in his apartment when the search warrant was executed. In particular, the defendant was asked about a missing mattress, a missing deep freezer, and a section of carpet missing from the master bedroom. The defendant denied throwing out the mattress and denied that there was ever a deep freezer in the apartment. He also insisted that the carpet had been missing from the master bedroom floor when he moved into the apartment, two or three weeks after the victim and the children moved there.

         Having failed to obtain an incriminating statement, the officers decided to return the defendant to the jail. As they were walking through a public area on the first floor of the building, the defendant remarked to Sergeant Mason, "I didn't do it. . . . I didn't do it, but I may have covered it up." The officers returned the defendant to the homicide office on an upper floor of the building. The defendant declined to speak with them in an interview room, so they took him to Lieutenant Mason's office and again administered Miranda warnings. The defendant again refused to sign the rights waiver form, but this time, he asked for assurances that he would not be charged with first degree murder. The MPD officers declined to provide these assurances, explaining that the district attorney general would decide on the appropriate charges. The defendant then gave a statement implicating his twelve-year-old daughter, K.T., in the victim's murder.

         According to the defendant, he and the children went to a movie on Friday, February 8, 2008, while the victim remained at home. When they returned from the movie, the boys went to bed, but he and K.T. remained in the living room, watching television. At some point, the victim awoke and "fussed" at him for keeping K.T. up late. The victim and K.T. eventually went to bed, but the defendant slept in the living room. When he awoke on Saturday morning, he heard K.T. and the victim arguing in the master bedroom. Entering the master bedroom, the defendant saw K.T. holding a knife. The defendant approached K.T. to stop her, but she stabbed the victim in the neck before he reached her. The defendant said he held the victim for one or two hours until she died. K.T. then implored him, "[D]addy, you [have] got to help me cover this up, I don't want to go to prison for the rest of my life." The defendant decided to protect K.T. by dismembering the victim's body and disposing of it in Mississippi. The defendant said that he and K.T. moved the victim to the hallway bathtub and cut off her hands, head, and feet. He and K.T. later drove to Mississippi and disposed of the victim's body and her severed head, hands, and feet. The defendant began this statement around 11:00 or 11:30 p.m. on February 16, 2008, and afterwards, he agreed to guide the MPD officers to the locations in Mississippi where he had disposed of the victim's dismembered remains.

         Officers searched the areas to which the defendant directed them but were unable to locate the victim's severed body parts. The search was called off in the early morning hours of February 17, 2008, due to heavy rain, cold, and darkness. The defendant was checked back into the jail around 10:20 a.m. on February 17, 2008. Searches conducted over the next two days were also unsuccessful, and the victim's dismembered remains were never recovered.

         Later on February 17, 2008, around 3:22 p.m., Sergeant Mason interviewed K.T. a second time. K.T. had been interviewed on the evening of February 15th but had not been "forthcoming" with officers at that time. K.T. spoke openly with investigators during her February 17th interview, but she became visibly nervous when the defendant called her cell phone multiple times from jail during the interview. Sergeant Murray, who was interviewing K.T., eventually answered the cellphone and asked who was calling. The male caller responded, "James Hawkins, " and stated, "[B]itch, don't talk to my daughter, " then ended the call. Sergeant Mason recalled that, although K.T. had seemed nervous when the defendant began calling her from jail, she seemed reassured after learning that the defendant was still jailed. The defendant remained jailed after K.T. gave her February 17th statement, and he was later formally charged with the victim's murder.

         K.T. and her brothers, J.W.I. and J.S.I., testified for the prosecution at trial and were cross-examined about inconsistencies between their testimony and the statements they had given the police prior to trial. J.W.I. and J.S.I. were eleven and nine years old, respectively, when their mother went missing. Both recalled moving to Memphis and living for a short time with their mother, sister, and the defendant. J.W.I. said that "[everything was simple and quiet" at first, and J.S.I. agreed that "[i]t was nice." After two or three weeks, the defendant and the victim began arguing a lot about the defendant paying more attention to K.T. than to the boys. According to J.S.I., the victim and the defendant fought violently at times. Both boys remembered the defendant breaking the victim's cell phone on one of these occasions, after she threatened to call the police. J.W.I. recalled that during another argument, the victim woke the children and left the apartment with them. He also recalled leaving the apartment with the victim after another argument, driving to the FedEx parking lot, and waiting for Milton Harris, who brought the victim keys to the Prince Rupert apartment.

         J.W.I. described another argument that occurred at the Prince Rupert Number Four apartment. The victim and the defendant were in the master bedroom with the door closed, and J.W.I. heard a noise that sounded like a slap coming from the master bedroom. Immediately thereafter, the victim walked out of the master bedroom, her face red as if it had been slapped. J.S.I. said that he, too, had heard a noise during an argument that sounded like the defendant slapping the victim.

         J.S.I. also described how K.T.'s personality changed after the defendant began living with them, explaining that she became routinely disobedient of the victim but would "get beat" for disobeying the defendant. J.S.I. said the defendant told K.T. not to talk to her mother, and he had seen the defendant "tongue kissing" K.T., although he had not told anyone what he had seen because he was scared.

         J.W.I. also testified about the defendant's relationship with K.T. J.W.I. recalled that, around Christmas 2007, the defendant told him and J.S.I. to stay in the living room while he and K.T. went to another room. However, J.W.I. left the living room to look for batteries, and as he walked down the hall, he saw "out of the corner of [his] eye" the defendant "on top of [his] sister" on the floor of her bedroom. The defendant saw J.W.I. and scolded and yelled at him for leaving the living room. J.W.I. never discussed what he had seen with anyone until after the victim's murder.

         The night before the victim went missing, the boys had gone to a movie with the defendant and K.T, while the victim, who was not feeling well, stayed home. When they returned, J.S.I. heard the defendant and the victim arguing, and he said the arguing continued throughout much of the night. J.S.I. heard the victim say at least four or five times, "[K.T.]'s my baby."

         The next morning, the day the victim went missing, both boys recalled K.T. coming into their bedroom, turning up the volume on their television "as loud as it [could] go, " and telling them to stay in the bedroom. They stayed in the room as instructed, but J.S.I. heard the victim yelling and heard the yelling stop abruptly, followed by silence. Looking out the window about that same time, J.S.I. saw a car with dark-tinted windows leaving the parking lot and believed the victim had left in the car because the yelling had stopped. On cross-examination, J.S.I. agreed that he had originally told an MPD officer that he saw the victim leaving in the car, but he clarified that he had not actually seen the victim leave in that car and only thought she had left in it because the arguing and yelling stopped about the same time the car left the parking lot.

         Both boys recalled K.T. later returning to their bedroom and turning down the volume of the television, and both recalled the defendant telling them the victim "was gone" and saying she had left during the night. Hearing this, J.W.I. thought "something wasn't right because [the victim] wouldn't just up and leave like that." J.S.I. recalled the defendant telling him to go back to bed and remain there.

         In the afternoon of the day the victim went missing, the defendant and the children went to a discount store, where the defendant purchased cleaning supplies, and to Kmart, where the defendant purchased a saw that he returned later the same day. At trial, J.W.I. identified surveillance video from Kmart that officers had retrieved, which showed the defendant purchasing and subsequently returning the saw.

         When they returned to the apartment after purchasing the saw, the defendant instructed the boys to sit in the car, explaining that he had to prepare a surprise for them inside. J.W.I. and J.S.I. waited in the car for approximately three hours. J.S.I. went inside the apartment once during this time to use the bathroom. The defendant directed him past the hall bathroom to the master bathroom. As he passed the partially open door of the hall bathroom, however, J.S.I. saw a tennis shoe, but someone inside-J.S.I. assumed it was K.T.-quickly shut the door before he could see anything more. After using the bathroom, J.S.I. left the apartment, with the defendant locking the door behind him, and returned to the car to wait with his brother.

         Eventually, the defendant and K.T. came back to the car where the boys were waiting, and they all "drove around to different dumpsters throwing away big black garbage bags." When they returned to the apartment, the children helped the defendant clean the apartment. The defendant and K.T. cleaned the hall bathroom, and the boys cleaned the rest of the apartment. The defendant had J.W.I. and J.S.I. throw the mattress from the master bedroom into the dumpster, telling J.S.I. it had a hole in it. When they entered the master bedroom, J.W.I. noticed that the carpeting had been cut and recalled that it had not been cut before that day.

         At some point after the victim went missing, although the precise timing is not clear from his testimony, J.S.I. saw a red liquid dripping from an upright freezer in the kitchen of the apartment. Believing it was Hawaiian Punch, he asked the defendant if he could have some of it. The defendant told J.S.I. it was not Hawaiian Punch and instructed him not to open the freezer. According to J.S.I., the defendant later instructed him and J.W.I. to move the freezer to the back patio, explaining it no longer worked. J.W.I. remembered the freezer went missing from the apartment and recalled the defendant telling him he had thrown it out because it was broken. J.W.I. did not testify that he and J.S.I. removed it at the defendant's request.

         K.T., twelve years old when the victim was murdered, testified that the defendant was absent from her life for a long time before returning in the fall of 2007. She first saw him after his long absence during a visit to her paternal aunt's home. K.T. had spent the night and was asleep in her cousin's room, when the defendant came in and told her to come into the living room and watch television with him. K.T. agreed but fell asleep on the couch. She was awakened by the defendant touching her vagina. When K.T. told him to stop, he refused, put his hand over her mouth, told her to be quiet, and continued touching her, putting his fingers in her vagina. She again told him to stop, but he refused. Later, he threatened to hurt her if she told anyone about his conduct.

         K.T. said that, after she and her family moved with the defendant to Memphis, the defendant "constantly" touched her vagina, breasts, and buttocks and also asked her to touch his penis with her hand or mouth. K.T. said this touching occurred "[a]bout every other day, " and when she protested or fought back, the defendant forced her to comply by hitting her, punching her in the stomach, putting a knife to her throat, or threatening to kill her.

         K.T. recalled going to the hospital by ambulance after suffering a miscarriage around Christmas 2007. The defendant rode in the ambulance with K.T., and he and her mother were present when the doctors told her she had miscarried. K.T. did not tell anyone at the time of the miscarriage about the defendant sexually abusing her because she was scared. At trial, however, K.T. denied having sex with anyone at school and said the pregnancy and miscarriage resulted from the defendant sexually abusing her. K.T. admitted she had not disclosed the sexual abuse during an interview at the Child Advocacy Center after the miscarriage, explaining that the defendant had driven her to the interview and that she had known she would be going home with him afterwards because he still lived with her family.

         K.T. acknowledged that the victim had left the defendant and moved the family to the Prince Rupert Number Four apartment, but she explained that the victim soon allowed the defendant to move back in with the family, and according to K.T., the defendant immediately resumed sexually abusing her. K.T. said she always obeyed the defendant's instructions because he would "get crazy" when angered.

         According to K.T., the defendant had asked her a few days before the murder to help him kill the victim. When K.T. refused, the defendant grabbed her shirt, held a knife to her, and threatened to kill her. On the night of February 8, 2008, the defendant and the victim argued about K.T. staying up late watching television with the defendant. When K.T. awoke the next morning, they were still arguing. K.T. walked to the hall bathroom and saw the defendant emerge from the kitchen with a knife and walk toward the master bedroom, concealing the knife. As he entered the room, the victim was still arguing and threatening to call the police. The defendant responded, "[Y]ou're not going to call the police, not going to call anybody." The victim, her back to the defendant, stated, "[W]hatever, James, " and lay down on the bed on her side. The defendant then stabbed the victim in the neck and choked her. When he released the victim, her body rolled from the bed onto the floor. K.T. could not move and just "stood in shock."

         The defendant told K.T. to help him conceal the crime, but she remained standing where she was, not knowing what to do. The defendant came over to her with the knife, placed it under her cheekbone, and told K.T. he would kill her, too, so she helped him. The defendant told K.T. to go to her brothers' room, turn up the volume on the television, and shut the door. She complied and then returned to the master bedroom and helped the defendant place her mother's body in the freezer that was then located in the kitchen. They carried the victim's body, with the defendant holding the victim's feet and K.T. holding the victim's arms. After placing the victim's body in the freezer, they "put a cord around it so it [would] hold . . . shut . . . so her body wouldn't fall out." They then cleaned the master bedroom, cutting bloodstained areas from the bed and carpeting. Later, the defendant, K.T., and her brothers went to a Family Dollar store, where the defendant purchased cleaning supplies, including bleach. Next they went to Kmart, where the defendant purchased a saw and threw the kitchen knife he had used to kill the victim in the garbage can outside the store.

         When they arrived back at the apartment complex, the defendant told K.T.'s brothers to wait in the car. K.T. and the defendant went inside and moved the victim's body from the freezer to the bathtub in the hall bathroom because the master bathroom did not have a bathtub. The defendant continued threatening K.T. during this time, telling her to help him or he would kill her. Having witnessed the defendant kill her mother, K.T. "believed him when he said it." The defendant taped K.T.'s hands behind her back and ordered her to turn away as he sawed off the victim's hands, feet, and head with the saw purchased at Kmart. But he forced K.T. to hold her mother's severed head, wrap her mother's body parts in plastic garbage bags, and place them back in the freezer. He also forced K.T. to help him place the rest of the victim's body back in the freezer. Afterwards, K.T. and the defendant cleaned the bathroom, and her brothers were allowed back inside the apartment. When they came inside, one of her brothers commented, "it stinks in here, " so the defendant instructed the children to help him clean the apartment. When they finished cleaning, they all went back to Kmart, where the defendant returned the saw.

         During the ensuing night, the defendant woke K.T. and forced her to help him place the victim's remains in the trunk of the car. The defendant and K.T. then went "[f]or a long drive" to Mississippi and eventually stopped on a bridge. The defendant popped the hood and told K.T. to stand at the front of the car with a cellphone to her ear, feigning car trouble for passersby. She did so until the defendant called for her to help him remove the victim's body from the trunk and put it in the ditch. They had returned to the car and were about to leave when the defendant decided to return to the victim's body and "wipe [it] down." When he returned, they drove back to the apartment. K.T. recalled the defendant disposing of the victim's head, hands, and feet "somewhere else" during this drive, but she could not remember where. K.T. had not called the police at any point during the victim's murder or afterwards because she feared the defendant.

         K.T. remembered the defendant calling the police and telling them the victim had "r[u]n off" and had "been gone for a while." K.T. also recalled speaking with the police officer who came to the apartment after the defendant made the report. K.T. did not tell the officer what really happened because she was scared. Fear also prevented her from telling the officers, who came about a week later to investigate the victim's disappearance, what had really happened, and she did not tell the whole truth when she gave her initial statement to the police downtown on February 15, 2008, although parts of the statement were true. K.T. lied because she feared the defendant; however, by the time she gave her second statement on February 17, 2008, she knew the defendant would not be going home with her and would not be able to hurt her anymore, so she told officers the truth in her second statement.

         In addition to the children's testimony, the prosecution also called Dr. Qadriyyah Debnam to testify. Dr. Debnam, a Special Agent Forensic Scientist with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, had performed DNA and serology analysis on several items of evidence. Dr. Debnam stated that blood found on the carpeting in the trunk of the victim's vehicle, which the defendant had driven after her disappearance, and on one of the trays from the freezer found in the apartment adjacent to the defendant's apartment matched the victim's DNA.

         Dr. Steven A. Symes, a forensic anthropologist, testified that cuts to the victim's body were consistent with having been made with a "typical seven and a quarter inch circular saw blade, " like the blade of the saw the defendant purchased at Kmart. Dr. Symes opined that three cuts to the victim's upper right leg were "abandoned" because the saw was not capable of cutting through that particularly large section of the victim's leg. According to Dr. Symes, the saw was capable of cutting the victim's wrists, ankles, and neck.

         The parties also entered into evidence a stipulation regarding the victim's cause of death, agreeing that the victim had died from "stabbing, strangulation or a combination of both."

         Following a Momon colloquy, see Momon v. State, 18 S.W.3d 152, 161-62 (Tenn. 1999), the defendant elected not to testify in his own behalf and presented no other evidence. The jury convicted the defendant of premeditated first degree murder, initiating a false report, and abuse of a corpse.

         B. Penalty Phase of the Trial

         During the penalty phase of the trial, the State introduced proof to show that the defendant had seventeen prior convictions-seven prior convictions for aggravated assault and ten prior convictions for aggravated robbery. An employee of a Piggly-Wiggly store described how, on November 12, 1997, the defendant and two other men had robbed the store at gunpoint. Medical evidence established that the wounds on the victim's body were inflicted after her death. Family members of the victim testified about the devastating impact the victim's murder had on her family. All three of the victim's children were in counseling and the victim's elder sister, who had two children of her own, was caring for them. They lived in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom house, and caring for her own children and the victim's children had been financially difficult for the victim's sister. The victim's father had experienced frustration, rage, and low self-esteem as a result of the victim's murder. He, his sister, and his sister's daughter had attended and been involved in church before the victim's murder but had become inconsistent in attendance and uninvolved afterwards.

         The defendant presented the testimony of a mitigation specialist and also called his mother as a witness. The mitigation specialist testified about the defendant's familial history. The defendant was born in 1977, and on his father's side of the family, he had more than twenty siblings and half siblings, although the defendant's father had lost count of exactly how many children he had. The defendant's mother had eight children, two boys and six girls, but only four children with the defendant's father. The defendant's father, James Hawkins, Sr., had refused to cooperate fully with the mitigation investigation, and at the time of the defendant's trial, he was under criminal investigation for allegedly sexually abusing the minor children then living with him. Five minor children had been recently removed from the defendant's father's home and placed with adult sisters, who also had been sexually abused by the defendant's father. The defendant's father also allegedly had been physically abusing the minor children living in his home at the time of the defendant's trial by forcing a fifteen-year-old to sleep on the floor and by not feeding the children. Although the defendant had not been sexually abused, the mitigation specialist testified that the defendant's father had physically and mentally abused the defendant and his siblings. The defendant's father also had been combative and controlling towards the defendant's mother. On at least one occasion when she was pregnant with the defendant, he had pushed her around and tried to physically abuse her.

         In addition to his father's abusive behavior toward him, the defendant had also experienced a great personal tragedy when he was nineteen years old. Chris, the defendant's younger brother, was shot by an assailant and killed at the age of fifteen. The defendant was talking with Chris by telephone when the shooting occurred. The defendant went to the scene of the murder and became very upset after seeing Chris's body. The defendant never obtained or received counseling, and according to his family members, the defendant changed in a negative way thereafter. Some of the defendant's paternal family members blamed the defendant for his brother's murder, but the defendant would not talk about his personal life, saying, "I don't want to go there." Within a year after Chris's murder, however, the defendant had committed a robbery and served time in prison.

         The mitigation specialist testified that the defendant had been jailed since his arrest for the victim's murder and had been a model inmate, acting as a mentor to other prisoners, cooperating with prison officials, remaining busy, keeping himself and his jail cell clean, and receiving no write-ups for disciplinary infractions. He had also participated in and obtained certificates for several rehabilitative programs. On the whole, the defendant's jail record was better than most, and a person at the jail had written an email detailing how the defendant had helped with promoting positive attitudes and accepting challenges and how the jail personnel wished they had more inmates like the defendant.

         By contrast, the defendant had been a poor student in his childhood, completing only the eighth grade. The records indicated that the defendant tried to succeed but was intellectually slow and was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity as a twelve-year-old in fourth grade. An I.Q. test showed that the defendant had a full scale I.Q. of 77, which was in the borderline mentally retarded range, according to the mitigation specialist. The mitigation specialist opined that the defendant's life had value to his family.

         The defendant's mother, Della Thomas, also testified. She explained that she had never married the defendant's father and that he had not supported her and the children, other than occasionally paying her rent and buying the children clothing. She described the defendant's father as controlling and said he hit her twice while she was pregnant with the defendant. Only rarely did the defendant's father spend quality time with the children. The defendant's mother had only recently discovered that the defendant's father had sexually abused two of his daughters.

          The defendant's mother recalled the defendant being too active when he started school, and she said he "couldn't learn, " although he tried. She had him tested, and the testing revealed the defendant was "borderline retarded." He was also diagnosed with and prescribed Ritalin for attention deficit disorder. According to the defendant's mother, the murder of her younger son, Chris, upset her family tremendously, particularly the defendant. Chris was murdered outside Ms. Thomas's apartment, and when the defendant arrived at the scene and saw the body, he became angry and upset and was arrested for disturbing the peace. She said he changed after his brother's murder, became "a little violent[, ] . . . upset[, ] and mood swinging." Although the defendant's mother did not excuse the defendant's involvement in the victim's murder, she asked the jury not to impose the death penalty because she loved him, wanted to visit her son in prison, and wanted him to participate as much as possible with the family from prison. Ms. Thomas also expressed her love for her grandchildren and said that, were the jury to impose the death penalty, it would have a "big" impact on her family.

         On cross-examination, the defendant's mother agreed that she had spoken with the defendant by telephone while he was jailed on the forty-eight-hour-hold and that she had known the calls were recorded. During those calls, the defendant's mother had reminded him how she had found him a place to stay and had "begged" him not to go back to the victim's apartment because she knew the defendant and the victim could not get along. The defendant's mother agreed that she had told the defendant his children would be "messed up for the rest of their life" because they had no parents. Ms. Thomas agreed that she had done her best to raise her children in a loving home and to protect them and care for them, even though their father was not involved in their lives. She had not abused them and had provided them with food, clothing, and medical care, and made sure they attended school. She agreed that she had raised the defendant in her home and that the defendant was not necessarily impacted by the fact that his father had more than twenty children because the defendant had never lived with his father.

         After the defense rested, the case was submitted to the jury. The jury found that the prosecution had proven two aggravating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-204(i)(2) (prior violent felony convictions) and (i)(13) (mutilation of the victim's body after death), and had proven that these aggravating circumstances outweighed mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the jury sentenced the defendant to death for the premeditated murder conviction. Id. § 39-13-204(g). For the remaining convictions, initiating a false report and abuse of a corpse, the trial court held a separate sentencing hearing, imposed sentences of twelve and six years, respectively, and ordered these sentences served consecutively, for an effective sentence of eighteen years. The trial court also ordered these sentences served consecutively to the death penalty.

         The defendant appealed. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his convictions and sentences. Hawkins, 2015 WL 5169157, at *1. The case was thereafter automatically docketed in this Court for review, as required by statute. Id. § 39-13-206(a)(1). This Court subsequently entered an order, pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 12.2, identifying five issues for oral argument, in addition to the issues this Court is statutorily mandated to review. Id. § 39-13-206(c)(1).

         II. Analysis

         A. Motion to Suppress

         1. Standards of Review

         When reviewing a trial court's decision on a motion to suppress, appellate courts uphold the trial court's findings of fact, unless the evidence preponderates against them. State v. Bell, 429 S.W.3d 524, 528 (Tenn. 2014) (citing State v. Climer, 400 S.W.3d 537, 556 (Tenn. 2013); State v. Day, 263 S.W.3d 891, 900 (Tenn. 2008)). "Questions of credibility of the witnesses, the weight and value of the evidence, and resolution of conflicts in the evidence are matters entrusted to the trial judge as the trier of fact." State v. Odom, 928 S.W.2d 18, 23 (Tenn. 1996). When reviewing a trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress, an appellate court may consider evidence presented at trial, as well as evidence presented at the suppression hearing. State v. Henning, 975 S.W.2d 290, 297-99 (Tenn. 1998); see also State v. Williamson, 368 S.W.3d 468, 473 (Tenn. 2012).[6] The party prevailing in the trial court on a motion to suppress "is entitled to the strongest legitimate view of the evidence . . . as well as all reasonable and legitimate inferences that may be drawn from [the] evidence." Bell, 429 S.W.3d at 529 (citing State v. Echols, 382 S.W.3d 266, 277 (Tenn. 2012); Day, 263 S.W.3d at 900; Odom, 928 S.W.2d at 23). We review the application of law to facts de novo and afford no presumption of correctness to a lower court's conclusions of law. State v. Walton, 41 S.W.3d 75, 81 (Tenn. 2001) (citing State v. Crutcher, 989 S.W.2d 295, 299 (Tenn. 1999); State v. Yeargan, 958 S.W.2d 626, 629 (Tenn. 1997)).

         2. Constitutional Principles

         The United States and Tennessee constitutions protect against unreasonable searches and seizures. U.S. Const. amend. IV ("The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . . .");[7] Tenn. Const. art. I, § 7 ("[T]he people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers and possessions, from unreasonable searches and seizures . . . ." (emphasis added)).[8] These constitutional provisions do not specify when a warrant must be obtained but have been interpreted as generally requiring law enforcement to obtain a warrant before undertaking a search or seizure. See Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452, 459 (2011) (stating that under the Fourth Amendment "a warrant must generally be secured"); State v. Meeks, 262 S.W.3d 710, 722 (Tenn. 2008) ("[A]s a general matter, law enforcement officials cannot conduct a search [or effect a seizure] without having first obtained a valid warrant." (citations omitted)). Indeed, warrantless searches and seizures are presumptively unreasonable, and any evidence discovered as a result of a warrantless search or seizure is subject to suppression by way of the exclusionary rule. State v. McCormick, 494 S.W.3d 673, 679 (Tenn. 2016) (citations omitted); Echols, 382 S.W.3d at 277.

         Of course, these constitutional protections are implicated only if a search or seizure actually occurs. McCormick, 494 S.W.3d at 679. A consensual police-citizen encounter does not amount to a seizure and does not implicate the constitutional warrant requirement. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1, 19 n.16 (1968) ("Obviously, not all personal intercourse between policemen and citizens involves 'seizures' of persons. Only when the officer, by means of physical force or show of authority, has in some way restrained the liberty of a citizen may we conclude that a 'seizure' has occurred."); McCormick, 494 S.W.3d at 679 (recognizing that consensual police-citizen encounters do not implicate constitutional protections).

         The point at which a consensual encounter becomes a seizure is not susceptible of precise definition. Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491, 506 (1983) (plurality opinion) (recognizing that there is no "litmus-paper test for distinguishing a consensual encounter from a seizure"); State v. Daniel, 12 S.W.3d 420, 425 (Tenn. 2000) (stating that courts must consider the facts of each case to determine whether a seizure has occurred). A seizure of the person occurs, for purposes of the Fourth Amendment and article I, section 7, when, "taking into account all of the circumstances surrounding the encounter, the police conduct would 'have communicated to a reasonable person that he was not at liberty to ignore the police presence and go about his business.'"[9] Florida v. Bostick, 501 U.S. 429, 437 (1991) (quoting Michigan v. Chesternut, 486 U.S. 567, 569 (1988)); State v. Randolph, 74 S.W.3d 330, 336 (Tenn. 2002) ("[W]hether, 'in view of all the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed he or she was not free to leave[.]'" (quoting Daniel, 12 S.W.3d at 425)); see also Kaupp v. Texas, 538 U.S. 626, 629-30 (2003). "Examples of circumstances that might indicate a seizure, even where the person did not attempt to leave, " include "the threatening presence of several officers, the display of a weapon by an officer, some physical touching of the person of the citizen, or the use of language or tone of voice indicating that compliance with the officer's request might be compelled." Mendenhall, 446 U.S. at 554 (Stewart, J., opinion announcing the judgment); see also Kaupp, 538 U.S. at 630; Chesternut, 486 U.S. at 575; Daniel, 12 S.W.3d at 425-26 (stating that, when determining whether a seizure has occurred, courts should consider "the time, place and purpose of the [police-citizen] encounter; the words used by the officer; the officer's tone of voice and general demeanor; the officer's statements to others who were present during the encounter; the threatening presence of several officers; the display of a weapon by an officer; and the physical touching of the person of the citizen").

         As the United States Supreme Court has explained,

The test is necessarily imprecise, because it is designed to assess the coercive effect of police conduct, taken as a whole, rather than to focus on particular details of that conduct in isolation. Moreover, what constitutes a restraint on liberty prompting a person to conclude that he is not free to "leave" will vary, not only with the particular ...

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