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Jackson v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 15, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs October 19, 2016

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Wilson County No. 2009-CR-416 Brody Kane, Judge

         The Petitioner, Felton Jackson, filed a petition in the Wilson County Criminal Court, seeking post-conviction relief from his conviction of especially aggravated robbery. The Petitioner alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to call alibi witnesses, coercing the Petitioner not to testify, and failing to investigate or present proof regarding the Petitioner's "social, medical and mental health." The post-conviction court denied relief, and the Petitioner appealed. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

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

          Donna G. Wagner, Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Felton Jackson.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Leslie E. Price, Senior Counsel; Tom P. Thompson, Jr., District Attorney General; and Howard L. Chambers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Robert W. Wedemeyer, JJ., joined.



         I. Factual Background

         On direct appeal, this court summarized the facts adduced at trial as follows:

Officer [Joshua] Lewis testified that he was an officer with the City of Lebanon Police Department. He and a fellow officer were dispatched to the Plaza Motel on December 23, 2008, at approximately 4:45 a.m., to respond to a 9-1-1 call. When they arrived, they were unable to enter the victim's room, so they obtained a master key from hotel personnel. Upon entering the room, Officer Lewis observed that the room "was in shambles." Personal belongings were strewn about the room, and the mattress had been removed from the bed and was lying in front of the doorway. He and Officer Stone began to "clear" the room to ensure that the room was safe before allowing emergency personnel to enter the room, during which time Officer Lewis saw the victim lying on the box springs of the bed. He testified that there was "blood everywhere, " including the floor, the mattress, the box springs, the ceiling, and the walls. After notifying medical personnel that the room was "clear, " Officer Lewis approached the victim and asked him what had happened. The victim stated that "he was laying [sic] in bed . . . [and] . . . awaken[ed] to a big black guy beating him with a pipe." Officer Lewis assisted emergency personnel in loading the victim into the ambulance and secured the room.
On cross-examination, Officer Lewis confirmed that the victim's hotel room door was locked when they arrived and that he did not observe any signs of forced entry. He stated that the victim was conscious but lying on the box springs of the bed, covered in blood.
. . . .
. . . Officer Lewis, . . . clarified that the victim actually made two statements to him. One statement occurred in the hotel room during the initial contact. After Officer Lewis had secured the room and the victim was in the ambulance, Officer Lewis approached the victim and inquired as to the identity of the assailant. During that statement, the victim indicated that the black male "lived down the way." Officer Lewis recognized the seriousness of the victim's injuries and attempted to gather additional information, including perhaps a dying declaration, before the victim was transported. . . .
. . . .
The next witness was John Wayne Engle, who lived in close proximity to the Plaza Motel. On the morning of December 23, 2008, he was walking his dog between 6:00 and 6:30 a.m. when he discovered checkbooks lying on the ground between his residence and the residence next door to him. He noticed several police officers in the vicinity and turned the checkbooks in to an officer.
Officer Matthew Dedman, an officer with the City of Lebanon Police Department, testified that he was working on December 23, 2008. His responsibility that day was to secure the crime scene van. When he was on duty, someone approached him and handed him some checkbooks. He turned the checkbooks over to Detective Massey.
The State next called Shirley Bogle, who resided in the Plaza Trailer Park, which was located directly behind the Plaza Motel. She testified that she placed a 9-1-1 call around 4:30 a.m. on December 23, 2008. The call was precipitated by [the Petitioner's] arguing with a pregnant female. Ms. Bogle asked [the Petitioner] and the female to move because they were standing very close to her dog, who was chained, and she feared that the dog might bite one of them. She observed [the Petitioner] holding what appeared to be an umbrella and something "hanging[, ] like a purse or something. . . ." Ms. Bogle indicated that she called 9-1-1 because [the Petitioner] and the female were in a "fight or a fuss, " and because the female was pregnant, Ms. Bogle was concerned that [the Petitioner] might harm her. In her call, she asked the police to patrol the area; she did not ask them to investigate or take any other action. She identified [the Petitioner] in court.
On cross-examination, Ms. Bogle stated she was positive that the female was pregnant because she had seen her previously but did not know her personally. She acknowledged that what she thought was an umbrella could have been a flashlight. She confirmed that [the Petitioner] lived in the same community, and she pointed out his residence on a map.
The State's next witness was Tabitha Donnelly. She pleaded guilty to criminal charges arising from this incident and received a sentence of fifteen years, to be served at 100% release eligibility. On the day in question, she had borrowed the victim's Jeep. Around 4:00 a.m., she was visiting an acquaintance and "was getting high" when [the Petitioner] knocked on the back door. The owner of the home instructed Ms. Donnelly to open the door for him. Once inside, [the Petitioner] asked Ms. Donnelly what she was about to do, and she told him that she was going to return the victim's Jeep. [The Petitioner] asked Ms. Donnelly if the victim usually had money in his possession, and she responded affirmatively. She asked [the Petitioner], "Why, do you want to rob him? Don't hurt him, just scare him." [The Petitioner] responded, "S**t, it's Christmastime. I ain't got no more dope. My pockets is [sic] empty. I'm down with whatever."
Ms. Donnelly and [the Petitioner] then left, and she drove [the Petitioner] to the Plaza Motel at the entrance of the parking lot. She continued through the parking lot and parked outside of the victim's room. She entered the victim's room and sat down in a chair. The victim asked Ms. Donnelly if she had locked the Jeep. She answered that she had not, and she walked outside to do so. At that point, [the Petitioner] walked into the room. [The Petitioner] approached the victim, who was in bed, and asked for all of his money. Ms. Donnelly opined that the victim was aware of [the Petitioner's] intentions and leaned back so that he could kick [the Petitioner], but [the Petitioner] produced a steering wheel lock and struck the victim.
Ms. Donnelly stated that she stood in the doorway in shock, saying, "Please quit hitting him." [The Petitioner] did not stop the attack. As the victim and [the Petitioner] fought, [the Petitioner] pulled the victim's foot and dragged the victim and the mattress upon which he was lying onto the floor. [The Petitioner] ordered Ms. Donnelly to take the victim's money, so she stepped across the mattress and box springs to look for his wallet, which she assumed was under the bed. When she found nothing there, Ms. Donnelly fled from the room followed by [the Petitioner]. She noted that when [the Petitioner] left, he had taken the victim's wallet, some checkbooks, a bowl of coins, and the weapon he used in the attack. They ran into the Plaza Trailer Park. They stopped in front of a trailer where a pit bull was chained outside. They began to argue, and the owner of the trailer, a female, came outside and asked them to ...

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