Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs March 21, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 104304 Steven
Wayne Sword, Judge.
Melvin King, was convicted by a Knox County jury of first
degree murder, aggravated burglary, employing a firearm
during the commission of a dangerous felony, three counts of
especially aggravated kidnapping, reckless aggravated
assault, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and
aggravated animal cruelty. He was sentenced to an effective
life sentence. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is
insufficient to support dual convictions for especially
aggravated kidnapping and attempted especially aggravated
robbery, that the trial court improperly allowed the State to
admit autopsy photographs into evidence, and that the trial
court improperly gave the jury an instruction on flight.
After a review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the
trial court. However, because the trial court did not enter
judgment forms disposing of each count of the indictment, we
remand the matter to the trial court for entry of a separate
judgment form for each count of the indictment.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal
Court Affirmed and Remanded.
Phillip Lomonaco (at trial) and J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal),
Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Melvin King.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Charme P.
Allen, District Attorney General; and TaKisha Fitzgerald,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which John Everett Williams and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE.
October of 2014, Defendant and four codefendants-Braylen
Bennett, Roderick Curtis, Dwaine Love, and Charles Byrd-were
indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury in a multi-count
indictment after an incident at the home of John Huddleston
during which Mr. Huddleston was shot and killed. The
indictment charged the defendants with twenty-five different
offenses, including: three counts of aggravated burglary (in
concert with two or more persons); one count of employing a
firearm during the commission of an aggravated burglary; two
counts of the especially aggravated kidnapping of Jeremiah
Gilman; two counts of the especially aggravated kidnapping of
John Huddleston; eight counts of the first degree felony
murder of John Huddleston; one count of the aggravated
assault of Sydney Smith (in concert with two or more
persons); two counts of the attempted especially aggravated
robbery of Daniel Nicely; two counts of the attempted
especially aggravated robbery of Jeremiah Gilman; one count
of aggravated animal cruelty by killing a companion animal;
and one count of aggravated animal cruelty by seriously
injuring a companion animal.
Huddleston, the murder victim, lived at a house on Valley
View Drive in Knoxville with several other people and two
dogs. He rented bedrooms in the house to Daniel Nicely and
Jeremiah Gilman. Mr. Nicely sold marijuana from the house and
often kept cash and a quantity of marijuana in a small safe
or in other locations around the house. Cody Hall also lived
at the house. Sydney Smith, the girlfriend of Mr. Nicely, was
at the house on the evening the incident took place.
came to the house two days before the incident and talked to
Mr. Nicely. Mr. Nicely recalled that Defendant "asked
[him] for a girl's name, if she lived there." He did
not know Defendant and told him that the girl did not live at
that address. After Defendant left, Mr. Nicely and the victim
talked about how Defendant's actions were "a little
strange and peculiar" so they walked out to the front
porch and saw Defendant "hop into a gray Infinity"
with a missing front license plate and drive away.
25, 2014, Charles Byrd got a new job and wanted to get some
marijuana to celebrate. Mr. Byrd, who testified at trial for
the State, recalled that he had been hanging out with
codefendants Dwaine Love and Braylen Bennett that day and
that none of them were able to find any marijuana. At some
point that day, Mr. Byrd, Mr. Love, Mr. Bennett, Defendant,
Rodrick Curtis, Brandon Phelps, and someone identified only
as "BJ" were all hanging out together. Defendant
suggested to the group that he knew of a location where
marijuana was available. The group discussed a plan to get
marijuana from the victim's house by robbing the people
at the house. Defendant offered money to everyone who became
involved in the proposed robbery. The victim was the specific
the evening of June 25, 2014, the victim, Mr. Nicely, Mr.
Hall, Ms. Smith, and Mr. Gilman were hanging out at the house
watching television. At some point that night, Ms. Smith got
a text message from a friend asking how many people were
hanging out at the house that night. By the early morning
hours of June 26, Mr. Nicely and Ms. Smith, were asleep in
their bedroom while Mr. Hall was asleep on the couch. Mr.
Gilman was not in his bedroom as he was awake in the living
room watching television.
night, the defendants went to the victim's house in two
separate cars, a Jeep and Defendant's Toyota Camry. Mr.
Byrd, Mr. Love, Mr. Curtis, and Defendant went to the front
door while Mr. Bennett, Mr. Phelps, and "BJ" went
to the back door. They all wore bandanas or fabric over their
faces, and two of the men had guns. When someone came to the
back door with a gun, Mr. Curtis, Mr. Phelps, and Mr. Bennett
ran around the house and entered through the front door.
Hall was awakened by a "loud bang at the door." He
jumped up from the couch in time to see Mr. Gilman
"flying across the room." He saw "someone with
a gun running in the house, and . . . people behind him just
bum rushing in." Mr. Hall took a defensive position on
the floor but was almost instantly thrown on the couch.
Someone placed what he described as a "gray silver
shade" colored gun to his head and demanded to know the
location of the "dope." The men hit Mr. Hall
"four or five times on the head" and then told him
to keep his "head down." He sought refuge under a
table. Mr. Hall saw Mr. Gilman "getting hit" by the
men. At some point, Mr. Gilman was told to unplug the
PlayStation. From his vantage point under a table, Mr. Hall
could hear the men telling someone down the hall in one of
the bedrooms to "open the door." They threatened to
shoot through the door of one of the bedrooms.
Nicely was asleep in his bedroom and "woke to a bunch of
yelling and loud noises and guys demanding stuff." Ms.
Smith awoke to "three loud bangs" coming from
"the front of the house." Mr. Nicely's bedroom
door was open at the time he awoke. He saw someone run past
his bedroom door so he jumped up out of bed and shut the door
and locked it. He grabbed the .22 rifle he kept in his room
and "was looking for [his] SKS." Mr. Nicely put his
gun down and "braced [himself] at the door." A man
with his face partially covered with cloth came to the
bedroom door and busted it down. Mr. Nicely later identified
the man as Defendant because he recognized his "eyes and
nose" from his visit to the house a few days earlier.
Ms. Smith was also able to identify Defendant. Defendant
placed a gun to Mr. Nicely's forehead and demanded
"dope." Defendant also pointed the gun at Ms. Smith
and told her to "[g]ive [him] all [her] stuff." Ms.
Smith was "freaking out." Mr. Nicely was
"scared" and thought that this "[c]ould be
it." A "frenzy" in the other room distracted
Defendant momentarily and suddenly four to five males ran
past the bedroom door with the victim "chasing them with
a gun." Mr. Nicely propped the door to his bedroom back
into place while Defendant and the other men were distracted.
He and Ms. Smith remained inside the bedroom braced against
same time Mr. Nicely and Ms. Smith were in the bedroom, Mr.
Hall was still hiding in the living room under a piece of
furniture. He thought he first saw the victim "walking,
and [the men] sat him down in the chair" in the living
room. The men instructed Mr. Hall to continue to put his
"head down." Mr. Hall then saw the victim go
"to the hallway, " and one of the dogs, Diesel,
started "barking really loud." Mr. Hall grabbed the
dog by the collar. The "next thing" he heard was
the men yelling that the victim "ha[d] a gun." He
heard multiple shots, and both he and Mr. Gilman immediately
started "running towards the door trying to get out as
fast" as possible. Mr. Hall, Mr. Nicely, and Ms. Smith
all heard multiple shots but did not see who fired the shots
or who was hit by the shots. Mr. Curtis ...