Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Date: September 20, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Monroe County No. 11077 Jon Kerry
Blackwood, Senior Judge
first trial, Defendant, George Joseph Raudenbush, III, was
convicted of driving on a suspended license, violating the
financial responsibility law, speeding, felony evading
arrest, misdemeanor evading arrest, assault, and reckless
endangerment. The trial court merged the misdemeanor evading
arrest conviction into the felony evading arrest conviction
and imposed an effective four-year sentence. On appeal, this
court reversed and remanded the case for a new trial because
the trial court denied Defendant his Sixth Amendment right to
counsel by requiring him to proceed pro se at trial.
State v. George Joseph Raudenbush, III, No.
E2012-02287-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 62372011 (Tenn. Crim. App.
Dec. 3, 2013). In his second trial, the subject of this
appeal, Defendant was convicted of driving on a suspended
license, violating the financial responsibility law,
speeding, felony evading arrest, misdemeanor evading arrest,
assault, and reckless endangerment. The trial court again
imposed an effective four-year sentence to be served on
supervised probation. On appeal, Defendant raises the
following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in
overruling Defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal;
(2) whether the evidence was insufficient to support his
convictions for felony evading arrest and assault; (3)
whether the trial court erred by denying his motion for a
change of venue; and (4) whether there was juror misconduct.
Defendant is not entitled to relief on the issues presented.
However, the trial court failed to merge the conviction for
misdemeanor evading arrest with the conviction for felony
evading arrest. We therefore remand the convictions for
merger. In all other respects the judgments are affirmed.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal
Court Affirmed as Modified; Remanded
L. Gulley, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee (on appeal) and C.
Richard Hughes, Jr., District Public Defender; Donald Leon
Shahan and Abby Burke, Assistant Public Defenders, (at trial)
for the appellant, George Joseph Raudenbush, III.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; Stephen Davis Crump,
District Attorney General; and Paul Rush, Assistant District
Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
T. Woodall, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Alan E. Glenn and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ.,
T. WOODALL, PRESIDING JUDGE
December 30, 2010, Sergeant Brian Millsaps of the Tellico
Plains Police Department was patrolling and
"running" radar on Highway 68. Auxiliary Officer
April Shaffer was riding with him at the time. Sergeant
Millsaps testified that the speed limit on Highway 68 was
forty-five miles per hour. At some point, as they were
driving toward Coker Creek, Sergeant Millsaps and Officer
Shaffer met Defendant's vehicle which Sergeant Millsaps
estimated to be travelling over the speed limit. Sergeant
Millsaps testified that he is trained to observe a vehicle
and to estimate its speed. His radar unit verified that the
vehicle was travelling fifty-seven miles per hour, which was
twelve miles over the posted speed limit. Sergeant Millsaps
turned around, activated his blue lights, and got behind
Defendant's vehicle to initiate a traffic stop. Defendant
pulled over, and Sergeant Millsaps noticed that
Defendant's license plate read: "Luke 4:18." He
could not tell from which state the plate was registered.
Sergeant Millsaps noted that the stickers on the license
plate were not real. He said that there were also stickers on
the plate that read: "Basieia Ouranos." The plate
showed that it was issued by the
"Embassyofheaven.org." Sergeant Millsaps ran a
check on the license plate, and it came back as "not on
Millsaps walked up to the driver's side of the vehicle,
and Officer Shaffer walked up to the passenger side.
Detective Travis Jones also arrived on the scene as back-up
and was sitting in his truck. Sergeant Millsaps explained to
Defendant why he had pulled Defendant over, and he asked for
Defendant's driver's license, insurance, and
registration. Sergeant Millsaps described Defendant's
driver's license as follows:
At the top, it's got "driver's license." In
the upper right-hand corner it has "kingdom of
Heaven." It has a photograph of [Defendant]. It has an
ID number, his sex, a Baptism, an issue date and an
expiration date. It has his height, weight, eye color, hair
color, his name, George Joseph, III, Raudenbush, Embassy of
Heaven Church. An address, I can read that if you wish. And
then State of Oregon. And then his signature at the bottom.
Millsaps testified that the driver's license was not
valid, and Defendant told Sergeant Millsaps that he was not a
resident of the State of Tennessee. He never presented the
officer with a valid driver's license. Sergeant Millsaps
checked the status of Defendant's driver's license
and learned that it was suspended. He later obtained a
certified copy of Defendant's driving history.
Millsaps testified that Defendant also gave him a document
that read: "vehicle title and registration record."
It indicated that it was issued by the "Embassy of
Heaven, " and it had an address from the State of Oregon
on it. Concerning the document, Sergeant Millsaps further
Records.embassyofheaven.org. And a phone number. Date of
report: July 31st, 2009 year of our Lord. To
whom it may concern: May the peace and joy of Jesus Christ
be with you. And then it has a vehicle title and
registration record. Steward: It had George Joseph, III,
Raudenbush. An email - - I presume an e-mail address. The
plate number is Luke 4:18. It's got the title number,
registration date, process date, and the type of vehicle,
which is the '86 Ford vehicle he was driving that
night. And then it's got: I certify that the foregoing
is true and correct based on abstract of the church vehicle
record and the authority of Jesus Christ, Embassy of
Heaven, Paul Revere, pastor.
Millsaps testified that the registration was not valid in the
State of Tennessee. Defendant provided a "vehicle
certificate of title." The document had a notary seal
from "Embassy of Heaven." The document read:
"Embassy of Heaven of the Kingdom of Heaven certifies
that the vehicle described below has been registered in this
office and that the individual stated below is the lawful
steward." There was also a registration card with the
Millsaps testified that he informed Defendant that he would
be under arrest if he could not produce a valid driver's
license. When he asked if Defendant had any form of a
government-issued driver's license, Defendant replied:
"I'm not a citizen of this state." Sergeant
Millsaps asked Defendant to step out of the car, and
Defendant rolled up the window and locked the door. Sergeant
Millsaps then yelled at Defendant because the window was
rolled up and told Defendant that he was under arrest. At
that time, Defendant put his car in drive and turned the
wheel. Sergeant Millsaps used his flashlight to knock the
driver's side window out of the car. He testified that he
did not hit Defendant with the flashlight. Sergeant Millsaps
attempted to open Defendant's door but Defendant
"accelerated onto Highway 68." Sergeant Millsaps
then took "evasive action" to avoid being struck by
Defendant's car. Officer Shaffer testified that the
Defendant's car nearly hit her and Sergeant Millsaps.
Detective Jones pulled out behind Defendant, and Sergeant
Millsaps and Officer Shaffer also began chasing Defendant.
Concerning the chase, Sergeant Millsaps testified:
I traveled what they call Coker Creek Mountain out of
Tellico, which is south. Started up the mountain. Go to the
top of the mountain, go another mile or so, and then
there's Pond Ridge Road. It's actually two entrances
on that highway off 68 loop.
During all this, going up the mountain - - before we get to
the mountain, there's a vehicle coming toward Tellico,
meeting up. [Defendant] was not keeping in his lane. That
vehicle had to go off on the right side of the highway.
Shaffer testified that she also observed the vehicle go off
the road and into the grass to avoid hitting Defendant's
car. Sergeant Millsaps testified that the chase was not a
high speed one and that it reached a speed of forty to fifty
miles per hour. He said that they did not try to wreck
Defendant's vehicle. At one point they tried to "box
him in" but Defendant struck Detective Jones' truck
before they could get "set up." Sergeant Millsaps
testified that Defendant lost control of his vehicle at one
point and "slid all the way, sideways, in the
road." Defendant was able to keep going, and he
eventually turned onto Pond Ridge Road and into a driveway.
Defendant stopped the car, got out, and ran.
Millsaps got out of his car and chased Defendant on foot. He
yelled at Defendant to stop but Defendant continued running.
Sergeant Millsaps eventually lost sight of Defendant. He
later received information from dispatch and went to a
residence. Defendant was taken out of the residence,
arrested, and transported to jail.
Travis Jones of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office
testified that in December of 2010, he drove an unmarked,
black F-150 truck. The vehicle was equipped with blue lights
and sirens. On the night of December 30, 2010, Detective
Jones was on his way home when he learned that Sergeant
Millsaps had stopped a vehicle. He drove to the scene in
order to "back him up on the traffic stop" and
activated his blue lights.
Jones was about to step out of his truck when he heard a loud
"pop, " and he saw Sergeant Millsaps "jump
back." Detective Jones then realized the sound was the
driver's side window breaking. Defendant drove away, and
Detective Jones pulled out behind him and activated his
siren. Detective Jones testified that his pursuit of
Defendant lasted approximately two miles: from Highway 68 and
Mecca Pike to Pond Ridge Road and Coker Creek.
Jones testified that he attempted to drive around Defendant
to effect a "rolling road block, " but he was
unable to get in front of Defendant because Defendant drove
over into Detective Jones' lane and struck his truck as
he was passing Defendant. Detective Jones testified that he
later attempted to drive around Defendant a second time. He
noted that Defendant struck his vehicle a total of three
times during the pursuit, "there was two times on the
right side and one time on the left side of my truck."
Detective Jones also testified: "There around the curve,
come [sic] a van around the curve, [Defendant] actually went
in their lane and forced them off into the emergency lane
closer to grass." Detective Jones testified that when
Defendant turned onto Pond Ridge Road, Detective Jones missed
the turn, and Sergeant Millsaps got behind Defendant and
continued the chase. Detective Jones turned around and drove
to the residence where Defendant had parked his car and fled
Wayne Church testified that he is a commercial painter and
knows Defendant. He learned of Defendant's arrest on
December 30, 2010, and at some point went to "Robert
Hamilton's, " where Defendant's vehicle had been
towed, and took photographs. He identified the driver's
side fender of Defendant's Ford Escort and pictures of
the broken window and glass in the seat. Mr. Church testified
that the only damage to Defendant's car was to the
driver's window. He did not see any black paint or other
paint transfer on the vehicle.
cross-examination, Mr. Church testified that he and Defendant
are friends and are in a "ministry together called
Appalachian Youth Ministries." He had known Defendant
for ten years. Mr. Church admitted that he did not look at
Detective Jones' truck. He described Defendant's car
as an 80's model with a rubber bumper and no paint on the
bumper. He also stated that the bumper was "very, very
fragile." Mr. Church admitted that he could not tell if
the car had been in an accident because he was not present at
the time. He said that his vehicle was not registered in the
"Kingdom of Heaven."
Champion, a realtor, testified that she lives on Pine Ridge
Road in Coker Creek. She has known Defendant for
"maybe" six or seven years. Defendant worked as a
caretaker for her sister's house in Coker Creek. On
December 30, 2010, Ms. Champion had been sleeping when
Defendant came to her house and asked to use the phone. She
said that he seemed to be afraid and in a panic. Ms. Champion
thought that she saw blood "somewhere." She thought
that it may have been on Defendant's hand.
testified that on December 30, 2010, he was living on Pine
Ridge Road in Coker Creek. He said that he was in a
"full-time ministry as a youth missions
coordinator." Defendant did not believe that he was
speeding prior to being pulled over by Sergeant Millsaps. He
said that when he saw blue lights, he pulled over "just
before Mecca Pike, on the right-hand side" shoulder of
the road. Defendant testified that he recognized Sergeant
Millsaps as he approached Defendant's car because of
Sergeant Millsaps "stature and his size." He also
indicated that Sergeant Millsaps was present when he had been
pulled over "twice before."
testified that he presented his driver's license to
Sergeant Millsaps. The license was issued by "KOH,
" which stands for "Kingdom of Heaven."
Defendant said that "KOH" is an organization based
out of Oregon. Concerning "KOH, " Defendant
testified: "I did some research. I called them. They
referred me to the state department. I verified their
credentials, and that's how I met them." Defendant
said that he believed his driver's license was valid
because "they had referred me to the State department
and the state department confirmed what they had told
me." Defendant testified that he had the "KOH"
driver's license for a year, and he had been pulled over
in Ranger, North Carolina, but the officer never told him the
license was invalid. He said that he had also been pulled
over in Decatur, Tennessee and had no reason to believe his
license was invalid.
his encounter with Detective Millsaps, Defendant testified:
After I handed Mr. Millsaps the license, he had asked for the
registration card, so I handed him the registration. At that
point, he'd asked me for the insurance. When I went to go
for the insurance - - I have a little portfolio with my
documents, and when I went to get the insurance papers, he
told me to exit the vehicle.
Because it was cold that night, I rolled up my window, and
when I went to open the door, I heard a thump, and I
couldn't open the door. When I looked up, I heard another
- - it wasn't a thump, but it was kind of like a bang,
like a noise on the window, and then that - - the first time,
I didn't realize it then, but his flashlight had hit the
window and bounced off. The second time, it broke the window
and hit me in the head. The third time, it came in and then
hit me in the face.
claimed that he gave Sergeant Millsaps everything that he
requested and complied with all of his instructions. He said
that he rolled his window up and attempted to open the door
when Sergeant Millsaps told him to get out of the car because
Defendant "assumed" that the officer was going to
place him under arrest. Defendant said that he could not
completely open the door because there was a
"thump" that he thought was either Sergeant
Millsaps' foot or hand against the door. ...