Assigned on Briefs April 11, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Carroll County No. 14CR49 Donald
E. Parish, Judge
Defendant, Larry Donnell Golden, Jr., was convicted by a
Carroll County Circuit Court jury of second degree murder, a
Class A felony, and reckless endangerment for discharging a
firearm into an occupied habitation, a Class C felony. He was
sentenced to an effective term of twenty-three years in the
Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues
that the trial court erred by sua sponte modifying the
Tennessee Pattern Jury Instructions relative to the charge of
reckless endangerment and that the State improperly commented
in its closing argument on his decision not to testify. After
review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit
Neil Thompson, Huntingdon, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Larry Donnell Golden, Jr.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David
H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Matthew F. Stowe, District
Attorney General; and R. Adam Jowers and Carthel L. Smith,
Jr., Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee,
State of Tennessee.
E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Timothy L. Easter and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.
E. GLENN, JUDGE
February 2, 2014, an altercation arose outside a home located
at 328 Hunt Street in Huntingdon, Tennessee, that led to the
Defendant's firing a gun at and/or into the residence.
Houston Dewayne Brown was shot and pronounced dead a short
time later at a hospital. The Defendant was indicted for
first degree premeditated murder on May 5, 2014, as a result
of the shooting of Mr. Brown. On October 21, 2014, the
Defendant was indicted for one count of reckless endangerment
for discharging a firearm into an occupied habitation. On
September 8, 2015, the Defendant was indicted for five
additional counts of reckless endangerment arising out of the
same set of facts, each count listing a specified victim. The
indictments were consolidated under one docket number, and
the case proceeded to trial. At the close of the State's
proof, after the trial court denied the Defendant's
motion for judgment of acquittal on the first degree murder
charge and was beginning to rule on the Defendant's
motion for judgment of acquittal regarding the reckless
endangerment charges, the parties announced that they had
reached an agreement wherein the State would dismiss all of
the reckless endangerment charges except for the one that was
originally Count 5 in the September 2015 indictment, at the
time known as Count 6 in the consolidated indictment. After
the Defendant's proof, the jury convicted the Defendant
of the lesser-included offense of second degree murder and of
State presented lengthy proof at trial from multiple
witnesses to support the charge of premeditated first degree
murder. However, the jury's verdict of second degree
murder renders most of this proof irrelevant to this appeal,
especially considering that the Defendant only appeals a
portion of the jury charge and the propriety of the
State's closing argument.
proof at trial showed that Houston Brown and his
fiancée, Sharmaine Algee, hosted a Super Bowl party on
February 2, 2014. An argument broke out between two of the
attendees, Jermaine Crawford and Shemile Adams. Mr. Adams
pinned Mr. Crawford against the wall during the course of a
verbal argument about a possible sexual assault committed by
Mr. Crawford sometime earlier. Ms. Algee asked Mr. Crawford
to leave, and Mr. Crawford went to Dorothy Williams'
house across the street.
Algee determined that Mr. Adams might have been mistaken
about Mr. Crawford, so she and Mr. Adams went across the
street to Ms. Williams' home to apologize to Mr.
Crawford. Mr. Crawford told them, "I'm not trying to
hear that shit. It's all about to be handled." Ms.
Williams later went to Ms. Algee's house and told her
that she had overheard Mr. Crawford on the phone telling
someone to "come strapped up, " meaning armed, but
Ms. Algee did not take Ms. Williams' information
later, the Defendant, Cedric Harris, and Jermaine Crawford
showed up in Ms. Algee's and Mr. Brown's front yard.
Mr. Brown, Mr. Adams, and Landon Gilbreath went outside to
meet them, and Mr. Brown told the Defendant and the two men
with him "that he couldn't have this at his house
because he was on parole and he couldn't afford for the
police to be there." However, Mr. Adams and Mr. Harris
started fighting. Ms. Algee saw that the Defendant had a gun
in his pocket and went back inside to call the police. While
Ms. Algee was on the phone with the dispatcher, several
gunshots sounded. After the gunfire stopped, it was
discovered that Mr. Brown had been fatally wounded.
Gilbreath saw Mr. Adams and Mr. Harris exchanging words in
the yard before fighting each other. The Defendant was on the
other side of the cars parked in the driveway. Mr. Harris
fell to the ground, and when Mr. Adams hit or kicked him, Mr.
Harris screamed something. After that, the Defendant began
firing. Mr. Gilbreath heard Mr. Brown say, "I'm hit,
" and then everyone "scattered."
Cherry, who testified for the Defendant, said that Mr. Harris
was down on the ground and Mr. Adams was kicking him. Mr.
Harris yelled, "Shoot, " after which Ms. Cherry saw
flashes coming from where the Defendant was standing and
heard Mr. Brown say that he had been shot.
Adams, who also testified for the Defendant, said that his
confrontation with Mr. Crawford at the Super Bowl party was
motivated by an incident several nights earlier at a
nightclub between Mr. Adams's girlfriend and Mr.
Crawford. Mr. Adams admitted pushing Mr. Crawford during the
confrontation at the party but then went across the street to
apologize to him. Sometime after returning to Mr. Brown's
house from apologizing to Mr. Crawford, Mr. Adams heard Mr.
Brown "ranting and raving" about Mr. Crawford. Mr.
Adams said that a short time later Mr. Brown and others left
in a hurry when they saw a group of men, including the
Defendant and Mr. Harris, approaching the front yard. Mr.
Adams and Mr. Harris exchanged words and began fighting. Mr.
Adams admitted to kicking Mr. Harris in the face while Mr.
Harris was on the ground. When Mr. Adams kicked Mr. Harris in
the head a second time, Mr. Harris yelled "shoot."
Defendant did not introduce any evidence at trial refuting
the fact that he fired a firearm during the altercation on
February 2, 2014. The State presented proof that the
Defendant made statements to several of his cellmates after
he was taken into custody, in which he admitted to firing the
shots. In particular, the Defendant told one cellmate that he
went to a ...