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State v. Collier

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

June 20, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
COLLIER

          Assigned on Briefs May 17, 2017, at Knoxville

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 14-05232 James M. Lammey, Judge

         A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Christopher Collier, of theft of property valued at $1, 000 or more but less than $10, 000, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to twelve years of incarceration as a persistent offender. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Stephen C. Bush, District Public Defender; Harry E. Sayle III (on appeal) and William Johnson (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Christopher Collier.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Chris Lareau, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., joined.

          OPINION

          JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         The Defendant and his co-defendants, Ephram Collier and Chester Dickson, were indicted on theft of property valued at $1, 000 or more but less than $10, 000 for stealing a trailer and lawn equipment belonging to Mr. Kenneth Knox, a landscape contractor, during the early morning hours of May 15, 2014. Mr. Ephram Collier also was charged with evading arrest. We glean from the record that the co-defendants subsequently entered guilty pleas regarding the charges. The Defendant, however, chose to proceed with a trial.

         During the trial, Mr. Roderick Smith testified that at the time of the offense, he was staying with his cousin, who lived next door to Mr. Knox in Memphis. Mr. Smith had just put down his infant son for the night when he heard dogs barking in the backyard. He looked outside and saw two men walking around Mr. Knox's trailer. Mr. Smith could not see the faces of the men because it was dark outside. He said that both men were African American, that one man was short and had a "low" haircut, and that the other man was tall and had small dread locks. Mr. Smith saw one man get into the front passenger seat of a truck and another man get in the back seat. Mr. Smith and his cousin went outside, and Mr. Smith saw the truck with the two men inside driving away with Mr. Knox's trailer. Mr. Smith notified Mr. Knox, who then left in his truck to search for the trailer.

         Mr. Smith testified that police officers arrived four to six minutes later and took statements from the witnesses. A short time later and after Mr. Knox returned to his home, an officer reported that a trailer had been located a short distance from Mr. Knox's home. The officer transported Mr. Smith and Mr. Knox to the trailer, which was approximately three to five minutes away from Mr. Knox's home, and Mr. Knox identified his property.

         On cross-examination, Mr. Smith testified that the incident occurred sometime after midnight. He said he was alerted by the dogs, which generally did not bark unless someone was walking around the backyard area. Mr. Smith stated that when he looked outside, he saw a white Jeep backing into the trailer and two men walking around the Jeep. He did not see the men hooking the trailer up to the Jeep but said that he saw one man jump into the back seat of the Jeep and another man jump into the front passenger seat. Mr. Smith did not see anyone enter the Jeep on the driver's side. He subsequently saw the Jeep drive away and turn right down North Watkins Street.

         Mr. Kenneth Cox testified that in May 2014, he was a landscape contractor in Memphis and lived on North Watkins Street. He owned a trailer that he had purchased new for $700. He also owned a Honda self-propelled push mower that he had purchased for $1, 200 and a zero-turn riding mower that he had purchased for $2, 500. He kept the trailer and mowers chained to an oak tree between his carport and ...


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