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Robbins v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

June 27, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs March 21, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Scott County No. 10780 E. Shayne Sexton, Judge

         The Petitioner, Teddy Robbins, Jr., was convicted after a jury trial of domestic assault, aggravated assault, especially aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated rape for crimes committed against his wife, and he was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of fifty years' imprisonment. The Petitioner filed a timely post-conviction petition, asserting that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel when his trial counsel failed to adequately prepare for trial and failed to present certain defense witnesses. After a hearing, the trial court found that counsel prepared adequately for trial, that a defense witness presented at the post-conviction hearing was not credible, and that the Petitioner failed to demonstrate any prejudice. The Petitioner appeals, contending that trial counsel's testimony at the hearing demonstrated inadequate preparation and that as a result, his strategic decision not to call a witness was not entitled to deference. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

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

          Jeffrey C. Coller, Jacksboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Teddy Robbins, Jr.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Jared R. Effler, District Attorney General; and David Pollard, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Timothy L. Easter and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.





         The Petitioner was arrested after beating the victim, his wife, from the morning of February 21, 2009, until the early morning hours of February 22, 2009, when the victim managed to call the police while the Petitioner was asleep. The victim testified at trial that the Petitioner inflicted various injuries on her by hitting and kicking her, choking her, and pulling out her hair. At one point, the victim fled the home with her five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter. The victim fell, and the Petitioner was able to grab one of the children, so the victim returned to the trailer. The Petitioner exhibited a knife to the victim throughout the ordeal and threatened to kill her, the children, and himself. At one point, he cut his own wrist with the knife, and he also cut the victim, poked her with the knife, and scraped the knife across her neck. The victim testified that the Petitioner left her alone in the home for two hours during the afternoon but told her he would kill her parents if she left. She was consequently afraid to leave at that time. The Petitioner returned with some acquaintances, who were uncomfortable because a police officer lived across the road. They stayed only a short time, and the Petitioner was again gone briefly.

         In the evening, the Petitioner did not let the victim out of his sight. At some point that night, the Petitioner ripped off the victim's clothes and raped the victim anally and orally at knife point. The victim testified that the Petitioner raped her anally and orally rather than vaginally because she was menstruating at the time. The Petitioner choked the victim until she lost consciousness. The Petitioner finally fell asleep on top of the victim, and she was able to remove herself without waking him. She called the police and asked them not to park in her driveway because she was afraid the Petitioner would notice them and kill her before they had a chance to enter the home. She opened the door to the officers, who had parked across the street and approached on foot, and she whispered to them that the Petitioner was in the other room. He was then arrested. Law enforcement saw a cut on the Petitioner's wrist, and he stated he had cut himself in an attempted suicide. Officers saw a knife at the scene but did not collect it into evidence. They collected the victim's shirt and torn bra, both of which had reddish brown stains. An agent from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation ("TBI") testified that no semen was found on either item. Law enforcement officers testified that the victim had various injuries and bruises and that handfuls of her hair were scattered about the house. The victim also sustained scratches at her throat from the knife.

         The victim refused medical treatment on the scene and did not tell law enforcement that she had been raped, although she testified that she told them that the Petitioner made her "do things [she] didn't want to do." She stayed at her home for a period of time to allow the children to sleep and because she did not want to wake her family. Finally, she called her sister, who accompanied her to the hospital. At the hospital, the victim was treated by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, who documented various bruises and injuries. Dr. Gupta asked the victim whether she had been raped, and the victim stated that she had not been raped. Dr. Gupta testified that a victim of sexual assault would be less likely to disclose assault in a busy emergency room to a stranger. She also testified that she believed some of her patients had difficulty relating to her because of her ethnicity.

         At trial, the victim testified that she was asked both by the nurses and by Dr. Gupta if she had been raped. She told them that she had not been raped because she was embarrassed, she did not want any invasive procedures to collect evidence, and she just wanted to go home as soon as possible. She was also reluctant to tell Dr. Gupta because Dr. Gupta had reprimanded her for talking on her cellular telephone in the examination room. However, the victim stated that she had told her sister she was raped. The victim's sister confirmed that the victim had told her she was raped and that she had begged the victim to tell medical personnel. The victim refused her sister's entreaties ...

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