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Hayes v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

June 28, 2017


          April 11, 2017 Session

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 08-03864 Paula Skahan, Judge

         The Petitioner, Andrew Hayes, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his first degree felony murder and aggravated robbery convictions, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

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

          James Jones, Jr., Bartlett, Tennessee, for the appellant, Andrew Hayes.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Muriel Malone, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Timothy L. Easter and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.


          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE


         The Petitioner was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of the August 2007 first degree felony murder and aggravated robbery of the victim, Danny Harris. His conviction was affirmed by this court on direct appeal, and our supreme court denied his application for permission to appeal. State v. Andrew Hayes, No. W2010-02641-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 3192827, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 6, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 28, 2012).

          Our direct appeal opinion reveals that the victim's decomposing body was discovered in his Memphis apartment on October 26, 2007. Id. at *3. The medical examiner ruled that the cause of death was "[b]lunt force injuries of the head and asphyxia, " and a computer analysis of the victim's pacemaker indicated that "all heart activity had ceased on August 20, 2007." Id. at *7. The Petitioner was developed as a suspect after his girlfriend's mother, Janice Jefferson, who was known as "Snow, "[1]reported to the police that the victim's girlfriend had been selling the victim's possessions. Id. at *2. At the time, the Petitioner lived in Snow's home with Snow and her daughter, Chawonna Jefferson, who was the Petitioner's girlfriend. A short while earlier, the home had also been occupied by the following individuals: the victim's girlfriend, Tammy Vance; Ms. Vance's daughter, Sarah Lucas; and Ms. Lucas's boyfriend, Miguel. When Ms. Vance moved into the home toward the end of August 2007, she had a black eye and a scratch on her face. Ms. Vance informed Snow that the victim "had hit her in the eye because he was drinking" and that he had, as a consequence, recently entered "rehab." Id. at *1.

         During the time they lived in the home, Ms. Vance and her daughter were driving "a real nice truck." According to Snow's trial testimony, the two women informed her that the vehicle belonged to the victim, who had given them permission to drive it while he was in rehab. Id. Snow eventually asked the trio to move out because they were not paying their portion of the utility bill. Id. According to Snow, Ms. Vance offered her a handgun as payment and also brought her a television that she claimed she had been given by a woman who lived around the corner. Id. Later, Ms. Vance sought Snow's assistance in selling the handgun and the victim's truck, telling Snow that the victim was going to be in rehab longer than initially planned and had instructed her to sell the items. Id.

         The Petitioner, who was not initially a suspect, was interviewed by police detectives because they believed he "had relevant information" due to his involvement with Ms. Vance and her daughter. Id. at *4. Our direct appeal opinion provides the following summary of the detectives' trial testimony with respect to those interviews:

During that first interview, the [Petitioner's] "story kept changing and changing and changing." Lieutenant [Bart] Ragland [of the Memphis Police Department] said that at that point, "it became obvious . . . that he knew more than he was telling . . . and that he had more involvement than just being a witness, " so they provided the [Petitioner] with Miranda warnings. The [Petitioner] had some difficulty reading the advice of rights form, so Lieutenant Ragland "read the entire thing to him and he understood it and we went over it." The [Petitioner] executed a written waiver of his rights at 3:15 p.m. on November 2, 2007, and he provided a statement at 5:57 p.m. that same day implicating Ms. Vance in the victim's murder, telling officers that he traveled with Ms. Vance and Ms. Lucas's boyfriend, Miguel, to an apartment in Cordova to get a 36 inch television. The [Petitioner] told officers that he opened a closed bedroom door inside the apartment because he "smelled the foul odor" and that he saw the victim's "body laying in the bed." He said Ms. Vance told him "not to worry" about the body because she and Miguel "were going to take care of it." The [Petitioner] described the body as "a white male, he was laying on his left side. He was about in his mid-fifties. He was medium build. His skin was turning black. His hair was brown, and he had a mustache, too." He said that he did not notice anything in the victim's mouth or any blood in the room. He said that he and Miguel loaded the television into the victim's truck and that Ms. Vance also removed "a VCR and a DVD player that was built together and DVD movies." He said that they left the victim's apartment and traveled back to the Depass Street residence to pick up Ms. Lucas so that Ms. Lucas could pawn the items. The [Petitioner] told Lieutenant Ragland that he did not tell anyone about seeing the corpse in the apartment because he was afraid that he would be charged with the victim's murder because he had helped move the television.
Lieutenant Ragland said the fact that the [Petitioner] was able to describe the victim as a white male was suspicious because "the state of decomposition of the victim at the time" made it difficult "to tell that was indeed a male white." Lieutenant Ragland said that he spoke with the [Petitioner] on a second occasion and that the [Petitioner] "gave a statement, but he stopped. . . . And he refused to sign the statement." Between the giving of the two statements, Lieutenant Mullins "interviewed" the [Petitioner], and "it became apparent that he had more involvement" than he had originally admitted. During the taking of the second statement, the [Petitioner] initially "admitted that he had actually been involved and hit the victim with a steel pipe" before he "recanted and said that, no, he didn't actually do it." Following this recantation, the [Petitioner] "became hysterical and started crying, and at that point, it became obvious [that officers] couldn't talk to him anymore." Shortly thereafter, the [Petitioner] was booked into the jail "on a forty-eight hour hold."
Lieutenant Ragland said that he became suspicious of the [Petitioner] when the details of the [Petitioner's] statement changed over tellings. Lieutenant Ragland admitted that he was not present when the [Petitioner] first admitted striking the victim with a pipe. He said that after recanting his admission of murder, the [Petitioner] blamed the victim's murder on Wayne Bobo, Snow, and Ms. Jefferson. He said that the [Petitioner] became "hysterical" and that it was impossible to continue the interrogation. Lieutenant Ragland denied that the [Petitioner] was upset at being accused of a crime he did not commit and said that the [Petitioner] was upset "[b]ecause he had admitted to his involvement and he knew he was up shit creek without a paddle, that's why." He said that the [Petitioner] immediately began recanting and blaming others "because that's what criminals do."
[Memphis Police Department] Sergeant Anthony Mullins testified that he became involved in the investigation when he arrived at the scene. Later, Sergeant Mullins interviewed the [Petitioner] after the [Petitioner] was "developed as a possible suspect." He recalled that when he first came into contact with the [Petitioner], the [Petitioner] was in Lieutenant Toney Armstrong's office. During that encounter, the [Petitioner] "could describe things in the apartment and describe things that happened and the more we asked him about what happened, he gave particular details that no one would know[ ] unless they ...

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