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State v. Myles

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

July 11, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs May 17, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Hamilton County No. 286113 Thomas C. Greenholtz, Judge

         A jury convicted the Defendant, Tedarrius Lebron Myles, of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. The Defendant appeals, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdicts, that hearsay evidence regarding the Defendant's identity was admitted in error, and that the State failed to qualify an expert witness to testify. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient and that the Defendant cannot demonstrate plain error in the admission of evidence, and we accordingly affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Lloyd A. Levitt (at trial) and Michael L. Acuff (at motion for new trial and on appeal), Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tedarrius Lebron Myles.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Robert W. Wilson, Assistant Attorney General; Neal Pinkston, District Attorney General; and Brian Finlay and Kristen Spires, Assistant District Attorneys 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.




         The victim, Shaphan Word, [1] was shot from behind while taking a walk during the early morning hours of August 15, 2012, and the video surveillance system of a nearby church captured the shooting. The victim was left paralyzed from the chest down. The victim did not see his assailant, and establishing the Defendant's identity hinged on the video footage from the church's security system.

         Prior to trial, the Defendant moved to exclude evidence that he had robbed the victim four or five days before the shooting took place. At the pretrial hearing, the victim testified that the Defendant robbed him and stated that a member of the Defendant's gang had approached him two days after the robbery to determine whether the victim intended to retaliate. The victim testified that he had told the man that he did not intend for it "to go to the level of … shooting anybody." The trial court initially denied the motion to exclude the evidence but ultimately granted a motion to reconsider, and it determined that any references to the robbery would be inadmissible.

         At trial, the victim testified that at the time of the shooting, he was working as a cashier at a business located very near his home. He generally worked from around 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon until midnight. On August 14, 2012, he went to work in the afternoon, and he left work in the early morning of August 15, 2012. After work, the victim walked to his home to drop off his apron and then walked to his brother's home nearby. The victim's habit was to take a walk around the neighborhood after work, and when the victim's brother did not answer the door, the victim proceeded to walk along his "normal route, " wearing headphones and listening to music. The victim was shot in the back, and the bullet exited through his neck. He was left with paralysis from the chest down and now uses a wheelchair. The victim did not see his assailant.

         Investigator Matthew Puglise of the Chattanooga Police Department testified that a neighbor called 911 when he heard three shots and a shout for help. When Investigator Puglise arrived, the victim had already been removed by medical personnel. The victim's clothing, wallet, hat, unopened beer, small marijuana cigarette, music player, and headphones were still on the scene. The neighbor who had called the police alerted officers that a church located nearby was equipped with a security system. Law enforcement went to the church the next day, and Officer Caleb Brooks documented the exterior location of the cameras on the building.

         Mark Hamilton, a civilian employee of the Chattanooga Police Department, extracted videos from the church's security system. Mr. Hamilton testified that the cameras were equipped with sensors and with infrared lighting. The sensors would tell the cameras to switch to infrared mode based on ambient light. He identified the videos that he had extracted and testified that one individual's shirt appeared to switch from dark colored to light colored because the camera had, for an unknown reason, switched to infrared mode. He testified that the color and brightness of items might appear different under infrared light than under sunlight, based on whether the color absorbed or reflected infrared light.

         The videos extracted from four different cameras on the outside of the church were played for the jury. The videos showed three young men passing by the church approximately one hour and forty-five minutes before the shooting. The cameras then captured the victim walking through the church parking lot, listening to music. In the background, two young men can be seen approaching, one on a bicycle. The cameras captured the shooter walking through the parking lot on foot and shooting the weapon. Simultaneously, a different camera captured the victim collapsing. The muzzle of the weapon flashed twice on the video recording. Mr. Hamilton testified that because security footage generally records at most thirty frames per second, it is unusual to capture any flashes on film. He testified that because a gunshot takes place in such a short time period, it is more likely to happen between recorded frames and that surveillance footage is more likely to show a recoil from the weapon firing than a flash from the muzzle.

         Investigator Puglise testified that at the time he viewed the video footage on August 16, 2017, he had been given a nickname possibly associated with the shooter: "Peanut." He matched the nickname to the Defendant. On cross-examination, he acknowledged that he knew at least two individuals in Chattanooga other than the Defendant who went by the nickname "Peanut." On redirect examination, he clarified that he had three sources for the nickname "Peanut": Investigator Karl Field, Sergeant Joe Shaw, and the victim's sister. He acknowledged that all of the information regarding the nickname came to him third hand and that Sergeant ...

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