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State v. Farris

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

July 12, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs at Knoxville May 17, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 15-01058 J. Robert Carter, Jr., Judge

         A jury convicted the Defendant, Sean Farris, of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve ten years and six months in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court improperly allowed the admission of prior convictions; (2) the trial court unreasonably limited cross-examination of the victim; (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; and (4) his sentence is excessive. We affirm the trial court's judgment.

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

          John R. Holton, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Sean Farris.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Alexander C. Vey, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Dru Carpenter and Gavin Smith, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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



         This case arises from the victim being held at gunpoint and robbed of his keys, laptop, and wallet. A Shelby County grand jury indicted the Defendant and his co-defendant, Darryl Goodman, for aggravated robbery. At a trial on the charges, the parties presented the following evidence: The victim testified that on August 30, 2014, he lived at the Graham wood Apartments on Summer Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. On that date, the victim arrived home from church with his wife and daughter after dark, between 7:30 and 8:00 p.m. He parked his red Ford Expedition next to a light brown or cream-colored Chevrolet Avalanche that was facing the street. The victim noticed that there were three people inside the vehicle: one in the front passenger seat and two in the back seat. He recalled that there were also some men standing outside of the Chevrolet Avalanche.

         The victim testified that, after parking his truck, he and his wife and daughter, exited his truck, and walked toward their apartment. As he was walking to his apartment, one of the men that had been seated in the back seat of the Avalanche approached him and began asking questions about the apartment complex office. The victim turned toward the man and saw him pull a black semi-automatic gun from his waistband and point it at the victim. The man demanded the victim's laptop, wallet, and keys. The victim described the key chain holding his keys as having a red heart and a hat on the key ring. The victim testified that he was scared as he handed the items over to the man. He said that, after he turned over the items, the man ordered him to "get out." The victim began walking away and, when he looked back over his shoulder, he saw the man getting into the Avalanche.

         The victim testified that he went to his apartment and asked his wife to call the police. When the police arrived, he described the Avalanche and events of the evening to the police. Later, he met with detectives at the police station and identified the Defendant from a photographic lineup. The victim stated that he saw the Avalanche at his apartment complex again three days after the robbery on September 2, 2014, at 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. The victim confirmed that Detective Perea returned his keys to him. He agreed that none of the other stolen items were returned and noted that he had both United States currency and Mexican currency in his wallet at the time it was stolen.

         The victim identified the Defendant in court as the man that had pointed the gun at him and taken his items. The victim stated that the Defendant's hair was longer at the time of trial than it had been at the time of the offense.

         Kory Payne, a Memphis Police Department ("MPD") officer, testified that he responded to a report of a robbery on August 30, 2014, at Grahamwood Apartments. He met with the victim, who spoke Spanish. The victim's wife translated for the victim. Officer Payne described the victim's demeanor as "very upset, disoriented, " and "extremely bothered." The victim, through his wife, described the vehicle he had seen the perpetrator leave in, a "tannish-gray" Chevy Avalanche, and Officer Kayne relayed the description to other officers via police radio.

         Malcolm Smith, an MPD police officer, testified that, on September 2, 2014, he located a vehicle matching the description provided by the victim. The vehicle was backed into a driveway of a residence located on Breedlove Street. As Officer Smith observed the vehicle, three individuals exited the residence and got into the vehicle. The police later stopped the vehicle and took all three individuals into custody. One of the individuals, the driver, was the co-defendant in this case.

         Sam Blue, an MPD officer, testified that on September 2, 2014, he searched the Avalanche associated with this case. While doing so, Officer Blue found a .380 caliber handgun under the right rear passenger seat of the vehicle and a .22 caliber revolver on the right side of the driver's seat between the console and "the floor of the driver's seat."

         Jason Gallardo, a former MPD officer, [1] testified that, on September 28, 2014, he responded to a call about a "suspicious person" at Macon Pointe Apartments in Memphis, Tennessee. He spoke with a man who provided a false name. Upon further investigation, Officer Gallardo confirmed that the man was the Defendant and learned that there was a warrant for the Defendant's arrest for an aggravated robbery. While detaining the Defendant, Officer Gallardo found Mexican currency in the Defendant's possession. Officer Gallardo stated that the currency held no significance to him at the time, so he returned the currency to the Defendant. Later, during transport of the Defendant, Officer Gallardo was unable to find the Mexican currency on the Defendant.

         David Payment, an MPD officer, testified that, on September 2, 2014, he reported to a residence on Breedlove Street with a metal detector to look for evidence in the area surrounding the residence. When he arrived, the owner was outside and gave consent for Officer Payment to search the backyard of the residence located next door to the residence where the Avalanche had been located. During the search, Officer Payment found a set of keys with "a silver colored hat and a red tag" located approximately ten feet from the fence separating the two properties.

         Jesus Perea, an MPD detective, testified that, in August 2014, he investigated the aggravated robbery at the Graham wood Apartments. On September 15, 2014, Detective Perea spoke with the victim and showed him a photographic line-up containing the Defendant's photograph. The victim pointed out, circled, initialed and then signed the booking photo of the Defendant.

         Detective Perea testified that, during the course of the investigation, he became aware of information that indicated there might have been "some sort of evidence" disposed of near a residence on Breedlove Street. The owner was the co-defendant's sister, Courtney Amos. Ms. Amos provided verbal and written consent to search around her residence. Officers also obtained permission from adjacent properties to search the backyards. The victim's ...

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