Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs June 20, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2015-C-2248
Steve R. Dozier, Judge.
Ricky Lee Palmer, appeals from his conviction of aggravated
assault for which he was sentenced to six years. On appeal,
he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. We determine
that the evidence was monumentally sufficient to sustain the
conviction for aggravated assault. Therefore, the judgment of
the trial court is affirmed.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
B. Russ (on appeal) and W. Douglass Love (at trial),
Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ricky Lee Palmer.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ruth
Anne Thompson, Senior Counsel; Glenn R. Funk, District
Attorney General; and J. Wesley King, Assistant District
Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Alan E. Glenn and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ.,
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE.
Maria Deleta Flowers, and Scottie Lee Mofield were indicted
by the Davidson County Grand Jury for the aggravated assault
of a homeless man, Robert Vaughn. At trial, the fifty-year-old
victim explained that he was living in a homeless camp with
his friend, Dane McPeak, "in the Murfreesboro Road area
in between Thompson Lane and . . . Fesslers Lane area . . .
around Mill Creek." The camp was located near the Casa
Linda Apartments. The victim worked by "selling the
homeless paper" called "The Faith Unity."
Spaulding was the manager of the Casa Linda Apartments. At
the time of the incident, "90 percent" of the
residents were felons or formerly homeless. The victim and
Mr. McPeak used to live at Casa Linda but were evicted for
failing to pay their rent. Ms. Spaulding knew the men were
living behind the apartments.
evening of June 5, 2015, the victim "left the camp [on
foot] and . . . was going to the store to get something to
drink and a pack of cigarettes." He walked through the
woods and down a sidewalk before crossing the street to get
to the store. As the victim entered the store, he saw
Defendant, Ms. Flowers, and Mr. Mofield outside the store.
The victim recognized them "from moving up and down the
streets" but did not know their names at that time. The
victim went inside the store, purchased his drink and
cigarettes, and exited the store at approximately 10:00 p.m.
The three defendants were still outside.
victim sat his drink down on the steps right outside the
store and "[o]pened the pack of cigarettes to light a
cigarette and that's when everything started to happen
from there on." The victim was "approached" by
Ms. Flowers who asked if he could "spare a
cigarette" or part of his drink. When the victim
refused, Ms. Flowers "pushed [his] back, picked up the
beverage, [and] broke it on the ground, " telling the
victim that "nobody's going to drink the beer."
Defendant and Mr. Mofield "assaulted [the victim] from
the back and side, " hitting him "with their fists
repeatedly" all over his body. The victim was kicked in
the face, chest, back, stomach, and legs. The victim could
not fight back, instead "trying to cover up" to
protect himself. The victim had a knife in his pocket but was
unable to use it during the attack. The beating went on for
an undetermined period of time before the men "finally
just quit." The victim tried to get himself together to
"get back to [his] shelter as quick as [he] could."
victim managed to walk back to his camp. His face was
extremely swollen. One eye was "completely shut, "
and his "eyelid was hanging down on the lower part of
[his] face." He could not see out of his eye and was not
sure if he was actually blind from the beating. Mr. McPeak
described the victim's injuries as follows: "[h]e
had been severely beaten, " and the victim was bleeding
"profusely" from his nose, mouth, and eyes. Mr.
McPeak tried to help the victim bandage the wounds, but they
could not get the bleeding to stop. The victim did not call
911 because he was "in shock and in fear for [his]
life." He stayed up most of the night and described his
pain on a scale of one to ten as "above ten."
next morning, Mr. McPeak talked to Ms. Spaulding and
explained the situation. Initially, she gave him ten dollars
"to go get some bandages and stuff" to attend to
the victim's injuries. After she "thought about it
and pondered, " she called the fire department and the
police. Ms. Spaulding assisted the rescue squad in locating
the victim. They were able to track his location by following
a trail of blood. The victim was in "horrible"
condition when they found him. His "jaw was hanging . .
. down. He looked like something out of a horror show. His
eye was gone" and blood was "going fast" out
of his eyeball. The victim refused to go to the hospital
despite being asked to get medical treatment. Ms. Spaulding
called the victim later that day, urging him to go to the
hospital because she was ...