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State v. Watson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

August 17, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs Date: July 19, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Stewart County No. 2015-CR-36 David D. Wolfe, Judge

         A Stewart County jury convicted the Defendant, Mark L. Watson, of vandalism of property valued at $1, 000 or more but less than $10, 000. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to two years on probation. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Shipp R. Weems, District Public Defender, and Richard D. Taylor, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Mark L. Watson.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M. Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; W. Ray Crouch, Jr., District Attorney General; and Erin D. Bryson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.




         Mr. Billy Stavely, the victim, testified that he has two residences: one in Stewart County and one in Glen Carbon, Illinois. He stated that he has lived at the Stewart County residence with his wife since 1999 and that he purchased an adjacent property, which is located "on the same farm." He purchased the adjacent property from an estate left by a woman to her three children: Mr. Gary Watson, Ms. Kathy Watson, and the Defendant. Mr. Stavely explained that on the adjacent property, there is a shed and "the remnants of a house trailer." He testified that the shed and trailer were on the land when he closed on the property on June 11, 2014, and that he intended to rent the trailer. He denied ever stating that he would burn or demolish the trailer. Mr. Stavely testified that he told Ms. Watson, the estate's executor, that she "had all the time she wanted to remove a china cabinet" that belonged to her family. He also testified that the trailer contained "[n]early everything that anyone needed to live in a house" and that he began cleaning and getting rid of items he did not want on September 5, 2014. He stated that after he was done cleaning that day, he secured the back exterior door by screwing boards across the door frame, and he locked the front exterior door. He explained that the front door could be opened with a credit card when locked, a fact that he learned from Mr. Watson.

         Mr. Stavely left the trailer in the afternoon of September 5, 2014, and did not return until the afternoon of September 6, 2014. When he returned, he discovered the front door still locked and the back door "kicked open." He stated that that the trailer was in a "damaged condition" and "in total disarray, " that the walls were "knocked down" and "ripped off, " and that "[s]ome of the windows were knocked out." Mr. Stavely identified photographs showing that "the electrical wiring and the wall had been totally demolished, " that the washer and dryer were removed, that items were piled on the couch, that some of the wainscoting had been "torn" from the wall, and that a wire had been ripped out from the floor up to the ceiling. He noted several other photographic exhibits showed damage to the dry wall and electrical wiring in every room of the trailer and to the furnace. He also testified that there was damage to the exterior of the trailer as well, including missing electrical wiring and a missing air conditioner. He estimated that the coil located inside the air conditioning unit had a replacement cost of several hundred dollars.

         Mr. Stavely testified that upon discovering the damage to the trailer, he reported the damage to the Sheriff's Department. He testified that he also called Ms. Watson and informed her that she should retrieve her china cabinet because he feared further damage to the trailer. He stated that he purchased the property and trailer for $7, 500, characterizing the purchase as "an extreme bargain, " but that the trailer had a value of around $15, 000 to $18, 000. He originally estimated that the damage to the trailer to be around $6, 000 to $7, 000.

         Mr. Stavely testified that prior to the vandalism, he spoke by telephone with the Defendant about the trailer. Mr. Stavely also testified that during their telephone conversation, the Defendant informed him that he would not let Mr. Watson sell the trailer for the price Mr. Watson requested because he believed it was worth more than Mr. Watson's asking price. Mr. Stavely stated that he did not speak to the Defendant at any point between their conversation and the vandalism. He also stated that after the vandalism, he spoke with the Defendant by telephone, and the Defendant asked him not to pursue charges against him.

         On cross-examination, Mr. Stavely testified that he did not have prior contact with the Defendant before speaking with him by telephone about the trailer. He also testified that he did not have a bill of sale for the trailer because the trailer was permanently attached to the real estate. He stated that between June 2014 and September 2014 the trailer did not have "water service." When asked by defense counsel whether there was a water pump or city water supply on the property, Mr. Stavely answered in the affirmative and stated that he did not check whether the pump was working because the pump was stolen. Mr. Stavely testified that he had not yet rented the trailer. He stated that following the vandalism, he had a contractor go to the trailer and assess the damage but did not request an estimate for the cost of repair. He testified that he did not recall whether the ...

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