Assigned on Briefs July 25, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 12-02872 James
M. Lammey, Judge
jury trial, the defendants, Leon Denton and Devan Denton,
were convicted of three counts of aggravated rape, one count
of facilitation of aggravated rape, one count of facilitation
of especially aggravated robbery, and two counts of
facilitation of aggravated robbery. On appeal, the defendants
assert the evidence was insufficient to support their
convictions, arguing the State failed to overcome the defense
of duress. The defendants also claim their right to a speedy
trial was violated. Independently, Leon Denton argues his
convictions violate double jeopardy. Following our review, we
affirm the judgments of the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal
Claiborne Ferguson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Shannon M. Davis, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David
H. Findley, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich,
District Attorney General; and Josh Corman, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Alan E. Glenn and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.
ROSS DYER, JUDGE
case involves five perpetrators and three victims. In the
early morning hours of October 16, 2011, Leon Denton, Devan
Denton, Antonio Howard, James Kerrigan, and Brian Norwood
committed several crimes against three female
victims. As a result, the five men were jointly
indicted on May 31, 2012 in Indictment No. 12-02872 for six
counts of aggravated rape (Counts 1 through 6), one count of
especially aggravated robbery (Count 7), two counts of
aggravated robbery (Counts 8 and 9), and three counts of
aggravated assault (Counts 10, 11, and 12).
various requests of the five co-defendants, the trial date in
this matter was reset multiple times over the next two years.
On February 5, 2014, the trial court set a final trial date
for September 29, 2014. At the February resetting, the State
announced its intent to possibly sever some of the defendants
prior to trial. First, however, Antonio moved to sever his
case from his co-defendants, and the State agreed. The trial
court granted severance, and Antonio was tried and convicted
on September 29, 2014. Subsequently, Leon filed a motion to
dismiss claiming the trial court "improperly severed him
out of the trial and thus violated his speedy trial rights
and the case has now been tried to a jury, thus implicating
double jeopardy/improper severance." The trial court
denied Leon's motion, and the present defendants were
tried together on August 31, 2015.
three victims, K.W., L.G., and C.C., testified at the
defendants' trial. The trial began with testimony from K.W.
who explained that on October 15, 2011, L.G. and C.C. came to
her apartment at the Mount Moriah Trails Apartments in Shelby
County before going to a nightclub around 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.
While at the club, L.G. ordered one drink. K.W. stated none
of the women were intoxicated when they left the club around
2:00 or 3:00 a.m. As the three friends left the club that
night, L.G. asked a man in the parking lot for a cigarette
lighter. The man, whom the women later learned to be Antonio,
gave L.G. a lighter and the two began talking. The
conversation led to the women agreeing to hang out with
Antonio and James at K.W.'s apartment. The men and the
women drove towards K.W.'s apartment in separate cars.
Antonio motioned for the women to stop at a gas station. When
they stopped, the women realized five men in two separate
cars were actually following them to the apartment. These men
included Antonio, James, Brian, and the defendants. The men
bought beer and cigarillos at the gas station, and the group
continued to K.W.'s apartment.
apartment, the three women, Antonio, and Brian sat at a table
while James and the defendants sat in the living room. The
group smoked marijuana and drank beer for approximately one
hour. However, within a span of about twenty minutes, a gun
fell from each of Antonio's and Brian's pockets,
changing the mood of the evening. K.W. explained when
Antonio's gun fell out of his pocket, she did not know
what to do. Shortly thereafter, Brian's gun fell out of
his pocket. As a result, K.W. asked everyone to leave because
it was "getting late." Leon, Devan, Brian, and
James moved towards the door, but Antonio asked to use the
restroom. When Antonio came out of the restroom, he had his
"gun drawn" and yelled, "This is a
robbery." Antonio ordered the women to take off their
clothes. K.W. initially thought he was joking, but upon the
realization that he was not, told Antonio to take whatever he
wanted. Antonio hit her in the face three times fracturing
her eye socket. K.W. then lost consciousness.
testified that she realized Antonio was not joking when he
ordered her, K.W., and C.C. to take off their clothes.
Antonio grabbed her and "twirled [her] around" in
front of the other men, asking if anyone liked what they saw.
Antonio then pointed his gun at her and "made [her]
perform oral sex [on Antonio] on the couch in front of
them." L.G. was then forced into the bedroom with
Antonio and Leon. She explained what happened in the bedroom
[Antonio] led me to the room, and he had the gun. And he told
me to get down and give him some head. And then [Antonio] got
another guy in there with him to - so he could get some head.
[Antonio] got behind me and started having sex with me; and
then [Leon] got in front, and I had to give him oral sex. And
the guy that I had to give oral sex to ejaculated in my
mouth, and made me swallow.
L.G. testified that Antonio did not threaten Leon into
engaging in oral sex with her and Antonio did not point his
gun at him. Rather, L.G. stated Leon "made like he
didn't want to, but he did it. I mean, he didn't pull
back." Devan then entered the bedroom. Antonio said,
"Oh man, get you some, " and L.G. was forced to
perform oral sex on Devan. She again explained Antonio did
not threaten or force Devan into receiving oral sex from
L.G., but rather, "there was no pull back. He did
testified that she turned her head while Antonio forced L.G.
to give him oral sex on the couch. When Antonio and Leon took
L.G. to the bedroom, C.C. was left in the living room with
Devan, James, and Brian who was standing by the door. K.W.
was unconscious on the floor. C.C. watched as Antonio and
Leon walked to the bedroom. C.C. testified that she did not
hear Antonio threaten Leon, explaining their interaction
"wasn't like anything forceful." She further
stated, "[Leon's] decision was to go" into the
Leon, Antonio, and L.G. left the living room, C.C. noticed
K.W. "start to come to." K.W. asked Brian for
help, but he did not move. As a result, C.C helped K.W. onto
the couch and got ice for K.W.'s eye which was swollen
shut. C.C. realized that while she was in the kitchen getting
ice, Devan left the living room. Antonio then reentered the
living room and said, "Let's get all the
stuff." Antonio ordered the women into the bathtub where
they stayed for approximately ten minutes. When the women
exited the bathroom, armed with brushes and hairspray, they
saw the apartment door wide open and the men were gone. The
women quickly dressed and drove to L.G.'s mother's
home where the police and an ambulance were called.
James and Brian, testified against the defendants at trial.
James explained Antonio is his brother and Leon and Devan are
his cousins. He stated he bumped into Antonio, Brian, Leon,
and Devan on Beale Street the night of October 15, 2011. The
men left Beale Street and went to a nightclub where they met
the female victims in the club parking lot. According to
James, the two groups agreed to go back to K.W.'s
apartment "to hang out and have fun." After
stopping at a gas station, the groups arrived at the
apartment where they smoked marijuana and drank beer. James
stated that both Antonio and Brian's guns fell out of
their pockets, but the mood among the groups did not change
until Antonio "upped his gun." Antonio then
controlled the evening. Specifically, James testified Antonio
came out of the bathroom with his gun raised, telling the
women to get on the ground and get naked. When K.W. laughed,
Antonio hit her and she fell to the ground. Antonio then made
L.G. give him oral sex, while the men were "just
standing on the wall." According to James, Antonio
"asked all of [the men] did we like what we see. We told
him, 'No, ' that we didn't get down like that.
That's when he said, more for him."
saw Antonio and Leon go to the bedroom with L.G. He stated
Antonio "put his arm around [Leon] and told him to come
to the back with him" absent any threats or use of
force. James heard "sexual moans" coming from the
bedroom and realized Antonio was raping L.G. During the rape,
Devan stated he was ready to leave and went to the bedroom to
get Leon. As a result, "Antonio came out [of the
bedroom] and told him we weren't going nowhere until he
gets what he wants." James stated "[a]fter that,
[Antonio] went back into the room and continued to rape the
girl." Antonio came out of the bedroom again
"telling [them] to get the TVs." As Antonio gave
the order, Devan entered the bedroom. James soon entered the
bedroom in order to take a TV and saw "[t]he girl
performing oral sex on [Devan]." Only Devan and L.G.
were in the bedroom at the time.
then told the women to get into the bathtub, threatening to
kill K.W. if they did not comply. James testified that he
stepped in between Antonio and K.W., telling Antonio he would
not let him kill her, but Antonio pushed him out of the way.
With the women in the bathtub, the men left the apartment
with two TVs, a laptop, and three cell phones. After they
left the apartment, James ended up with the three stolen cell
phones. The police were able to track one of the phones, and
James was ...