Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs in Jackson on June 6, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2014-D-3175
Monte Watkins, Judge
Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Jeanet Marie
Covington, of aggravated arson, and the trial court sentenced
her to serve fifteen years in the Department of Correction.
The Defendant timely filed a motion for new trial, which the
trial court denied. The Defendant appeals the trial
court's denial of her motion, maintaining that the
evidence was insufficient to support her conviction. We
affirm the trial court's judgment.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Hammond, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jeanet
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ruth
Anne Thompson, Assistant Attorney General; Glenn R. Funk,
District Attorney General; and Deborah Housel, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Norma McGee Ogle, J.,
W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE.
case arises from a house fire that occurred on August 6,
2014. A Davidson County grand jury indicted the Defendant for
aggravated arson and domestic assault. At a trial on the
charges, the parties presented the following evidence:
Shetika Goode testified that she used to live on Fain Street.
She said that she had three children, ages fifteen, twelve,
and seven, who lived with her on August 6, 2014. Ms. Goode
noted that at the time of this event her son, who was
autistic, had recently been hospitalized for seven days due
to a "near drowning incident." Still recuperating
from this incident, he, along with his siblings, were in the
home at the time of the fire. While Ms. Goode lived in the
home with her three children, Deshawn Covington had been
"staying there" for a couple of days. Ms. Goode
confirmed that she was aware Mr. Covington lived with another
woman but was unaware that he was married.
Goode testified that August 6, 2014, was the first day of
school for her children. At the time, she worked third shift,
from 10:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m., at a manufacturing company.
After work, she returned home where Mr. Covington was
watching her children. She took her children to school and
then returned to the house. Mr. Covington was still at the
residence when she arrived. Shortly after she returned home,
someone knocked at the door. Ms. Goode looked out the window
and saw the Defendant, who was yelling "about a
prescription." According to Ms. Goode, the Defendant
claimed that she had learned that Ms. Goode had picked up the
Defendant's husband's, Mr. Covington's,
prescription and wanted to know Ms. Goode's name.
Goode testified that she began to open her door, and the
Defendant pushed her way inside and walked back to the
bedroom where Mr. Covington was sleeping. By the time Ms.
Goode made it to the bedroom, the Defendant was "on top
of [Mr. Covington] hitting him." The Defendant and Mr.
Covington began to "scuffle[ ] a little bit, " and
Ms. Goode warned them she was going to call the police. Ms.
Goode repeated that she was going to call the police and the
Defendant began "scuffling" with Ms. Goode. Ms.
Goode told Mr. Covington that she wanted the Defendant out of
her house, so Mr. Covington picked up the Defendant and
"started hauling her to the front door."
Goode testified that she began picking up items that had been
knocked to the floor during the altercation and called 911,
who advised that the police were already at her residence.
Ms. Goode went outside and found the Defendant talking with
police officers. Both the Defendant and Mr. Covington were
arrested. Twelve hours later, Mr. Covington was released from
jail, and Ms. Goode drove to the jail to pick him up. Mr.
Covington exited the building with the Defendant who appeared
"angry" that Mr. Covington was leaving with Ms.
Goode. To avoid another altercation, Mr. Covington flagged
down a police officer for assistance. Ms. Goode said that Mr.
Covington had obtained an order of protection against the
Defendant. Ultimately, Mr. Covington left with Ms. Goode, and
the Defendant left with her mother.
Goode testified that, when she arrived home, Mr. Covington
and his mother went inside while she remained outside and
spoke with LaFonda Matthews. Ms. Goode explained that her
daughter and Ms. Matthews's daughter were best friends.
Ms. Goode and Ms. Matthews walked into the house and to the
kitchen. Ms. Goode recalled that her three children were
asleep on the couch, Mr. Covington was in the bedroom, and
Mr. Covington's mother was standing next to the
television located near the entry of the house. Ms. Goode
charged her phone while in the kitchen and approximately
thirty minutes later, while still in the kitchen, she saw a
person outside the window. She said that she did not know
what it was at the time but that she saw "a person's
arm go up, I seen a glare."
Goode testified that the subsequent events "just kind of
happened fast." She looked to her left and saw smoke
coming out of her bathroom. She opened her back door and saw
the Defendant. She recognized the Defendant because of her
"distinctive" hair cut which Ms. Goode described as
"a low cut. It was shaved on the sides and on the back
and it had hair at the top." Ms. Goode began yelling for
her children to get out of the house because the house was on
fire. She grabbed her son, and the other children followed.
Ms. Goode then moved her car, so it would not catch on fire.
One of her daughters began having a panic attack.
Goode testified that Mr. Covington tried to put out the fire
but was unable to do so. Mr. Covington came from around the
back of the house and collapsed in the front yard. He was
later transported to the hospital in an ambulance. Ms. Goode
told the firemen that she needed to get her dog, a Shihtzu,
out of the house, but they would not allow her to reenter the
house. Firemen entered the residence and retrieved the dog
who was suffering an asthma attack.
Goode testified that she had moved into the residence on Fain
Street two months before the fire. She said
"everything" in the residence she had purchased new
for her new home. She had bought a new stove and refrigerator
on credit, and she had been unable to make the payments
following the fire. Ms. Goode confirmed that she did not have
renter's insurance at the time of the fire. Ms. Goode
confirmed that she lost "most" of her valuables in
Goode testified that, at the time of these events, she was
hysterical, in shock, and angry. Ms. Goode identified
photographs taken of her home and the resulting damage. Ms.
Goode confirmed that in 2009 she was convicted of theft.
Matthews testified that she was at the residence on Fain
Street on the night of August 6, 2014. She could not recall
the exact time but said that she had picked up her friend,
Ms. Smythe, from work and then gone to the Fain Street
residence. Ms. Matthews said that Ms. Smythe waited in the
car while she went inside to talk with Ms. Goode. Ms. Goode
and Ms. Matthews went into the kitchen so that Ms. Goode
could charge her cell phone. The women remained in the
kitchen talking about their daughters for about thirty
minutes when, through the window, she saw someone run
"in the alley, " and get into a car. Ms. Matthews
said that she smelled smoke, so went to the door and saw
"a great big fire." After seeing the fire, she
began yelling for everyone to get out of the house and
"as soon as [they] got out of the house, the house went
in flames." She described these events as having
"happened so quick."
Matthews testified that she did not see the Defendant's
face that night but based upon her shape and distinct
haircut, "a 27 piece, " she identified the
Defendant in court as the person she saw fleeing the Fain
Street residence in August 2014. Ms. Matthews stated that the
Defendant got into the driver's seat of the vehicle that
was parked in the alley located at the rear of the Fain
Street residence. Ms. Matthews stated that she had never seen
the Defendant before the night of the fire.
cross-examination,  Ms. Matthews testified that, when she saw
the Defendant running down the alley, the Defendant was
wearing a white t-shirt. She stated that she identified the
Defendant when the police returned the Defendant to the
scene. She said the Defendant had the same skin color, body