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Owens v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

August 31, 2017

DANNY O. OWENS
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs May 10, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Lawrence County No. 32740 Stella L. Hargrove, Judge

         The Petitioner, Danny O. Owens, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his second degree murder conviction, alleging he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

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

          John S. Colley, III, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Danny O. Owens

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ruth Anne Thompson, Senior Counsel; Brent A. Cooper, District Attorney General; and Christi L. Thompson, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE

         FACTS

         The Petitioner was indicted for the first degree premeditated murder of his wife and, following a jury trial, convicted of the lesser offense of second degree murder. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to twenty years at 100%. This court affirmed the trial court's judgment on direct appeal, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied the Petitioner's application for permission to appeal. State v. Danny Owens, No. M2012-02717-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 1173371, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 24, 2014), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 25, 2014).

         This court's opinion on direct appeal reveals that law enforcement officers responded to a deceased-person call at the Petitioner's residence on February 8, 2009, where they discovered the victim's body sitting in a rocking chair in the living room. Id. A revolver was found near the victim's body, and a single bullet had entered the victim's right cheek, causing multiple wounds to her face, shoulder, and arm. The Petitioner told the officers that the victim had committed suicide, explaining that the victim suffered with painful medical conditions and had confronted him about having an affair. Id. at *2-3. The victim suffered from diabetes, arthritis, knee problems, and stress fractures in her feet, for which she was undergoing treatment and taking medications, but her health had never kept her from working. Id. at *4-5. A few days before her death, the victim told her adult daughter that she believed the Petitioner was having an affair. The victim had complained about the Petitioner's infidelity on other occasions but had never appeared suicidal. Id. at *5.

         Two days before the victim's death, while the victim's mother and the victim were talking on the telephone, the victim's mother overheard the Petitioner tell the victim, "I bought myself a [.]357. . . . I'm going to kill your God d*** ass." Id. at *6. The day before her death, the victim was in a "very good" mood and was buying Valentine's gifts. Also, the victim was "really looking forward" to her son's wedding in May and had requested vacation time from her employer to attend the wedding in Florida. Id. at *5.

         The Friday before her death, the victim told one of her co-workers, Melba McKey, that she was going to confront the Petitioner about his affair. Id. at *9. Ms. McKey had known the victim for twelve years and had seen physical signs of her turbulent marriage, including bruises on her neck and arm. When she asked the victim about the bruises that resembled fingerprints on her neck, the victim said that the Petitioner had choked her. Id. The victim's supervisor also had worked with the victim for twelve years and had observed bruises on the victim's wrists and arms on several occasions. Id. at *8.

         Deputy Donald Ward with the Giles County Sheriff's Department was dispatched to the Petitioner's residence on June 22, 2003, after a neighbor reported a domestic disturbance between the victim and the Petitioner. Id. He observed that the victim had an injury inside her mouth on her lower lip, a scratch under her left jaw, and a swollen ...


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