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State v. Downey

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

September 7, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs August 8, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2015-A-678 Mark J. Fishburn, Judge

         A Davidson County trial judge convicted the Defendant, Alonzo Christopher Downey, of domestic assault sentenced him to serve eleven months and twenty-nine days of probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

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

          Dwight Scott, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Alonzo Christopher Downey.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Lody Rosario Limbird, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.



         I. Facts

         This case arises from allegations that the Defendant assaulted the victim, Elishia Cheathem, on August 15, 2014, in her home. With regard to these allegations, a Davidson County grand jury indicted the Defendant for domestic assault. The Defendant waived his right to a jury trial, and a bench trial ensued, during which the parties presented the following evidence: The victim testified that she had been dating and living with the Defendant at the time of these events. She testified that on the morning of August 15, 2014, she had just finished the night shift at her workplace. She testified that the Defendant was scheduled to pick her up from work at 7:00 a.m. but was close to an hour late. Once the Defendant picked up the victim and took her to their shared home, he took the victim's eldest son to school while the victim's younger son remained in the home with her. Upon the Defendant's return to the home, the victim and the Defendant began arguing about why the Defendant was late to pick her up and where he had been. The Defendant told the victim that he was at a friend's house before picking up the victim from work and that he was late because he had fallen asleep.

         After the verbal argument, the victim hid the Defendant's phone in her son's bedroom. The victim then walked back to the living room and sat down on the couch. The victim said that she hid the phone because she "felt like he was cheating and [she] wanted to know what was going on." The victim stated that she planned to monitor the phone "to see if somebody would call, " so she would know with whom the Defendant had been spending time. After the victim hid the phone and before the Defendant left for work, the Defendant began getting angry and repeatedly told the victim to go get his phone. The victim replied that she did not know the location of the phone. The victim testified that the Defendant grabbed her arms and started pushing her and told her to "go get his phone." The victim further testified that the Defendant grabbed the upper part of her arms with both of his hands and applied pressure while he lifted her up from her seated position on the couch, causing her pain.

         The victim recalled that the Defendant repeatedly told her to go find his phone while he had a grip on her arms. When she refused, he "jerked [her] and [she] fell between the couch and the table." The victim testified that she hit her "bottom and [her] back" against the floor and experienced pain in both of those areas. While on the ground, the victim recounted that the Defendant was still "hollering" at her and told her that she was trying to make him lose his job. The victim then told the Defendant that she was not trying to make him lose his job, she "just want[ed] to know what's going on." The victim's youngest son came into the room, but the victim told him to go back into the bedroom where he had been. Once the victim stood up from the floor, she and the Defendant continued to argue. The victim said that the Defendant eventually left for work. He retrieved his phone a few hours later that day on his lunch break.

         The victim testified that she did not call the police until two days later, on Sunday August 17, 2014, explaining that she called 911 because she "wanted [the Defendant] to leave and not come back." The victim stated to the 911 operator that she told the Defendant to leave, and the Defendant "cussed her out and tried to come in the house anyways." The victim further expressed to the 911 operator that she had to work that night but did not want the Defendant to come back to her house while her two sons were there alone. The victim acknowledged that the Defendant had his own key to the house. It was during this phone call with the 911 operator that the victim first alerted the police that the Defendant had been physical with her two days prior. The victim stated that the Defendant "put his hands on [her], " on Friday and then "tried to suffocate [her] with a pillow" the next day. The victim then proceeded to give the 911 operator the Defendant's name, race, and what clothing he was last seen wearing. The victim told the operator that she did not need an ambulance. The State then played a recording of the victim's 911 call and entered it into evidence.

         The victim testified that two officers arrived at her house shortly after she called 911. The victim testified that she told the police officers about the Defendant jerking her to the ground on the previous Friday. She told the officers that she "didn't want [the Defendant] to get in trouble or get locked up." The victim also testified that she showed the police officers bruises on her arms and then another officer arrived at her house to take photographs of her bruises. The victim then accompanied the officers to the police station and obtained a temporary order of protection ...

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