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State v. Williams

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

September 13, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs in Knoxville May 17, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 14-04175 Lee V. Coffee, Judge.

         A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Jimmy Williams, of aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a career offender to fifteen years in prison. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction and that the trial court erred in sentencing him as a career offender. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

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

          Laurie W. Hall (at trial and on appeal) and Juni Gangult (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jimmy Williams.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Abby Wallace, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and John Everett Williams, J., joined.



         I. Facts

         A. Trial

         This case arises from allegations that the Defendant assaulted the victim, Tracy Vaughn, on July 27, 2008, in a field behind some commercial establishments. With regard to these allegations, a Shelby County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant for two counts of aggravated rape. At trial, the parties presented the following evidence: The victim, who was in her late twenties at the time of these events, testified that during the night of July 26, 2008, and into the morning hours of July 27, 2008, she had been "hustling" in the neighborhood all night. At around 11:00 p.m. or 12:00 a.m., she saw the Defendant, whom she had never seen before, as she was leaving a night club. After she saw him, she continued "just hustling around in the neighborhood."

         At some point, the victim, who was with a "young man," went to a Mapco, which she described as a neighborhood store where people from the neighborhood would hang out. She and the young man were conversing about walking home, and the Defendant approached them and said that there was a nearby pathway that served as a shortcut to her destination. The victim said that she told the young man that something did not feel right to her and that she felt as if she was being watched. He agreed. The victim gave the man she was with a "couple of dollars" and told him to go home.

         The victim said that she saw the Defendant again at the Mapco and that, by then, it was daylight. He offered to show her the pathway because he was going that direction also. The victim recalled that at the time she had torn ligaments in her knee and could not run. When they arrived at the pathway she decided not to enter, telling the Defendant "no, I ain't going to go. I'm straight." As she turned to leave, the Defendant grabbed her and said, "Bitch, you not going nowhere."

         The victim testified that she protested, and the Defendant hit her. She said that he started beating her, hitting her face with a closed fist. The Defendant repeatedly told her that she was not going anywhere and that he "got" her. The victim said that the Defendant told her that she was going to "give him some head," and the victim told the Defendant that she had children. She said that the Defendant hit her again, telling her to perform oral sex upon him. The victim recalled that the Defendant removed his clothing and forced the victim to perform oral sex.

         The victim said that the Defendant told her that he had a house where he was going to take her, and she again reminded him that she had children and asked him not to hurt her. The Defendant told her to "[s]hut up" and started pacing. He said he could not let her go because he had beaten her too badly. The victim feared for her life and cooperated with the Defendant. She estimated that this ordeal lasted approximately two hours.

         The victim said that the Defendant pulled her toward a grassy area and again made her perform oral sex. He said he was going to get her "high," and she informed the Defendant that she did not use drugs. The Defendant then pulled out a box cutter that had a little curve on it, and he hit her in the head with that. The victim said that she grabbed a beer bottle that was on the ground and tried to hit the Defendant with it. She said that she did not think that the bottle broke but that, when she eventually went to the emergency room, she had the Defendant's blood on her.

          The victim recalled that some people walked by the area where the Defendant was hitting her. She screamed at them to help her. The Defendant told the people, "[T]his is my 'ho. This is my bitch, man. We just going through something." The people continued walking but must have called 911. About twenty or thirty minutes later, she and the Defendant were surrounded by police officers with guns. The victim was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

         The victim said that she suffered injuries to her head. She had swelling in her face, her head was swollen, and she had two black eyes. After being treated at the hospital, she was examined at the Rape Crisis Center, where she was photographed, examined, and interviewed.

         The victim said that, six years after this assault, a detective showed her photographs and she recognized the Defendant as her assailant. The victim admitted that she had been convicted of theft of property over thirty-five times.

         During cross-examination, the victim was asked about and responded to each of her theft convictions. She further explained that, on the night leading to this assault, she was "hustling," which meant that she was selling drugs. She agreed that, while she had testified that the Defendant only forced her to perform oral sex on him, she told police after this incident that he had also vaginally and anally raped her. The victim said that the Defendant had not anally raped her.

         The victim did not recall giving police details about a vaginal rape, including that he threatened her with a razor blade and choked her while pulling down her pants. She maintained that he only forced her to perform oral sex upon him. The victim said that her head trauma from the assault was to blame for the discrepancy in her statement and her testimony. The victim denied that the Defendant performed oral sex on her, and she said that the police department was "lying" if they included that she said that in the paperwork. She agreed that her statement reflected that she told the police that the Defendant "ate [her] p***y, and he also bit it." Her statement then included that he pulled out a tissue with a used condom in it. She then stated that the ...

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