Assigned on Briefs August 1, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 14-01032 Chris
Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Mario Patterson,
of first degree felony murder, and the trial court imposed a
mandatory life sentence. On appeal, the Defendant asserts
that the State failed to prove that he intended to commit a
robbery and, therefore, he was improperly convicted of first
degree felony murder. After review, we affirm the trial
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
W. Hall, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Mario
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee
W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney
General; and Tracye Jones, Assistant District Attorney
General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ.,
W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE
Shelby County grand jury indicted the Defendant and his
co-defendant, Dondre Johnson for the first degree felony
murder of David Santucci, the twenty-seven-year old victim.
The Defendant's and co-defendant's cases were
severed, and the Defendant's case proceeded to trial. At
trial, the parties presented the following evidence: Steven
Ferguson worked as a bouncer at the nightclub Rumba Room on
August 12, 2013. Mr. Ferguson was standing outside the Rumba
Room with some co-workers, smoking, at around 1:45 a.m. on
August 12. Mr. Ferguson observed a Pontiac driving south on
South Main Street, make a U-turn on South Main Street, and
begin driving north. The car appeared to back up "like
they was fixin to park" and then Mr. Ferguson heard a
gunshot. He immediately looked down the street and saw a man
hop into the Pontiac and then the Pontiac "peeled
out" and turned off of South Main Street onto Pontotoc
observing the Pontiac drive away, Mr. Ferguson and another
security guard walked ten to twenty feet down the street and
saw the victim lying on the ground with a gunshot wound to
his chest. Two "girls" had followed the men down
the street, and the other security guard asked one of them to
call the police and the other to apply pressure to the
victim's wound. The victim attempted to speak but was
unable to do so. Mr. Ferguson and the other security guard
provided a description of the car to the police, and the
Pontiac was located shortly thereafter. On cross-examination,
Mr. Ferguson agreed that the nearest street light was off
when the shooting occurred.
Lawrence was sitting with two friends outside the Rumba Room
nightclub in the early morning hours of August 12, 2013.
While waiting for some others to join them, she noticed a
"greenish-silver" Pontiac Grand Am driving down
South Main Street with a black female driving, and she also
noticed the victim walking down the street. She saw the
victim talking with a man who wore his hair in dreadlocks.
She turned to her friends and then heard a gunshot coming
from the direction she had seen the two men speaking. She
looked down the street and saw the Pontiac speed away and
turn onto Pontotoc Street. Before the vehicle sped away, Ms.
Lawrence observed the man wearing his hair in dreadlocks
"jump" in the back passenger side of the Pontiac.
She also saw two people, a male and a female, in the front
seat of the Pontiac with the male now driving.
Lawrence walked down the street and saw the victim lying on
the ground. She knelt down next to him and tried to comfort
him. The victim did not say anything to Ms. Lawrence but held
her hand "extremely tight" and appeared to be
trying to catch his breath. Ms. Lawrence remained with the
victim until the ambulance arrived and then spoke with police
providing a statement about what she had witnessed.
Robertson was at the Rumba Room in the early morning hours of
August 12, 2013, and standing outside when she heard a gun
fire. She then saw a "green" Pontiac Grand Am speed
down South Main Street and make a left on to Pontotoc Street.
She saw the "shadows" of the heads of three people
in the Pontiac. Ms. Robertson walked down the street and
found the victim lying on the ground between a black truck
and a burgundy car. Ms. Robertson applied pressure to the
victim's chest wound and attempted to comfort the victim
along with Ms. Lawrence. Ms. Robertson remained with the
victim until the police arrived.
Britton, a Memphis Police Department ("MPD")
officer, heard the dispatch providing a vehicle description
linked to the shooting on South Main Street. He drove to the
Foote Homes apartment complex to look for the vehicle
matching the description. As he drove around, he noticed a
vehicle with the parking lights on. He approached the
vehicle, initially, to see if it had broken down. He did not
see anyone in the vehicle until he was "right up on the
vehicle" and saw people "ducked down" inside.
He immediately drew his gun and ordered the occupants to sit
up with their hands up. At this point, Officer Britton
realized that the car matched the description provided by
dispatch. The back seat passenger, the co-defendant,
attempted to exit the vehicle, and Officer Britton ordered
him to remain in the car. The Defendant, who sat in the front
passenger seat, kept dropping his hands. On the third time he
did so, Officer Britton warned the Defendant that if he
dropped his hands again, he would fire. The Defendant
complied. Officer Britton called for back-up and, once
additional officers arrived, the occupants, two males and one
female, were taken into custody. During a search of the
vehicle, a gun was recovered from the floor by the front
passenger seat where the Defendant had been seated.
Berryman, an MPD officer, executed a search warrant on the
Pontiac. Inside the vehicle he recovered two cell phones, a
gun with a magazine, a single live round of ammunition found
inside the chamber of the gun, and a ski mask. The magazine
contained thirty rounds of live ammunition.
Wilkie, an MPD sergeant in the Homicide Bureau, interviewed
the Defendant on August 12, 2013, about the homicide of the
victim. The Defendant signed a waiver of his rights and
agreed to speak with Sergeant Wilkie. The Defendant indicated
that he did not need glasses to read but that he did not read
or write "well." Sergeant Wilkie provided the
Defendant with a written copy of his rights but also read
them to him.
Defendant told Sergeant Wilkie that he, Jerrica Norfleet, and
the co-defendant were out together and "then a bunch of
bad stuff happened because he blank[ed] out." The
Defendant did not disclose what the "bad stuff"
was. The Defendant maintained that he did not know what
happened but said that he knew that "Jerrica wasn't
the killer and that he wasn't the killer." When
asked how he knew that neither he nor Jerrica was "the
killer, " he responded that he did not know.
a break, Sergeant Wilkie spoke with the case coordinator who
updated him on new information learned through other
witnesses. He confronted the Defendant with the new
information that indicated that the Defendant was present and
active during the shooting. The Defendant told Sergeant
Wilkie that he remembered getting out of the car when the
co-defendant shot the victim. Sergeant Wilkie began
interviewing the Defendant at 9:40 a.m. on August 12, 2013,
and at 1:00 p.m. they took a typed statement from him, with
breaks throughout that time period. Sergeant Wilkie read the
Q. Are you aware that the Memphis Police Department is
investigating a homicide that happened on August 12, 2013 at
275 South Main Street?
Q. Are you the person responsible for this homicide?
Q. Do you know who is responsible for this homicide?
Q. Who's responsible for this homicide?
A. Dondre Johnson.
Q. Who is Dondre Johnson to you?
A. My cousin.
Q. How do you know that Dondre Johnson is the person
A. I was there.
Q. Who else was present?
A. Jerrica Norfleet-Burns.
Q. Do you know [the victim]?
Q. Have you ever seen him before this incident?
Q. What type of weapon was used in this ...