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State v. Lawson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

October 3, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
BRIAN ROBERT LAWSON

          September 12, 2017 Session

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2016-A-59 Amanda McClendon, Judge

         The State of Tennessee appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court's order dismissing the indictment, which charged the Defendant with domestic assault by causing bodily injury. On appeal, the State contends that the trial court erred by dismissing the indictment. We conclude that the trial court erred by dismissing the indictment. T he order of the trial court is reversed, the domestic assault charge is reinstated, and the case is remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Reversed; Case Remanded

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Glenn Funk, District Attorney General; and P. Danielle Nellis, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

          Joel W. Crim, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, Brian Robert Lawson.

          Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE

         This case involves an August 2015 altercation between the Defendant, Crystal Cunningham, and DJ Summers. At the time of the altercation, the Defendant and Ms. Cunningham had recently ended their romantic relationship. During the incident, the Defendant pushed Ms. Cunningham, but she was not injured. M r. Summers intervened, and a physical altercation between the men ensued. At some point, Ms. Cunningham was struck in the face, resulting in an injured lip. The Defendant was charged with domestic assault by causing bodily injury to Ms. Cunningham. A preliminary hearing was subsequently held in general sessions court.

         At the preliminary hearing, Crystal Cunningham testified that the Defendant was her former boyfriend, that their two-year relationship was intermittent, and that their relationship ended permanently four days before the August 27, 2015 incident. She said that although their relationship had ended, some of her belongings were at the Defendant's home. She said that on August 27, she visited DJ Summers and Chelsea Lindemyer's home and that while at their home, she spoke to the Defendant on the telephone. She said that she and the Defendant discussed her removing her belongings from the Defendant's home on August 30, that they began to argue, and that she ended the call. She said the Defendant showed up uninvited to Mr. Summers and Ms. Lindemyer's home. Ms. Cunningham said that the Defendant asked her why she was there instead of removing her belongings from his home, although they had previously agreed Ms. Cunningham would remove her belongings on August 30.

         Ms. Cunningham testified that the Defendant was angry when he arrived at the home, that she was in the backyard, that she saw the Defendant's truck moving at a high rate of speed, and that the Defendant stood at the front door by the time she walked from the backyard. She said that the Defendant asked whose truck was parked in the driveway and that she told the Defendant the truck belonged to Cody West, who was her former boyfriend. She said that the Defendant's demeanor changed and that the Defendant attempted to go in the backyard. Ms. Cunningham said that Mr. West and Mr. Summers were close friends and that she did not know Mr. West would be at the home before she arrived.

         Ms. Cunningham testified that upon hearing Mr. West was at the home, the Defendant developed a "blank stare" and "looked through" her as she told the Defendant to stop. She said she "put [her] hands up" to stop the Defendant from going into the backyard because Mr. Summers and Ms. Lindemyer's four-year-old son was at the home and because the Defendant had a firearm. Ms. Cunningham said that the Defendant, without speaking, removed his firearm from a holster and pushed her, that she fell but was not injured, and that Mr. Summers saw the Defendant's pushing her and intervened. Ms. Cunningham said that Mr. Summers told the Defendant to leave and that the Defendant ultimately returned the firearm to the holster.

         Ms. Cunningham testified that Mr. Summers and the Defendant began to argue, that she simply wanted the Defendant to leave, and that she attempted to "break them up" by stepping between the Defendant and Mr. Summers. She said that she told the Defendant that "they" did not need to do "this, " that the Defendant began removing his shirt, and that the Defendant and Mr. Summers began fighting. She said that when she attempted to break up the fight, she was struck and that her lip was injured. She said that she looked at the Defendant when she attempted to prevent the fight but that she did not know who struck her. She said that the Defendant left while Ms. Lindemyer was on the telephone with 9-1-1.

         Ms. Cunningham testified that the Defendant continuously called her after he left, demanding that she retrieve her belongings. She said that the police arrived at Mr. Summers and Ms. Lindemyer's home, that she left with the officers to complete a police report, and that the Defendant returned to the home twenty minutes after she left. When asked how the ...


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