Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs August 8, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2015-A-252
Cheryl A. Blackburn, Judge
Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Bennie Edward
Jackson, Jr., of aggravated assault, and the trial court
sentenced him to serve eight years of incarceration. On
appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence is
insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) he was subject to
an unfair trial because the jury pool heard substantially
prejudicial comments during voir dire; and (3) a State's
witness presented inflammatory and substantially prejudicial
testimony to the jury that should have been prohibited. After
review, we affirm the trial court's judgment.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
A. Dearolf, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bennie
Edward Jackson, Jr.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; M.
Todd Ridley, Assistant Attorney General; Glenn R. Funk,
District Attorney General; and Nathan McGregor, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr. and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.
W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE
case arises from a domestic dispute that occurred during the
early morning hours of October 4, 2014. As a result of this
dispute, a Davidson County grand jury indicted the Defendant
for aggravated assault by strangling his wife, the victim.
The parties presented the following facts at the
Defendant's trial: The victim recalled the events
surrounding the alleged assault, saying that she went to the
Defendant's aunt's house on October 3, 2014, after
she and the Defendant dropped off her grandson at 10:30 p.m.
The victim estimated that she and the Defendant arrived at
the Defendant's aunt's home at around 11:00 p.m.
victim said that she and the Defendant sat in the truck in
the driveway talking for between twenty to thirty minutes. He
had been angry before they arrived at the Defendant's
aunt's house, and the conversation remained
"heated." The victim recalled that, while she had
consumed only one alcoholic beverage, the Defendant had
consumed "a lot more" alcohol.
victim recalled that, during the conversation, the Defendant
became very angry and, at one point, he punched her in the
side of the face. He then reached down on the side of her
truck, and she feared that he was attempting to retrieve a
screwdriver to use as a weapon. She said she jumped out of
the truck and ran toward the Defendant's aunt's house
and began banging on the front door. The victim recalled
seeing a light in the house come on, and she felt relief.
Immediately thereafter, however, the Defendant grabbed her by
her neck and threw her down. The victim recalled that the
Defendant was on top of her using his fists to punch her. She
said that she partially lost consciousness. The victim said
that she recalled the Defendant having his hands around her
neck, and she said that it hurt to swallow and was hard to
talk. She believed that her loss of consciousness was due to
the Defendant's strangulation of her. The victim said
that, while she was unconscious, she lost control of her
bowels and soiled herself.
victim testified that the Defendant's cousin and the
Defendant's uncle answered the door, and she recalled
hearing them tell the Defendant to stop and to get off of
her. The victim said she crawled into the house and sat in a
chair for a minute during which time she realized she had
soiled herself. The victim said that she was going to call
the police, but the Defendant's cousin said she should
not call the police and "bring them to [her]
house." The Defendant's cousin then handed the
victim her keys. The Defendant came into the house and acted
really nice toward her as if "everything [was]
victim said that, when she left, she drove herself to the
hotel room where she lived with her daughter and her four
grandchildren. The victim said that her daughter awoke when
she arrived home and noticed the victim's injuries. The
victim said she had marks on her throat and face and that her
teeth were loose. She ultimately lost one of her teeth as a
result of this incident. The victim said that she got into
the shower to clean the feces off of her herself while her
daughter called the police. Multiple police officers
responded. The victim said she did not seek medical attention
because she was unemployed and did not have health insurance.
victim said that it took her a couple of weeks to recover.
Her throat hurt during that period of time. The victim
identified photographs that the police took of her injuries.
In the pictures, she identified her swollen lips, the
bruising on both sides of her neck and jaw, and her damaged
tooth. She stated that the Defendant had both hands around
her neck when he choked her.
cross-examination, the victim testified that, initially, she
did not want to pursue prosecution of the Defendant for his
actions. The victim recalled that, the day of the incident,
she picked up the Defendant at around 4:00 p.m. By 6:00 p.m.,
he was drinking, but she was not. He took her truck and left
her at his mother's house. The victim went to the home of
her friend, Celestine Moorehead, until almost 10:00 p.m.
While at her friend's home, the victim had "a very
small amount" of whisky and played cards with Ms.
Moorehead and Ms. Moorehead's boyfriend.
victim said that the Defendant returned to her friend's
house at around 9:50 p.m. at which time she, the Defendant,
and Ms. Moorehead got into the victim's truck with the
victim driving. They went to pick up her grandson, who had
just performed in the marching band at his high school
football game. The group dropped off the victim's
grandson at the hotel and then dropped off Ms. Moorehead back
at her home. The victim then drove the Defendant ...