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State v. Jackson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

October 5, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
BENNIE EDWARD JACKSON, JR. a/k/a BENNY E. JACKSON, JR.

          Assigned on Briefs August 8, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2015-A-252 Cheryl A. Blackburn, Judge

         A 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.

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

          David 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 Tennessee.

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

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE

         I. Facts

         This 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.

         The 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.

         The 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.

         The 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] good."

         The 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.

         The 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.

         During 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.

         The 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 ...


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