RANDY A. RICE
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Assigned on Briefs August 1, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. C-12-43 Kyle
Randy A. Rice, appeals the denial of his petition seeking
post-conviction relief from his convictions for felony murder
and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery. Petitioner
argues that he received ineffective assistance of both trial
and appellate counsel. Upon our review of the record, we
affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Michael Thorne, Lexington, Tennessee (on appeal), and John D.
Hamilton, Jackson, Tennessee (at hearing), for the appellant,
Randy Antonio Rice.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Jody S.
Pickens, District Attorney General; and Al Earls, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Robert W. Wedemeyer, JJ.,
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE.
and Procedural Background
thirteen years ago, Petitioner participated in the killing of
the victim, David Martin. See State v. Randy Antonio
Rice, No. W2010-00146-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 3556973 (Tenn.
Crim. App. Aug. 9, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn.
Dec. 13, 2011). In 2004, the victim was discovered in his
home deceased from four gunshot wounds, and his wallet was
missing. Several years later, investigators received
information regarding Petitioner's involvement in the
victim's death from Cory Bowers, a childhood friend of
Petitioner. Mr. Bowers was serving a federal sentence on drug
charges after being set up by Petitioner's brother and
was seeking a reduction of his sentence in exchange for his
cooperation. According to Mr. Bowers, Petitioner had twice
approached him and discussed robbing the victim, and each
time Mr. Bowers declined. A few days later, Petitioner,
accompanied by another childhood friend, Jessie Rodgers, told
Mr. Bowers that he had stolen the victim's money and had
shot the victim after a struggle.
consistently denied his involvement through multiple
interrogations until November 13, 2007, when he made a
statement to Lieutenant Jeff Fitzgerald admitting his
involvement. According to Petitioner's statement, he, his
brother, and Mr. Rodgers planned the robbery of the victim.
Petitioner's role was essentially that of a getaway
driver while Mr. Rodgers went into the victim's house to
rob him. When Mr. Rodgers exited the house bleeding, he told
Petitioner that the victim threw something that hit him in
the eye and that he shot the victim during a struggle over a
gun. Petitioner stated that Mr. Rodgers took $80 from the
victim, of which Petitioner and his brother each received
$20. Petitioner was eventually indicted for premeditated
first degree murder, felony murder, and especially aggravated
to trial, Petitioner filed a motion to suppress his November
13 statement on the ground that Petitioner's right to
counsel was violated. At the suppression hearing, Lieutenant
Fitzgerald testified that while Petitioner was waiting to be
arraigned in General Sessions Court, Petitioner motioned
Lieutenant Fitzgerald over to him. Petitioner told Lieutenant
Fitzgerald that they needed to talk, but Lieutenant
Fitzgerald told him that they would have to wait until after
the General Sessions judge was done with Petitioner. During
the arraignment, the Public Defender was appointed to
represent Petitioner. Afterward, Petitioner again motioned to
Lieutenant Fitzgerald, who asked if Petitioner still wanted
to talk. Petitioner said that he did, so Lieutenant
Fitzgerald took Petitioner to his office. Lieutenant
Fitzgerald read Petitioner the Miranda warnings and
clarified that Petitioner initiated the contact; Petitioner
waived his rights and agreed that he had contacted Lieutenant
Fitzgerald. Lieutenant Fitzgerald recorded the statement and
produced a written statement, which Petitioner read and
initialed each paragraph before signing. Lieutenant
Fitzgerald admitted that he did not consult with the Public
Defender's Office before conducting the interview.
Sergeant Felicia Stacy confirmed that Petitioner beckoned
Lieutenant Fitzgerald over prior to arraignment, and she was
present during the subsequent statement. The trial court
found that Petitioner initiated contact with Lieutenant
Fitzgerald prior to arraignment and that, afterward,
Lieutenant Fitzgerald "followed through" with
Petitioner's earlier request to talk. The court found
that Petitioner made a knowing and voluntary waiver of his
right to counsel and denied the motion to suppress.
trial, the State relied heavily on the testimony of Mr.
Bowers and Petitioner's November 13 statement to
Lieutenant Fitzgerald. During deliberations, the jury
submitted two questions regarding their consideration of
lesser-included offenses for the charge of premeditated first
degree murder; the State moved to nolle that charge.
Thereafter, the jury convicted Petitioner of felony murder
and the lesser-included offense of facilitation of especially
aggravated robbery. The trial court imposed consecutive
sentences of life and twelve years' imprisonment. On
appeal, this Court held that the evidence was sufficient to
sustain both convictions and that the trial court did not
abuse its discretion in ordering the sentences to run
consecutively. See Randy Antonio Rice, 2011 WL
3556973, at *6, *8.
February 21, 2012, Petitioner filed a timely pro se petition
for post-conviction relief, alleging multiple grounds of
ineffective assistance of counsel. Post-conviction counsel
was appointed, and an amended petition was filed on August
22, 2016. As relevant to this appeal, Petitioner
alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel
when trial counsel failed to request a jury instruction on
corroboration of accomplice testimony with regard to Mr.
Bowers; when trial counsel failed to move for a judgment of
acquittal on the felony murder charge after the jury found
him guilty of facilitation of especially aggravated robbery;
and when ...