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State v. Robinson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

October 18, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
LAMANTEZ DESHA ROBINSON

          Session: September 12, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2014-B-1383 J. Randall Wyatt, Jr., Judge

         Lamantez Desha Robinson ("the Defendant") was convicted by a Davidson County jury of attempted second degree murder and sentenced to twelve years' incarceration. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence a Facebook photograph of the Defendant posing with two handguns and that the evidence submitted at trial was insufficient to support his conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          David A. Collins, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lamantez Desha Robinson.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Glenn Funk, District Attorney General; and Amy Hunter and Addie Askew, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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

          OPINION

          ROBERT L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Pretrial Motion Hearing

         Prior to trial, the Defendant filed a Motion to Exclude Photograph, arguing that a photograph of the Defendant holding two handguns, which the State intended to admit at trial, was irrelevant, that it could not be authenticated, and that the prejudicial effect far outweighed its probative value. He further argued that the photograph was propensity evidence meant to demonstrate that the Defendant was "a violent person" with the "propensity to commit these kinds of offenses." The State argued that the evidence was not offered as propensity evidence but to establish the Defendant's identity as the shooter.

         At a hearing on the motion, the trial court heard evidence that the photograph was taken from the Defendant's Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Lamantez.Robinson. The State established that the photograph of the Defendant was posted to his Facebook page two and a half months before the offense in this case was committed; however, the State could not establish the date on which the photograph was taken or who posted the photograph to Facebook. The trial court took the motion under advisement and later entered a thorough written order denying the Motion to Exclude Photograph.

         In its order denying the Motion to Exclude Photograph, the trial court found:

This cause came to be heard on May 20, 2016, on the Defendant's motion to exclude a photograph of the Defendant that the State pulled from his Facebook page. The Defendant is charged in this case with attempted second degree murder. The date of the alleged offense was August 30, 2013. The Defendant was subsequently arrested at a house on September 27, 2013. At the house where the Defendant was arrested, law enforcement officers found three pistols outside in a grill, including a Glock pistol that was later confirmed to be the pistol used in the alleged offense through ballistics testing. Prior to this trial, the State discovered that . . . a photograph was posted to the Defendant's Facebook page on June 13, 2013. The photograph shows an individual who appears to be the Defendant holding a pistol in each hand. Based on the State's motion, the Court is given to understand that Special Agent Kevin Warner, who conducted the ballistics test, would testify at trial that the pistol in the Defendant's right hand was "consistent with a Glock." The State seeks to use the photograph to show that the gun found in the grill at the house where the Defendant was arrested was actually the Defendant's gun. The Defendant argued that the photograph should be excluded on three grounds:
1.The photograph is irrelevant to the trial;
2.The photograph cannot be properly authenticated; and
3.The prejudicial effect substantially outweighs the probative value of the photograph.

         With respect to relevance, the trial court found that "if the photograph [was] of the Defendant and [was] of a real gun, the evidence [was] relevant, regardless of when it was taken." The court stated, "The Defendant being in a possession of a firearm that looks like the firearm he was found with tends to make it more likely that that was actually his firearm, and thus, that he was involved in the incident." Accordingly, the trial court determined that the photograph was relevant.

         As to authentication, the trial court reasoned:

[I]n order for the photograph in question to be properly authenticated, the Court must be satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to support a finding by the trier of fact that the matter in question is what the State claims.
In light of this, the pertinent question is what the State claims the photograph to be. It is the Court's understanding that the State is claiming that the photograph is the Defendant holding a pistol similar to the Glock which was found in the grill at the home where the Defendant was arrested. The evidence the Court believes the State would offer in support of this contention is Detective [Jeremy] Smith's testimony that the individual in the photograph appears to be the Defendant and [] Agent Warner's testimony that the pistol in the individual's "right hand is consistent with a Glock." While the Court is not certain that this actually is what the photograph is, the Court does believe that this evidence is ...

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