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State v. Frazier

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

November 8, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs June 20, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Rutherford County No. F-73323 David M. Bragg, Judge

         The Defendant, Taris C. Frazier, was convicted by a Rutherford County Circuit Court jury of three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, Class A felonies; three counts of aggravated assault, Class C felonies; resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor; and criminal impersonation, a Class B misdemeanor. He was sentenced to an effective term of seventy-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, to be served consecutively to his sentence in another case. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence convicting him of especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          R. Wilford Fraley, III (on appeal and at sentencing), and Jimmy Turner and Rebecca Lashbrook (at trial), Murfreesboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Taris C. Frazier.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Jennings H. Jones, District Attorney General; and Sarah N. Davis and Matthew W. Westmoreland, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.


          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE


         The Defendant was indicted for the especially aggravated kidnappings and aggravated assaults of Amber Waight, Lauren Oldfield, and Teresa Ring, as well as resisting arrest, criminal impersonation and theft of property, [1] as a result of events that occurred during the late evening and early morning hours of October 28 and 29, 2014, at a home on East Castle Street in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

         State's Proof

         Kristi Wells, a police dispatcher in Murfreesboro, testified that the police department received two 911 calls from a cell phone in the area of East Castle Street at 4:13 and 4:20 a.m. on October 29, 2014. On the first call, the dispatcher "could hear a female whispering 'send the police.'" Dispatchers were unable to get an exact location of the first call, and the more specific location of the second call came back to a vacant lot. Another call came in from the manager of the McDonald's restaurant on Broad Street at 5:28 a.m., reporting that a woman was standing at the drive-through window and yelling that she needed the police. Officers responded to the McDonald's and located the woman nearby, and she informed them of the address on East Castle Street where they were needed.

         Jessica Cooper, a night-shift manager at the McDonald's, testified that around 5:20 a.m. on October 29, 2014, she was standing near the front counter of the restaurant when she saw a woman banging on the drive-through window. The woman was "screaming and crying, saying that she had been held hostage" and asked them to call the police. Ms. Cooper called the police and went outside to look for the woman, but she could not locate her.

         Yachika Murray testified that around 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. on October 28, 2014, she went to the East Castle Street residence to drink beer and smoke marijuana with her acquaintance, Teresa Ring, and two other women whom she had known for about a week, Amber Waight and Lauren Oldfield. The women were in the living room, which was in the front of the house. Ms. Ring told them that someone was coming to the house later and that, when that person got there, they would have to go to the back bedroom. Around midnight, someone knocked on the door, and the women went to the back room while Ms. Ring "let the people in the house." At that time, Ms. Murray did not see who came in the house or if that person was alone.

         Ms. Murray said that Ms. Ring came in the back bedroom followed by the Defendant, whom she had known for more than twenty years, and she and the Defendant greeted one another. The Defendant and Ms. Ring then left the room, while Ms. Murray and the other two women sat there talking. At some point, Ms. Ring came back and smoked with them. Ms. Ring then returned to the living room. Ms. Murray did not know what Ms. Ring said or did while in the living room.

         Ms. Murray testified that Ms. Ring again came back to the bedroom, followed by the Defendant who "was real mad." The Defendant shut the door and told the women to move away from the door. He told Ms. Murray not to let anyone leave or "it's going to be my ass." The Defendant held a knife to Ms. Ring's throat and cursed at her to "shut . . . up . . . or he would cut her throat." The Defendant "kept asking her, are you going to treat me like that after all I have done for you[?]" Seeing the Defendant with a knife, Ms. Murray was "scared" and felt threatened. Ms. Ring kept screaming and crying, and the Defendant hit and punched her in the face. Ms. Murray was trying not to watch, so she was uncertain about how many times the Defendant hit Ms. Ring. She also saw the Defendant hit Ms. Oldfield "for some reason." Ms. Oldfield was crying and trying to talk to the Defendant, but "he wasn't trying to hear nothing." Ms. Murray tried to get the Defendant to stop, but he told her to sit down and let him handle it. Ms. Waight stood in a corner behind a dresser, appearing to be "[s]cared." The Defendant left Ms. Waight alone because she was quiet, and one of the other women told him that Ms. Waight was pregnant. Ms. Murray did not recall the Defendant having a beer bottle in his hands or threatening the women with a beer bottle. She never heard him mention a gun. Ms. Murray did not see any of the women hit or do anything to the Defendant.

         Ms. Murray testified that the Defendant did not let anyone leave the room to go to the bathroom, and, in fact, Ms. Oldfield had to urinate in the closet. Although she could not recall, Ms. Murray speculated that the Defendant must have left the room at some point because she left the room to use the bathroom. After sitting in the living room "for a minute, " she ran out the back door of the house sometime between 2:30 and 4:00 a.m. The other three women remained in the bedroom, crying and scared, and she thought the Defendant might have been back in the bedroom by that point. Ms. Murray ran to her mother's house, which was not far away. She did not call the police or do anything because she "[f]roze" and "was just afraid of everything."

         On cross-examination, Ms. Murray agreed that a woman was with the Defendant when he came to the house that night and that he gave Ms. Ring crack cocaine, which Ms. Ring and Ms. Oldfield smoked. The Defendant's female friend left the house sometime before the Defendant came to the back bedroom.

         The preliminary hearing testimony of Amber Waight was played for the jury, it having been determined that Ms. Waight was unavailable for trial. Ms. Waight testified that on October 29, 2014, she and Lauren Oldfield were living with Ms. Ring on East Castle Street. The Defendant came to the house that night, and Ms. Ring told Ms. Waight and Ms. Oldfield to go to the bedroom. Ms. Waight heard the Defendant and Ms. Ring yelling, and then they came in the bedroom. The Defendant became physically aggressive toward Ms. Ring, "hitting her and yelling at her." The Defendant hit Ms. Ring "[e]verywhere" on her body using his "fists and his hands." The episode lasted ten or fifteen minutes. Ms. Waight said that she sat there and watched the ordeal "[b]ecause we told him that I was pregnant so he wouldn't come after me." Nevertheless, she was still ...

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