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State v. Vance

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

December 5, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
BRANDON VANCE

          Assigned on Briefs March 7, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 15-00211 Paula L. Skahan, Judge

         Defendant, Brandon Vance, was convicted of first degree felony murder by a Shelby County jury. He received a life sentence. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Monica A. Timmerman, Bartlett, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brandon Vance.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Pam Stark and Sam Winnig, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          THOMAS T. WOODALL, PRESIDING JUDGE

         Background

         Dionne Lee testified that the victim, Larry Wilkins, Jr., was her fiancé, and they lived at the Sycamore Lake Apartments in March 2014. They both worked for FedEx. On March 9, 2014, Ms. Lee and the victim both went to work from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Ms. Lee took a nap when she got home from work, and when she awoke, the victim was asleep on the couch. Ms. Lee lay back down and awoke again at 11:30 p.m. to the sound of five or six gunshots. She did not see the victim on the couch so she walked outside to see if he was outside or if he had left. Ms. Lee noted that the victim had a black Ford Mustang that he had been trying to sell, and his car was gone when she went outside, and a couple of people were standing around. She said that the victim had "for sale" signs on the car, and he had listed it for sale on Craigslist and on Facebook.

         Ms. Lee testified that she asked the individuals what happened, and "they said that the guy in the Mustang shot that guy over there." She said that they pointed to the victim who was lying on the ground. Ms. Lee noticed a gold Chevrolet Monte Carlo parked in the area that she had never before seen parked there. She said that there were some text messages on the victim's phone concerning the Mustang, and she turned the phone over to police after they arrived. The last text message indicated that someone was coming to look at the car at approximately 11:00 p.m.

         Officer Michael Huff of the Memphis Police Department responded to the scene of the shooting. He noted that the victim was unresponsive and lying on the ground, and there were five to six shell casings lying "just about 5 foot west of his feet." The victim's "eyes had already sunk in, " and his skin appeared to be turning gray. Officer Huff testified that members of the fire department arrived on the scene, and placed "machines" on the victim. He said that the victim did not appear to have any signs of life, and they were unable to resuscitate the victim. Officer Huff then secured the scene. He said that the victim's car was gone, and there was another car parked in the complex that seemed out of place because there were frequent thefts in the area, and the windows were rolled down on the vehicle.

         Sergeant Reginald Titus of the Memphis Police Department, Felony Response, testified that he and Sergeant Frierson were assigned to investigate the victim's murder. Sergeant Titus was assigned to investigate the crime scene. He said that the victim's car was not there, and neighbors in the apartment complex indicated that there was an unfamiliar vehicle parked in the parking lot. Sergeant Titus noted that the motor of the unfamiliar vehicle, a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, was still warm, and there was a "walkie talkie or two-way radio in it." There was also a "trader magazine" in the car. Sergeants Titus and Frierson set up surveillance on the vehicle but no one came back to retrieve it.

         Sergeant James Sewell of the Memphis Police Department, Homicide Division, testified that he obtained a search warrant on the morning of March 10, 2014, to search the Monte Carlo. He said that two driver's licenses, a debit card, and other paperwork bearing Defendant's name were found inside the vehicle. The car also had a temporary drive out tag ...


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