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Johnson v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

December 12, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs October 10, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Carter County No. 22378 Lisa D. Rice, Judge

         The petitioner, Randy Wayne Johnson, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2014 Carter County Criminal Court convictions of especially aggravated kidnapping and assault, for which he received a sentence of 25 years. In this appeal, the petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

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

          Casey A. Sears II, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant, Randy Wayne Johnson.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Tony Clark, District Attorney General; and Dennis Brooks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Camille R. McMullen and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.



         The Carter County Grand Jury charged the petitioner with one count each of felony evading arrest and aggravated assault in case number 22386 and, on the same date, charged the petitioner with one count each of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, driving under the influence, felony evading arrest, driving on a suspended license, and simple possession in case number 22378. In case number 22386, the State dismissed the charge of felony evading arrest, and in case number 22378, the petitioner pleaded guilty to the latter four charges. The petitioner waived his right to a jury trial, and the trial court conducted a bench trial in June 2014 on the charges of especially aggravated kidnapping and the two separate counts of aggravated assault. The trial court then found the defendant guilty as charged on all three counts and sentenced the defendant to serve 25 years. On appeal, the petitioner challenged only the sufficiency of the convicting evidence of his especially aggravated kidnapping conviction, and this court affirmed the conviction on direct appeal. See State v. Randy Wayne Johnson, No. E2014-01613-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Knoxville, June 12, 2015), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 17, 2015).

         The evidence adduced at the petitioner's trial established that the victim, Brooke Thornburg, was the petitioner's girlfriend and that, on the evening of March 19, 2013, the victim and the petitioner's friend, Kevin Stover, accompanied the petitioner in the cab of his truck for a drive from Elizabethton to Jonesborough. Id., slip op. at 2. Upon arriving in Jonesborough, Mr. Stover went inside a residence while the petitioner and Ms. Thornburg remained in the truck. Id. At some point, the petitioner dropped his cigarette and he "'yelled' at Ms. Thornburg to pick it up." Id. When Ms. Thornburg refused, the petitioner struck her in the face, fracturing her nose and causing profuse bleeding. Id. Ms. Thornburg retrieved the petitioner's cigarette, but he continued to strike her and demand that she staunch the nasal bleeding. Id. The petitioner threw his shirt at Ms. Thornburg, who then used it to cover her nose. Id. Mr. Stover then returned to the vehicle. Id. According to Ms. Thornburg, Mr. Stover appeared to be stunned, but he took his seat in the truck and did not involve himself in the altercation. Id., slip op. at 2-3.

[The petitioner] began driving back to Elizabethton but continued "screaming" at and hitting Ms. Thornburg. She leaned into [Mr. Stover] to avoid [the petitioner], and [Mr. Stover] told [the petitioner] to "calm down" because Ms. Thornburg was "scared." Ms. Thornburg "had bruises all over [her] ribs and down [her] face" from the [petitioner's] blows.
Eventually, Ms. Thornburg surreptitiously retrieved her cell phone from her purse, dialed 911, and returned the phone to her purse. She instructed [the petitioner] to let her out of the vehicle and continued to describe their location so that the 911 dispatcher listening to the altercation through the phone would know where to send the police. She told [the petitioner] that she would not report the incident if he would let her leave. . . .
Ms. Thornburg remembered [the petitioner's] threatening her several times by saying, "I'm going to slit your throat. I'm going to cut your throat and throw you out here, bitch." The return ride from Jonesborough lasted between twenty and twenty-five minutes, and ...

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