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Clark v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

December 19, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs November 7, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 91-07308, 91-07309, 91-07310, 91-07311, 91-07312, 91-07313, 91-07314 James M. Lammey, Judge

         The Petitioner, James Clark, Jr., appeals pro se from the Shelby County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. He contends that the coram nobis court erred in dismissing the petition. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

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

          James Clark, Jr., Pikeville, Tennessee, pro se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Glen Baity, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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



         Factual and Procedural Background

         In 1992, a Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner and co-defendant Richard[1]Honaker of two counts of aggravated burglary, two counts of especially aggravated robbery, and three counts of theft of property over $1, 000. State v. James Clark and Richard Gene Honaker, No. 02C01-9206-CR-00149, 1993 WL 414015, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 20, 1993), perm. app. denied concurring in results only (Tenn. May 16, 1994). The Petitioner was also convicted of two counts of attempt to commit first degree murder, and Honaker was convicted of two counts of attempt to commit second degree murder. Id. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of 127 years and Honaker to an effective sentence of forty years. Id. On direct appeal, this court affirmed the Petitioner's and Honaker's judgments of conviction, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied further appellate review. Id. at *8.

         This court provided the following summary of the facts underlying the offenses:

On April 23, 1991, Ronald Honaker entered a Memphis pawn shop at approximately 11:30 a.m. and indicated that he had numerous items to sell. Honaker was wearing a distinctive Michael Jordan t-shirt which was later identified as one stolen, along with other items, from the homes of Dabney Shelton and Jacqueline Bland. The clerk accompanied Honaker outside to look at the items which were in the back of a black G.M. pick-up truck. The clerk became suspicious when he noticed that there were several television sets, Nintendo games, baseball gloves, and other items jumbled together under a rug. He also noticed [the Petitioner] sitting behind the steering wheel of the truck. [The Petitioner] and Honaker had a short discussion regarding the price of the items in the truck.
The clerk returned to the store and spoke to the manager who also went to inspect the items in the truck. The manager noticed that there was a purple cloth wrapped around the steering column of the truck. The price of the goods was again discussed with Honaker and [the Petitioner]. In the meantime, the clerk called the police.
While waiting for the police, the manager had the appellants carry the items into the pawn shop where he tested them to see if they were operable. Officer James Woods and Officer Charles Woods (no relation) arrived and apprehended [] Honaker as he was coming out of the pawn shop. Honaker was placed in the police car. Officer Charles Woods entered the pawn shop and came out with [the Petitioner]. After giving both suspects a "quick shake down" and locking them in the patrol car, the officers called for back-up assistance. Ultimately, the victims of the burglaries came to the pawn shop and identified their belongings and the truck. Shelton identified the t-shirt worn by [] Honaker as one belonging to her son. None of the victims had personal knowledge concerning the identity of the persons who had burglarized their homes.
Honaker and Clark, with their hands handcuffed behind their backs, were interviewed separately by the investigative team and then returned to the backseat of the patrol car for transport. At some point prior to leaving the parking lot, [the Petitioner] managed to free one hand. In [the Petitioner's] possession was a .25 caliber pistol which Honaker later admitted he had taken from the home of one of the burglary victims.
Several blocks after leaving the pawn shop, [the Petitioner], who was seated behind the driver, James Woods, pulled out the pistol and shot Officer Charles Woods twice in the head. [The Petitioner] then ordered Officer James Woods to pull over. The police officer swerved the cruiser into a parking lot, slammed on the brakes, and rammed into a trailer parked in the lot. As Officer James Woods jumped from the car, [the Petitioner] shot the officer in the back of the head. [The Petitioner] broke the window next to his elbow, opened the door, climbed into the driver's seat, and sped away. Officer James Woods fired a number of shots at the car as it left the lot.
As he drove away, [the Petitioner] reached over and removed the revolver from Officer Charles Woods' holster and pointed it at the officer seated in the passenger seat next to [the Petitioner]. Honaker, still handcuffed in the backseat, began yelling at [the Petitioner] to shoot the officer, stop the car, and remove his handcuffs. Officer Charles Woods, who had not lost consciousness, managed to open the passenger door with his foot and, as the car made a sharp left turn, rolled out of the vehicle.
[The Petitioner] and Honaker were apprehended a short time later without struggle from their hiding place under a roll of carpet beneath a viaduct. The .25 caliber pistol was in [the Petitioner's] back pocket. He showed officers where he had thrown Officer Charles Woods' revolver. A few minutes later [the Petitioner] spontaneously confessed ...

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