Assigned on Briefs November 7, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Haywood County No. 6740 Clayburn
Peeples, Judge No. W2017-00138-CCA-R3-PC
petitioner, Shaun Taliaferro, appeals the denial of
post-conviction relief from his 2013 Haywood County Criminal
Court jury convictions of second degree murder and possession
of a firearm by a convicted felon, for which he received an
effective sentence of 44 years. In this appeal, the
petitioner contends that he was denied the effective
assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we
R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Criminal Court
Rachele Gibson, Assistant District Public Defender, for the
appellant, Shaun Taliaferro.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia
S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; D. Michael Dunavant,
District Attorney General; and Hillary Parham and Jason
Scott, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the
appellee, State of Tennessee.
Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ.,
CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE.
Haywood County Grand Jury charged the petitioner with one
count each of first degree premeditated murder and possession
of a firearm by a convicted felon. Following a jury trial,
the petitioner was convicted of the lesser-included offense
of second degree murder and was convicted as charged of being
a felon in possession of a firearm, and the trial court
imposed an effective sentence of 44 years' incarceration.
This court affirmed the convictions and sentences on direct
appeal. See State v. Shawn O'Neal Taliaferro,
No. W2013-01620-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Jackson, Nov.
24, 2014), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Mar. 13,
evidence adduced at the petitioner's trial established
that the victim, David Lee Capers, was the best friend of
Kendell Turner. Id., slip op. at 1, 3. On September
3, 2010, the victim and Mr. Turner were attending a gathering
where both the petitioner and Joseph Vaughn were present.
Id., slip op. at 3, 4. At some point, the four men
left the gathering in Mr. Turner's mother's van to
visit the victim's sister and to patronize a liquor
store. Id. After leaving the liquor store, the men
drove toward the victim's mother's residence.
Id. Mr. Turner was driving, the victim was seated in
the front passenger seat, the petitioner was seated directly
behind the victim, and Mr. Vaughn was seated directly behind
Mr. Turner. Id. Mr. Turner then described what
happened next as he was driving on Highway 19 toward
[T]he victim was talking about his life in Decatur, Illinois,
and showing pictures of his baby when Mr. Turner heard a
"pow" like someone had "slapped [the victim]
in the head." Mr. Turner stated that upon hearing the
"loud clap noise" he reflexively applied the car
brakes. He looked over at the victim, who was slumped over,
and saw blood coming from the right side of the victim's
head. He said that he saw the [petitioner] pulling "[a]
little chrome gun" away from the victim's head.
Mr. Turner testified that he continued driving and then heard
a gun fired multiple times. He applied the brakes again
slowing the van, and the victim jumped out of the van. Mr.
Turner recalled that the [petitioner] stated "y'all
know what this mother f**ker did to me." He said that he
believed the [petitioner] was referencing "bad
blood" between the victim and [the petitioner]. In
response to the victim's flight, the [petitioner] said
"f**k that mother f**ker ain't dead, " and he
ordered Mr. Turner to stop. Mr. Turner said that he turned
the van around and headed back toward Ripley telling the
[petitioner] that the victim was dead. The [petitioner]
continued to tell Mr. Turner to stop the van. Mr. Turner did
not stop and continued driving back toward Ripley while the
[petitioner] searched for bullets or shells in the van. The
[petitioner] told Mr. Turner to explain the blood in the van
to his mother by saying that the victim had borrowed the car.
Mr. Turner testified that he assured the [petitioner] he
would not "tell on [him]" and told the [petitioner]
he "just want[ed] to get out." Mr. Turner stopped
the car, he and [Mr.] Vaughn exited the van, and the
[petitioner] drove away. Mr. Turner stated that he never saw
the van again but that he was told that "it got burnt
up." Mr. Turner said that one of Mr. Vaughn's
relatives came and picked up him and Mr. Vaughn, and that he
later went to the police about the shooting.
Id., slip op. at 3-4.
Vaughn testified similarly about the events leading up to the
shooting. Id., slip op. at 4. Of the shooting, Mr.
Vaughn testified as follows:
He recalled that as they drove down Highway 19, they talked
and listed to the radio, "normal stuff, " when the
[petitioner] shot the victim. He said the [petitioner] fired
one or two shots at first, followed by five or six more gun
shots. Mr. Vaughn stated that he observed the [petitioner]
firing the gun and that he threw ...