Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
from the Criminal Court for Bradley County No. 12-CR-554 Don
R. Ash, Senior Judge
Johnson ("the Petitioner") appeals the Bradley
County Criminal Court's denial of post-conviction relief
from his convictions of three counts of first degree felony
murder, for which he was sentenced to life without parole. On
appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied the
effective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel's
failure to: (1) adequately investigate potential witnesses;
(2) adequately investigate two witnesses who testified at
trial; (3) prepare the Petitioner for testimony; (4) object
to irrelevant and prejudicial evidence relating to the
Petitioner's drug dealing and "the Sweetwater
fight"; (5) question co-defendant Twanna Blair about her
statement to police that the perpetrators were white men; and
(6) adequately protect the Petitioner's appellate rights.
The Petitioner asserts that he is entitled to relief based on
these claims individually and based on the cumulative effect
of these errors. The Petitioner additionally asserts that the
post-conviction court erred by denying relief "in the
face of structural error." Following a thorough review,
we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Hendrick, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Maurice
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; James
E. Gaylord, Senior Counsel; Stephen D. Crump, District
Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Camille R. McMullen, JJ.,
L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE
Factual and Procedural Background
case arises from the 1999 shooting deaths of Orienthal James
("OJ") Blair, Cayci Higgins, and Dawn Rogers in
Cleveland, Tennessee. State v. Maurice Johnson, No.
E2010-01142-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 3586557, at *1 (Tenn. Crim.
App. Aug. 16, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec.
14, 2011). Following an investigation spanning nine
years, the Petitioner and two co-defendants, Michael Younger
and Twanna "Tart" Blair, were indicted for
conspiracy to commit especially aggravated robbery,
especially aggravated robbery, and three counts of first
degree felony murder. Id. The co-defendants' cases
were severed, and the State filed a notice of its intention
to seek the death penalty as to the Petitioner. Id.
The Petitioner proceeded to trial first, in August 2009, with
the Honorable Amy Reedy, former Judge of the Criminal Court
for the Tenth Judicial District, presiding at
direct appeal, this court summarized the facts presented at
trial as follows:
On the morning of February 14, 1999, Twanna Blair placed a
call to Bradley County 911, informing them that she had been
shot and that three other people had been killed. Officers
responded to the scene, a townhouse in Cleveland, and
discovered three victims lying on the living room floor.
Emergency personnel rendered aid to Twanna Blair, who was
found in the upstairs of the townhouse. The three victims
were all deceased as a result of gunshot wounds to the head
Eric Hampton was a detective with the Cleveland Police
Department and was the lead investigator into the triple
homicides for some time until he relocated to Alabama several
years later. Upon arriving at the scene, Det. Hampton
observed that the kitchen door had been forcibly opened and
that there were items on the kitchen floor, including a
knife, a cordless phone, and black wire "flex"
ties. He further described the condition of the townhouse as
follows: "There did not appear to be anything disarrayed
or ransacked, . . . and upstairs was pretty much, if I can
remember correctly, several bedrooms and nothing gone through
or looked to be ransacked as well."
Raymond DePriest, formerly with the Tennessee Bureau of
Investigation ("TBI") and employed with the
Nashville Police Department as the Forensic Quality Assurance
Manager at the time of trial, testified that, at the end of
processing a crime scene, the TBI "always"
conducted a search for contraband. Agents look "through
every drawer, every cabinet in the house, . . . go through
the washer and dryer just looking for any evidence that may
be present[.]" After searching the Cleveland townhouse,
agents did not find any evidence of controlled substances
being present in the residence.
TBI Special Agent Luke Mahonen, a detective with the
Cleveland Police Department at the time of the murders,
testified that, on February 14, 1999, he responded to the
triple homicide call and shot the initial crime scene video.
Agent Mahonen described what he would typically look for at a
crime scene: "One would have looked for items of value
missing, items of value being present, ways that entry could
have been made, whether the doors were locked or unlocked,
signs of struggle, wallets, purses, things of that nature,
currency, jewelry, things of value." When asked if he
recalled finding any money at the scene, Agent Mahonen
replied, "I don't recall, no."
The TBI sent a mobile crime scene unit to the townhouse to
collect any possible forensic evidence. Agents recovered
numerous items from the residence: clothing found at the top
of the stairs belonging to Twanna Blair, wire ties, a
cordless phone, a kitchen knife, a beer bottle near the back
door, a "latch plate" from the back door, a fired
.22 caliber bullet, fired and unfired .22 caliber cartridge
cases, and a 9mm caliber bullet. DNA testing on blood samples
recovered from inside the house revealed that the three
victims or Twanna Blair were the sources of the samples. Only
one unidentified sample was found inside the house, DNA
present on a stamp, and it was never matched to anyone.
As result of the ensuing investigation, officers learned of
an altercation between the [Petitioner] and OJ Blair just two
days prior to the murder. Tamara Rhea testified that, on the
evening of February 12, 1999, she threw a party at her
residence in Sweetwater and that about 100 people were in
Reginald Constant, OJ's cousin, testified that he was in
custody being held as a material witness and that he had no
criminal charges. Mr. Constant stated that he was at the
February 12 party in Sweetwater, where he saw OJ Blair and
the [Petitioner] involved in an altercation. Mr. Constant and
several others "broke up" the fight. While standing
in the yard, the group heard gunshots. According to Mr.
Constant, the [Petitioner] then pulled out his gun and
pointed it toward the porch. Mr. Constant said to the
[Petitioner], "No, man it ain't even worth it,
" to which the [Petitioner] replied, "You are going
to let them shoot at me and I can't shoot back." Mr.
Constant responded, "Man, that's my cousin."
The [Petitioner] then got in his vehicle and left. Mr.
Constant stated that he was never afraid of the [Petitioner]
because he had known the [Petitioner] for nineteen years and
did not think he would shoot him. After the [Petitioner]
left, Mr. Constant also left the party before the police
Charles Brewster, Jr., was also in custody, being detained
for the purpose of testifying at the [Petitioner's]
trial. Mr. Brewster was likewise in attendance at the
February 12 party, where he witnessed two females get into a
physical altercation. Mr. Brewster testified that he saw the
[Petitioner] and OJ Blair get into a verbal argument,
overhearing the two men doing a "bunch of
cussing[.]" When he again saw the [Petitioner] on
Saturday afternoon following the party, the [Petitioner] said
to him "[t]hat he had handled the situation. He
retaliated and handled the situation."
Desmond Deane Benton also testified about his recollection of
the February 12 party. He recalled that the [Petitioner] and
OJ Blair were "in each other's face. They was [sic]
arguing and then all of the sudden they grabbed each other
and they rolled out the front door off the porch onto the
concrete, the driveway . . . . They started fighting and then
shots broke out." According to Mr. Benton, when the
shots were fired, everybody ran. Mr. Benton opined that OJ
Blair was winning the fight.
Mr. Benton left the party and went to his girlfriend's
house. Sometime later that evening, he returned to Tamara
Rhea's apartment and saw Michael Younger at the trunk of
his car, loading bullets into the clip of a black handgun.
Mr. Benton stated that he had never seen the [Petitioner]
with a gun.
After shots were fired at the party, officers were called to
the scene, which, according to Officer Kenny Wilkins with the
Sweetwater Police Department, was known for its drug
activity. As Officer Wilkins was traveling to the scene, he
encountered Ke[rr]y Rogers, who had been shot at the party.
Officer Wilkins stayed with Mr. Rogers until emergency
personnel arrived to assist him. Despite a lengthy
investigation, no one was ever charged with Mr. Rogers'
While Officer Wilkins waited with Mr. Rogers, other officers
continued to the scene "where the party had taken
place." Once at the party, the officers arrested the
[Petitioner] and took him to the local jail for questioning.
On February 14, 1999, around 2:00 a.m., Stacy Ann Clabough
left The Party Zone, a club in Chattanooga, after Twanna
Blair, OJ Blair, and Dawn Rogers failed to meet her there.
When she returned to Cleveland, she went by the victims'
townhouse to see why they had failed to attend. She knocked
on the front door, and Twanna Blair answered. Twanna Blair
told her that everyone was asleep, so Ms. Clabough returned
to her car and left. As she was leaving the complex, she
heard "a noise or something" that "caught
[her] attention[.]" She turned to see someone sitting
inside a dark, maroon vehicle. While she did not know the
[Petitioner] at that time, she was able to later identify him
as the man inside the car; she claimed she was able to
remember the [Petitioner's] face due to the
"shock." At the time of trial, Ms. C[la]bough was
incarcerated for violating her probation on a prescription
fraud conviction. Ms. Clabough also admitted that she had
given several inconsistent statements to the authorities,
that she had two forgery convictions, and that she had a
tattoo commemorating OJ Blair's birth date.
Amy Lonas and the [Petitioner] were in "a friend with
benefits relationship" in February 1999. Ms. Lonas, then
eighteen years old, stated that, on the evening of the 12th,
she was present at the party with the [Petitioner] and
Michael Younger. She testified that she saw the [Petitioner]
with a gun that evening and, according to Ms. Lonas, the
[Petitioner] "always had a gun." When OJ Blair and
Twanna Blair arrived at the party, the [Petitioner] said to
Ms. Lonas, "They could die right there." Ms. Lonas
and others told the [Petitioner], "No, don't do
nothing like that." Ms. Lonas, who was underage and
drinking and doing "a lot" of drugs, went back
inside the house. After she heard gunshots, she left the
party to avoid the police and returned to her apartment that
she shared with Tiffany Gray.
At approximately 2:00 a.m. on February 13, the [Petitioner],
Michael Younger, and Jason McGaughey came to Ms. Lonas'
apartment. All of the men were intoxicated, and Younger hit
the front door so hard it fell off the hinges. Ms. Lonas
stated that her apartment complex was "run down"
and that the door was not in good condition at the time. Ms.
Lonas became upset because she did not want to have to tell
her roommate about the door. Mr. McGaughey stayed to fix the
According to Ms. Lonas, the [Petitioner] was agitated while
he was at her apartment, and the men stayed approximately one
and [a] half to two hours. While there that morning, Ms.
Lonas and the [Petitioner] engaged in conversation. When
discussing where the [Petitioner] was headed once leaving her
apartment, he said that "he was going to get his money
back." Ms. Lonas then asked the [Petitioner] "how
much dope did you front him." The [Petitioner] replied
that "it was none of [her] business." The men left
the apartment on foot. The following day, February 14, Ms.
Lonas learned of the triple homicide from the television
Around 7:00 or 8:00 a.m. on February 15, Ms. Lonas was taking
out her trash, when she saw the [Petitioner]. Although the
[Petitioner] was hostile, they again engaged in conversation.
Ms. Lonas was upset with the [Petitioner] because he had been
having sex with another woman. When talking about where he
had been, the [Petitioner] said that "he had took care
of it, . . . that he went to go get his money back, . . . he
had done something real bad, . . . he was going to have to go
away for a little while." The [Petitioner] described his
arrival at the townhouse to Ms. Lonas: "Twanna knew he
was coming, they knocked on the door like the police to get
in the door, . . . that it was only OJ in that house."
According to the [Petitioner], OJ pulled a gun on him first
so he had to shoot in "self-defense." The
[Petitioner] told Ms. Lonas that OJ was alive when he left
the apartment and that, afterwards, he threw his gun in the
Loudon County rock quarry. The [Petitioner] warned Ms. Lonas
that she should "never tell anybody anything" about
what he had told her or he would kill her. The two got into
"an irate argument" and decided to no longer be
friends. Ms. Lonas agreed to never tell anyone about what the
[Petitioner] had told her.
Ms. Lonas admitted that she had criminal convictions for
criminal impersonation in 1998 and shoplifting in 1999.
According to Ms. Lonas, she had since "changed [her]
whole life" beginning in 2006. Ms. Lonas stated that she
was now in college, studying medical assistance and medical
billing, and had been a Certified Nurse's Assistant for
the past three years. The police "found" her in
2006, and she then told the truth about what she knew about
the murders. However, on cross-examination, Ms. Lonas
acknowledged additional convictions for passing a worthless
check and leaving the scene of an accident in 2006 and a
simple possession charge in 2008.
Ranessa Macon testified that the [Petitioner] visited her on
Sunday morning February 14. He woke her up, asked her to sit
on the couch, and told her he had killed someone. After
hearing the news, the [Petitioner] and Ms. Macon just stood
in the middle of the room and hugged each other. She did not
ask any further questions of the [Petitioner] about what he
had done. She admitted that, back in 1999, she was
"using drugs pretty heavily[.]"
Tamara Rhea spoke with the [Petitioner] a few days after the
shootings, and the [Petitioner] was apologetic about fighting
at Ms. Rhea's party. Ms. Rhea asked the [Petitioner]
about the shootings, inquiring, "Did you have anything
to do with that?" The [Petitioner] jokingly said,
"You never know."
Approximately a week or two prior to the party in Sweetwater,
the [Petitioner] told Analesha Harper that he had been beaten
and robbed, but he did not know the perpetrator. The
[Petitioner] again visited Ms. Harper sometime after the
February 12 party. He told her that an altercation happened
at the party, that OJ Blair "was there, " and that
he was drunk at the time. According to Ms. Harper, the
[Petitioner] did not know who robbed him a few weeks prior to
the party in 1999.
The [Petitioner] again visited Ms. Harper in early 2006 and,
according to Ms. Harper, the [Petitioner] was upset because
the television news had linked him to the murders. When Ms.
Harper was asked if the [Petitioner] ever told her at a later
date "who he thought had something to do with" the
robbery that happened just a week or two prior to the party,
she replied, "When I asked him about the murders he was
like the guy OJ remember, that was the guy that I had the
fight with[.]" Ms. Harper asked the [Petitioner] if he
had anything to do with the murders, and he told her
"no." Ms. Harper stated on cross-examination that
she did not believe the [Petitioner] ever knew who robbed him
Vanessa Latham testified that, in February 1999, she was
having a relationship with the [Petitioner], that they
"messed around for a long time." Ms. Latham was in
attendance at the party at Tamara Rhea's house. Ms.
Latham caught the end of the fight between OJ Blair and the
[Petitioner]. To Ms. Latham, it looked like OJ Blair was
"whipping" the [Petitioner]. When she heard
gunshots, she went to a neighbor's house.
After the murders, Ms. Latham talked with the [Petitioner] in
"Jake's parking lot"; they were "just
chilling[.]" The [Petitioner] asked Ms. Latham if she
knew "that guy from Cleveland, " to which she
responded affirmatively, and the [Petitioner] then said
"we did that." Ms. Latham became upset because she
had heard that one of the girls was pregnant. After she got
upset, the [Petitioner] said that "the fucking bitch
shouldn't have had her ass there[.]" He then
threatened to kill Ms. Latham if she ever told anyone about
what he had told her. Ms. Latham stated that she did not
believe the [Petitioner] about the killings, that she did not
know him to be a bad person, and that she did not know
"if he was joking around or not."
Several years later, Ms. Latham was contacted by the police.
She claimed that the authorities were threatening to put her
in jail and take her kids away if she did not cooperate, so
she agreed to make a recorded phone call to the [Petitioner].
Detective Duff Brumley of the Cleveland Police Department,
who had taken over the investigation of the triple homicides
after Det. Hampton's departure, was present when Ms.
Latham placed the call to the [Petitioner]. According to Det.
Brumley, in the first phone call, the [Petitioner] was
"very reluctant to speak, was evasive, and asked Ms.
Latham to go to a pay phone and call him or to a secure phone
because he was afraid that his phone had been wire
tapped." They then went to a pay phone, and Ms. Latham
again phoned the [Petitioner]. A recording of this call was
played for the jury. During the phone call, the [Petitioner]
stated, "Now, Vanessa, listening [sic] to what I'm
saying. Regardless of what me and you talked about nobody is
going to know but me and you. Do you understand that?"
Stacy Marvin King testified that he had known the
[Petitioner] since they were teenagers. Mr. King was
incarcerated at the time of trial and had been since March
2006. Mr. King testified that, in February 2006, he was on
his way home from work, when he stopped at an Applebee's
restaurant in Athens to eat. There he saw the [Petitioner],
and the two men spoke about the triple homicides in Cleveland
in February 1999. According to Mr. King, the [Petitioner] was
"agitated with regard to the talk on the streets."
The [Petitioner] said to Mr. King that "he wanted to
resolve a problem he had, which was an individual still being
alive and talking about events surrounding the murder."
That individual was Twanna Blair.
While talking at Applebee's, the [Petitioner] described
the murders to Mr. King. The [Petitioner] told him that, upon
entry into the residence, he fired a shot at OJ Blair,
killing him. The [Petitioner] continued, "[W]e heard a
noise upstairs, we got the individuals upstairs, " and
"they were shot with the intent of not leaving anyone
alive[.]" According to Mr. King, the [Petitioner] stated
that his "negative situation . . . was only going to get
worse" if he "didn't take out Ms.
Mr. King acknowledged that he had been incarcerated many
times; his current incarceration due to a federal firearms
charge. He had multiple convictions for selling cocaine and
firearm possession and had violated his probation several
times. Mr. King confirmed that the federal prosecutor had
filed a "5K1" motion on his behalf, stating that
Mr. King had provided "substantial cooperation."
Upon this motion, a federal judge can reduce a
Mark Blair testified that he was locked up in the Monroe
County Jail in February 1999. He testified that he spoke with
the [Petitioner] by telephone during that time, and the
[Petitioner] told him "that he had killed some
people." On another occasion, he and the [Petitioner]
were walking around the track at the jail and talking, and
the [Petitioner] informed him that, when he got out of jail,
he was going [to] "put down a demo[.]" Mark Blair
replied, "When you get out, . . . them youngsters
ain't going to let you come out there and regulate or
nothing." The [Petitioner] then said, "I ain't
worried about what them youngsters think, . . . if they get
in the way I will do them just like me and Money did down in
Cleveland." According to Mark Blair, Michael Younger was
also known as "Money." The [Petitioner]
extrapolated to Mark Blair that he "handled the matter
in Cleveland" after getting into a fight with OJ Blair
at a party in Sweetwater. Mark Blair acknowledged that he had
[a] significant criminal history, including convictions for
firearm possession, selling cocaine, aggravated assault, and
evading arrest. He stated that he contacted the authorities
with this information and confirmed that he did hope to
receive some favorable treatment based on his cooperation.
In 2001, Agent Mahonen began working with the TBI. Agent
Mahonen obtained a wiretapping order for the
[Petitioner's] cellular phone, and he had recorded over
300 of the [Petitioner's] telephone calls. Agent Mahonen
selected one phone call in particular to play for the jury;
it was an incoming call, placed from Jewelry Television,
Incorporated, made on February 14, 2006, at 10:47 a.m. Agent
Mahonen believed that the [Petitioner] was convicted of
federal drug charges based upon information obtained during
the wiretap of the [Petitioner's] phone. Agent Mahonen
also agreed that, on more than one occasion, the [Petitioner]
gave blood samples, hair samples, and fingerprints to the
In the years after the murders, TBI Special Agent Terry
Arney, an expert in firearms identification, had been unable
to match the cartridge cases or bullets from the scene to any
particular weapon. Testing continued as late as 2007.
Following testimony from twenty-five witnesses, the State
concluded its proof. The [Petitioner] then made a motion for
judgment of acquittal on all counts. The court dismissed the
conspiracy charge, but the other counts were to be submitted
to the jury. The [Petitioner] then submitted proof in his
Jason Juan McGaughey testified on behalf of the [Petitioner].
He confirmed that he had drug convictions and a criminal
history spanning approximately eighteen years. Mr. McGaughey
testified that he did not attend the party in Sweetwater. He
did recall a visit to Ms. Lonas' apartment when he
"messed her door up and she was tripping about her
friend was going to put her out because the door was messed
up." McGaughey testified that he was accompanied by
Michael Younger, but the [Petitioner] was not with him on
that occasion. Mr. McGaughey fixed the door, and they left.
The [Petitioner] testified and gave his version of the
events. He admitted that, at the time of the murders, he sold
drugs and had sexual relationships with a lot of women. The
[Petitioner] denied any involvement in the murders.
According to the [Petitioner], he supplied the alcohol for
Tamara Rhea's party on the evening of February 12, 1999.
He did not take his gun to the party, and he did not know OJ
Blair prior to the party. He had heard that some "people
from Cleveland had arrived at this party[.]" The
[Petitioner] claimed he was watching two women fight when
someone punched him in the back of the head. He turned to see
three or four people hitting him and, as he was attempting to
ward of the blows, the fight moved into the yard. One person
"just kept coming" at him. Someone then fired a
gun, and his attacker ran into the house. He did not
recognize any of the men who attacked him.
The [Petitioner] was arrested after officers arrived at the
scene of the party, and he was transported to the police
station. Officers tested his hands for gunshot residue but
did not find any, and the [Petitioner] was never charged with
any offense connected to the party. After being released from
the police station, the [Petitioner] walked to the hospital
to see who had been shot. A lot of people from the party had
gathered at the hospital, and he learned Kerry Rogers was the
individual who had been shot. The [Petitioner] and others
waited until Mr. Rogers was released from the hospital. The
[Petitioner] then returned to the party, which had moved
"two doors down from where the party" had
originally begun. He drank and talked with people for two to
three hours following his return.
The [Petitioner] testified that, after the killings, he gave
two statements to the police. When the police questioned him
a third time, he refused to cooperate. He confirmed that,
several years later, he was in federal prison with Mark Blair
and that they talked "all the time." The
[Petitioner] denied ever making any incriminating statements
to Mark Blair. After his release from federal custody, he did
give a third statement to police. He also gave his
fingerprints and DNA sample to authorities.
Id. at *1-8. After a jury trial, the Petitioner was
convicted of three counts of first-degree felony murder and
one count of especially aggravated robbery, and he was
sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for each
of the felony murder convictions and to twenty-five years for
especially aggravated robbery. Id. at *1. This court
affirmed the Petitioner's convictions and sentences for
first degree felony murder but reversed and dismissed the
especially aggravated robbery conviction. Id.
Thereafter, the Tennessee Supreme Court denied the
Petitioner's application for further review.
order to put a number of the Petitioner's post-conviction
issues into proper context, we must also consider the
procedural history in co-defendant Michael Younger's
case. Defendant Younger's trial began in May 2010. On
July 17, 2010, Defendant Younger filed a Motion for
Interlocutory Appeal in this court. In granting Defendant
Younger's Motion for Interlocutory Appeal, this court
Prior to and during trial, [D]efendant [Younger] filed two
motions to dismiss the indictment, arguing prosecutorial
misconduct in the form of Brady violations. One of
the violations concerned the State's failure to turn over
evidence of a State's witness, Anita Wilson, facing
multiple charges for check fraud. The trial court found that
violation egregious enough to order defense counsel to report
the prosecutors to the Board of Professional Responsibility
and the prosecutors to self[-]report the violation.
Nevertheless, the court denied the [Defendant Younger's]
motion to dismiss the indictment. As trial progressed, the
State, on redirect examination, asked a witness, Pam Upton, a
question about [Defendant Younger] being a "drug dealer,
" which question had been specifically prohibited by the
trial court prior to trial during a Rule 404(b) hearing. When
[Defendant Younger] objected, the prosecutor admitted he
"decided" to ask the question based upon the
defense's cross[-]examination of the witness. [Defendant
Younger] again requested the trial court dismiss the
indictment. The court recognized the State's error but
refused to dismiss the indictment. At that point, [Defendant
Younger] requested a mistrial, arguing that the defendant had
been "goaded" into making the request by the
State's continued bad behavior. The trial court found
that the "improper testimony [about Defendant
Younger's and the Petitioner's drug dealing] was
directly solicited by the [S]tate's question"
against the trial court's ruling prohibiting that line of
questioning. The court further noted that there was little
proof in the record linking [Defendant Younger] with the
crime. The court found that a curative instruction would be
insufficient to mitigate the error, stating, "I
can't put the prejudicial proof back in the mouth of the
witness." Accordingly, the trial court granted
[Defendant Younger's] motion for mistrial.
See State v. Michael Younger, No.
E2010-01541-CCA-R9-DD (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 11, 2010) (order
granting interlocutory appeal).
June 2010, the State informed Defendant Younger's
attorneys about an investigation into improper actions by
Detective Duff Brumley. The actions which led to the
investigation and, ultimately, Detective Brumley's firing
were unrelated to the instant case. However, a letter from
the District Attorney's Office to Defendant Younger's
attorneys also referenced the following:
In an unrelated matter, and in light of these recent events,
I must also relate to you a conversation that I had with
Detective Brumley some weeks before our 404(b) hearing in
Bradley County in this case. Detective Brumley contacted me
late in the evening and informed me that he had some really
great news. He said that he had been talking with a
"little birdy, " and he knew how we could get into
evidence a person's prior statement, even if they now
claim memory loss. I knew of no such extant rule of evidence
that would allow us to do so. Detective Brumley told me the
exact Rule of Evidence number and subpart, read it to me, and
explained that it was a brand new Rule of Evidence. He
further said that his "little birdy" said she did
not know why the State had not sought to use this new Rule of
Evidence in the State's previous cases, as it had been
passed prior to that trial. He said at the time that she did
not give him the Rule number, but that she said it was a new
rule and the only significant new rule passed that year. From
there, Detective Brumley stated that he looked it up on the
web search engine Google. Although Detective Brumley would
not tell me the name of his "little birdy" friend
who gave him this information, he did reveal that it was a
female who was intimately aware of the state's case, all
motions that had been filed by the state, all motions that
had not been filed by the state, and who was aware of the
passage of new Rules of Evidence.
these revelations, the State filed a Motion to Enter Nolle
Prosequi ("Motion to Nolle") in Defendant
Younger's case on October 19, 2010. The State's
1. The prosecuting officer in this case, [Detective] Duff
Brumley, is currently under investigation for actions taken
in his official capacity as a Cleveland Police Department
officer. [Detective] Brumley has been terminated from his
employment by the Cleveland Police Department.
2. In the course of the current investigation of [Detective]
Brumley, three prior instances have been found which call
into serious question [Detective] Brumley's credibility
as a witness.
3. The first instance involved a prior homicide investigation
wherein [Detective] Brumley testified under oath that he
turned over recorded statements of a suspect directly to an
Assistant District Attorney General. However, in subsequent
interviews, [Detective] Brumley gave inconsistent answers
about who received the recorded statements. Ultimately it was
determined that [Detective] Brumley did not give the recorded
statements directly to an Assistant District Attorney General
as he claimed under oath.
4. The second instance involved a federal court [c]ase,
United States v. Tiffany Little, wherein Magistrate
Judge Carter in a written -- opinion detailed numerous
inconsistent statements made by [Detective] Brumley in his
sworn testimony. These inconsistent statements included
material facts that were important to a fair determination of
the issues in the case and ultimately resulted in Magistrate
Carter finding that he could place no confidence in the
accuracy of [Detective] Brumley's memory. The case was
5. In the current case, Anita Wilson, a key witness, has
given a statement to counsel for the defense that [Detective]
Brumley coerced her into claiming that [Defendant] Younger
confessed to the murders. Counsel for the defendant brought
this to the State's attention along with the fact that
Ms. Wilson was held on a fugitive from justice warrant at
[Detective] Brumley's direction. Subsequent investigation
has found that Ms. Wilson was in fact held on a fugitive from
justice warrant even though she was not wanted in another
state. Her detention on a fugitive from justice charge was
illegal. It certainly could be inferred that the illegal
detention was intentional to give [Detective] Brumley
additional leverage in taking the coercive actions that Ms.
Wilson now maintains happened.
6. Ms. Wilson had given a prior statement in 2004 to
Lieutenant Mark Gibson of the Cleveland Police Department. In
that statement, Ms. Wilson makes no mention whatsoever of
[Defendant] Younger confessing to the crimes in question. The
presence of this prior inconsistent statement lends credence
to Ms. Wilson's claims that she was coerced to give her
latest statement incriminating [Defendant] Younger.
7. Following the previous trial of [Defendant] Younger which
ended in a mistrial, [Detective] Brumley returned several
pieces of evidence to the Cleveland Police Department. Rather
than return the items to the evidence room as he should have
done, [Detective] Brumley left the items in his office which
was not locked. As such, the chain of custody is irrevocably
broken as to those items.
8. The State of Tennessee cannot in good faith call
[Detective] Brumley to the stand to testify in this matter as
his credibility as a witness has been severely compromised.
9. Finally, and most disturbing, is approximately one hundred
and seventy-one (171) telephone calls between [Detective]
Brumley and Judge Amy Reedy, the presiding judge, during the
time this case was progressing through the court system. A