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State v. Otis

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

February 15, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
DEREDIOUS OTIS, BRASHARD GIBBS, and CARLOS KEY

          Session October 3, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County Nos. 14-00025, 13-04715 James M. Lammey, Judge.

         Defendants Deredious Otis and Carlos Key each were convicted of one count of first degree premeditated murder and two counts of attempted first degree murder, and Defendant Brashard Gibbs was convicted of one count of first degree premeditated murder, five counts of attempted first degree murder, and three counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Defendants Otis and Key each were sentenced to life for their first degree murder conviction and twenty-five years for each of their attempted first degree murder convictions, with all sentences to be served consecutively. Defendant Gibbs was sentenced to life for the first degree murder conviction, twenty-five years for each of the five counts of attempted first degree murder, and six years for each of the three counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, with all sentences to be served consecutively. On appeal, all three Defendants argue that the evidence is insufficient to support the verdicts and that the trial court erred in consolidating the indictments; and Defendants Otis and Gibbs argue that the court erred in sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Lance R. Chism (on appeal) and Eric Scott Hall (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Deredious Otis.

          Eric Mogy, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Brashard Gibbs.

          Murray B. Wells (on appeal and at trial) and Arthur F. Horne, III (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Carlos Key.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Raymond Lepone and Neal Oldham, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Norma McGee Ogle, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE.

         FACTS

         These crimes resulted from the burglary of the Memphis residence of "Money Machine D" by his cousin, Joseph Taylor; Stanley Hibbler; Cortaze Tisdel; and Randy Godwin and their stealing approximately $100, 000 cash and 80 pounds of marijuana. As a result of subsequent extravagant purchases made by Mr. Godwin and Mr. Tisdel, "Money Machine D" apparently surmised that the men were responsible for the thefts and enlisted the Defendants to kill them. The first series of crimes, which resulted in Indictment No. 14-00025, occurred on August 28, 2013, at a carwash on Lamar Avenue in Memphis as Defendant Key circled the carwash in his burgundy-colored vehicle. His passengers were Defendant Otis, armed with two handguns with extended clips, and Defendant Gibbs, armed with a Chopper double-barreled machine gun, who sprayed the carwash with bullets. Struck and killed by the fusillade was Mr. Robbie Webb who was having his car washed and was not involved in the earlier burglary or theft which precipitated the shooting. Also at the carwash were Mr. Tisdel, who was shot in the buttocks, and Mr. Godwin and Mr. Hibbler, who were not injured. Although Mr. Tisdel initially denied to police officers that he had been at the carwash at the time of the shooting, he later admitted he had done so because he intended to take revenge on the Defendants himself.

         The second incident involving the Defendants and resulting in Indictment No. 13-04715 occurred on September 21, 2013, when Mr. Godwin was driving on Interstate 240 with his cousin, Traci Lott, and her boyfriend, Edward Bryant. Mr. Godwin saw a white Dodge Dart pull in behind his vehicle. Defendant Key was driving while Defendants Otis and Gibbs leaned out of the car and opened fire on Mr. Godwin's vehicle, riddling it with bullet holes. Mr. Godwin exited the interstate and called 911. At this point, he decided to cooperate with the police regarding the carwash shooting because he believed the Defendants would continue to try and kill him.

         We now will review the evidence in this matter.

         Lowell Love testified that, at the time of the carwash shooting, he was washing a blue Corvette, as the owner stood behind the stall being used by Mr. Love. Several others, whom he did not know, were standing nearby. When he heard gunfire, Mr. Love ran into a nearby store, where he stayed for ten minutes. When he returned from the store, the deceased victim's body was on the ground. During the shooting, Mr. Love was wounded in the arm.

         Stanley Hibbler testified that he was at the carwash, having his Corvette washed, as the shots began. The Defendants drove by the carwash in a burgundy-colored vehicle, firing shots. Mr. Hibbler dropped behind one of the walls of the carwash until the shooting stopped. Initially, he did not talk with officers about the shooting because he intended to kill the Defendants himself.

         Mr. Hibbler said he knew the Defendants from the neighborhood and that they had been hired to kill him for his role in the theft of money and drugs from "Little D's" house. He further said that the deceased victim, who was his cousin, had not been involved in the theft.

         Cortaze Tisdel testified that he was at the carwash with Mr. Hibbler, Mr. Godwin, and Mr. Taylor. The Defendants circled the carwash before opening fire, wounding Mr. Tisdel and killing Mr. Webb. The witness said that Defendant Gibbs had fired with a Chopper double-barreled machine gun, while Defendant Otis had used two handguns with long clips.

         Mr. Tisdel said he lied to the police about whom the shooters were because he planned to seek revenge. After a second attempt was made on his life, however, he gave a statement identifying the Defendants. He told the officers that Defendants Gibbs and Otis were the shooters, with Gibbs wounding him. Mr. Tisdel said that the Defendants had been looking for him for his part in the theft of 80 pounds of marijuana and approximately $100, 000 from the house of "Money Machine D" a month earlier, along with Mr. Hibbler, Mr. Taylor, and Mr. Godwin. From the proceeds of the robbery, Mr. Tisdel received about $30, 000, which he used to purchase clothes, drugs, and an Infinity automobile.

         Keith Howell, Jr., testified that he was a friend of the Defendants and that he told them the night of the carwash shooting that their names had come up regarding it. Regarding their involvement in the shooting, the Defendants told Mr. Howell, "If it was, they won't [have] enough [evidence] to convict us with it." Defendants Gibbs and Otis also said, "If we do get caught up in this, they won't have enough evidence." Mr. Howell took this response to mean that, while the Defendants had been involved, the police would not be able to prove it. Mr. Howell said that "Little D" was a member of the Young Mob gang and that the shooting was in retaliation for the burglary of his house when marijuana and money were taken.

         Randy Godwin said that, at the time of the carwash shooting, he was waiting for his vehicle to be washed and was called to the office. He saw the Defendants' car make a right turn by the carwash and heard gunshots as he was returning to his vehicle. He saw that Defendant Key was driving the car, as Defendants Otis and Gibbs were shooting from it. Several days later, he happened to see Defendants Otis and Gibbs at a store where they told him that they would kill him if he talked with the police about the shooting.

         Mr. Godwin testified that, a few days after his store encounter with Defendants Otis and Gibbs, he was driving on Interstate 240, with Ms. Lott and Mr. Bryant as passengers. A white Dodge Dart came up behind them and shot out the rear window of his vehicle. Mr. Godwin looked back and saw that Defendant Key was driving the shooters' vehicle, as Defendants Otis and Gibbs were leaning out of it. He pulled off the expressway and called 911.

         Edward Bryant testified that on September 21, 2013, he and his girlfriend, Traci Lott, were riding in Mr. Godwin's truck on Interstate 240 when the occupants of a white Dodge car began firing shots at the truck. Mr. Bryant identified Defendant Gibbs, who was hanging out the back window, as the shooter and said he had seen Defendant Key driving the white car ...


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