Assigned on Briefs October 3, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 15-01445 Lee V.
Defendant, Ernest Butler, aka Antonio Butler, was convicted
of first degree felony murder and being a convicted felon in
possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to life
imprisonment and fifteen years, respectively, to be served
consecutively. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is
insufficient to sustain the murder conviction. We disagree
and affirm the judgments.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal
E. Thomas (on appeal) and Juni S. Ganguli (at trial),
Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ernest Butler, aka
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David
H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney
General; and Alanda H. Dwyer and Ann L. Schiller, Assistant
District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of
E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
John Everett Williams and Norma McGee Ogle, JJ., joined.
E. GLENN, JUDGE.
his three companions, who were not aware of his intentions,
waited in a vehicle on July 19, 2014, the Defendant entered
Midway Liquors in Memphis, where he purchased a pack of
cigarettes and became angry at the clerk, Kent Smith, whom he
shot and killed. During the incident, the victim returned
fire, striking the Defendant in the arm. A surveillance
camera recorded the shooting, as well as the Defendant's
taking money from the cash register. We will review the trial
Smith testified that she had been married to the victim for
thirty-five years at the time of his death. She viewed a
photograph of the victim's body and identified it as that
of her husband.
Thomas Parker of the Memphis Police Department testified that
on the day of the homicide, he went to Midway Liquors and
obtained the video which had been made by the store's DVR
recorder. From the video, he made individual still shots of
the incident, which were admitted into evidence.
Smith, the victim's son, testified that he and the victim
arrived at Midway Liquors at about 8:00 a.m. on July 19,
2014. Mr. Smith operated The Beverage Center which was next
door to the liquor store. Five to ten minutes after they
arrived, Mr. Smith heard five or six gunshots and, looking
through a window between the stores, saw a man with a gun in
the liquor store. He pressed the panic button, secured a
pistol, and ran outside. He saw a vehicle attempting to back
out and pointed his pistol at the driver. The car hit a
parked truck, and Mr. Smith ran into the liquor store, where
he found his father's body facedown in the office. He
immediately called 911 for assistance and, later, went to
police headquarters where he viewed mug shots, but he was
unable to identify the shooter.
Hill testified that, during the early morning hours of the
day of the homicide, she was with the Defendant, who was
known as "Bald Head, " as well as Autry Hampton and
Reginald Mull, at the Getaway Club near the victim's
liquor store. Around 8:00 a.m., the four of them got into Mr.
Hampton's car, and the Defendant complained that he had
spent $40 on some "bad dope." Mr. Hampton told the
Defendant to "let it go." Then, they saw the victim
walk in front of their car; and Mr. Hampton said, "Look
Bald Head, there go that man with that bag." The
Defendant said, "Hold on, " ...