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State v. Webster

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

February 21, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs January 17, 2018

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Maury County No. 23722 Russell Parkes, Judge

         Defendant, Lesandru Deniesh Webster, was convicted of aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping. She received an effective sentence of thirty-five years and six months. On appeal, Defendant argues that she was denied her right to a jury selected from a fair cross-section of the community and that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions. After review, we hold that Defendant is not entitled to relief. The judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

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

          Wesley Mack Bryant, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lesandru Deniesh Webster.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Brent Cooper, District Attorney General; and Kyle Dodd, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., joined.



         Factual and Procedural Background

         A Maury County Grand Jury indicted Defendant for aggravated robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, especially aggravated kidnapping, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Jury selection for a trial on those charges began in early December of 2015.

         Prior to voir dire of the venire jury, Defendant raised an issue with the composition of the jury pool. Defendant argued that the percentage of African-Americans in the jury pool was not an accurate reflection of the population of Maury County. Defendant argued that there was only one African-American in the jury pool and Maury County's population is approximately twelve percent African-American. The clerk explained that the names from the jury pool are derived from the Tennessee Department of Safety's list of people with valid driver's licenses. From that list, a computer randomly selects the members of the jury pool. Around 650 to 700 jurors were summoned for a four month term of jury service. Those jurors are then randomly placed on the grand jury and twelve-member panels. Five or six of those panels are called to make up venire juries for the trials that take place during a specific term. For this case, six panels were called. After questioning the clerk, the trial court found that "the composition of this particular jury, the petit jury, has in fact been randomly selected."

         Once the jury issue had been put on the record, the State moved the trial court to enter a nolle prosequi regarding the conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery and felon in possession of a firearm charges. Subsequent to that motion, the trial began. The State's proof consisted of five witnesses who testified to a largely consistent version of the facts. The following narrative is derived from their testimony.

         Defendant and Britni Jones were in an off-and-on romantic relationship for approximately six months leading up to July of 2014. At that time, they were residing at Kayla Anderson's house on Nowlin Court in Columbia, Tennessee. Ms. Jones's children resided with them. On July 19, 2014, Ms. Jones asked Defendant to arrange for a person, later identified as Robert Greer, to bring marijuana to the residence of Stephen Johnson, their neighbor. In the evening on July 19th, Mr. Johnson encountered Defendant in the parking lot at Nowlin Court. Defendant approached Mr. Johnson and told him that Ms. Jones was going to meet a man at Mr. Johnson's house, watch a movie, and get drunk with him. Defendant further told Mr. Johnson that she was going to come into the house and rob them. In the moment, Mr. Johnson did not stand up to Defendant because he was scared of her.

         When Ms. Jones got to Mr. Johnson's house, she spent some time with Mr. Johnson and his girlfriend, Brianna Boshers, before Mr. Greer arrived. Upon Mr. Greer's arrival, Ms. Jones asked if he had any marijuana. Mr. Greer said he didn't bring any marijuana, but he brought alcohol. The group-Ms. Jones, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Boshers, and Mr. Greer-sat on the couches in Mr. Johnson's living room and watched television. At some point, Ms. Jones got up from her seat to pour everyone a cup of alcohol. As she was doing so, an intruder came through the back door wearing a camouflage jumpsuit or coveralls and a mask over their face while holding a gun. Ms. Jones testified that the intruder told everyone to "[p]ut our hands up, get on the ground, empty our pockets, [and] give them everything ...

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