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Williams v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

March 15, 2018

CHRISTOPHER L. WILLIAMS
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs February 14, 2018

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2001-C-1673 Cheryl A. Blackburn, Judge

         The Petitioner, Christopher L. Williams, filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The coram nobis court summarily denied his petition on the grounds that it was untimely filed. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the petition was timely filed and that the coram nobis court erred in denying relief without a hearing. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

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

          Christopher L. Williams, Pikeville, Tennessee, pro se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Counsel; Glenn Funk, District Attorney General; and Megan King, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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

          OPINION

          ROBERT L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE.

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         In August 2002, the Petitioner was convicted of three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and received a total effective sentence of seventy-five years with release eligibility after service of 100% of the sentence. State v. Christopher L. Williams, Corey A. Adams, and Ortega Wiltz, No. M2003-00517-CCA-R3-CD, 2005 WL 639123, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 16, 2005), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 10, 2005).[1] The Petitioner's convictions stemmed from the kidnapping of Willie Robertson, Mr. Robertson's four-year-old son, and Rick Harbin. Id. The Petitioner's convictions and sentences were affirmed by this court on direct appeal, and he did not seek further review from the Tennessee Supreme Court.[2] Id.

         In October 2006, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, requesting a delayed appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed this petition as untimely, and this court affirmed the post-conviction court's dismissal because the petition was untimely filed and due process did not require tolling of the statute of limitations. Christopher L. Williams v. State, No. M2007-00386-CCA-R3-PC, 2008 WL 544636, at *1-2 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 21, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 23, 2008). The Petitioner filed a second petition for post-conviction relief in 2008, which the post-conviction court summarily dismissed as previously litigated. It appears from the record and previous cases involving the Petitioner that the Petitioner did not appeal the dismissal of his second post-conviction petition to this court. The Petitioner filed a third petition for post-conviction relief in 2012, which the post-conviction court dismissed as time-barred and having been previously litigated. On appeal, this court affirmed the summary dismissal of the Petitioner's third post-conviction petition as time-barred. Christopher L. Williams v. State, No. M2012-00533-CCA-R3-PC, 2012 WL 5595007, at *3 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 13, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Mar. 5, 2013). The Tennessee Supreme Court denied further review of the Petitioner's third post-conviction petition.

         On February 27, 2017, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The petition alleged that, on January 24, 2017, the Petitioner received his case file from the District Attorney General's Office and discovered a statement from "the brother of the victim" which "described the events from the night in which the alleged crimes were supposed to have taken place as 'this altercation resulted from the mismanagement of drug revenue.'" The Petitioner asserted that, "[a]t the time this statement was originally obtained[, ] the [Petitioner] had no knowledge of who this unnamed individual was or how to locate him." The Petitioner learned from the case file that the unnamed witness was Mr. Brown and that Mr. Robertson "confided in" Mr. Brown after the offenses. Mr. Brown informed law enforcement that the "altercation" between the Petitioner and Mr. Robertson was "the result of the mismanagement of drug revenue." The Petitioner argued that Mr. Brown's testimony at trial would have corroborated his version of the "altercation" between the victim and himself. The petition also stated that "Eric Brown was a potential witness of the prosecution, but was never called on to testify." The Petitioner attached a document entitled State's Supplemental Discovery Response as an exhibit to the petition, which listed Mr. Brown as a potential witness at trial.

         On August 14, 2017, the coram nobis court denied the Petitioner's error coram nobis petition as untimely. The order stated the following:

The filing of the petition for a writ of error coram nobis [fifteen] years after trial, therefore, is untimely. [The] Petitioner has failed to state any ground for which the statute of limitations should be tolled. Moreover, nothing in the record implicates any due process concerns that would require that the statute of limitations be tolled; the evidence was not "later-arising" since it was ...

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