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Craft v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 16, 2018

ALLEN CRAFT
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs November 7, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 12-02286 Paula Skahan, Judge

         The Petitioner, Allen Craft, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective (1) for not filing a motion to sever his case from his codefendant; and (2) for failing "to introduce expert testimony which would tend to negate the requisite mental state required for the offense." Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

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

          Monica A. Timmerman, Bartlett, Tennessee, for the appellant, Allen Craft.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; David H. Findley, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Pamela Stark, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The Petitioner and his codefendant, Cedric Mims, were both "convicted of first degree felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, [and] attempted voluntary manslaughter." State v. Allen Craft & Cedric Mims, No. W2013-01822-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 5107036, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 10, 2014). Each received a total effective sentence of life imprisonment. Id. Upon affirming their convictions on direct appeal, this court described "[t]he proof against both defendants [as] abundant." Id. at *5. No permission to appeal to our supreme court was sought.

         The Petitioner and Mr. Mims, both armed with handguns, approached two men sitting in an SUV parked in front of a grocery store on Vance Avenue in Memphis. Craft, 2014 WL 5107036, at *1. The Petitioner and Mr. Mims demanded money and forced the men out of the SUV. Id. After taking approximately forty dollars, the Petitioner and Mr. Mims shot both of the men. Id. They also shot a third man who attempted to assist the victims. Id. One of the victims, Ronald Ellington, died from a gunshot wound to the chest. Id. at *1, 4.

         Neither the Petitioner nor Mr. Mims denied committing the robbery. Craft, 2014 WL 5107036, at *2-4. Both men claimed in statements to the police that they were forced to commit the robbery by a gang leader, Melvin Bridgewater. Id. The only difference in their statements was that each blamed the other for fatally shooting Mr. Ellington. Id. at *3. Mr. Mims also told the police that prior to the robbery, the Petitioner had "put a bullet in his chamber" and told Mr. Mims, "'I got your back.'" Id. Mr. Mims testified at trial, but the Petitioner did not. Id. at *4.

         On December 12, 2014, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. An attorney was appointed to represent the Petitioner in this matter, and two amended petitions were subsequently filed. As pertinent to our review, the Petitioner alleged that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to seek a severance from his codefendant and for failing to present expert testimony about his mental state at the time of the offense.

         At the evidentiary hearing, the Petitioner claimed that he never spoke to trial counsel about what their defense would be at trial. The Petitioner also claimed that trial counsel did not review with him the discovery materials provided by the State. Rather, she "just gave it to" him. The Petitioner further claimed that he had been in "Special Ed" classes in ...


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