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State v. White

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

March 22, 2018


          Session December 19, 2017

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Anderson County No. B3C00440 Donald R. Elledge, Judge No. E2017-00885-CCA-R3-CD

         The Defendant, Cory Lynn White, was convicted by a jury of making a false report or statement, and he received a three-year spilt confinement sentence for this conviction. The Defendant appeals, arguing (1) that there was a fatal variance between the indictment and the proof offered at trial and (2) that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.[1] Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          J. Thomas Marshall, District Public Defender, for the appellant, Cory Lynn White.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Courtney N. Orr, Assistant Attorney General; David S. Clark, District Attorney General; and Emily F. Abbott, 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 H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.




         This case arose from officers' attempting to serve Skyla Lamb on November 21, 2012, with an arrest warrant for felony theft. Based upon the Defendant's communications with law enforcement during this encounter, the Defendant was charged with making a false report or statement in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-16-502(a)(2)(B). The Defendant proceeded to a jury trial that took place on February 10, 2016.

         At trial, Corporal Robert Bryson with the Anderson County Sheriff's Department ("ACSD") testified that he was on patrol on November 21, 2012, when he received a be-on-the-lookout report ("BOLO") regarding Skyla Lamb. According to Corporal Bryson, the BOLO conveyed that Ms. Lamb had been connected to a maroon Buick and that the vehicle was possibly at a 155 Coconut Lane, a residence inside a mobile home park. Corporal Bryson proceeded to that location while "it was daytime" and found the suspect vehicle at 176, not 155, Coconut Lane. The tag number matched the information disseminated in the BOLO, but Corporal Bryson "confirmed it with dispatch just to make sure." Corporal Bryson also verified the warrant on Ms. Lamb.

         While speaking with dispatch, Corporal Bryson saw the Defendant standing on the front porch of the mobile home, who, according to Corporal Bryson, went quickly inside when he saw Corporal Bryson "drive up." Corporal Bryson testified that the Defendant was not inside the trailer long before exiting from the side door that "had a ramp up to it." Although Corporal Bryson could not see the door itself, he observed the Defendant walk "down the ramp, back around, and . . . kneel[] over on the side of the ramp." "It looked like [the Defendant] was trying to work on the bottom of the trailer[, ]" as if he "was working on a piece of underpinning[.]"

         Corporal Bryson, who was wearing his uniform with his badge displayed, exited his patrol car and made contact with the Defendant. The Defendant identified himself to Corporal Bryson. Corporal Bryson testified that he "asked [the Defendant] where Ms. Lamb was" and informed the Defendant that "she ha[d] a warrant" for her arrest. The Defendant "said that Ms. Lamb was not there; that she had left with someone." When the Defendant was asked who accompanied Ms. Lamb when she left the trailer, "[h]e didn't know." Corporal Bryson stated that the following then transpired:

I basically told [the Defendant] that we needed to make contact with [Ms. Lamb] and needed to know who she left with. So, therefore, I asked him again if she was in there and he said: ["]No, she left with someone.["] That's when . . . the rest of the people from the Sheriff's Office arrived . . . [to provide b]ack up[.]

         ACSD Sergeant David Davis arrived while Corporal Bryson was interviewing the Defendant, and Sergeant Davis "was watching the surroundings of what was going on around" the officers. ACSD Deputy Darrell Leach went to the back of the residence, so no one could exit through the back door without being seen. Deputy Leach did not approach the door.

          Corporal Bryson continued with his interview and asked the Defendant for a third time "if [Ms. Lamb] was in the house[.]" The Defendant again said, "No she wasn't. She left with someone." Corporal Bryson also described this third response another way-the Defendant's expressing "that [Ms. Lamb] had left and no one was there." When the Defendant was instructed that "if he lied to [the officers] and kept [them] from apprehending . . . Ms. Lamb, that he could be in trouble if he was lying that she was in the trailer[, ]" he replied "that he didn't know, " that "she may be in there." The Defendant also told the officers that they needed to obtain a search warrant to enter the residence. Corporal Bryson confirmed that, during the entire exchange, he never posited the precise question to the Defendant, "[I]s she in the trailer?", and the Defendant never specifically stated, "[Ms. Lamb] left with someone and hasn't come back."

         Corporal Bryson described the Defendant's behavior as uncooperative, nervous, and "very erratic." Sergeant Davis opined that the Defendant seemed "evasive as [if he] didn't want to answer the questions" and that it did not appear as though the Defendant was "being truthful" with Corporal Bryson.

         Deputy Leach testified that, while he was watching the back of the home, he "heard someone walking inside the home" and "messing with the doorlock[.]" Deputy Leach then radioed to the other officers and relayed what he had heard. So for safety concerns, the officers decided to detain the Defendant because they "believed that [Ms. Lamb] was in the trailer from [the Defendant's] statements and the way he was acting[, ]" and they wanted to get Ms. Lamb "out as easily as" possible. After the Defendant was handcuffed, and as Officer Jeremy Baker "was walking him" to a patrol car, Ms. Lamb "came running out" of the trailer from the door "where the ramp was" "asking what [they were] doing with [the Defendant] and where [they were] taking him." Corporal Bryson was still standing on the trailer's porch when Ms. Lamb exited. Ms. Lamb was ultimately served with the warrant, which alleged theft of property valued between $1000 to $9, 999, and she was arrested.

         Corporal Bryson was asked what if the Defendant had said "from the beginning" that the officers had to get a search warrant, then, according to Corporal Bryson, the Defendant would not have been arrested. Corporal Bryson explained that he "would have taken into account that [Ms. Lamb's] probably in there and tried to get her out basically." When asked how this would have been accomplished, Corporal Bryson stated, "We would have attempted to get her out without, you know, by knocking on the door or either we have the option of going and getting the search warrant in going into the prospective residence." Corporal Bryson confirmed that, in the performance of his official duties, he would have still tried to the serve the warrant on Ms. Lamb regardless of the Defendant's responses. Sergeant Davis described that they would have either tried to talk Ms. Lamb out of the trailer or "wait[ed] [her] out[.]"

         According to Corporal Bryson, the Defendant did "hinder" their efforts to arrest Ms. Lamb "[b]y lying that she was not there[, ]" and the Defendant was arrested once they knew he had lied about Ms. Lamb's whereabouts. Corporal Bryson maintained that he did not arrest the Defendant because the Defendant was uncooperative or because the Defendant demanded that they get a search warrant, but because the Defendant "out and out lied." According to Corporal Bryson, the Defendant admitted "on the way to the jail and when [they] got there, that his ...

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