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State v. Vaughn

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 29, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs October 4, 2016

          Remanded by the Supreme Court on November 17, 2017

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. 15-231 Donald H. Allen, Judge

         The Defendant, Harold Allen Vaughn, appealed his convictions for attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, and especially aggravated robbery, contending that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions and that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury that his co-defendant was an accomplice as a matter of law. Upon review, this court affirmed the convictions but remanded the case for entry of a separate judgment form in Count 2 reflecting that the Defendant's aggravated assault conviction was merged with his attempted first degree murder conviction in Count 1. State v. Harold Allen Vaughn, No. W2016-00131-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 7102748, at *10 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 6, 2016), perm. app. granted and case remanded, No. W2016-00131-SC-R11-CD (Tenn. Nov. 17, 2017) (order). On November 17, 2017, the Tennessee Supreme Court granted the Defendant's pro se application for permission to appeal and remanded the case to this court for reconsideration in light of the supreme court's opinion in State v. Henderson, 531 S.W.3d 687 (Tenn. 2017). State v. Harold Allen Vaughn, No. W2016-00131-SC-R11-CD (Tenn. Nov. 17, 2017) (order). Upon further review, we vacate the Defendant's conviction for especially aggravated robbery, modify this conviction to aggravated robbery, and remand the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing and for entry of an amended judgment form in Count 4 reflecting this modified conviction and sentence. We also remand the case for entry of corrected judgments forms in Counts 1 and 2 as specified in this opinion. In all other respects, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3; Judgments of the Circuit Court Affirmed in Part; Reversed in Part; Modified; Remanded

          George M. Googe, District Public Defender; Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the Defendant-Appellant, Harold Allen Vaughn.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Brian M. Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.



         This case concerns the robbery and shooting of the victim, Christopher Tompkins. The Defendant, and his co-defendants, James Martin and Bethany Long, was subsequently arrested and charged with attempted first degree murder in Count 1, aggravated assault in Count 2, especially aggravated kidnapping in Count 3, and especially aggravated robbery in Count 4. The Defendant filed a motion to sever his case from his co-defendants' cases, which was granted by the trial court.[1] At trial, the court dismissed the kidnapping charge, and the Defendant was otherwise convicted as charged.

         Although our previous opinion contained a detailed recitation of all the facts in this case, in this opinion, we will summarize only the evidence that is relevant to the issue on remand. See Harold Allen Vaughn, 2016 WL 7102748, at *1-4.

         Christopher Tompkins, the victim, testified that on November 24, 2014, he traveled by bus from Memphis, Tennessee, to Jackson, Tennessee, to transport a car for his employer. Upon arriving in Jackson, the victim learned that the car at issue was disabled, so he walked to Love's Truck Stop to call his friend for a ride back to Memphis. While he was waiting on his ride, the victim met Bethany Long, an employee at the Hardee's restaurant that was located inside the truck stop. The victim later met Long's boyfriend, the Defendant, and the Defendant's friend, James Martin, when they came into the restaurant to pick up Long after her shift. As the Defendant, Long, and Martin were leaving the restaurant, the Defendant offered to give the victim a ride if his friend failed to pick him up, and they exchanged phone numbers. Later, after his ride failed to appear, the victim called the Defendant and offered to pay him $100 if he would drive him to Memphis, and the Defendant accepted. Around 10:45 p.m., the Defendant and Martin, who were riding in a silver car driven by a female whom the victim had not met, returned to the truck stop. They picked up the victim, and the victim gave the Defendant $40 for gas. Shortly after leaving the truck stop, the female driver claimed she had a family emergency, and she drove the Defendant, Martin, and the victim to the Defendant's car, which was parked at the Lincoln Courts housing complex. After picking up the Defendant's car, the Defendant, Martin, and the victim rode to another gas station where the victim purchased gas for the Defendant's car and two beers. The Defendant then picked up Long, who had a valid driver's license, so she could drive the Defendant's car to Memphis.

         The victim said that shortly after they began driving to Memphis, Long declared that she did not feel well and exited Interstate 40. The Defendant got into the driver's seat and began driving away from the interstate and into a rural area. The victim, who had been tracking the route to Memphis with the GPS on his phone, informed the Defendant he was going the wrong way, which the Defendant denied. The Defendant continued to drive in the wrong direction and suddenly stopped his car in a deserted area and asked the victim to help him with his headlights, which the Defendant claimed were not operating properly. The victim declined and suggested that Martin help the Defendant with his headlights. When Martin exited the car to assist with the headlights, the victim remained in the car and texted his friend the name of the road they were on and told her to call the police because "something is up with this guy." Moments later, the Defendant appeared on the passenger side of the car and pointed a gun in the victim's face.

         The victim said the Defendant continued to hold him at gunpoint and directed Martin to search him. The Defendant and Martin searched the victim while he was still seated in the car and then pulled him out of the car and continued to search him, taking the victim's wallet, phone, tablet, and two bags of personal belongings and clothes. At that point, the Defendant put the gun to the victim's temple and told him to lie down on the ground, and the victim told him, "Man, you already got everything, you got the gun, you in control. You already done robbed me." The victim said he did not immediately get on the ground because he believed the Defendant was going to kill him. Instead, the victim "looked up to [his] right where the gun [was], and as [he] did that, [the Defendant] pulled the trigger." The first bullet went through the victim's jaw, ricocheted off his back tooth, and came to rest in his mouth. After the first shot, the victim started running and the Defendant shot him four more times. The second shot grazed his neck, the third and fourth shots entered his upper right arm, and the fifth shot hit him in the back. As the victim ran toward the woods, the Defendant fired one more shot in his direction but missed. The victim stated that the pain from his gunshots wounds "was probably the worst I've felt in my life" and that although he was in shock and bleeding, he ...

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