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State v. Horton

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 29, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs November 7, 2017

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 16-04141 W. Mark Ward, Judge

         The defendant, Reggie Horton, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated kidnapping, and simple assault, claiming that the trial court erred by admitting certain evidence and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of aggravated kidnapping. Discerning no error, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3; Judgments of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Harry E. Sayle III (on appeal) and Robert Felkner (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Reggie Horton.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Danielle McCollum and Jamie Kidd, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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



         In July 2016, the Shelby County Grand Jury charged the defendant with one count of attempted first degree murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, three counts of aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of aggravated assault. Prior to trial, the State dismissed one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, and one count of aggravated assault. The trial court conducted a jury trial on the remaining counts in October 2016. The trial related to events that occurred on April 27, 2015.

          The State's proof at trial showed that Tokisha Craig had three children with the defendant over the course of their 11-year relationship. In 2012, shortly before becoming pregnant with her youngest child, K.H., [1] Ms. Craig met Kristen Franklin[2] at work. Approximately one year later, Ms. Craig's friendship with Ms. Franklin transformed into a romantic relationship, although Ms. Craig was still involved in a romantic relationship with the defendant as well. "Not too long" after Ms. Craig began seeing Ms. Franklin, the defendant learned of the relationship and "didn't like it." Although Ms. Craig was initially conflicted, she and her children later moved in with Ms. Franklin in November 2014. The defendant "didn't feel like his kids should be growing up with two women, " and he referred to Ms. Franklin as a "dyke."

         Ms. Craig and the defendant did not have a formal agreement as to custody and visitation; instead, Ms. Craig would bring the children to the defendant "[w]henever he called and said that he wanted" them. Initially, the defendant requested to spend every weekend with the children, but as time passed, he would make plans to see the children but would fail to pick them up as planned.

         On a date in early January 2015, the defendant visited Ms. Craig and the children at the residence they shared with Ms. Franklin, but Ms. Franklin was not at home during the defendant's visit and was unaware of the visit. After the defendant left, Ms. Franklin returned to the residence. Later that day, the defendant sent text messages to Ms. Franklin containing photographs of the interior of her residence and stating that he "had your b[****] last night." Ms. Franklin responded that she "hope[d he] enjoyed seeing [his] kids for the last time." The two continued to taunt one another via text messaging, with Ms. Franklin referring to the defendant as a "deadbeat." Ms. Franklin insisted, however, that she had never attempted to keep the children away from the defendant.

         Later that same evening, the defendant returned to the parking lot of Ms. Franklin's residence, proclaiming that "[n]obody's going to take [his] kids away from [him]." Ms. Craig attempted to reassure the defendant, but the defendant continued to angrily argue with Ms. Craig. At Ms. Craig's suggestion, Ms. Franklin returned to the residence and locked the front door while Ms. Craig attempted to convince the defendant to calm down.

          The defendant then kicked open both the front door of the residence and the locked master bathroom door, and he began choking and punching Ms. Franklin while threatening to kill her. Ms. Craig was initially successful in pulling the defendant away from Ms. Franklin, but in the process, Ms. Craig fell, and the defendant started toward Ms. Franklin again. At that time, Ms. Craig pushed the panic button of their alarm system, and the defendant fled. As a result of the attack, Ms. Franklin sustained cuts to her neck and forehead, and photographs of her injuries, as well as a photograph of the broken bathroom door, were entered into evidence.

         Ms. Craig continued to permit the defendant to visit the children, and the defendant continued to urge Ms. Craig to reconcile with him. To that end, he purchased an engagement ring for Ms. Craig in February, but she did not accept his proposal of marriage.

         On April 27, 2015, the defendant sent Ms. Craig a text message requesting that she and the children meet him to celebrate his birthday, and Ms. Craig responded that she was unavailable. Later that same morning, Ms. Craig and Ms. Franklin, along with 16-month-old K.H., patronized David's Bridal shop for Ms. Franklin to select a bridesmaid dress for a friend's wedding. As the trio exited the store, the defendant rushed toward them wielding a knife and accusing Ms. Craig and Ms. Franklin of planning to marry each other while exclaiming, "I'm going to kill y'all." Ms. Craig attempted to calm the defendant, but he swung the knife in Ms. Craig's direction, cutting her arm and her handbag. The defendant then pushed Ms. Craig out of the way and began attacking Ms. Franklin, stabbing her in the back, nose, neck, and fingers while exclaiming that he would kill Ms. Craig when he finished killing Ms. Franklin. Ms. Craig attempted to pull the defendant away from Ms. Franklin and, in the scuffle, the women were able to extricate the knife from the defendant's hand and fling it away; Ms. Craig's hand was cut in the process of disarming the defendant. Through the testimony of Ms. Franklin, the State introduced into evidence photographs of blood stains in the David's Bridal parking lot, Ms. Franklin's blood-stained clothing, and Ms. Franklin's injuries, including a scar several inches in length on her neck.

         After stabbing Ms. Franklin, the defendant grabbed Ms. Craig by her arm and hair and dragged her to his truck, causing her pain and causing her to lose her shoes and her eyeglasses in the process. When Ms. Craig was unable to initially enter the vehicle due to an unrelated ankle injury, the defendant punched her in the back and in the head, again causing her pain, before lifting her into the backseat of the truck and placing her on her stomach. The defendant then positioned his seat in such a way that Ms. Craig was unable to move, and he shut the door. The defendant returned to K.H., who was crying and leaning over Ms. Franklin. He picked up K.H. and placed her in the backseat of the truck next to Ms. Craig and quickly drove away.

          Rachel Cummings, an employee of David's Bridal, was sitting in her vehicle at 2:30 p.m. in the parking lot waiting for her shift to start when she heard a woman screaming. Ms. Cummings got out of her vehicle and saw a "very tall African American man" grab a woman by her hair and drag the woman toward his truck. Ms. Cummings saw the man throw the woman into the backseat of the truck, and he began beating the woman. Ms. Cummings begged the defendant to stop, but he told her to "[s]top interfering" as he continued to "beat[] this woman within an inch of her life." Ms. Cummings called 9-1-1 to report the assault and told the defendant that the police were on their way. At that point, the defendant grabbed K.H. and "threw her in the car like she was a football and he closed the door, forcefully" before "sp[eeding] off as fast as he could."

         Ms. Cummings, who was still on her cellular telephone with the 9-1-1 operator, was walking into the bridal store when she noticed Ms. Franklin lying on the ground. Ms. Cummings could see that she had been stabbed in the neck and saw a bloody knife on the ground. The people who were surrounding Ms. Franklin stated that she had been stabbed, ...

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