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McClain v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

April 17, 2018

CHARLES McCLAIN
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs February 6, 2018

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 10-00509 James C. Beasley, Jr., Judge.

         The Petitioner, Charles McClain, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree premeditated murder and especially aggravated kidnapping, for which he received concurrent sentences of life imprisonment and twenty-five years, respectively. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied effective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to object to the introduction of evidence that had been ruled inadmissible. We affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

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

          Monica A. Timmerman, Bartlett, Tennessee, for the Petitioner, Charles McClain.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Michael R. McCusker, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE.

         Factual Background.

         The Petitioner and three co-defendants were charged with first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery. State v. Charles McClain, No. W2013-00328-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 4754531, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 24, 2014), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Jan. 15, 2015).

         Prior to trial, the Petitioner filed a motion to suppress a cell phone that was in his possession at the time of his arrest, some jailhouse letters attributable to him, and his statement to police. After the State elected not to contest the motion to suppress, the trial court entered an order suppressing this evidence. At some point before trial, one of the Petitioner's co-defendants agreed to testify for the State, and the Petitioner and the remaining two co-defendants proceeded to trial. Id.

         At trial, the State presented proof that the Petitioner planned the robbery that resulted in the death of victim Tederrial Hancock. Evidence showed that the Petitioner knew the victim because the victim had a child with the Petitioner's estranged girlfriend and that the Petitioner provided the gun used during the offense. The Petitioner texted the victim the day of the offense claiming to be a girl named "Diamond" and set up a meeting between "Diamond" and the victim at a library parking lot, where the Petitioner's co-defendants robbed and killed the victim while the Petitioner waited across the street. Cell phone records revealed that the Petitioner texted the victim prior to the shooting and called or texted his three co-defendants before and after the shooting and that all of these calls and texts were made in the vicinity of the library where the victim was killed. Id. at *1-3. After hearing the evidence presented at trial, the jury convicted the Petitioner and his two co-defendants as charged, and the trial court merged the felony murder convictions with the first degree premeditated murder convictions. Id. at *1.

         The Petitioner then filed a direct appeal, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to corroborate the testifying co-defendant's testimony, that he was prejudiced by the State's use of a hypothetical during voir dire when discussing criminal responsibility, and that the trial court should have allowed him to rehabilitate a prospective juror during voir dire. Id. at *6-11. This court affirmed the judgments of the trial court, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied the Petitioner's application for permission to appeal. Id. at *12.

         Following his unsuccessful direct appeal, the Petitioner timely filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief and, after the appointment of counsel, filed two amended post-conviction petitions. The Petitioner alleged, in part, that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to object to the ...


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