Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs December 20, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Rhea County No. 16878 J. Curtis
petitioner, Roy Len Rogers, appeals the denial of
post-conviction relief from his 2010 Rhea County Criminal
Court jury convictions of first degree premeditated murder,
second degree murder, and reckless endangerment, for which he
received a sentence of life imprisonment. In this appeal, the
petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective
assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we
R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Criminal Court
Keith Davis, Dunlap, Tennessee, for the appellant, Roy Len
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee
W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Michael J. Taylor,
District Attorney General; and James W. Pope, III, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.,
CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE
Rhea County Grand Jury charged the petitioner with one count
each of first degree premeditated murder, felony murder, and
attempted first degree murder, arising out of the murder of
the victim, Gregory Keith Brown, and the attempted murder of
the petitioner's ex-wife, Vanessa Collett. Following a
jury trial, the petitioner was convicted as charged of first
degree premeditated murder and was convicted of the
lesser-included offenses of second degree murder and reckless
endangerment. The trial court merged the first and second
degree murder convictions and imposed a mandatory life
sentence, to be served concurrently with a sentence of 11
months and 29 days for the reckless endangerment conviction.
This court affirmed the convictions and sentences on direct
appeal. See State v. Roy Len Rogers, No.
E2011-02529-CCA-R3-CD (Term. Crim. App., Knoxville, Sept. 23,
2013), perm. app. denied (Term. Apr. 11, 2014).
evidence adduced at the petitioner's trial established
that the petitioner and Mrs. Collett met in October 2006 and
married two months later. Id., slip op. at 2.
Because the petitioner "was very controlling and
threatening from the start, " the brief marriage ended
in March 2007, and Mrs. Collett and her daughter, Ciera
Bennett, moved in with Mrs. Collett's mother for a short
time before moving into an apartment. Id. Following
the separation, the petitioner called Mrs. Collett
"sometimes . . . hundreds of [times] a day, " both
prior to and after Mrs. Collett had changed her telephone
number, and the petitioner would often drive by Mrs.
Collett's residence, even going so far as to knock on the
door of Mrs. Collett's mother's residence.
Id. Mrs. Collett eventually contacted the police,
who, after numerous calls to her apartment, advised Mrs.
Collett to seek an order of protection. Id., slip
op. at 2-3. Although Mrs. Collett did obtain an order of
protection, the petitioner continued his harassment and even
threatened Mrs. Collett during a telephone call, "saying
that 'if he couldn't have [her, ] no one else
could." Id., slip op. at 3.
met with an attorney and believing that her divorce paperwork
was being processed in April, Mrs. Collett met the victim on
June 8, 2007, unaware that the divorce papers were not
actually filed until June 15. Id. When Mrs. Collett
met the victim, he had already learned about her from the
petitioner. Id. Mrs. Collett and the victim began
dating, which prompted the petitioner to call and text the
victim multiple times a day, demanding to know the status of
the victim's relationship with Mrs. Collett. Id.
According to Mrs. Collett, the victim instructed the
petitioner to stop contacting him. Id.
Mrs. Collett and the petitioner were married, Mrs. Collett
was aware that the petitioner "owned quite a few guns
and ammunition and would often shoot at targets in the
backyard." Id., slip op. at 2. Following their
separation, the petitioner followed Mrs. Collett on several
occasions, "including to and from church."
Id., slip op. at 3. Mrs. Collett had filed reports
with the police to document these incidents of
evening of Saturday, July 28, 2007, Mrs. Collett and Ms.
Bennett were watching television in their apartment when they
heard the sound of their windchime; a domestic violence
counselor had advised Mrs. Collett to place a windchime on
her door to alert her to an intruder. Id. Mrs.
Collett testified that Ms. Bennett looked through the
door's peephole and stated, '"Mama, it's
Len.'" Id. Mrs. Collett called 9-1-1 and
reported a prowler but did not tell the 9-1-1 operator that
the prowler was the petitioner. Id. When police
officers arrived at her home, the petitioner was gone.
following morning, Mrs. Collett and Ms. Bennett attended
church and returned in the evening for a second church
service. Id. Following the evening service, the
victim met Mrs. Collett at her apartment, and the pair went
to dinner in Cleveland with Ms. Bennett and Ms. Bennett's
boyfriend. Id., slip op. at 3-4. After dinner, the
foursome visited Mrs. Collett's son. Id., slip
op. at 4. During these events, the petitioner called the
victim's cellular telephone "three or four times,
" but the victim ignored the calls. Id. After
returning Ms. Bennett's boyfriend to his residence, the
trio returned to Mrs. Collett's apartment between 11:15
and 11:30 p.m. Id.
The victim, an electrician, was leaving to go out of town the
next day, so he had packed a suitcase. He had previously
decided to spend the night with Mrs. [Collett] because he was
"worried with everything going on[.]" Mrs.
[Collett] went into the bedroom to show the victim where to
put his suitcase and to help him pick out his clothes for the
following day. The victim's .380 handgun, which was
holstered, was lying on a bedroom chair at that time. The
victim had brought the handgun to give to Mrs. [Collett] for
her protection. While Mrs. [Collett] was standing beside the
victim in her bedroom, she heard a "pop" and
"felt ... a burning on [her] left hand and the side of
[her] face." She saw blood drip onto the victim's
hand, and the victim fell to the floor. Upon realizing that
the victim had been shot, she ran to her daughter's room
to get the phone in order to call 911. Mrs. [Collett]
initially reported that the victim had shot himself.
Mrs. [Collett] testified that the [petitioner] had threatened
to kill her at least twice, that he had said to Mrs.
[Collett's] sister that Mrs. [Collett] "was as good
as dead, " and that in the past, he had threatened Mrs.
[Collett] with a gun. According to Mrs. [Collett], the
[petitioner] did not call her anymore after the victim had
Ms. Bennett, [who was] eighteen at the time of trial,
confirmed the many incidents of stalking, harassment, and
repetitive phone calls by the [petitioner] against her
mother. Ms. Bennett also heard some of the threats the
[petitioner] made to her mother. According to Ms. Bennett,
the [petitioner] would call and say, "Dead"; her
mother would then ask, "What are you saying?"; and
the [petitioner] would respond, "D-E-A-D." The
[petitioner] also called Ms. Bennett's phone on a number
of occasions, prompting her to change her number. Ms. Bennett
confirmed that she saw the [petitioner] outside their
apartment on the night before the shooting when alerted by
Id., slip op. at 4 (internal footnote omitted).
Collett's mother testified that, during the time in which
Mrs. Collett and Ms. Bennett were living with her following
the separation, the petitioner, on at least eight occasions,
would "wake her up every morning by ringing the doorbell
and leaving notes on the door, " that she had to
disconnect her home telephone because of the petitioner's
incessant calls, and that the petitioner would "follow
them while they were out." Id., slip op. at
4-5. Mrs. Collett's sister, Dottie Hawkins, testified
that the petitioner had once contacted her to inform her that
he "was on his way to kill" Mrs. Collett.
Id., slip op. at 5. Ms. Hawkins immediately
contacted the police, and police officers responded to Mrs.
Collett's residence and escorted her from the apartment.
Id. Ms. Hawkins testified that she resembled Mrs.
Collett and that she had once borrowed her vehicle.
Id. While driving Mrs. Collett's vehicle, the
petitioner attempted to run her off the road, apparently
mistaking Ms. Hawkins for Mrs. Collett. Id. Ms.
Hawkins testified that the petitioner had once threatened to
"use" a weapon he was holding on her and that the
petitioner once told her "that he wanted her dead
because she 'looked like' her sister."
Id. Ms. Hawkins estimated that the petitioner had
contacted her between 100 to 150 times to make threats
against Mrs. Collett and that the petitioner had also
threatened the life of Ms. Bennett. Id. Ms. Hawkins
testified that she was married to Terry Janow and that she
and her husband were in bed asleep at the time of the
shooting. Id. Mrs. Collett's friend, Janice
Franklin, testified about five or six instances when the
petitioner had stalked them while they were together,
including an instance when the petitioner had followed them
from church. Id. Ms. Franklin was also present with
Mrs. Collett on three or four occasions in which the
petitioner called Mrs. Collett. Id.
County Sheriffs Department ("RCSD") Detective Chris
Hall discovered a bullet hole in Mrs. Collett's bedroom
window and a nine-millimeter shell casing on the ground
outside the window. Id. Due to a gap in the window
covering, Detective Hall had an unobstructed view into Mrs.
Collett's bedroom from outside. Id. Detective
Hall also noticed an area near the window where "moss
'was mashed down'" in a way that indicated
'"that someone had been standing right there at the
edge of the window.'" Id., slip op. at 5-6.
Approximately 100 feet from Ms. Collett's apartment
building, Detective Hall located a set of tire tracks with
"three visible longitudinal stripes" and
'"fresh skid marks' where it appeared that the
'vehicle had dragged the underside, . . . like the
vehicle had backed out, or came out and bottomed
out.'" Id., slip op. at 6. Detective Hall
testified that insufficient detail in the tracks rendered a
positive identification of the vehicle impossible.
Deputy Gerald Brewer measured the distance between Mrs.
Collett's apartment and the petitioner's residence as
between 7.9 and 8.1 miles depending on the route taken.
Id., slip op. at 5. When Deputy Brewer drove the
most direct route at the posted speed limit, it took him
approximately 10 minutes, but by increasing his speed to 10
to 15 ...