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State v. Summers

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 16, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs April 18, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Lewis County No. 2015-CR-55 Deanna B. Johnson, Judge

         A Lewis County jury convicted the Defendant, Steven O. Summers, II, of theft of more than $1, 000, and the trial court sentenced him to four years on probation and ordered him to pay restitution to the victim. In this appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it failed to excuse certain members of the jury pool for cause; (2) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; and (3) the trial court ordered the Defendant to pay an incorrect amount of restitution and failed to follow the proper procedure when it determined restitution. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

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

          Richard Boehms, Hohenwald, Tennessee, for the appellant, Steven O. Summers, II.

          Herbert H. Slattery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper, District Attorney General; Terry E. Wood, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Camille R. McMullen, JJ., joined.



         I. Facts

         This case arises from the Defendant being hired by a nurse to create a medical computer program for her employer. The nurse paid the Defendant more than $4, 000 for his work and did not receive any part of a working computer program in return. For this offense, a Lewis County grand jury indicted the Defendant for theft of more than $1, 000.

         A. Voir Dire

         During voir dire, the State questioned prospective jurors, and several jurors identified themselves as either being acquainted with the victim or her family in some capacity. Juror Tiller stated that the victim was married to her first cousin and that she considered the victim a friend. She stated that their relationship would not prevent Juror Tiller from evaluating the victim's testimony fairly. Juror Tiller also stated that she considered the victim's current husband a friend but that that would not prevent her from evaluating the case fairly or make her more inclined to believe his or the victim's testimony. Juror Frazier stated that the victim was her second cousin but that would not prevent her from evaluating the victim's testimony fairly; Juror Frazier then stated she was not sure if she would be swayed by their relationship. Juror Templeton stated that she attended church with the victim's children and ex-husband but that their acquaintance would not prevent her from evaluating the case fairly. Juror Grinder stated that the victim had been friends with Juror Grinder's daughter growing up. Juror Price stated that he had worked with the victim at a nursing home in the 1980's, albeit indirectly. He also stated that the victim's husband had hired him to work at a bank in the 1990's. Juror Walton and Juror Carroll stated that they had relationships with the victim's current husband and both considered him a friend; both stated that they could evaluate the case fairly in spite of their relationships. Juror Grinder, Juror Lyell, and Juror Sharp also stated that they knew the victim's husband through business dealings at their bank; all three jurors stated they could evaluate the case fairly. Juror Harris stated that he knew the police officer connected to this case and yet could judge him fairly as a witness; Juror Harris later stated he was uncomfortable serving because he knew "the family" well, although it was unclear of which family he was speaking. Further questioning of all the jurors revealed that, due to the size of their community, virtually all of the jury pool was acquainted with a member of the case in some way.

         B. Trial

         The case proceeded to trial, and the parties presented the following evidence: Melody Hankins, the victim, testified that she was a clinical wound specialist employed by American Medical Technologies, a company providing wound care, and also was a licensed nurse. Part of her job was to develop educational programs for her employer's facilities throughout the nation. In late 2010, she began developing a computer program titled "Wound Care A Puzzle, " which she intended to use to help diagnose and treat a patient's wounds. She received a patent for the program in 2010 and subsequently looked for a technology company to help her develop it. Through an internet search, she learned of Summers Technology and contacted the owner, the Defendant, whom she later met. At their first meeting in early November of 2010, the Defendant told her that he would be able to make her program "interactive" so it would be easy for a user to understand. He was "excited" to be involved. On a piece of paper marked "Summers Technology, " the Defendant wrote out a figure of $4, 370 as the cost for him to develop the program. She testified that $2, 185 of that total figure was due to the Defendant at the beginning of the project. She stated that the agreement between them was that the Defendant would complete his work on the computer program within ...

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