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Boatwright v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

May 22, 2018


          Session January 24, 2018

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 102783 G. Scott Green, Judge

         The Petitioner, William Boatwright, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and two aggravated assault convictions, for which he is serving a forty-seven-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand the case for additional findings of fact and conclusions of law.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment Reversed; Case Remanded

          Joshua Hedrick, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Boatwright.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffery D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Charme P. Allen, District Attorney General; and Leslie Nassios, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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



         This case arises from the Petitioner's participation in a home invasion of an apartment in which numerous people were present. See State v. William Ray Boatwright, No. E2012-00688-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 775787 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 28, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 12, 2013). After the trial, the trial court merged the aggravated assault convictions with the especially aggravated robbery conviction and sentenced the Petitioner to forty-nine years' incarceration. Id. The Petitioner appealed, and this court summarized the facts as follows:

This case arises out of a home invasion/robbery that occurred very early on the morning of May 22, 2008, at the Knoxville apartment of Christy Hines. Hines was at home with her mother, Jamesina Thompson; her friend, Alora Williams; her cousin, Stephon Matthews; and her two young children when someone knocked on the door. Matthews cracked the door open and a group of armed, masked men rushed in, terrorizing the occupants, robbing Matthews of his cash, and taking a carton of cigarettes and a camcorder from the apartment. Just before leaving, one of the men, whom Williams later identified as the defendant, delivered a violent blow with his gun to Matthews' head, fracturing his skull. The Knox County Grand Jury subsequently returned a five-count indictment charging the defendant with especially aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, especially aggravated burglary, and two counts of aggravated assault.
At the defendant's trial, Stephon Matthews testified that in May of 2008, he was seventeen years old, a high school football player, and living with his cousin, Christy Hines, in her Knoxville apartment. On the night of the burglary, he and his family were at home when someone knocked on the door. They asked who it was, and a person answered "Mike." He opened the door and four men rushed in, knocking him to the floor as they "slung the door open." He heard someone say, "[C]'mon Strong, " and the men twice searched his pockets for his money as he lay on the floor. They were unable to get it, so he took $200 out of his pocket and threw it on the table for the men to take, saying, "[H]ere." Before the intruders left, one of the men who was standing over him said, "I'm sorry I've got to do this to you, Cuz, " and then hit him in the head with a gun. Matthews testified that his skull was fractured, which required him to undergo emergency surgery and spend a week in the hospital. He said that his memory was impaired by his head injury and that he was no longer able to play football.
On cross-examination, Matthews acknowledged that his testimony at the preliminary hearing was that the man who struck him was wearing a blue bandana.
Jamesina Thompson testified that on May 21, 2008, she and her daughter, Christy Hines, spent the afternoon sitting outside with her daughter's two children and a "bunch of little kids" from the community holding a dance contest for the children, which her daughter recorded on her camcorder. During that time, the defendant arrived with three other men, said hello to them, and then went up the steps to the neighbors that he was visiting.
Later that night, her daughter's friend, Alora Williams, came over to visit and Matthews, who had been out, returned home. Thompson testified that Hines was "getting her hair done" and the rest of them were watching television when someone knocked at the door. She twice asked who it was, and each time the person replied, "Mike." She explained that she asked twice because the next-door neighbor was named Mike, but he was Caucasian and she knew that it was not his voice at the door. Suspicious, she peeked out the window and saw that the person was not standing in front of the door where she could see him but instead beside the door wearing a hood. In the meantime, Matthews had gotten up to answer the door. She and her daughter both called out a warning to him, but he moved fast and they were too late to prevent him from opening the door, with his foot behind it so that he could peek out. As soon as he did so, there was a "big kaboom" as the door was burst all the way open.
Thompson testified that she got behind a large speaker in the living room and remained there without moving the entire time that the intruders were in the home. She heard someone say, "[Y]ou already know what time it is, " followed by "[I]s there anybody else in here? If there's anybody else in here, come out now or I'll shoot everybody in here." At that point, Williams, who had fled from the room when the door burst open, came from around the corner and stood against the living room wall. After that, Thompson heard people rummaging back and forth throughout the home, one of the intruders call her granddaughter by name as he asked her if anyone else was in the apartment; someone asking her granddaughter why the light was so dim and telling her not to cry; Matthews['] volunteering to give up his money and one of the intruders saying, "[T]hat's good"; one of the intruder[']s instructing another one to get a box of Newport cigarettes; the sound of feet moving away; a period of silence; one of the intruder[']s saying, "[S]orry I got to do this to you, Cuz"; and then the sound of Matthews['] groaning.
Thompson testified that after the intruders left, Williams ran to shut the front door and she went to assist Matthews, who had "staggered up from the floor" and was lying slumped on the couch with blood running down his face. About eight or nine minutes later, Matthews' voice became garbled and he appeared to be having a seizure, so they called an ambulance, which transported him to the hospital for emergency surgery. Thompson testified that, in addition to Matthews' cash and the carton of cigarettes, the intruders took the camcorder that her daughter had been using earlier that afternoon. She said that the next day they found the camcorder, which had been broken "to shreds, " behind a neighbor's house.
Thompson testified that she informed the police officers who investigated the crimes that one of the [intruders'] voices sounded very familiar to her. After the police left, she found two slugs on the carpet, which she turned over to the police. Thompson said that she heard a clicking sound at the time one of the intruders threatened to shoot everyone in the apartment, and she therefore assumed that the slugs fell from his gun at that time.
Christy Hines testified that at the time of the burglary she made money by selling crack cocaine from her Knoxville apartment. She said that on the afternoon of May 21, 2008, she was sitting outside in the parking lot with her mother and her children "making her sales" and videotaping the children when the defendant arrived with James Cade and two other men. She stated that the defendant and Cade remained at the complex for a couple of hours and saw her making drug sales during that time.
Hines testified that she, her family, and her friend, Alora Williams, were inside her apartment later that night when a man wearing a hood knocked at the door and identified himself as "Mike." She said she was standing right behind her cousin when he cracked the door open, and she saw James Cade pulling a blue bandana over his face just before he and the other men rushed into the apartment. She stated that she got down on the floor between the wall and the couch, where she heard the intruders say a number of things, including: "[Y]'all mother fuckers know what it is"; "[W]here the shit at"; "[C]'mon, Strong"; and "[B]itch, get out [of] the kitchen and come back in there or I'm shooting everybody in the house." She also heard one of the men direct another to get the carton of Newports, and one of them say, just before leaving, "I hate to do you like this, Cuz, " which was followed by a sound like an egg splattering and Matthews moaning.
Hines testified that the men took Matthews' cash, her camcorder, and the carton of cigarettes. She described finding the two bullets in the living room after the police left her apartment and her discovery of the smashed camcorder behind the neighboring building the next day. She said that she described Cade to the police and later picked his photograph out of a photographic lineup. She also testified that she told the police she recognized the defendant's voice and that she gave them his name.
Alora Williams testified that she fled to the kitchen when the door of the apartment was burst open, but "the next thing [she] kn[e]w, a big gun was in [her] face" and one of the intruders threatened to shoot everyone in the apartment if she did not come out. She, therefore, put her hands in the air and returned to the living room, where she slumped against a wall and watched everything that transpired. She said that two men ran to the back of the apartment while two remained in the front. One of those two was wearing a blue bandana and the other one was wearing a stocking cap pulled down over his eyes. While the men in the back of the apartment were making noises that sounded as if they were tearing the rooms apart, the man in the stocking cap asked her questions about herself such as her name and where she was from, which she found odd. After the two men in the back ran to the front of the apartment and the men were heading out the door, the man who had been talking to her turned back and said, "I hate to do this to you, Cuz, " before striking Matthews on the head with his gun.
Williams made a positive courtroom identification of the defendant as the man who struck Matthews in the head and said that Matthews had already given his money to the defendant before the defendant struck him. She said that she could see "straight through" the defendant's stocking cap and that she also recognized him by his voice. Williams explained that she had met the defendant before the burglary at a local mall, where he had engaged her in a couple of brief conversations and asked for her telephone number. They never went out on a date, however.
On cross-examination, Williams reiterated that she was able to see through the defendant's stocking cap, which, she said, was made of "see-through mesh." She testified that the defendant was the only one who talked and that her attention was concentrated on his mouth and his distinctive teeth, which consisted of front teeth that "stuck out" and bottom teeth that were discolored, rotting, and "kind of wrangled." On redirect examination, she testified that she identified the defendant from a photographic lineup about a week after the burglary and at a preliminary hearing held several weeks after the burglary.
James Cade testified that he was with the defendant in the parking lot of Hines's apartment complex for about thirty minutes early in the evening of May 21, 2008, before leaving by himself. Later that day, the defendant called to ask where he could get some drugs, and he gave him Hines's name. He and the defendant returned to the complex, met Hines as she was coming out of her apartment, and asked her about her drugs. She informed them that she did not have any at that time, so they left the complex again and he dropped the defendant off before going home and then to bed.
At about 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. the next morning, the defendant called to ask for a ride. Cade testified that he picked up the defendant and two men who were with the defendant and took them to Hines's apartment. All four of them walked up to Hines's porch, and the defendant knocked on the door and announced that he was "Mike." When the door opened "a little bit, " the defendant took out a gun and he and his two friends "bum-rushed in." Cade said that he initially "froze up, " but then returned to his car and went home and back to bed. The next morning, the defendant called to ask why he had deserted them and he explained to the defendant that he "didn't know it was going to go down like that." The defendant then told him that he had to hit Matthews in the head with his pistol "so he couldn't remember nothing" because Matthews had gotten too close to him when he was taking his money.
Cade, who said he had no criminal record before his charges in the instant case, testified that he had pled guilty to facilitation of especially aggravated robbery for his role in the crimes. On cross-examination, he acknowledged that he was originally charged with not only especially aggravated robbery, but also aggravated robbery and especially aggravated burglary. He further acknowledged that he had agreed to testify against the defendant in exchange for being allowed to plead guilty to the ...

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