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State v. Tutlam

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 23, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs November 14, 2017

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2013-D-2894 Cheryl A. Blackburn, Judge

         A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Peterpal T. Tutlam, of two counts of especially aggravated robbery, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of aggravated rape, Class A felonies. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Appellant to twenty-five years for each conviction and ordered that the sentences be served consecutively for a total effective sentence of one hundred fifty years. On appeal, the Appellant contends that his effective sentence is excessive. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Elizabeth Ann Russell (on appeal) and David Harris (at trial), Franklin, Tennessee, for the appellant, Peterpal T. Tutlam.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Glenn R. Funk, District Attorney General; and Megan King, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Alan E. Glenn, JJ., joined.



         I. Factual Background

         This case relates to Yangreek Wal, Duol Wal, Tut Tut, and the Appellant kidnapping and terrorizing the two male victims, P.T. and R.W., on March 17, 2012. [1] In November 2013, the Davidson County Grand Jury indicted the Appellant for two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping with a deadly weapon, two counts of especially aggravated robbery, and four counts of aggravated rape accomplished by force and while armed with a weapon. The State dismissed two of the aggravated rape charges before trial. Although the Appellant does not contest the sufficiency of the evidence, we will summarize the evidence presented at trial.

         In the early morning hours of March 17, 2012, the victims, who had been friends since high school, were walking through a breezeway in R.W.'s apartment complex. The victims passed two men, and the men asked the victims a question. One of the men then attacked R.W. by hitting him on the head and putting a knife to his throat. The man pinned R.W. to an apartment door and demanded that R.W. give him everything in R.W.'s pockets. Meanwhile, the second man approached P.T. and began beating him. A third man entered the breezeway and joined the other two in attacking the victims. The three men took the victims' wallets and cellular telephones out of their pockets and dragged them to a small car where a fourth man was waiting.

         The four men forced the victims into the back seat of the car. P.T. was sitting in the middle of the back seat, R.W. was sitting to P.T.'s left, and one of the men was sitting to P.T.'s right. The other three men were sitting in the front of the car with one of them sitting in the driver's seat, one sitting on the center console, and one sitting in the passenger seat. The four men drove the victims to an ATM. During the drive, the men hit the victims and threatened to kill them. They also passed around the knife and stabbed the victims' arms and legs. When they arrived at the ATM, the four men demanded the personal identification numbers for the victims' bank cards, and the victims tried to cooperate by giving them the numbers. The driver and another man in the front went to the ATM and withdrew money from the victims' bank accounts. While they were gone, the third man in the front got out, opened the rear driver-side door, and tried to break R.W.'s hand by bending it backward.

         When the two men returned from the ATM, the driver drove everyone to a second ATM. There, the same two men went to the ATM and withdrew money from the victims' bank accounts while the two remaining men and the victims waited in the car. The victims were then ordered to fellate each other. P.T. testified:

At least two people were in the car at this point. That part is a little fuzzy. I'm not sure if we had gotten back in the car and began moving yet. But at one point everybody was in the car while we were -- while this was happening because it was moving. They made us take turns and -- they made us take turns, and the car was moving at one point during that.

         After being in the car for a total of about forty-five minutes, the driver stopped the car. The four men ordered the victims to take off their clothes and ordered them out of the car. The four men also got out and kicked R.W., who was lying face-down on the road, on the head. The four men got back into the car and drove away. The victims walked to a house, and P.T. asked a woman who was sitting on her back patio to call 911. A man in the house brought out towels to the victims.

         When police officers arrived at the scene, they found the naked victims wrapped in blankets. The victims were "drenched in blood" from cuts and lacerations, and R.W. appeared to have a head injury. The victims told police officers what had happened and were transported to Vanderbilt Hospital. P.T. was released from the hospital later that day, and R.W. stayed in the hospital two days. Both of the victims had at least ten stab wounds on their arms and legs. P.T. testified that he also had a large scrape on his head, a scratch across his face from a knife blade, an almost-broken finger, bruising, and swelling. He said that the stab wounds in his legs caused painful walking for weeks and that it took six months for his hand to heal. R.W. testified that his being kicked on the head while lying on the road resulted in a cut above his eyebrow that required more than thirty stitches. He also had a headache for ...

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