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State v. Lyles

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

June 6, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs December 5, 2017

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. 16-398 Donald H. Allen, Judge

         The Defendant, Christopher Orlando Lyles, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of first degree felony murder; second degree murder, a Class A felony; two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, Class A felonies; three counts of attempted aggravated robbery, Class C felonies; and aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and was sentenced to an effective term of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in granting the State two continuances and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Christopher Orlando Lyles.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; James E. Gaylord, Senior Counsel; Jerry Woodall, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown and Jody S. Pickens, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.


          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE


          As a result of events occurring during the early morning hours of July 17, 2015, the Defendant and co-defendant, Phillip Williams, Jr., were indicted for the first degree felony murder and first degree premeditated murder of Beau Reid; especially aggravated kidnapping of James Fisher and Bob Akins; attempted aggravated robbery of James Fisher, Bob Akins, and Beau Reid; and aggravated burglary of James Fisher's residence. Prior to trial, the court granted two motions for a continuance by the State, on April 28 and July 18, 2016. The case proceeded to trial in late October 2016.

         The State's proof at trial showed that James Fisher was at his apartment in the Parkway East Apartments in Jackson, Tennessee, around 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. on July 17, 2015. Two men, Bob Akins and Corry Crutchfield, and three women, Brooklyn Willingham, Ebony May and Teniya Miller, were with him, and they were smoking marijuana. Ms. Willingham recalled that the group smoked "eight or nine blunts, " and that she was "feeling the effects" of the marijuana. Mr. Akins admitted that he was "getting to the point . . . [o]f being high." At some point, Ms. Willingham and one of the men left the apartment to get cigarettes from a woman who lived elsewhere in the apartment complex. On the way to and from the other woman's apartment, Ms. Willingham noticed the Defendant standing outside in the parking lot and the two exchanged greetings. Ms. Willingham knew the Defendant because she had dated him for one or two months a few months earlier. Ms. Willingham and the man she was with returned to Mr. Fisher's apartment.

         About fifteen minutes later, someone knocked on the door of the apartment, and Mr. Fisher answered it. When Mr. Fisher opened the door, two men pushed into the apartment, waving guns and demanding money and marijuana. The intruders were not wearing masks or hoodies, and the lights were on in the apartment. Ms. Willingham, Mr. Fisher, and Mr. Akins identified the Defendant as one of the men who burst into the apartment with a handgun. Neither Mr. Fisher nor Mr. Akins had met the Defendant before that night. The Defendant and co-defendant took a small amount of marijuana and $40 from Mr. Fisher; however, they kept demanding more, asking about pills and "bowls of the weed." In an attempt to leave the apartment and have a better opportunity to escape, Mr. Fisher and Mr. Akins told the Defendant they knew where to get what he wanted, and the Defendant forced them to put on shoes and leave the apartment at gunpoint with him and co-defendant.

         Not knowing where to lead the group, Mr. Fisher led them toward the adjacent apartment complex, walking past the surveillance camera in the process. As they walked, the Defendant and co-defendant placed their handguns in their jacket pockets. After the men left the apartment, Ms. Miller realized that she had Mr. Fisher's phone, so the three women drove to the adjacent Lincoln Court Apartments to find him and return the phone. Once they located the men, Ms. Miller tried to give the phone to Mr. Fisher, but the Defendant demanded that she give it to him instead and then the women drove away. Beginning to think that the Defendant suspected they were lying and might try to escape, Mr. Fisher and Mr. Akins arbitrarily picked an apartment as the location for where the Defendant could get more drugs. Mr. Fisher recalled that, at that point, the Defendant told him and Mr. Akins to "Taliban up"; meaning take off their shirts and wrap them around their faces. The Defendant directed that, once the group got inside, they were going to "lay [the occupants] down, tie them up, and . . . search for the dope." The men started knocking on the front and back doors of the apartment, as well as on the front and side windows.

         Mr. Fisher noticed that a man, later identified as Beau Reid, had come out from the back of the apartment and was standing on the side behind the co-defendant. Becoming aware of such, the co-defendant aimed his gun at Mr. Reid. Mr. Fisher went to the front of the apartment where the Defendant was and informed him that "[t]he man came outside." The Defendant moved to the side of the apartment and trained his gun on Mr. Reid as well. With their captors distracted, Mr. Fisher and Mr. Akins ran off. As they ran, both Mr. Fisher and Mr. Akins heard multiple gunshots and turned around and saw the Defendant firing his gun at Mr. Reid. Mr. Fisher and Mr. Akins hid for several minutes and then went to a nearby house and called the police. After the police arrived, they were transported to the ...

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