Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
THOMAS F. GREENWOOD
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Assigned on Briefs April 18, 2018
from the Circuit Court for Coffee County No. 42931 L. Craig
Petitioner, Thomas F. Greenwood, appeals the post-conviction
court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief
in which he challenged his convictions of felony murder
during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect, reckless
homicide, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated child
neglect. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial
counsel was ineffective by failing to retain an expert,
present certain witnesses, and properly prepare the
Petitioner for trial. Upon reviewing the record and the
applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Nicoll, District Public Defender, and Trenena G. Stanley,
Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Thomas
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ruth
Anne Thompson, Senior Counsel; Craig Northcott, District
Attorney General; and Jason Ponder, Assistant District
Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Everett Williams, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Robert W. Wedemeyer and Camille R. McMullen, JJ.,
EVERETT WILLIAMS, JUDGE.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
evidence presented at trial established that on March 9,
2010, the two-year-old victim died while in the care of the
Petitioner, who was the boyfriend of the victim's mother.
The facts relevant to this post-conviction appeal are
summarized below; a complete recitation of the evidence
presented at trial is included in this court's opinion on
direct appeal. See State v. Thomas Fancher
Greenwood, No. M2013-01924-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 6609308,
at *1-21 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 21, 2014), perm. app.
denied (Tenn. Apr. 10, 2015).
victim's mother testified that the victim, who was born
two months prematurely, suffered from asthma and would
frequently require breathing treatments when he was a baby.
Id. at *1. In the two and one-half months prior to
his death, the victim's breathing had improved, and he
suffered no asthma attacks. Id. at *2. In February
2010, the victim's mother became reacquainted with the
Petitioner, and at the beginning of March, the Petitioner
moved in with the victim's mother temporarily.
Id. The victim's mother was aware that the
Petitioner had epilepsy and that he had once suffered a
short, two-to-three-second seizure while he was staying with
her, causing him to twitch and drop the telephone he was
holding in his hand, but the victim's mother testified
that the Petitioner took anti-seizure medication each
March 9, 2010, the Petitioner volunteered to watch the victim
while her mother testified at the custody hearing of the
victim's aunt. Id. Due to the victim's sleep
schedule and her mother's expectation of being the first
to testify, the victim's mother anticipated that the
Petitioner would only be required to watch the victim for
approximately "thirty 'waking' minutes."
Id. Before leaving her residence, the victim's
mother checked on the sleeping victim to ensure that his
breathing was fine and departed for the courthouse at 7:30
the 10:00 hour, the victim's mother retrieved her
telephone to check on the victim. Id. In
communicating about the condition of the victim, the
Petitioner informed the victim's mother that the
Petitioner had a seizure while holding the victim and that
the Petitioner had dropped the victim, bumping the
victim's head in the process. Id. When the
victim's mother asked if the victim was stumbling, the
Petitioner replied that the victim was fine and was playing
in his room. Id. After the court adjourned for
lunch, the victim's mother called and asked to speak with
the victim, but the Petitioner told her that they had been
playing outside and that the victim was then asleep.
Id. at *3. The Petitioner tried to call the mother
while she was in court. Id. When she returned his
call, she learned that the victim had experienced an asthma
attack and was in an ambulance. Id. When the
victim's mother arrived at the emergency room, the
Petitioner said, "I hope they do not get me for child
neglect." Id. She then learned that the victim
had passed, and emergency room personnel allowed her to see
the victim. Id. At trial, the victim's mother
reviewed pictures of the victim and testified that prior to
leaving the victim in the Petitioner's care, the victim
had none of the injuries depicted except for a small pink
mark on his head from where he had previously bumped it.
Derrick Watson, the responding paramedic, testified that the
Petitioner "met him at the door holding the victim, whom
Mr. Watson described as 'limp, pulseless, and apneic,
which means not breathing.'" Id. at *4.
After the Petitioner advised Mr. Watson of the victim's
asthma, Mr. Watson and his partner attempted all life-saving
methods on the victim, but the victim "had no blood
pressure, no pulse, and no respirations." Id.
The paramedics transported the victim to the hospital and
placed him in a hospital bed. Id. Mr. Watson
testified that the victim had bruising around his neck, above
one eye, in the abdominal area, and along the spinal column.
Id. Mr. Watson was "'100%
positive'" that the resuscitative efforts had not
caused any of the victim's injuries, and he testified
that he had contacted the police because he
"'suspected some type of abuse.'"
Police Department Officer Matthew Walker testified that when
he responded to the 9-1-1 call, the Petitioner told him that
"he had suffered a seizure and dropped the victim,
causing the victim to strike his head on a bed rail."
Id. When the victim showed signs of respiratory
distress, the Petitioner attempted to use the victim's
nebulizer to assist him before calling 9-1-1. Id.
Officer Walked testified that the Petitioner was
"'very calm.'" Id. When Officer
Walker arrived at the hospital, he learned that the victim
had died, and he saw "'multiple marks'" all
over the victim's body. Id. at *5.
Vickers, a registered nurse at the Harton Regional Medical
Center, testified that the victim "had multiple bruises
and was unresponsive" when he arrived at the hospital
and that the victim was pronounced dead at 3:17 p.m.
Id. Ms. Vickers testified that the Petitioner
described the events of that day in a "'flat and
non[-]emotional'" tone of voice. Id. Ms.
Vickers also "identified photographs of the victim
depicting the various injuries on his body, including
scratches about his face, bruising around his right eye, an
abrasion on his chin, abrasions and scratches on the back of
his neck, and bruising around his neck." Id.
Police Department Detective Dale Stone interviewed the
Petitioner later that day. Id. at *6. After reading
the Petitioner his rights, the Petitioner gave Detective
Stone his version of events:
[The Petitioner] reported that [the victim's mother] left
the house at 9:30 a.m. He awoke at 10:00 a.m. and woke up the
victim. He took a shower and gave the victim a bath. Around
noon, they went outside to play. The victim was playing and
kicking a football when he began to cough. They went inside.
Thirty to forty-five minutes later, around 1:00 p.m., the
victim began to cough more, and [the Petitioner] administered
a breathing treatment with the nebulizer. The victim turned
"light blue, " so [the Petitioner] called 9-1-1. He
used a suction instrument to remove mucus from the
victim's nose and throat. The victim stopped breathing,
so [the Petitioner] called 9-1-1 ...