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Barnes v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

June 26, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs April 18, 2018

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 97-D-2542 Steve R. Dozier, Judge

         The Petitioner, Rhyunia Lamont Barnes[1], was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life. In his appeal, the Petitioner argues that the trial court erred in summarily dismissing his petition for writ of error coram nobis. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

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

          Rhyunia Lamont Barnes, Pikeville, Tennessee, pro se.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Counsel; Glenn Funk, District Attorney General; and J. Wesley King, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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



         The Petitioner was indicted in 1997 for the first degree murder of De'Shon Martin. Following a jury trial in 1999, he was convicted as charged and sentenced to life in prison. He appealed his sentence to this court, and we affirmed the trial court's judgment. State v. Rhynuia Lamont Barnes, No. M2001-00631-CCA-R3-CD, 2002 WL 1358717, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 24, 2002), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 2, 2002). This court summarized the facts on direct appeal as follows:

Joyce Martin testified she lived with her two sons, 24 year-old Da'Shon Martin, the victim, and 19 year-old Carlton Martin. She stated that on September 2, 1997, at approximately 2:00 p.m., Tom Morrell, a neighbor, came to her door and asked if the victim were home. Martin responded the victim was sleeping in his room, and Morrell walked toward his room and told the victim someone wanted to see him. Morrell then walked out of the residence and returned to his home. Martin stated she looked outside her house and saw the [Petitioner], whom she had never met, standing at her gate. The victim exited the residence, stood on the porch, and inquired what the [Petitioner] wanted. Martin said she next saw the [Petitioner] brandish a pistol, at which time the victim ran back inside the house. The [Petitioner] then said, "Your son stole my jewelry, and I'm going to kill him;" the victim ran to the back of the house; and the [Petitioner] ran to her backyard with his gun in his hand. Martin explained her back door was secured by a deadbolt key lock which required a key to open.
Martin further testified she phoned 911 while the victim was hiding in the back of the residence, and the [Petitioner] was in the backyard. The [Petitioner] then ran back inside her front door holding his gun. The [Petitioner] then said twice that he would shoot the victim's mother if the victim did not come out of hiding. At that point, the [Petitioner] ran toward the bathroom at the rear of the house, and another man, later identified as James Barnes, the [Petitioner's] father, entered the residence and inquired about his son. Martin told James Barnes the [Petitioner] went to the rear of the house. Martin testified she then heard one shot and fled from the residence to a neighbor's home. Martin identified the murder weapon as the gun she saw in the [Petitioner's] hand.
Tommy Morrell, a neighbor, testified that on September 2nd, the [Petitioner] arrived at approximately 3:00 p.m. riding in the front seat of a vehicle driven by an older man. Morrell testified the [Petitioner] requested he get the victim. Morrell further stated he went inside the victim's house and told the victim "two guys" wanted to see him, and Morrell exited the house. When Morrell reached the front gate, he saw the victim step onto the porch. Morrell later saw the [Petitioner] go inside the gate. Morrell further stated the older man was seated in the car.
Morrell explained he knew "something [was] going down," so he went back to his house and instructed his mother to stay inside. Morrell stated the older man exited the car; the [Petitioner] first ran in the house but then exited the house telling the older man that "[the victim] might have gone out the backdoor;" the [Petitioner] ran around one side of the house, while the older man ran around the other; the [Petitioner] ran back around to the front of the house and entered it brandishing a gun; the older man entered the house; and he heard a gunshot. Morrell stated he never saw the older man with a gun. On cross-examination, Morrell denied receiving drugs as compensation for summoning the victim outdoors.
Metro Police Officer Jerry Bottom testified he arrived on the scene within one minute of receiving the dispatch and saw the [Petitioner] running across the street holding his waistband. Officer Bottom stated his first priority was the victim, and since a second cruiser had arrived, he entered the victim's residence through the open front door and found the wounded victim on the floor. Officer Bottom stated he saw a man standing by a parked car when he initially arrived; he was unsure if the [Petitioner] ran from inside the home; and the interior of the home exhibited no signs of a struggle.
Metro Police Officer Marshall James Brown testified he and his partner, Officer Chris Locke, arrived at the scene immediately after Officer Bottom. Officer Brown stated that while he and Officer Locke were walking toward the residence, the [Petitioner] ran from across the street and dove head first into the backseat of a parked car. He additionally stated James Barnes walked toward the vehicle's driver's side. He and Locke then detained them, and Joyce Martin identified them as the persons in her home. On cross-examination, Officer Brown stated James Barnes was bleeding from a cut on his hand.
Officer Chris Locke corroborated Officer Brown's testimony. He further testified the [Petitioner] made remarks after being arrested; he activated his pocket audio recorder to record the [Petitioner]; and he made notes during the [Petitioner's] outbursts. He testified the [Petitioner], while being handcuffed, stated that the victim should not break in his house and steal his jewelry. At that point, Officer Locke placed the [Petitioner] in the rear seat of the cruiser, activated his pocket audio recorder, and sat in the driver's seat for approximately one hour and fifteen minutes. Officer Locke also wrote down the [Petitioner's] statements verbatim. Officer Locke testified from his written notes, which indicated the [Petitioner] said:
I went in the house with him; I didn't shoot him; I threw my dope in the alley; that's why I ran. I ain't did nothing. I ain't got no gun; what [are] you detaining me for . . . . He needed to quit lying on me. He finded [sic] no gun on me. Why am I being detained? I ran and dumped my dope and came back . . . No gun, ...

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