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Jones v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

June 27, 2018


          Assigned on Briefs March 13, 2018

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 08-05720 Chris Craft, Judge

         The Petitioner, Chris Jones, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief upon the post-conviction court's determination that it was filed outside the statute of limitations and that the Petitioner failed to prove that his mental incompetence required its tolling. After review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

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

          Paul K. Guibao and Ernest Beasley, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Chris Jones.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Caitlin Smith, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Carla Taylor, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Alan E. Glenn, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined


          ALAN E. GLENN, JUDGE


         The Petitioner was convicted of second degree murder, attempted second degree murder, attempted voluntary manslaughter, using a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and possession of a firearm where alcoholic beverages are served, and he was sentenced to twenty-three years[1] in the Department of Correction. See State v. Chris Jones, No. W2009-01698-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 856375, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 9, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 25, 2011). This court affirmed the trial court's judgments on direct appeal, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied his application for permission to appeal. Id.

         The facts giving rise to the Petitioner's convictions were summarized by this court on direct appeal as follows:

This case arises from a parking dispute which ultimately resulted in the death of Donald Munsey at the Windjammer karaoke bar in the early morning hours of March 14, 2008. The [Petitioner], a Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy at that time, began the evening of March 13, 2008, at T.J. Mulligan's sports bar, where he ordered eight beers and watched a basketball game. At halftime of the game, the [Petitioner] spoke to fellow Shelby County Sheriff's Deputy Lawrence Bowling. The [Petitioner] told Deputy Bowling that his divorce was recently finalized and that his ex-wife was keeping his children away from him and turning them against him. Deputy Bowling testified that he could tell the [Petitioner] had been drinking. The [Petitioner] also spoke with Cathey Lampley and her friend Mary while he was at T.J. Mulligan's. The [Petitioner] bought Mary a drink, and when Ms. Lampley and Mary decided to go to the Windjammer, the [Petitioner] asked if he could follow them. They agreed and all three left T.J. Mulligan's. Ms. Lampley testified that the [Petitioner] was not intoxicated when she spoke to him at T.J. Mulligan's. The bartender, Jason Koski, also testified that the [Petitioner] was not intoxicated when he closed his bar tab. However, Mr. Koski admitted that at the time of trial, T.J. Mulligan's was involved in a civil suit for allegedly overselling alcohol to the [Petitioner].
A. The [Petitioner]'s confrontation with Justin Smith
Justin Smith testified that he was sitting in his truck when the [Petitioner]'s truck "[j]ust came flying in around the corner . . . [and] almost hit [his] truck in parking." Mr. Smith further testified that he felt he would not be able to get his truck out of the parking spot because of the way the [Petitioner] had parked his truck. However, Mr. Smith waited until the [Petitioner] had gone inside the bar to speak to him about his truck. Once inside, the [Petitioner] sat down with Ms. Lampley and Mary at a table near the front door and ordered a beer. Mr. Smith then approached the [Petitioner] to discuss how the two trucks were parked. The testimony at trial presented several conflicting versions of exactly what was said during this conversation.
Kimberly Guest, the waitress working at Windjammer that night, testified that Mr. Smith asked the [Petitioner] if it was his truck outside and "if he could possibly move it because . . . the trucks were close and [he] didn't want to hit his truck." Ms. Guest testified that "there was no indication that there was any kind of problem," there was no physical contact between the two men, and she did not hear any "threatening language." Stephanie Ravinuthala, a patron at the bar that night, testified that Mr. Smith asked the [Petitioner] if he drove a gray truck and told the [Petitioner] that he was "parked like three inches from [Mr. Smith's] bumper and [Mr. Smith could not] get out." Ms. Ravinuthala also testified that Mr. Smith did not appear to be belligerent and that she did not recall Mr. Smith cursing at the [Petitioner].
Mr. Smith testified that when he asked the [Petitioner] to move his truck, the [Petitioner] responded by saying "f--k you . . . I'm not moving it." On cross-examination, Mr. Smith repeatedly denied threatening or being aggressive with the [Petitioner] but admitted that after the [Petitioner] told him "f--k you," he was "rude" toward the [Petitioner]. However, Ms. Lampley testified that Mr. Smith approached the [Petitioner] intoxicated, "very loud, very arrogant" before asking the [Petitioner] "if that was his f-----g truck outside." Ms. Lampley testified that the [Petitioner] was very calm during this exchange and told Mr. Smith he would move his truck when Mr. Smith was ready to leave.
At some point after their conversation, both Mr. Smith and the [Petitioner] went outside. Gary Miller was working at the front door, checking IDs, that night and testified that he overheard the two men "discussing the way the [trucks] were parked." Mr. Miller also testified that at some point two or three other men joined the conversation. According to Mr. Miller, the [Petitioner] asked the men "did they not realize that he was a police officer by the tag that was on the truck." Mr. Miller further testified that there was no physical contact between the [Petitioner] and any of the three or four people with him. Mr. Smith testified that he went outside with the [Petitioner] because the [Petitioner] "wanted to show me his license plate." The [Petitioner] told Mr. Smith that "he was a cop and he had the tag on his truck." Mr. Smith testified that after their conversation outside, he did not speak to the [Petitioner] again that evening.
Mr. Smith's friend, William Bobbitt, testified that he was near the front door when Mr. Smith and the [Petitioner] went to look at the trucks. On their way back to the front door, Mr. Bobbitt overheard the [Petitioner] say that he was not going to move his truck and that Mr. Smith should look at his license plate. Someone asked the [Petitioner] what he meant by this, and he replied that he was a police officer. Mr. Bobbitt testified that the [Petitioner] spoke with an aggressive tone but that there was no physical contact between the [Petitioner] and anyone outside. Mr. Bobbitt further testified that everyone went back inside after Mr. Munsey stepped outside and told them to come in.
Ms. Lampley testified that before the [Petitioner] and Mr. Smith went outside, Mr. Smith made a phone call and a short time later "[a]bout [ten] guys around the age of 21 to 25 showed up" and were looking at the [Petitioner]. Ms. Lampley testified that the [Petitioner] looked scared when he came back inside. Ms. Lampley testified that she felt threatened because this group of men continued to stare at the [Petitioner] and her. However, on cross[-]examination Ms. Lampley admitted that she was "making some jump here . . . that Mr. Smith called people and that as a result of those calls, people arrived."
B. The [Petitioner]'s confrontation with David Eagan
After the [Petitioner] reentered the bar, David Eagan approached him to discuss the parking situation. Mr. Eagan testified that he was too intoxicated to remember everything that happened that night. However, Mr. Eagan testified that he spoke to the [Petitioner] because the [Petitioner] "was a little rowdy" and that he wanted "to make sure that . . . everything was okay" between the [Petitioner] and Mr. Smith. Mr. Eagan testified that he "asked [the Petitioner] to move his truck and . . . just to calm down and everything was going to be okay." Mr. Eagan testified that he could not remember anything else about his conversation with the [Petitioner]. Mr. Eagan repeatedly denied threatening the [Petitioner] or having a physical altercation with him. Mr. Eagan did admit on cross examination that he had described the conversation between Mr. Smith and the [Petitioner] as "an altercation."
Several witnesses saw the confrontation between the [Petitioner] and Mr. Eagan inside the bar. Ms. Ravinuthala testified that she saw Mr. Eagan "lean[ ] down into [the Petitioner's] face" when he spoke to him and that the [Petitioner] responded by standing up and getting in Mr. Eagan's face. Joe Reynolds was working at the bar that night and testified that he saw the [Petitioner] and Mr. Eagan "talking about the parking place or something." Mr. Reynolds testified that the [Petitioner] had an ink pen in his hand and was "gripping [it] so tight that his knuckles were white." Mr. Reynolds decided to get Mr. Eagan to move away from the [Petitioner]. After sep[a]rating the two, Mr. Reynolds spoke with the [Petitioner]. The [Petitioner] told Mr. Reynolds "I'm a mother ----- g Shelby County Sheriff['s] Deputy and I [came] in here to drink my f ----- g beer and I want to ...

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