Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs November 15, 2018
from the Circuit Court for Trousdale County No. 2018-CV-4686
John D. Wootten, Jr., Judge.
Petitioner, Reginald Tyrone Donnell, filed a petition for
habeas corpus relief from his two convictions of second
degree murder, contending that the indictment charging him
was void and that a fatal variance existed between the
indictment and the proof adduced at trial. The habeas corpus
court summarily dismissed the petition for failure to comply
with the procedural requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated
section 29-21-107, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review,
we affirm the habeas corpus court's summary dismissal of
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Reginald Tyrone Donnell, Hartville, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee
W. Turner, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Tom P.
Thompson, Jr., District Attorney General; for the Appellee,
State of Tennessee.
McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
John Everett Williams, P.J., and Alan E. Glenn, J., joined.
MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE.
Petitioner was indicted for the first degree murder of Brenda
Corder and the first degree murder of Deon Starks. State
v. Reginald Tyrone Donnell, No. M1999-02184-CCA-R3-CD,
2000 WL 1763685, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Nashville, Nov.
30, 2000), abrogated by State v. Jackson, 60 S.W.3d
738 (Tenn. 2001). The jury convicted the Petitioner of two
counts of second degree murder. Id. On direct
appeal, this court affirmed the Petitioner's convictions
and sentences. Id.
on February 7, 2018, the Petitioner filed a petition for
habeas corpus relief, alleging that the indictment charging
him with two counts of first degree murder was void because
the prosecutor drafted the indictment, and it was signed only
by the grand jury foreman, not all twelve grand jurors. The
Petitioner further alleged that a fatal variance existed
between the indictment and the evidence at trial, namely that
the trial court constructively amended the indictment when it
instructed the jury it could consider the doctrine of
transferred intent to convict the Petitioner of the second
degree murder of Corder and Starks.
ruling upon the motion, the habeas corpus court noted that
the record before it was "scanty." The habeas
corpus court held that the Petitioner had "failed to
comply with the minimal requirements under the Tennessee
Habeas Corpus Act" and found "that the failure to
submit materials in accordance with the provision of the
Habeas Corpus Act [was] fatal to his request for
relief." Accordingly, the habeas corpus court summarily
dismissed the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner challenges
we note that the determination of whether to grant habeas
corpus relief is a question of law. Summers v.
State, 212 S.W.3d 251, 255 (Tenn. 2007). As such, we
will review the trial court's findings de novo without a
presumption of correctness. Id. Moreover, it is the
petitioner's burden to demonstrate, by a preponderance of
the evidence, "that the sentence ...