Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
ASHLEY M. COOK
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Assigned on Briefs April 16, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Bedford County No. 16258 Forest
Durard, Jr., Judge
petitioner, Ashley M. Cook, appeals the summary dismissal of
her petition for writ of error coram nobis, which petition
challenged her 2008 convictions of first degree murder and
conspiracy to commit first degree murder. Discerning no
error, we affirm.
R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed
M. Cook, Nashville, Tennessee, pro se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia
S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General; Robert J. Carter,
District Attorney General; and Mike Randles, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Camille R. McMullen, JJ.,
CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE
Bedford County Circuit Court jury convicted the petitioner of
first degree premeditated murder and conspiracy to commit
first degree murder for her role in the death of the victim,
William Ross. This court summarized the evidence supporting
the petitioner's convictions in our consideration of the
sufficiency of the evidence on direct appeal:
[T]he record shows that during the weeks leading up to the
murder on February 14, 2007, [the petitioner] participated in
several conversations with Justin Young and Kimberly Ross
about killing the victim. A plan was then developed during
which [the petitioner] would take a cab to the Golden Gallon,
walk from the store to the victim's residence, and use a
ladder to climb in Mr. Young's bedroom window. [The
petitioner] would then be given a gun to shoot the victim
while he was in bed asleep. Mr. Young testified that he was
supposed to wipe down the gun and place it in the gun cabinet
with a clip in it waiting for [the petitioner]. Mr. Young and
Mrs. Ross were then to be tied up, and they would tell police
that two black men broke into the residence looking for Jimmy
Whitmire, a former resident. After the shooting, [the
petitioner] was supposed to leave town in Mrs. Ross'
The plan went into action on the evening of February 13,
2007, and continued into the early morning hours of February
14, 2007. The plan was originally supposed to have occurred
the previous night, but [the defendant] could not be there.
After the victim left for work on the morning of February 13,
Mr. Young loaded a .380 pistol with five rounds, wiped it
down, and placed it back inside the gun cabinet with one door
left slightly ajar. He and Mrs. Ross had several phone
conversations with [the petitioner] throughout the day to
make sure that she was still coming over and to let her know
that everything was "ready to go" when she arrived.
[The petitioner] indicated that she would be there around
12:00 to 12:30 a.m. Although not part of the plan, [the
petitioner] called two black men, Rodney Tinnel and Floyd
Vinson, and arranged for them to be at her residence at the
time of the murder.
At 12:54 a.m., while Mr. Tinnel and Mr. Floyd were still at
her trailer, [the petitioner] dressed in dark clothing and
called for an MTS cab to pick her up and take her to the
Golden Gallon. [The petitioner] then left the store without
paying her cab fare and walked to the victim's residence.
She climbed up the ladder to Mr. Young's window wearing
purple latex gloves, and he helped pull her inside. Mr. Young
then gave her some money and the keys to Mrs. Ross'
Nissan Versa. They walked down the hall to the living room
where Mrs. Ross was waiting. Mrs. Ross then took the .380
pistol out of the gun cabinet and showed [the petitioner] how
to use it. Mrs. Ross chambered a round so that all [the
petitioner] had to do was "point and shoot." [The
petitioner] then tied Mr. Young's hands and feet with
bailing twine, and she used a phone cord to tie Mrs. Ross.
Mr. Young positioned himself on the floor between the chair
and the hallway, and Mrs. Ross laid on the couch with her
cell phone on the arm of the couch. [The petitioner] walked
over to the bedroom where the unarmed victim was sleeping,
pushed the door open with her foot, and began shooting. The
three fatal shots hit the victim's left forehead, right
chest, and left flank above the kidney. [The petitioner] then
left as planned in the Nissan. Mrs. Ross called 911 and when
police arrived, she and Mr. Young told them that two black
men broke into the residence looking for Jimmy Whitmire and
shot the victim. The victim was still alive when police
arrived, and at no time did [the petitioner], Mr. Young, or
Mrs. Ross render aid to him.
After shooting the victim, [the petitioner] acted with
calmness and in taking steps to conceal her crime. She tossed
the purple gloves out of the car, and she abandoned the car
in a church parking lot. [The petitioner] arrived home and
hid the .380 pistol underneath her mattress. In her first
interview with Agent Wesson, [the petitioner] denied any
involvement in the murder. She eventually told him about the
plan to kill the victim, and she confessed [to] the murder.
Although [the petitioner] claims that the dominion and
control exerted over her by Mrs. Ross negates the element of
premeditation, the record does not support this claim. Mr.
Young testified that although Mrs. Ross could be persuasive
and provided both him and [the petitioner] with financial
assistance, she did not exert any undue influence over them.
[The petitioner] herself testified at one point that Mrs.
Ross never "personally" asked [the petitioner] to
kill the victim, and she never thought that Mrs. Ross was
serious about killing the victim.
State v. Ashley Mai Cook, No. M2009-00136-CCA-R3-CD,
slip op. at 20-22 (Tenn. Crim. App., Nashville, Feb. 24,
2011) (Cook I). This court affirmed the
petitioner's convictions and accompanying sentence of
life plus 20 years on direct appeal. See id., slip
op. at 1, 31. The petitioner later filed a timely but
unsuccessful petition for post-conviction relief, and this
court affirmed the denial of post-conviction relief. See