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Baxter v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

June 25, 2019

PAUL BRENT BAXTER
v.
STATE OF TENNESSEE

          Assigned on Briefs March 20, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Bedford County No. 17832-PC Forest A. Durard, Jr., Judge

         In 2014, the Petitioner, Paul Brent Baxter, was convicted of aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping, and the trial court sentenced him to serve thirty-five years. The Defendant appealed his convictions to this court, and we affirmed the judgments. State v. Paul Brent Baxter, No. M2015-00939-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 2928266 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, May 16, 2016), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 23, 2016). Subsequently, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

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

          Roger D. Layne, Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Paul Brent Baxter.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Robert J. Carter, District Attorney General; and Michael Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE

         I. Facts and Background

         This case originates from the Petitioner's assault and kidnapping of the victim, who was his girlfriend and roommate. Based on this incident, a Bedford County grand jury indicted the Petitioner for aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping.

         A. Trial

         The following is a summary by this court of the facts presented at trial:

The victim and the [Petitioner] began dating in early 2013 and got an apartment together in Shelbyville in October 2013. The victim described their relationship as "[t]errible" and stated that the [Petitioner] was "very controlling" and beat her "all the time."
The victim testified that, on the evening of November 1, 2013, she and the [Petitioner] argued over money when she discovered that money was missing from her account where she received her social security disability payments. The [Petitioner] admitted to taking all of the money out of the victim's account and buying crack cocaine with it. According to the victim, she was the only one with any income, and she, therefore, kept asking the [Petitioner] how he proposed to pay their bills, which were due. According to the victim, the verbal disagreement, which began around 7:00 or 8:00 p.m., continued past midnight into November 2.
The [Petitioner] was sitting on the couch smoking crack cocaine when the argument started up again. According to the victim, it turned physical when he got up and punched her in the face. The victim testified that, after this hit, she ran away from the [Petitioner] and started beating on the walls yelling "help" in an attempt to grab a neighbor's attention. When she moved for the front door, the [Petitioner] grabbed her by the neck with both hands and pressed his thumbs on the center of her throat. The victim, who had previously had "a [metal] plate, two screws[, ] and [a] donor bone[, ]" surgically implanted in her neck as the result of a car accident when she was a teenager, believed that the [Petitioner] was trying to paralyze her-she stated that he was applying pressure "really hard" to the scar on her neck where he knew she had the plate and screws. The victim also testified that she suffered from degenerative disk disease and spinal stenosis. According to the victim, the [Petitioner's] grip on her neck was very painful and caused her to have difficulty breathing.
When the [Petitioner] finally let go of the victim, he punched her hard in the eye, causing her to go "flying back" onto the kitchen floor. The victim said that she was "crying and hollering" because the hit to her eye caused "[a] lot of pain" and that her back "was in excruciating pain" from hitting the floor.
The [Petitioner] then dragged the victim into the bathroom of their bedroom where he placed his foot on her head, trying to her hold her down while she screamed. She stated that she was unable to breathe as a result. According to the victim, the [Petitioner] then began "jerking" her head, which pulled some of her hair out. When she was able to turn her head to the side, she begged the [Petitioner] to stop. When he finally stopped, the victim asked to leave, even offering the [Petitioner] money to let her go; however, the [Petitioner] refused to let her go until the bruising on her face subsided. She agreed to stay so the beating would ...

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