Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Session March 20, 2019
from the Criminal Court for Sumner County No. 219-2015 Dee
David Gay, Judge
Sumner County jury convicted the Defendant, Daversea A.
Fitts, of first degree premeditated murder, and the trial
court imposed a sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the
Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence,
asserting that the State failed to sufficiently corroborate
accomplice testimony presented at trial. After review, we
affirm the trial court's judgment.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Gregory D. Smith, Clarksville, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Daversea A. Fitts.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia
S. Lee, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Lawrence Ray
Whitley, District Attorney General; and C. Ronald Blanton and
Eric S. Mauldin, Assistant District Attorneys General, for
the appellee, State of Tennessee.
W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Norma McGee Ogle and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.
W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE
case arises from the shooting death of D'Anthony Hall
("the victim"), in a rural area of Sumner County on
December 2, 2014. The investigation into the homicide
revealed four individuals involved in the commission of the
homicide: Tracy Clark, Doyle Cammon, Johnny Austin, and the
Defendant. For his role in the offense, a Sumner County grand
jury indicted the Defendant for first degree premeditated
murder of the victim.
trial the parties presented the following evidence: William
Holls, a Metropolitan Nashville Police Department officer,
testified about an interaction he had with the victim on
November 21, 2014, approximately a week and a half before the
victim's death. Officer Holls was in the vicinity of the
Andrew Jackson Housing Development in Nashville, Tennessee,
when he responded to a "'shots fired'
call." When he arrived, he came into contact with the
victim, who Officer Holls described as "very excited,
very worked up," "nervous, anxious," and
"very animated with his body language." The victim
cooperated with Officer Holls' investigation of the
shooting, and Officer Holls obtained arrest
warrants. Officer Holls testified on
cross-examination that the Defendant was not charged in this
shooting incident or listed as a potential witness.
couple of weeks later, on December 2, 2014, Jeff Cooper, who
lived with his uncle, Dicky Alexander, at the corner of
Mutton Hollow Road and Rock Springs Road, a rural area of
Sumner County, returned home at around 10:00 pm. After
parking his car, he heard four to six gunshots nearby. The
gunshots were so loud and close in proximity that Mr. Cooper
believed the gunshots were coming from either inside the
house or on the other side of the house. He heard his uncle
yell, so he went inside the house to find him. When he did
not find him inside, he called his uncle, who was backing out
of the driveway to go check on their horses because he
believed someone was shooting at them. The two men remained
on the phone talking, until Mr. Alexander said to Mr. Cooper,
"hang up and call 9-1-1 there is somebody laying [sic]
in the road dead."
Cooper testified that he could see his uncle driving from
where he stood outside the house and noticed his uncle
swerving to miss something in the road before instructing him
to call 911. As Mr. Cooper spoke with the 911 operator, he
drove his truck to the area where he had seen his uncle
swerve and found a person lying on the road. Mr. Cooper said
that his uncle had continued driving to try and see
"where the vehicle went." He stated that neither he
nor Mr. Alexander moved or touched the body, but, based upon
Mr. Cooper's observations, he believed the person was
dead. Mr. Cooper said it was "pretty dark" because
there were no lights in that area. After his uncle returned,
the two men positioned their vehicles to block the roadway
and used their headlights to provide light for the
authorities when they arrived.
Lester, a Sumner County Sheriff's Office deputy,
testified that on December 2, 2014, at 10:13 p.m., he was
dispatched to the area of Rock Springs Road and Mutton Hollow
Road in Sumner County in reference to a call about
"shots fired." At the scene, two trucks with their
headlights on illuminated the area where a body was lying in
the roadway. The body was later identified as the victim.
Clark, a co-defendant, testified that he attended high school
with the victim and both men were members of the
"Gangster Disciples." Mr. Lester recalled that he
became involved with the Gangster Disciples through
co-defendant Doyle Cammon. Mr. Lester testified that he
served as the assistant secretary for the Gangster Disciples
in North Nashville for a period of time. His role as
assistant secretary required him to "keep up with the
roster and everything and pass paperwork along or reports to
anybody." Ultimately, however, Mr. Lester "stepped
down" from this position due to
"disorganiz[ation]" and "a few family
issues." As a result, Mr. Lester gave co-defendant
Johnny Austin all of the paperwork he had been maintaining as
assistant secretary. According to Mr. Lester, Mr. Austin was
the chief of security ("COS") for the Gangster
Disciples in North Nashville.
Clark testified that in late November 2014, the Gangster
Disciples had an "organizational celebration" for
their chairman, Larry Hoover. The celebration was for Mr.
Hoover's birthday and held in Memphis, Tennessee. Mr.
Clark did not attend the celebration in Memphis but drove Mr.
Cammon and Mr. Austin to the "meeting spot" where
members were assembling to drive to Memphis together. It was
at this time that he first met the Defendant. Due to his
absence from the celebration, Mr. Clark anticipated receiving
"a fine" but believed that he was not "in
trouble" with the Gangster Disciples. Mr. Clark
distinguished a "fine" from a
"violation," explaining that a violation generally
occurred if a member was repeatedly late to a meeting or
"disrespect[ed] another brother or brother's family
members." If a member committed a violation,
"[e]verybody in that area would come together and
discuss it" to determine a punishment. He explained that
a punishment might be "six straight licks to the
chest" or a designated period of time where the member
would be unable to fight back or protect themselves during a
Clark testified that, after the members returned from
Memphis, on November 30, 2014, Mr. Cammon called Mr. Clark
and told him to "meet up with everybody" at Mr.
Austin's residence on Scovel Avenue ("Scovel
Avenue"). At the meeting, the group addressed Mr.
Clark's fine for not attending the event in Memphis. The
group assessed a fine of seventy-four dollars for Mr.
Clark's infraction. He explained that the amount of the
fine was determined by "numbers." The letter
"G" in Gangster is the seventh letter in the
alphabet and the "D" from Disciples is the fourth
letter of the alphabet, thus the fine amount was seventy-four
dollars. After Mr. Clark paid the fine, the group addressed a
social media posting made by the victim. A photograph was
passed around for the group to view. On the right side of the
photograph was a picture of the victim with four pistols, two
in his hands and two pistols lying on his lap. On the
left-side of the photograph was a portion of the November 21,
2014 warrant for aggravated assault. The group members
discussed the punishment for the photograph and concluded
that the victim should "get a three minute with a no
coverup." Mr. Clark said that he "was on the fence
about the situation," so he excused himself and went
"up front" to check on the victim before the
members finished discussing the punishment.
Clark testified that he could not remember whether the
Defendant attended the November 30 meeting but was certain
that Mr. Austin, Mr. Cammon, Dewayne Woodson, Lamont Harding,
and "Twin" were present. When the group members
confronted the victim about his violation, he began
explaining that his aunt was "in jeopardy of losing her
place to live" due to the November 21 aggravated
assault. As the victim began his explanation, Mr. Clark left.
At the time he left the meeting, Mr. Clark believed he was
receiving a fine, and the victim was going to receive some
type of punishment.
Clark testified that Mr. Cammon called him on December 2,
2014, asking to meet at Scovel Avenue. When he arrived, Mr.
Cammon and Mr. Austin were there. Approximately twenty
minutes later, the victim arrived. The men talked and
"smoked some weed" together while Mr. Cammon, the
victim, and Mr. Austin made a plan to "rob
somebody." As part of the robbery plan, the men asked
Mr. Clark to "drop them off up in Gallatin." Mr.
Clark drove his Honda Civic EX Sport Coupe
("Honda"), Mr. Cammon rode in the front passenger
seat, and Mr. Austin and the victim rode in the back seat.
Mr. Clark described the Honda as having fog lights on the
undercarriage, a loud muffler, a sunroof, and a spoiler. As
they drove, Mr. Austin, who was intermittently talking on his
cell phone, directed Mr. Clark, who was unfamiliar with
Gallatin, where to drive.
Clark testified that they met the Defendant near a Regions
Bank in Gallatin. The victim, Mr. Cammon, and Mr. Austin
exited the car and spoke with the Defendant about the
potential robbery while Mr. Clark remained in the car smoking
cigarettes. After the three men returned to Mr. Clark's
Honda, they followed the Defendant, who was driving a black
SUV, to an apartment complex. At the apartment complex, the
victim, Mr. Cammon, and Mr. Austin got into the
Defendant's vehicle and drove away while Mr. Clark waited
in his car. After the men drove away, Mr. Clark testified
that he moved his car several spaces over to a larger parking
space. Approximately forty minutes after they left, Mr.
Cammon and Mr. Austin returned without the victim. By way of
explanation for the victim's absence, Mr. Cammon told Mr.
Clark that the victim was going to stay in Gallatin because
he was having "a little issue at home." Mr. Clark
drove to Nashville where he left Mr. Cammon at "one of
his girlfriend's house" and Mr. Austin at a hotel
Clark testified that he learned of the victim's death the
following morning when someone asked him about the victim
being killed in Gallatin. Unaware of the victim's death,
Mr. Clark called Mr. Cammon, but he did not answer the phone.
Mr. Clark went to Scovel Avenue and "before everybody
showed up," Mr. Austin instructed Mr. Clark "we
weren't up there." Based upon statements of this
nature from Mr. Austin and Mr. Cammon, Mr. Clark initially
told sheriff's deputies that the men had not been in
Gallatin on the night of December 2, 2014. Mr. Clark
explained that he lied because he was "trying to keep
[his] involvement as little as possible."
State played surveillance video taken from the
Defendant's apartment of Mr. Clark's Honda following
the Defendant's vehicle on December 2, 2014 at 10:06 p.m.
Another segment showed the Defendant's vehicle leaving
the apartment complex while Mr. Clark's Honda remained in
the parking lot. The footage showed the Honda, with a
spoiler, moving to another parking space consistent with Mr.
Clark's testimony. At 11:25 p.m., according to the time
provided on the surveillance video, the Defendant's
vehicle returned to the apartment complex parking lot.
Clark testified that he did not see Mr. Cammon, Mr. Austin,
or the victim with a gun on the night of the homicide. He
confirmed that he, Mr. Cammon, and Mr. Austin all had ...