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State v. Williamson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

June 26, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
DERRICK WILLIAMSON

          Assigned on Briefs May 7, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. 17-627 Donald H. Allen, Judge

         The defendant, Derrick Williamson, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court's denial of alternative sentencing for his jury conviction of child abuse. Discerning no error, we affirm.

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

          George Morton Googe, District Public Defender; and Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant District Public Defender, for the appellant, Derrick Williamson.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Katharine K. Decker, Assistant Attorney General; Jody Pickens, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          JAMES CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE

         The Madison County Grand Jury charged the defendant, Derrick Williamson, with one count of aggravated child abuse arising out of injuries suffered by the victim, K.C., [1] while in the care of the defendant.

         At trial, the State's evidence showed that, on the night of May 11, 2017, Destinee Cole, the victim's mother, left the two-year-old victim and his seven-year-old brother in the care of the defendant at her apartment for approximately 45 minutes. When she left the apartment, both of the children were in bed, but when she arrived home she found the victim crying, and he screamed and told her stop when she touched him. When she removed the victim's diaper, she saw that "he had bruises all in his pelvic area" and "blood streaks in his diaper." The victim also had swelling and bruising on his body. Ms. Cole called her mother, Katrena Howard, who arrived a short time later and found the victim with "injuries around his little private boy parts" and "on the front of him," "lashes" on his back, and "big gashes across his buttocks."

         Upon arrival at the scene, Jackson Police Department officers observed the victim with visible bruising and injuries consistent with the victim's being hit with a belt. They saw what appeared to be blood on a wall and recovered a belt that also had what appeared to be wet blood on it. The victim was transported to the hospital by an ambulance. A medical examination revealed that the victim suffered "extensive" injuries. The jury saw numerous photographs showing bruising, swelling, and other injuries all over the victim's body. For one to two months following the incident, the victim limped, was "very sore to the touch," and, at the time of trial, still suffered from back and stomach pain and insomnia.

         During an interview with Jackson Police Department Officer Jay Stanfill, the defendant gave a written statement, explaining that he arrived at Ms. Cole's apartment to find the children asleep in a bedroom. A short time later, the victim began crying, and the defendant took him from the bedroom to change his diaper. Because the victim was trying to get up, the defendant explained that he "grabbed a black belt" and "spanked him maybe twice." He stated that, because the victim was moving around, he "may have caused those injuries" but that he "didn't intend to hurt him." The victim's mother arrived home at that time, saw the victim crying, and "was high and exaggerating" the situation.

         The defendant's brother, Montreal Williamson, testified on the defendant's behalf that the defendant and Ms. Cole had been roommates, and the defendant helped her with the children. He explained that, on the night of the incident, the defendant left the apartment at the same time that Mr. Williamson and Ms. Cole did, and the children were left in the care of a babysitter. When Mr. Williamson and Ms. Cole returned to the apartment, the defendant was there, and the babysitter had left. Ms. Cole entered the apartment ahead of Mr. Williamson, and when he came in, Ms. Cole was asking why the victim was crying. After Ms. Cole's mother arrived, the defendant and Mr. Williamson left "because it was a little chaos going on." Mr. Williamson testified that Ms. Cole was "under the influence of drugs" and "was kind of buzzed up a little bit" that night.

         The defendant testified consistently with the statement he gave to police. He stated that he had known Ms. Cole for several months prior to the incident, and, for a period of about four months they had been roommates, during which time he helped her care for her children. On the night in question, he arrived at Ms. Cole's apartment and saw "a young teenage female on the balcony on the phone." The teenager let him into the apartment and told him that the children were asleep. A few minutes later, while changing the victim's diaper, the victim "got a little agitated," and, while the victim was naked, the defendant hit him with a belt "out of frustration." The defendant contended that he did not intend to hurt the victim; rather, he "was just simply trying to get him to calm down." The defendant testified that when Ms. Cole returned to the apartment, the victim began whining, and Ms. Cole accused the defendant of molesting the victim. Ms. ...


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