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State v. Love

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

July 9, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
QUENTIN LOVE

          Session November 27, 2018

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 104022 G. Scott Green, Judge

         Defendant, Quentin Love, was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury for felony murder during the attempt to perpetrate burglary, felony murder during the attempt to perpetrate theft, felony murder during the attempt to perpetrate robbery, especially aggravated burglary, especially aggravated robbery, employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony, unlawful possession of a weapon by a person having been convicted of a felony involving the use of force, and unlawful possession of a weapon after having been convicted of a felony drug offense. Defendant proceeded to a jury trial. At the close of the State's proof, the trial court granted Defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal as to especially aggravated robbery and reduced the charge to attempted especially aggravated robbery. The jury convicted Defendant as charged. The trial court merged the felony murder convictions into a single count of felony murder during the attempt to perpetrate burglary. The trial court also merged the unlawful possession of a weapon convictions into a single count of unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. The trial court sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment for his felony murder conviction. Defendant received concurrent sentences of 20 years each for his especially aggravated burglary and attempted especially aggravated robbery convictions, to be served concurrently with his life sentence. Defendant was also sentenced to ten years for his unlawful possession of a weapon conviction and ten years for his employment of a firearm conviction, to be served consecutively to each other and consecutively to his life sentence, for a total effective sentence of life plus 20 years' imprisonment. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends: 1) that the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial; 2) that the trial court erred by instructing the jury on flight; and 3) that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand this case to the trial court for entry of judgments in counts 2, 3, and 8, pursuant to State v. Berry, 503 S.W. 360 (Tenn. 2015), as well as entry of an amended judgment in count 6 to accurately reflect the offense for which Defendant was convicted.

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

          Joshua Hedrick, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Quentin Love.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; Charme P. Allen, District Attorney General; and Kevin Allen, Assistant District Attorney, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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

          OPINION

          THOMAS T. WOODALL, JUDGE

         Facts

         On October 27, 2013, Jennifer Whitsell called both Defendant, whom she knew as "C," and subsequently the victim, John Smith, about purchasing drugs. Ms. Whitsell arranged to meet Defendant down the street from her house. She saw Defendant drive past their meeting spot and called him to ask where he was going. Defendant told her he was going to get gas. Ms. Whitsell walked to a nearby Pilot gas station to meet Defendant. Defendant told Ms. Whitesell that he did not have any drugs, so she called the victim to arrange to buy from him instead and asked Defendant to drive her to the victim's house.

         Defendant and Ms. Whitsell left the Pilot station at 10:03 p.m. As they drove to the victim's house, Defendant asked Ms. Whitsell "random questions" about the victim, like "how big he was" and "what he looked like." They arrived at the victim's apartment complex at approximately 10:23 p.m., and Ms. Whitsell directed Defendant to park one street away from the victim's apartment because, she explained, the victim did not want people to know where he lived. Ms. Whitsell testified that she had "a little more than $20." She got out of the car and walked to the victim's apartment. Defendant was supposed to wait in his car.

         The victim opened the back door and let Ms. Whitsell into the kitchen. She gave the victim her money, and he gave her crack cocaine. She then walked towards the door, and the victim stopped her and went to the door. When the victim opened the door, Defendant was standing there with a gun pointed at the victim. The victim "grabbed the gun and tried to push [Defendant] out and they started fighting." The two men were struggling on the steps outside the door, and Ms. Whitsell heard gunfire. She ran towards the front door of the apartment and heard "four or five" more gunshots. She ran outside and began walking towards the main road. She was stopped by a police officer who asked her if she had seen what happened, and Ms. Whitsell told him that she had not. Ms. Whitsell was transported to the police station for an interview. Ms. Whitsell testified that she told police that she did not know who shot and killed the victim because she "was scared" and "didn't want to have anything to do with it."

         Ms. Whitsell eventually told police that she had been at the Pilot gas station with the person who shot the victim. She told police that the suspect had driven past her and parked, that she walked to the gas station to meet him, that she pumped gas for him, and that he went inside the store, came back out of the store, and they left together in the suspect's vehicle.

         Lloyd Cabe testified that he was repairing a car at a nearby apartment when he heard gunshots and saw a man wearing a hoodie run to a red vehicle and drive away with the headlights off. The victim's neighbors began calling 911 at 10:34 p.m. The callers reported that the shooter was a black male wearing a black hoodie; that the shooter left the scene in a red vehicle with the headlights turned off; and that a second suspect ran toward the interstate. Responding officers found the victim lying on the ground surrounded by people attempting to perform first aid. Officers found a $20 bill on the ground near the victim. Security camera footage from the victim's apartment showed Ms. Whitsell walking to the front of the residence at 10:30 p.m. and entering the apartment through the back door at 10:31 p.m. Thirty-five seconds later, the cameras captured a male walking into view. The male had facial hair and appeared to be wearing a hoodie with the hood up, a long shirt, and dark pants. At 10:34 p.m., the cameras captured the sound of fighting and then a gunshot. Two people drifted in and out of view of the camera, and another gunshot can be heard. The video then showed a man running away.

         Security video from the Pilot gas station showed an orange Dodge Avenger pull up to the gas pump at 9:54 p.m. The driver exited the vehicle and walked out of camera view. Ms. Whitsell walked into camera view and began to pump gas into the vehicle. The video showed that the vehicle had paper in the front windshield and a yellow pine tree deodorizer hanging from the rearview mirror. The driver of the vehicle was wearing jeans, a dark hoodie, and a t-shirt shirt that was visible below the hoodie around his waist. Police later located the same vehicle in the security video at the Montgomery Village apartment complex. Police identified Elizabeth Parsley as the owner of the vehicle.

         Elizabeth Parsley, Defendant's girlfriend, testified that she and Defendant had traded vehicles on the day of the shooting. Defendant called her on the morning of October 28, 2013, and told her to get her car from Montgomery Village because something was wrong with it. Ms. Parsley asked Defendant what he would drive, and Defendant responded, "I'm not going to be driving." She asked Defendant what was going on, and Defendant said that he could not talk about it.

         The police arrived at Ms. Parsley's residence as she was getting ready to leave and advised her that her car was involved in a homicide investigation. Ms. Parsley told police that Defendant had been in possession of her vehicle for two months (somewhat contradicting her testimony), and she consented to a search of her vehicle. During a search of the vehicle, police found a funeral program on the driver's side dash, a pack of L&M cigarettes in the center console, and a yellow tree-shaped air freshener on the rearview mirror. Ms. Parsley testified that she ...


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