Assigned on Briefs June 5, 2019
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 13-01288 Chris
Travis Capshaw, appeals the denial of his post-conviction
petition. Petitioner argues that he was denied effective
assistance of counsel when his trial counsel (1) failed to
adequately utilize mental health issues as a mitigating
factor in Petitioner's first degree murder charge and (2)
such failure caused trial counsel to erroneously advise
Petitioner to plead guilty. Following a review of the briefs
of the parties and the record, we affirm the judgment of the
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
J. Montierth, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Travis
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia
S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney
General; and Abby Wallace and Karen Cook, Assistant District
Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
T. Woodall, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Alan E. Glenn and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.
T. WOODALL, JUDGE.
Leading to Conviction
was arrested on August 31, 2012, for the death of his wife,
Ranita Burke. Because he was indigent, Petitioner was
appointed trial counsel from the Shelby County Public
Defender's Capital Defense Team. On October 9, 2012, the
trial court issued an order for a mental evaluation, and
Petitioner was found competent. On March 26, 2013, the Shelby
County Grand Jury entered a true bill charging Petitioner
with first degree premeditated murder, and the State filed a
notice of intent to seek the death penalty.
26, 2015, Petitioner pled guilty as charged, with a sentence
of life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Four
months following his plea, Petitioner filed an untimely
motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The trial court denied
his motion because the judgment had already become final on
July 26, 2015.
Plea Submission Hearing
facts of the case as presented by the State and stipulated by
the defense at the guilty plea submission hearing are as
[O]n August 20th of 2012, the victim Ranita Burke
was at her place of employment at 6207 Summer Avenue. When
she was attempting to get into her car, she was trying to
either go to lunch or eat lunch in her car when witnesses
observed a man walk quickly up to her car and [attempt] to
get inside [her car] on her lunch break.
This witness observed the male push Ms. Burke back inside the
car and began stabbing her repeatedly. Witness in the matter
came out of the business after being alerted to [the
stabbing] and actually saw [Petitioner], and attempt[ed] to
intervene when she saw that he was indeed stabbing Ms. Burke
with what she thought was a filet knife and she screamed for
him to stop. And before leaving, the individual pulled Ms.
Burke out of the car and slashed her throat with the knife
and then ran from the scene.
That witness positively identified [Petitioner] from a photo
spread. [Petitioner] and Ms. Burke were married and these
individuals had seen [Petitioner] coming back and forth from
her place of business during the course of her employment
there and their relationship.
The basis for the death penalty is, Your Honor, that we were
seeking under heinous, atrocious and cruel in that she died
as a result of multiple stab wounds to the head and neck.
These stab wounds or seven of them perforated her internal
jugular vein, her right subclavian vein, and branches of her
left external carotid artery. There were also two wounds to
the chest which perforated her left lung. She had 16 wounds
to the upper extremities and another 44 to the back and
buttocks, perforations of the right fourth rib, right and
hearing, Petitioner verified his signature on the plea
acceptance document. The trial court explained to Petitioner
his rights, the degrees of homicide, their corresponding
punishment, the elements of premeditated murder, and the
sentencing procedure if he were convicted as charged.
Petitioner confirmed under oath that he understood the plea,
that his trial counsel and defense team had explained
everything about his case to him, and that he was entering
his plea voluntarily and knowingly. The trial court
specifically addressed the preparation by Petitioner's
THE COURT: Okay. Is there anything else about this plea about
what your attorneys explained to you, what they've been
doing for you, anything about it you're confused about,