Session June 4, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Lake County No. 16-CR-10223 R. Lee
Moore, Jr., Judge
Kendrick Rivers,  was found guilty of aggravated assault in
concert with two or more other persons after an incident at
Northwest Correctional Complex ("Northwest") in
Tiptonville, Tennessee, during which a correctional officer
was attacked by several inmates. As a result of the
conviction, Defendant was sentenced to fifteen years in
incarceration. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence
was insufficient to support the conviction, that the trial
court erred in refusing to allow Defendant to introduce
another inmate's conviction for the same offense, and
that the trial court erred in sentencing Defendant. For the
following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Camp, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kendrick Rivers.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent
C. Cherry, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Jody S.
Pickens, District Attorney General; and Lance Webb, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Thomas T. Woodall, J., and John Everett Williams, P.J,
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE
and Darrell Lamont Fleming, Jr., were indicted by a Lake
County grand jury in July of 2016 for attempted first degree
murder and aggravated assault for their role in an attack on
Officer Shannon Williamson at Northwest. Defendant filed a
motion to sever his case from the codefendants, Mr. Fleming
and Kaleb Tate, because they were "indicted on the same
charges as the movant." The motion goes on to explain
that the severance was necessary because Mr. Tate had already
pled guilty to the offense and Mr. Fleming gave a statement
implicating Defendant in the offense that could not be
redacted. The trial court granted the motion to sever. Prior
to trial, the State nolle prossed the attempted first degree
murder charge in Count One of the indictment.
trial, the following facts were introduced. On September 2,
2014, Defendant, Mr. Fleming, and Mr. Tate were all inmates
at Northwest. The correctional facility was arranged in pods.
Each pod contained cells on two "tiers" or levels,
with thirty-four cells on the upper tier and thirty cells on
the lower tier. On the lower tier, located in the center, was
a protected area referred to as "the cage" where
correctional officers could complete paperwork and maintain a
safe position as they supervised activities within the pod.
Defendant, Mr. Fleming, and Mr. Tate were all housed in Pod
Nine. Defendant's cell was located on the first tier.
Shannon Williamson, a correctional officer at Northwest, was
the only officer working in Pod Nine on the day of the
incident. Pod Nine contained approximately 128 inmates.
Officer Williamson acknowledged that department policy
regarding tier management was in place at the time of the
incident. Tier management involved allowing only inmates on
one tier out of their cells at a time. He "tried"
to follow that policy but acknowledged that he was not
to Officer Williamson, Defendant wanted to get back into his
cell after Officer Williamson "got a call on the radio
saying that it was [recreation time for] the top tier."
Officer Williamson "just told him to hold on and stuff
and [he] would let [Defendant] in his cell" after he
"let out the top tier for rec." Officer Williamson
explained that Defendant "wanted to argue [with him] a
little bit." Officer Williamson returned to
Defendant's cell about fifteen or twenty minutes later.
Mr. Tate was standing outside the cell with Defendant.
Officer Williamson recalled that "another inmate c[a]me
to [Defendant's] cell and they w[ere] standing at each -
- each side of the doorway. And [Defendant] pushed the door
wide open and said if I try to shut it, to hurt me."
Officer Williamson turned around and "went to the
cage," letting Defendant stay in his cell while it was
time later, Defendant came out of his cell and approached
Officer Williamson while he was standing near the cage.
According to Officer Williamson, Defendant was "trying
to argue" or "pick a fight." The officer
agreed that Defendant appeared angry. Officer Williamson told
Defendant that he was not "going to deal with it,"
so he intended to go back to the cage and start writing in
his log. Officer Williamson's next memory is of being
"on the ground" with someone hitting him on his
back. Once the assault was over, Officer Williamson was able
to get up and press the emergency button on his radio, walk
to the cage, and shut the door, but he had no other
recollection of the incident. As a result of his injuries,
Officer Williamson was out of work for approximately three
Williamson denied using the "N" word and
acknowledged that the use of the word would violate the
policies of the Department of Correction.
Abel of the Tennessee Department of Correction, Office of
Investigation and Compliance, worked as the Institutional
Investigator at Northwest. Investigator Abel testified that
the facility housed about 2400 inmates and was equipped with
video surveillance cameras. The cameras did not record audio.
Investigator Abel was notified within less than fifteen
minutes of the incident during which Officer Williamson was
attacked by three inmates. After being notified of the