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Brown v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

August 27, 2019


          Assigned on Briefs July 24, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Robertson County No. 74CC2-2014-CR-453 Jill Bartee Ayers, Judge

         Petitioner, Jonathon D. Brown, was convicted by a Robertson County jury of aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, and theft of property over the value of $1, 000, for which he received an effective sentence of sixty years' incarceration. Petitioner filed for post-conviction relief, which was denied following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner appeals, asserting that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel's failure to adequately meet with Petitioner given the severity of the charges and trial counsel's failure to secure a land survey to "further buttress his venue argument." After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

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

          Joe R. Johnson, II, Springfield, Tennessee, for the appellant, Jonathon D. Brown.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Assistant Attorney General; John W. Carney, Jr., District Attorney General; and Jason White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert L. Holloway, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Camille R. McMullen and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.



         I. Factual and Procedural History

         To provide context for Petitioner's ineffective assistance of counsel claim, we will summarize the key evidence presented at trial. A full summary of the testimony at trial can be found in this court's opinion on direct appeal. See State v. Jonathon D. Brown, No. M2015-02457-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 7030488, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 2, 2016), no perm. app. filed.


         Jason Ghee, a Drug Interdiction Officer for the 18th Judicial District Drug Task Force, testified that on September 3, 2013, he was watching traffic drive north on I-65 and observed a green four-door Ford vehicle. Id. at *1. Officer Ghee "initiated [his] emergency equipment" when he observed that the driver was not wearing a seatbelt and that the vehicle "crossed the lane of traffic twice." Id. The green Ford vehicle exited I-65 onto Bethel Road and continued driving at speeds in "excess of ninety [miles per hour]." Id. Eventually the vehicle "left the roadway" and crashed when it was unable to navigate a sharp turn in Bethel Road. Id. After the vehicle crashed, Officer Ghee apprehended a black male wearing "[d]ark colored pants and [a] maroon shirt," who exited the passenger side of the vehicle. Id. Officer Ghee saw that the driver of the vehicle was another black male wearing "a white shirt and dark-colored pants and dark shoes." Id. Officer Ghee was unable to apprehend the driver but observed him exit the vehicle and run in a southeasterly direction towards the area of the victim's residence. Id.

         Petitioner's friend, Jerome Inmon, testified that on September 3, 2013, he was in the car with Petitioner, who was driving the green Ford vehicle on I-65. Id. He explained that they were "spotted" by two police officers near Bethel Road. When the officers initiated a traffic stop, Petitioner did not stop the car because both Mr. Inmon and Petitioner believed that there were warrants out for their arrests. Mr. Inmon testified that he was arrested by police after Petitioner crashed the vehicle on Bethel Road. Id.

         H.N. testified that she had lived on Bethel Road in Robertson County for approximately forty-five years with her children and now-deceased husband. Id. at *2. On September 3, 2013, H.N. was getting on her lawnmower when a man "jumped out" from behind two of H.N.'s other parked vehicles. Id. H.N. tried to run away from the assailant, but "he came up behind [her] and stopped [her]" by holding a knife to her neck. The assailant "pushed [her] back into the basement." Id. He told H.N. to be quiet, took her cars keys from her pants, and asked H.N. if she had any money. H.N. retrieved the two fifty-dollar bills from her car trunk and gave them to the assailant. The assailant also took off his shirt, opened the "passenger side door," and tossed his shirt into the car. Id. The assailant attempted to get into H.N.'s house, but H.N. told the assailant that she was locked out of her house and that her children were bringing her keys to the house around 3:30 p.m. Id.

         After he was unable to get into the house, the assailant came back down the steps and pushed H.N. against the vehicle while standing behind her. The man "unzipped [her] blue[ ]jeans and pulled them down." Id. The assailant then pushed H.N. "around to the hood of the car" as H.N. said, "I am so old, please don't do this to me." Id. The assailant responded that her age did not matter. H.N. then felt the assailant penetrate her vagina with his penis several times, causing her pain. Additionally, the assailant put a garbage bag in her mouth to gag her. The assailant then pushed H.N. over to a "yard chair" in the basement and tied her to the chair while she was still gagged with the garbage bag. Id. As the assailant "was getting ready to leave," H.N. was able to see his face. Id. H.N. saw that the assailant was a black male with a short, stocky build and that his hair was in dreadlocks. However, H.N. was unable to positively identify [Petitioner] as the assailant at trial. Id.

         After the assailant tied her to the chair, he took a bottle of water and some rubber gloves that H.N. had worn earlier that day. Assailant put the gloves on before he left in her vehicle. Id. H.N. was eventually able to free her hands and call her son, daughter, and son-in-law. After her family members arrived, they helped H.N. to free herself from the chair and called the police. Family members gave authorities a description of H.N.'s car-a black 1990 Buick Regal with a "Titans mirrored license plate" on the front of the car-and the license plate number. Id. H.N. was taken to the hospital, where the emergency room doctor examined H.N. and performed a "rape kit." Id. While she was ...

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