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State v. Williams

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

August 28, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
RICHARD WILLIAMS

          Assigned on Briefs July 24, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 108261 Steven Wayne Sword, Judge

         Richard Williams, Defendant, was indicted on two counts of attempted first degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder where the victim suffered serious bodily injury, and two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted on all counts as charged and received a total effective sentence of thirty-six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

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

          Gerald L. Gulley, Jr. (on appeal), and Kit Rodgers (at trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Richard Williams.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Charme P. Allen, District Attorney General; and Phil Morton and TaKisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorneys 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.

          OPINION

          ROBERT L. HOLLOWAY, JR., JUDGE

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         Procedural History

         A Knox County Grand Jury indicted Defendant on the following charges:

Count

Charge

Victim

1

Attempted First Degree Murder

Larry North

2

Attempted First Degree Murder Where the Victim Suffers Serious Bodily Injury

Larry North

3

Employing a Firearm During the Commission of a Dangerous Felony: Attempted First Degree Murder

Larry North

4

Attempted First Degree Murder

Jamir Greenlee

5

Employing a Firearm During the Commission of a Dangerous Felony: Attempted First Degree Murder

Jamir Greenlee[1]

         Following a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty as charged on all counts. The trial court merged Defendant's conviction in Count 1 into Count 2. The trial court sentenced Defendant, as a standard Range I offender, to a total effective sentence of thirty-six years to serve.

         Defendant filed a timely motion for new trial, which was denied by the trial court. This timely appeal follows.

         Trial Testimony

         At trial, Michael Alan Mays testified that he worked for the Knox County Emergency Communications District. Mr. Mays explained how a computer-aided dispatch report was generated. A computer-aided dispatch report for a shooting that occurred on April 2, 2016[2], was admitted into evidence. Mr. Mays testified that he prepared a disc of 911 calls related to the shooting. The 911 calls were then admitted into evidence and played for the jury.

         Diana Campbell testified that she lived on the fifth floor at Townview Towers apartments ("Townview Towers"), which faced the Vistas Apartments ("Vistas"). Ms. Campbell was watching television in her apartment when she heard about two gunshots on April 2, 2016. When she looked out her balcony, she saw a man who had been shot, lying outside with a child in his arms. Ms. Campbell saw another person run towards Hill Avenue. She heard the man who was lying on the ground yell for help, so she called 911. Ms. Campbell testified that she saw a woman take the child from the man lying on the ground and look after the child until the authorities arrived. Ms. Campbell testified that she heard a total of about ten gunshots. On cross-examination, Ms. Campbell testified that she did not get a good look at the person who fled the scene.

         Sharon Gass testified that she lived on the fifth floor at Townview Towers. On April 2, 2016, after Ms. Gass heard about four gunshots, she stepped outside and saw a person pointing a gun at another person and shooting him. As she stepped into her apartment to get her phone to call 911, the shooter fled the scene. Ms. Gass testified that she did not see anyone outside other than the man who was shot and the shooter. On cross-examination, Ms. Gass testified that she did not see if the shooter was a male or female or what the shooter was wearing.

         Amy Cardwell testified that she lived on the bottom level of the Vistas in April 2016. The front window of her apartment faced the steps that led up to Townview Towers. On April 2, 2016, Ms. Cardwell heard gunshots and looked outside her window. She saw a person shooting up towards the top of the steps at another person. She saw the shooter stand "there for a good minute and then he slowly actually turned to walk away [with] . . . the gun down by his side." Ms. Cardwell testified that she heard or saw about five or six gunshots. She also testified that she did not see who the man was shooting at because her view was obstructed. After Ms. Cardwell saw the shooter walk away towards Summit Hill Avenue, she went over to the steps while she was on the phone with a 911 operator and saw a man lying on the ground who was bleeding and a little boy standing next to him. On cross-examination, Ms. Cardwell testified that she thought that the shooter was a black male based on his height and how his hands looked.

         The victim, Larry North, testified that he had been friends with Defendant, Kipling Colbert, Malik George, and Chris Bassett since high school. Mr. North testified that his relationship with these individuals deteriorated, and they stopped talking to Mr. North after the police had questioned him in December 2015 about an unrelated shooting. Mr. North testified that Defendant stayed at Mr. North's apartment at Townview Towers for about a month or two.

         Mr. North testified that Mr. George contacted Mr. North after he left the police station to ask him what he said to the police when the police questioned him in December 2015. Mr. North testified, "I don't remember what I said to [Mr. George] . . . because I've not said one thing to [Mr. George] on the phone that [Mr. George] like flipped, like why do you tell [the police] this and that, [and] . . . [Mr. George] h[u]ng up on me." Mr. North attempted to call Mr. George back twice after Mr. George hung up, but Mr. George did not answer. On the third attempt, Mr. North spoke to Mr. George, who asked Mr. North why he spoke to police. Mr. George also told Mr. North that the two of them were going to have to fight.

         Mr. North testified that he sent a video to Mr. Colbert through Snapchat on December 22, 2015, and asked Mr. Colbert, "friend, what you doing" because the two had not talked in a while. Mr. Colbert did not say anything in response, but he sent a video back to Mr. North, and in the video, Mr. Colbert was holding a revolver in his hand. Mr. North testified that he contacted Mr. Colbert again through Snapchat, stating the following in the message:

[Y]ou're my cousin, I know what you heard was found -- it's way more so I just want you to hear my side, meet me up in the a.m., no speaker, talking about like don't have me on speaker phone, just me and you. It's more than what you all -- you're all family, you're my family and I love you regardless.

         In response to Mr. North's message, Mr. Colbert posted the following on Snapchat: "[Mr. North is] staying at Towers. Tell anybody [Mr. Colbert] got him ten bands, to off this n***** if they catch [Mr. North] before [Mr. Colbert] do[es]." Mr. North explained that "Towers" referred to Townview Towers, "ten bands" referred to $10, 000, and "off this n*****" referred to getting rid of or killing him. The Snapchat messages were admitted into evidence and shown to the jury.

         Mr. North also testified that he does not recall who, but someone called Mr. North a snitch in a post on Facebook prior to the shooting. Mr. North testified that, before the shooting, the last time he had seen Defendant was at a New Year's Eve party with Mr. Colbert on December 31, 2015. Mr. North testified that he had invited Defendant and Mr. Colbert to the party. Mr. North testified that his girlfriend's cousin took possession of two guns from Defendant and Mr. Colbert at the New Year's Eve party because he did not want anybody "to start acting crazy" because people were going to be drinking. Mr. North testified that he did not know the type of the gun that was taken from Defendant. On ...


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