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State v. Champion

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

August 29, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
RANDY CHAMPION

          Assigned on Briefs April 23, 2019, at Knoxville

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 15-05137 Paula L. Skahan, Judge

         A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Randy Champion, of one count of especially aggravated robbery, two counts of attempt to commit second degree murder, two counts of employment of a firearm, one count of attempt to commit especially aggravated robbery, and one count of attempt to commit aggravated robbery. For these convictions, the trial court ordered an effective sentence of twenty-four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to prove his identity as a perpetrator of the offenses, that the trial court improperly denied his motion for severance, and that the State presented inconsistent theories of prosecution at trial. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

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

          Jessica L. Gillentine, Bartlett, Tennessee, for the appellant, Randy Champion.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Pam Stark and Gavin Smith, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE

         I. Facts

         This case arises out of a robbery, shooting, and stabbing in Shelby County, Tennessee. A Shelby County grand jury indicted the Defendant and two co-defendants, Marterius O'Neal and Anthony Bracey, for one count of especially aggravated robbery, two counts of attempt to commit second-degree murder, two counts of employment of a firearm, one count of attempt to commit especially aggravated robbery, and one count of attempt to commit aggravated robbery. The Defendant and Anthony Bracey, the Defendant's brother, were tried together. We summarize the evidence presented at trial as follows:

         Rogelio Rodriguez sat on the front porch of his home on the night of September 5, 2014, on Gerald Avenue in Shelby County, Tennessee, with his brother, Rolando Rodriquez.[1] At around 7:00 p.m., his other brother Ramiro Rodriguez arrived and joined his brothers, talking about work. As the men talked, two "[t]hin [men with] black skin" approached, and one of the men fired a gun. The man with the gun pointed the gun at Rogelio while trying to take a wallet from Rolando. The man fired his gun again, this time at Rogelio. Rogelio was transported to the hospital where he underwent surgery for a gunshot wound to his stomach and remained in the hospital for a week. At the time of these events, Rogelio had a cell phone lying next to where he was seated on the porch. After the incident, the phone was no longer on the porch.

         Rolando and Ramiro both lived with their brother Rogelio and his family on Gerald Avenue in September 2014. On the night of September 5, Rolando also heard a gunshot and then saw a person approaching him. The man, who was armed, attempted to take Rolando's wallet. Rolando was fearful of the man. As the man tried to take Rolando's wallet, he fired a second and third shot, one of which struck Rogelio. The other man had a knife and used it to cut Ramiro.

         Ramiro described the events of the night similarly to his brothers. He added that while the man brandishing the gun attempted to take Rolando's wallet, the other man, who was holding a knife, asked Ramiro for his wallet. Ramiro complied and gave the man his wallet; however, the man still "stuck [him] with [the] knife." The man continued stabbing at Ramiro, so Ramiro ran around a truck parked in the driveway with the man in pursuit. As Ramiro fled from the man with the knife, he observed another man, shorter and heavier than the first two, standing in the neighbor's yard waiting for the two men who had approached him and his brothers. He also heard additional gunfire and then observed the two men fleeing. Ramiro realized that the man who held the gun had run out of ammunition, so he began to chase him in an attempt to detain him for the police. When he neared the men, they told him to leave; however, Ramiro asked the men to return his immigration paperwork from his wallet to him.

         Ramiro recalled that the three men, who wore dark clothing, stood in front of him, and the man with the gun passed it to the man who had held the knife. The man, who initially had the knife but now held the gun, loaded the gun and then fired it. Ramiro fled.

         Rosalinda Torres, Rogelio's wife, was also at the Gerald Avenue residence on September 5, 2014, with her three daughters, ages thirteen, nine, and seven. She recalled that her husband and his two brothers were outside in front of the house. Shortly after she and her daughters had come inside the house from outside, she heard a gunshot. She gathered the girls in the back room and then went to look out a window facing the front of the house. As she looked out the window she saw a tall, thin, black man pointing a gun at Rogelio. She returned to the room where she had gathered her daughters and called 911 with no one answering the call. She returned to the window and saw her brother-in-law helping Rogelio, who was injured. Ms. Torres went outside and stayed with Rogelio until the ambulance arrived. Ms. Torres confirmed that Rogelio's cell phone had been sitting next to him on the porch but was gone when she returned to the porch after Rogelio was shot. The phone was never returned to Rogelio.

         Philip Perez, a Memphis Police Department ("MPD") officer, reported to the crime scene and found two injured men: one had been shot and the other stabbed. Ramiro showed the officer the direction he had chased the suspects. The suspects had run toward a drainage ditch with a fence around it. When Officer Perez approached the drainage ditch he found clothing outside of the fence. He learned from other sources that the three ...


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