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State v. Muhammad

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

August 30, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
RAYMON MUHAMMAD

          Assigned on Briefs July 9, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 17-01313 J. Robert Carter, Jr., Judge

         The defendant, Raymon Muhammad, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of first degree murder, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Tony N. Brayton (on appeal); and Robert Felkner and Brent Walker (at trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Raymon Muhammad.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Katharine K. Decker, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Austin Scofield and Carla Taylor, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          James Curwood Witt, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          JAMES CURWOOD WITT, JR., JUDGE

         The Shelby County Grand Jury charged the defendant with first degree premeditated murder for the December 23, 2015 death of the victim, John Jones.

         At the October 2018 trial, Louise Benson testified that on December 23, 2015, she lived at 1586 McMillan in Memphis. The victim, whom she knew only as "Fish," had come over to visit. Ms. Benson recalled that she "was inside picking some chitlins" when she "heard some shooting." She said that she dropped to the floor while the shooting, which "lasted a good while," continued. When the shooting stopped, she crawled to the front door and saw the victim lying on the front porch; he had been shot. A neighbor telephoned the police.

         Memphis Police Department ("MPD") Officer Jonathan McHugh responded to a call of shots fired at 1586 McMillan on December 23, 2015. When he arrived, he observed "a black male face down on the porch. . . . He had no pulse. He wasn't breathing." Officer McHugh believed the victim to be dead.

         Crime scene investigators found the home riddled with bullet holes. They located a single 7.62x39 shell casing on the sidewalk outside.

         MPD Detective Julius Beasley was the lead investigator into the victim's death. In March 2016, Detective Beasley "received information that [the defendant] would be a critical source to talk to," so he went to interview the defendant, who was incarcerated in Memphis at that time. In his first statement, the defendant "said that Derrick Matthews had gotten into a fight with" the victim about a week before the victim's death and that Mr. Matthews "knew that he had to get [the victim] before [the victim] got him." The defendant said that Mr. Matthews picked him up in Mr. Matthews' white Chevrolet Cobalt, that he rode in the backseat, and that Mr. Matthews fired shots at the victim as he was driving. The defendant told Detective Beasley that he saw the victim fall just before Mr. Matthews drove away.

         Detective Beasley said that the defendant's claim that he had been a backseat passenger in the car while Mr. Matthews shot the victim "didn't sound right," so he elected to interview the defendant a second time. In his second statement, the defendant "admitted that he was the shooter and that he shot because Mr. Matthews told him to and that he received $1000 plus a cell phone in order to do it." Detective Beasley recalled that the defendant "became emotional" and started ...


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