Assigned on Briefs July 9, 2019.
from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 13-03894 W.
Mark Ward, Judge.
petitioner, Cordricus Arnold, appeals the denial of his
post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court
erred in finding he received the effective assistance of
counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial
of the petition.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Jeffrey Lee, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Cordricus
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P.
Weirich, District Attorney General; and Holly Palmer,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
James Curwood Witt, Jr. and Robert W. Wedemeyer, JJ., joined.
ROSS DYER, JUDGE.
and Procedural History
2013, the petitioner stabbed his victim to death, and a jury
later convicted him of first degree felony murder. The
defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence
supporting his conviction and the trial court's failure
to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter on direct
appeal. In denying relief, this Court summarized the facts
surrounding the murder, as follows:
This case arose after the victim was stabbed behind a Memphis
restaurant. In a statement to police, the [petitioner] said
that on the evening of March 23, 2013, he was in a Kroger
grocery store "[t]o get warm." The Kroger was in
the same shopping center as the restaurant El Toro Loco, and
the store was adjacent to the restaurant. The [petitioner]
said that he was wearing a "[b]lack hoodie and some
black pants and some orange and gray shoes," and video
footage from the store depicted the [petitioner] in this
attire. The [petitioner] exited the store without making a
purchase, and he "went to the back of Kroger and just
sat there." While sitting behind the store, the
[petitioner] noticed the victim, who worked at El Toro Loco,
when the victim was taking out the trash. The [petitioner]
approached the victim when he was emptying bottles and boxes
into the trash. The [petitioner] said that the victim turned
around "because I guess he saw a shadow and he tried to
use the bottles to hit me with them. I guess he realized what
I was fixing to do." The [petitioner] then pulled out a
knife and stabbed the victim with a "[b]lack butcher
knife." The victim ran into the restaurant, and the
[petitioner] said that he followed him in an attempt to find
the victim's car keys. He explained that he wanted to
obtain the victim's keys so that he would have a place
"to lay [his] head."
Video footage from inside the restaurant showed the victim
loading boxes into a cart and then pushing the cart toward
the rear exit of the restaurant. A little over one minute
later, the victim came back into the restaurant and collapsed
writhing on the floor. Shortly thereafter, the [petitioner]
came into the restaurant. The footage showed that he was
holding a butcher knife and wearing a black hoodie and black
pants, and the footage clearly shows the [petitioner's]
face. The video captured the [petitioner] placing the knife
on a counter and walking from one end [of] the kitchen to the
other several times. The [petitioner] then retrieved the
knife and knelt over the victim's body. The [petitioner]
stated that he took the victim's keys and wallet and left
in the victim's vehicle, which he described as a
Jose Miranda testified that he worked at El Toro Loco with
the victim. He testified that the victim drove a green RAV 4
and that he usually parked behind the restaurant. He stated
that on the evening of the victim's death, he and the
victim were cleaning up the restaurant, and the victim went
outside alone to take some boxes to the dumpsters behind the
restaurant. A short time later, the restaurant supervisor
asked Mr. Miranda if he knew where the victim was, and Mr.
Miranda replied that he did not. Mr. Miranda went to look for
the victim in the back of the restaurant and found him lying
dead on the floor in the kitchen. Mr. Miranda rushed back to
his manager and told him to call the police.
Members of the Memphis Police Department ("MPD")
homicide bureau and crime scene unit were dispatched to the
scene. Sergeant Kevin Lundy obtained footage from the cameras
in the restaurant, and he had a video analyst create still
photographs from images in the videos. Sergeant Lundy
contacted Cecil Wages, who was a loss prevention officer for
Kroger and a reserve MPD officer, and provided him with a
still photograph of the [petitioner] from inside the
restaurant. Mr. Wages examined the footage from the Kroger
adjacent to El Toro Loco, and he discovered that a person
matching the [petitioner's] description was in the Kroger
about two hours before the victim was stabbed. Mr. Wages sent
the video to the homicide bureau, and they verified that the
person in the video was their suspect.
Four days after the killing, Sergeant Robert Wilkie received
a call informing him that the victim's vehicle was parked
behind El Toro Loco. Officers recovered the vehicle, and
Officer Michael Coburn processed the vehicle. He discovered
the victim's wallet and credit card in the cupholder of
the vehicle. He also tested ...