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State v. McLeod

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

September 26, 2019


          Assigned on Briefs July 9, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 16-06596 James M. Lammey, Judge.

         The defendant, Whitcliffe McLeod, appeals his sentences for second degree murder and attempted second degree murder. The defendant argues the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the defendant to serve his sentences consecutively. Following our review, we affirm the judgments and sentence of the trial court.

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

          Harry E. Sayle III, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Whitcliffe McLeod.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Garrett D. Ward, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Melanie Cox, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

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


          J. ROSS DYER, JUDGE.


         A. Trial

         This case arises as a result of the murder of Aaron Forbes and the attempted murder of Andrea Williams-Forbes. Mrs. Williams-Forbes is the widow of Mr. Forbes. A Shelby County grand jury indicted the defendant for one count of premeditated first degree murder and one count of attempted premeditated first degree murder. The defendant went to trial on both counts. At trial, the parties presented the following proof: Mrs. Williams-Forbes testified she drove to the home of her step-mother, Gloria Williams, on August 19, 2016. When she arrived, Ms. Williams was there with the defendant, and the defendant was drinking a glass of Jamaican rum. After a few hours, the three went to pick up Mr. Forbes from work. Then all four returned to Ms. Williams's house where Mr. Forbes, Ms. Williams, and the defendant started drinking alcohol.

         At approximately 8:00 p.m., the victims and the defendant left Ms. Williams's house to go shopping at Wal-Mart. While shopping, Mr. Forbes picked up a t-shirt and asked Mrs. Williams-Forbes for her opinion on the shirt. She told Mr. Forbes the shirt was too small and he needed to "[g]et a bigger size." According to Mrs. Williams-Forbes, the defendant interjected and urged Mr. Forbes "don't let nobody tell you what to do. You're a guy. You're a gangster." Mrs. Williams-Forbes became upset and walked away. After a few minutes, she returned, and Mr. Forbes asked for her opinion on a pair of pants. She replied, "[m]y opinion doesn't matter" and again walked away. Seeing his wife upset, Mr. Forbes became angry and dropped the clothes. Mrs. Williams-Forbes testified the defendant again pressured Mr. Forbes, stating "[m]an, man, you don't let nobody tell you what to do. You're a gangster -- you're a gangster." The defendant picked up the clothes, and they walked to the register to check out.

         When asked whether she observed any arguments between the defendant and Mr. Forbes inside of Wal-Mart, Mrs. Williams-Forbes testified she did not but stated the defendant and Mr. Forbes were "talking Jamaican." At trial, Mrs. Williams-Forbes identified a video which showed her, the defendant, and Mr. Forbes exiting Wal-Mart together. She walked immediately to the car, while the defendant and Mr. Forbes walked "somewhere else" before returning to the car. She testified the defendant and Mr. Forbes were talking before returning to the car, but she did not know what they were discussing. She also testified that when the defendant and Mr. Forbes returned to the car they were arguing and "cussing each other out." She did not know what they were arguing about.

         After leaving Wal-Mart, they drove the defendant to his house, where he lived with his wife and his wife's children and grandchildren. Mrs. Williams-Forbes parked the car in front of the defendant's house. She testified the defendant and Mr. Forbes argued the entire drive, which was "[a]bout ten or fifteen minutes . . . ." When they arrived, the defendant exited the vehicle and walked inside the house. Mrs. Williams-Forbes briefly exited the car to remove a lawnmower from the back of the car. The lawnmower belonged to Ms. Williams; they were transporting it to the defendant's house because Ms. Williams was letting the defendant borrow it. After removing the lawnmower, Mrs. Williams-Forbes returned to the vehicle, secured her seat belt, and started the car.

         Before the victims could leave, Mrs. Williams-Forbes saw the defendant outside of the house "with a gun, " and he "beg[an] to start shooting us." When asked if she was sure the person she saw was the defendant, she stated, "[y]es, I'm positive." In an attempt to get away, Mrs. Williams-Forbes shifted the car into reverse before running into a mailbox. She then exited the vehicle in an attempt to save her life. She stated, "when I jumped out the car, [the defendant] ran the car down and emptied the gun on my husband." The defendant then walked over to Mrs. Williams-Forbes, who was lying in the street, and said, "Andrea, get up. Get up." Mrs. Williams-Forbes was unable to move because she had been shot. When asked whether Mr. Forbes carried a weapon, Mrs. Williams-Forbes stated he did not carry a weapon and never owned a gun.

         Officer Edjuan Burriss, of the Shelby County Sheriff's Office, responded to the 911 call. When he arrived on the scene he saw Mrs. Williams-Forbes lying face down in the street. As he rendered aid to her, he noticed she was conscious but barely responsive. Officer Burriss testified, "[a]nd then at some point, my attention was directed to the white Jeep that was a few houses down on the west side of the street."[1] When he approached the Jeep, "it was pretty obvious that [the male victim] was already deceased." He checked for pulse and called for medical assistance. Medical personnel confirmed Mr. Forbes, who was seated in the front passenger seat, was dead. ...

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