Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs July 24, 2019
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2017-B-1381
Angelita Blackshear Dalton, Judge.
Ronnie T. Baker, was convicted by a jury of aggravated
assault, domestic assault, and interference with a 911 call.
The trial court sentenced Defendant to a total effective
sentence of ten years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days.
On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the evidence was
insufficient to sustain his conviction of aggravated assault;
(2) the trial court erred in admitting the victim's prior
consistent statements; (3) the trial court erred in admitting
testimony and photos concerning the interior of the
victim's residence that showed destruction of the
property by the Defendant; (4) the trial court erred by
failing to merge the convictions for aggravated assault and
domestic assault; and (5) the trial court erred in imposing
the maximum sentence and by imposing partial consecutive
sentencing. After conducting a full review of the record, we
affirm the judgments of the trial court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal
Martesha Johnson, District Public Defender; Jeffrey A.
DeVasher (on appeal), Patrick Hakes and Stella Yarbrough (at
trial), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the
appellant, Ronnie Thomas Baker.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ronald
L. Coleman, Assistant Attorney General; Glenn Funk, District
Attorney General; and Amy M. Hunter, Assistant District
Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Camille R. McMullen and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ.,
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE.
19, 2017, the Davidson County Grand Jury returned a
five-count indictment against Defendant, charging him with
aggravated burglary (Count 1), aggravated assault for
intentionally or knowingly causing serious bodily injury
(Count 2), domestic assault for intentionally, knowingly, or
recklessly causing bodily injury (Count 3), vandalism valued
$1000 or less (Count 4), and interfering with a 911 call
(Count 5). At trial, the following facts were adduced.
and Lisa Williams had been in an on-again, off-again
relationship for approximately twelve years and had lived
together until Defendant left Ms. Williams's residence
about two months prior to March 2017. On March 20, 2017, Ms.
Williams was at home cooking dinner. She heard a car pull up
outside and went to the door. Ms. Williams saw Defendant get
out of the car. She asked Defendant what he wanted. Defendant
"jerked the door out of [Ms. Williams's] hand and
walked on in the house." Defendant asked about his
belongings. Ms. Williams told Defendant they were "all
in the washroom." Defendant became upset and began
demanding other items, specifically clothing he gave to Ms.
Williams, saying "another bitch can wear that."
Defendant began cursing, screaming, throwing things out of
Ms. Williams's closet and drawers, and throwing items of
clothing at her. Defendant poured a can of grape soda onto
Ms. Williams's bed. Defendant then ransacked Ms.
Williams's kitchen. Ms. Williams testified that Defendant
was "just cussing, just going off." She stated that
Defendant "called me a bunch of bitches, hoes, . . .
[t]old me I was messing around with somebody."
to distance herself from the situation, Ms. Williams stepped
outside so that Defendant could "have room to
leave." Instead of leaving, Defendant went outside,
"got off the porch and came down there where [Ms.
Williams] was[, ] and he just started beating" her.
Defendant punched Ms. Williams with his fists, pulled her
hair, and scratched her. Ms. Williams attempted to call 911,
but Defendant took her phone and smashed it on the ground
twice, rendering it useless.
that round got through," Ms. Williams stood up and
headed towards her house. She was fearful that Defendant was
coming up behind her, so Ms. Williams picked up a
"stick," which was actually a porch rail. Ms.
Williams swung the "stick" to keep Defendant from
hitting her again, "slightly hit[ting] him in his
head." Defendant, unfazed by the strike, took the
"stick" from Ms. Williams, threw her down, and hit
her in the eye with the "stick." Defendant then
left in the car in which he arrived.
Williams's daughter arrived about five minutes after
Defendant left and called 911. When Officer Kevin Reynolds
from the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department arrived at
Ms. Williams's residence, he spoke to Ms. Williams, took
photographs, and collected evidence. Officer Reynolds
testified that Ms. Williams was crying and very emotional. He
observed that she had a laceration to her eye and a swollen
face. Officer Reynolds stated that the interior of Ms.
Williams's home "was a wreck."
paramedics eventually transported Ms. Williams to the
hospital. As a result of the assault, Ms. Williams suffered a
broken nose, a broken eye socket, and various cuts,
scratches, and bruises. Photographs of Ms. Williams's
injuries were entered into evidence and showed a cut above
Ms. Williams's left eye, a swollen shut left eye that was
also black, and a cut on her neck. Ms. Williams's medical
records were also entered into evidence. Ms. Williams
described her level of pain as a ten out of ten. She was
given multiple doses of Hydrocodone while at the hospital,
and she was given a prescription for Hydrocodone to take as
needed once she was discharged. Ms. Williams testified that
she was still suffering from blurred vision due to the
assault at the time of trial.
State introduced photographs of the "stick" used in
the assault and Ms. Williams's damaged cell phone. The
State also introduced photographs of the damage done to the
interior of Ms. Williams's home, which included pictures
of clothes thrown about, food thrown out of cabinets, the
trash can turned over, and a soda spilled on the bed. The
trial court denied the introduction of a photograph that
showed blood on the floor. During cross-examination, Ms.
Williams admitted that there was no permanent damage done to
the interior of her home.
counsel read from the preliminary hearing transcript to point
out several prior inconsistent statements that Ms. Williams
had made in order to impeach her and attack her credibility.
The prior inconsistent statements pertained to the timing of
the incident, whether Ms. Williams was going to contact the
police, whether Ms. Williams was going back into the house
when she picked up the stick, and whether Defendant hit Ms.
Williams with the stick or with his fist. The State, in an
attempt to rehabilitate Ms. Williams's credulity, read at
length from the same preliminary hearing transcript on
redirect examination to point out prior consistent statements
and asked Ms. Williams if the statements made at the trial
were consistent with those she made at the preliminary
hearing. Defendant objected to the State's use of prior
consistent statements. The State argued that prior consistent
statements could be used to rehabilitate a witness once a
witness has been impeached. The trial court overruled the
end of the State's re-direct, Defendant moved for a
mistrial. Defendant argued that the State improperly entered
into evidence the entirety of the preliminary hearing
transcript, which was hearsay that did not fall under any of
the hearsay exceptions. The State responded that Defendant
opened the door by admitting prior inconsistent statements
and that the State is permitted to use prior consistent
statements to rehabilitate a witness. The trial court denied
the motion for mistrial. Defendant then asked the trial court
to give the jury a limiting instruction. The following
instruction was given to the jury:
The contents of the prior inconsistent statement are not to
be considered as proof in the trial. However, immaterial
discrepancies or differences in the statements of witnesses
do not affect their credibility.
If a witness is thus impeached, the jury has the right to
disregard his or her evidence, and treat it as untrue, except
where it is corroborated by other credible testimony, or by
the facts and circumstance proved on the trial.
Prior consistent statements are admissible to rehabilitate a
witness or to respond to impeachment by a prior inconsistent
statement. The prior consistent statements cannot be
considered by the jury as substantive evidence and [are] to
be used only in assessing the credibility of the witness. Any
prior consistent statements can be used only as corroboration
of the in court testimony of the witness after impeachment by
did not testify at trial and offered no proof. The jury found
Defendant guilty of aggravated assault in Count 2, domestic
assault in Count 3, and interference with a 911 call in Count
5. Count 1, aggravated burglary, and Count 4, vandalism for
the destruction of Ms. Williams's phone, were dismissed
because the jury could not reach a verdict.
sentencing hearing, the trial court found Defendant had a
total of four prior qualifying convictions and sentenced him
as a Range II, multiple offender. The trial court sentenced
Defendant to ten years on Count 2 for aggravated assault and
eleven months, twenty-nine days each for Count 3, domestic
assault, and Count 5, interference with an emergency call.
The trial court also found that Counts 3 and 5 should be
served concurrently with each ...