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State v. Prichard

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

October 17, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
WILLIAM PRICHARD

          Assigned on Briefs September 4, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hardeman County No. 17-CR-22 J. Weber McCraw, Judge

         Defendant, William Prichard, was convicted by a jury of aggravated assault resulting in death. The trial court sentenced Defendant to a term of fifteen years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction of aggravated assault and that Defendant should be granted a new trial because the finding of the jury is against the weight of the evidence presented, and the trial judge failed to act as the thirteenth juror. After conducting a full review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Ross Mitchell, Savannah, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Prichard.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Mark E. Davidson, District Attorney General; and Joe Van Dyke, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined

          OPINION

          TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Defendant was indicted by the Hardeman County Grand Jury of one count of aggravated assault resulting in death. At trial, which commenced on January 9, 2018, the following facts were adduced.

         On August 26, 2016, Defendant and the victim, William Hancock, were inmates at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility. Steve Young, also an inmate, testified that he and Mr. Hancock were standing near the microwaves in their pod. Defendant came down the stairs yelling "I'm going to get you." Mr. Young stated that he took notice and stepped in between Defendant and Mr. Hancock, facing Defendant. Defendant put his hand on Mr. Young's left shoulder, jumped over Mr. Young, and punched Mr. Hancock in the face with his right hand. Mr. Young testified that when he turned around, Mr. Hancock was lying on the floor. Mr. Young gave a statement to the correctional facility officials at the time and identified Defendant as the person who hit Mr. Hancock. Mr. Young did not recognize Defendant in the courtroom but was able to recognize him from a photograph taken closer to the time of the offense.[1]

         Mark Gallady, another inmate, testified that he witnessed Mr. Young jumping in between Mr. Hancock and Defendant. Mr. Gallady stated that he saw Defendant hit Mr. Hancock in the face and that Mr. Hancock "fell straight back, [and] smacked his head right on the floor." Mr. Gallady testified that Mr. Hancock had not been acting strangely or depressed in the days leading up to the incident, that "[h]e seemed like the same old guy we was used to being around." Mr. Gallady stated that it was a matter of moments before the correctional officer arrived and directed all inmates to their cells. The inmates were placed on lockdown. A nurse arrived a couple of minutes later. Mr. Gallady also testified that prior to the incident, the floor was dry and did not have any puddles of water. Mr. Gallady identified Defendant in the courtroom as the individual who hit Mr. Hancock.

         Correctional Officer Cassie Graham testified that she was in the "JDF Sally Port" when the attack occurred and that she was on the scene of the incident within thirty seconds. Officer Graham did not witness Defendant hit Mr. Hancock. Officer Graham found Mr. Hancock lying on the ground and then proceeded to lockdown the other inmates to assess the situation. While getting the inmates into their cells, Officer Graham testified that Defendant told her that "[he] done [sic] it." Officer Graham testified that there were cameras in the pod, but she did not know if there was any video footage of the incident.

         Kelsey Gates, an investigator at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility, testified that she became involved in the investigation because it was likely that an inmate was going to die as a result of injuries sustained in an incident. Officer Gates developed Defendant as a suspect during her ...


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