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State v. Amyx

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

November 20, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
BILLY MCCARTY AMYX

          Session September 24, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Hawkins County No. CC16CR75 Alex E. Pearson, Judge

         A Hawkins County jury convicted the Defendant, Billy McCarty Amyx, of filing a false report and fabricating evidence, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the evidence does not support his convictions and that the trial court abused its discretion when it ordered him to serve six years. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

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

          George Todd East, Kingsport, Tennessee, for the appellant, Billy McCarty Amyx.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Courtney N. Orr, Assistant Attorney General; Dan E. Armstrong, District Attorney General; and Ryan Blackwell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE

         I. Facts

         This case arises from unsubstantiated allegations that Jeremy Weaver shot the Defendant. A Hawkins County grand jury indicted the Defendant for filing a false report and fabricating evidence. At the trial on these charges, the parties presented the following evidence: Former Hawkins County Sheriff's Department deputy Myran Southerland testified that on March 18, 2016, he was dispatched at around 3:00 p.m. to a residence on Woodland Lane regarding a "[shots] fired complaint." Upon arrival, Mr. Southerland found the Defendant lying against a building with a gunshot wound to his hand. The Defendant told Mr. Southerland that John Weaver, his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend, had shot him.

         Hawkins County Sheriff's Department Detective Keith Long testified that he reported to an address on Woodland Lane in reference to a shooting. Upon arrival, other officers informed Detective Long that the Defendant was the owner of the residence and had been shot by John Weaver. Detective Long collected samples of blood "droplets" found on the roadway in front of the Defendant's mobile home and shell casings. The Defendant had already been transported to Holston Valley Medical Center for treatment when Detective Long arrived, but the detective spoke with Gregg Mitchell, who had been present during the shooting.

         Detective Long recalled that Mr. Mitchell stated that he had been helping the Defendant repair his roof. Mr. Mitchell was inside a shed getting more screws when he heard what sounded like an argument followed by gunshots. He went outside and saw a "smaller" black car with a Toyota sticker "across the top of it." Mr. Mitchell recognized the driver as John Weaver. Detective Long did not speak to any other witnesses at the scene but took several photographs, which he identified for the jury.

         Detective Long testified that after photographing the scene, interviewing Mr. Mitchell, and collecting evidence, he went to Holston Valley Medical Center to speak with the Defendant. The Defendant provided a statement to Detective Long, who wrote down the Defendant's statement for him. He then read the statement to the Defendant, and the Defendant confirmed that the statement was accurate before signing it. Detective Long read the statement to the jury as follows:

Today around 3 p.m., me and my friend, Greg Mitchell, were working on a shed at my house. Greg had went inside the shed, and I was coming off the ladder. I saw a dark black or a dark blue car with Toyota across the top of the windshield. The car was going toward Church Hill and was going real slow. I knew the car belonged to John Weaver. He drives through there a lot but had never stopped. I know John because my ex-girlfriend, Rebecca, is living with him. John stopped in the road. His driver's window was down, and he started telling me he was taking care of my ex and saying things about me. I started walking toward the road. He said when I got to jail next month he was going to take care of my 19-month-old daughter like a real man should.
I jumped over my chain link fence and intended to punch him. I saw his right hand come up . . . and saw a gun. With my left hand I started reaching toward the gun that was now pointed at my face. I remember noticing that John had black gloves on. I grabbed at the gun to keep from getting shot in the face. The gun went off, and I spun around and hit the ground. I grabbed the bumper and started around the back of the car and went toward the passenger side.
I think John was taking his seatbelt off, and then he pointed the gun at me but the window was up.
I heard my friend, Greg, yelling, and John sped off, almost running over my foot.
My friend, Greg, was at the fence, and I realized then I'd been shot. While I was on the ground after the first shot, I heard at least two more.
Greg pulled the fence down and helped me over, and then he called 911.

         While at the hospital, Detective Long observed the Defendant's injuries. He recalled that it appeared that the Defendant had a gunshot wound to his left hand, describing it as a "through and through shot." Detective Long identified photographs taken of the Defendant's injuries at the hospital.

         Detective Long testified that he contacted the Johnson City Police Department and asked that an officer be dispatched to Mr. Weaver's address to detain him for questioning. When Detective Long arrived at the residence, Mr. Weaver was detained in the back of one patrol vehicle and Rebecca Roberts, the Defendant's ex-girlfriend, was detained in a separate patrol vehicle. Detective Long spoke with Mr. Weaver, informing him that he had been accused of shooting the Defendant. Detective Long stated that Mr. Weaver appeared confused but was "very cooperative" with the investigation. Mr. Weaver consented to a search of his residence and vehicle.

         Detective Long testified that, in Mr. Weaver's garage, he found a dark-colored Scion with a Toyota sticker across the top of the windshield. As he inspected the vehicle he saw blood in areas consistent with the Defendant's version of the events. Detective Long proceeded to the passenger side of the vehicle and noticed that the car door had been opened "and two shell casings had fallen from the inside of the vehicle and were laying [sic] on the ground beside the car." He clarified that the shell casings were .22 caliber. Detective Long also found "droplets" of blood on the driver's side of the car, blood on the passenger side of the vehicle and blood at the top of the passenger side window. Detective Long found weapons during the search of the residence but did not find a .22 caliber weapon.

         Detective Long testified that he had Mr. Weaver and Ms. Roberts transported to the sheriff's office for further questioning. Mr. Weaver "adamantly denied" any involvement in the shooting; however, after interviewing Mr. Weaver and reviewing "parts" of Mr. Weaver's cell phone, Detective Long charged Mr. Weaver with attempted murder.

         In an attempt to confirm the Defendant's allegations, Detective Long obtained video surveillance from Mr. Weaver's place of employment, Hutchinson Sealing Systems, and information regarding the time he had clocked out of work on March 18, 2016. The State played a portion of the surveillance video that showed Mr. Weaver leaving work in his car at 2:41 p.m. The video footage was consistent with the time indicated on Mr. Weaver's timecard. Additionally, Detective Long accessed the Google location service on Mr. Weaver's cell phone which showed that he was at his place of employment in Church Hill, Tennessee at 2:41 p.m. Information accessed through Mr. Weaver's cell phone also indicated that Mr. Weaver was in Johnson City at Sam's Club from 3:16 p.m. to 3:38 p.m. on March 18, 2016, "driving" from 3:38 p.m. to 4:08 p.m. and from 4:30 p.m. to 5:04 p.m. and, finally, at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Johnson City, Tennessee, from 5:04 p.m. to 5:50 p.m.

         Detective Long testified that he confirmed the location information recovered from Mr. Weaver's cell phone by obtaining surveillance video from the Sam's Club that showed Mr. Weaver in the Sam's Club at 3:16 p.m. and a receipt time-stamped 3:27 p.m. The shooting had been reported at 3:00 p.m., and the distance between the Sam's Club and the location of the shooting was thirty-one miles. Detective Long drove the distance between the two locations in thirty-nine minutes. He reported driving the speed limit for most of the drive, stating that he drove "with the flow of the traffic."

         Detective Long testified that he also accessed Mr. Weaver's call history. The call history showed that a call was placed on Mr. Weaver's cell phone at 2:45 p.m. on March 18, 2016. The call duration was nine minutes and twenty-seven seconds. There were two missed incoming phone calls from Gary Henard at 2:51 and ...


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