United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
LARRY J. ALSTON, Petitioner,
KEVIN GENOVESE, Respondent.
C. POPLIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE
R. McDONOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Larry J. Alston, an inmate proceeding pro se, has
filed a federal habeas petition pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
2254, challenging the legality of his confinement under Knox
County, Tennessee convictions for especially aggravated
kidnapping, aggravated burglary, and aggravated robbery.
Having considered the submissions of the parties, the
state-court record, and the law applicable to
Petitioner's claims, the Court finds that the petition
should be denied.
SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE & PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Sue Maples was in front of her Knoxville residence on the
afternoon of April 15, 2010, when three armed men confronted
her, demanded her purse, and ordered her inside her home.
State v. Alston, Young, and Webb, No.
E2012-00432-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 2382589, at *1 (Tenn. Crim.
App. May 30, 2013) (“Alston I”),
perm. app. granted (Tenn. Jan. 17, 2014). A neighbor
witnessed the incident and telephoned police. Id.
Petitioner and his co-defendants were apprehended at the
victim's residence. Id.
following evidence was presented at trial. Ms. Maples's
neighbor, Ashley Dawn Hill, testified that, at approximately
1:45 p.m. on April 15, 2010, she was sitting on the front
porch when she saw two black men with dreadlocks and a white
man with glasses walking down the street toward the
victim's residence. Id. Ms. Hill witnessed the
victim walk around her car, which was parked in front of Ms.
Hill's house, to get in the vehicle. Id. The men
approached the victim and said, “Excuse me.”
Id. Ms. Hill heard the victim scream and saw one of
the black men grab the victim's purse. Id. The
victim got out of her car and ran toward her house, and the
men followed her inside. Id. Ms. Hill telephoned
Maples testified that, at approximately 1:45 p.m. on April
15, 2010, she went outside to get in her car when she saw
three men - two black and one white - walking toward her.
Id. She stated that, just as she began to get into
her car, the “big” black man asked if she knew a
particular girl. Id. Ms. Maples stated that she did
not and went to get in the car. Id. She testified,
“The next thing I know[, ] there were guns to my
Maples stated that the two black men pointed guns at her, and
that one of the men demanded that she give him her purse and
then “get to the house.” Id. She stated
that the men pushed her toward the door of the home, which
she had difficulty opening due to her terror. Id.
Once inside the home, the men pushed her to the couch and
began ransacking her home for money, jewelry, and
“anything [she] had.” Id. She testified
that the men took $140 from her wallet, along with her bank
card. Id. She stated that “the big”
perpetrator demanded her “bank number.”
Id. Ms. Maples also recalled that the white
perpetrator had a sawed-off shotgun stuffed down his pants,
while the two black men had pistols. Id.
Ms. Maples remained on the couch, one of the men took two
flat screen televisions and walked to the door before
stating, “Oh f***, there's the law.”
Id. at 2. The man ran toward another man in the
kitchen, at which point Ms. Maples escaped through the open
front door. Id. When she got outside, a female
officer told her to “[g]o somewhere and . . . get where
nobody can see you.” Id. She identified
Petitioner and his co-defendants as the perpetrators at
trial, designating Defendant Kris Young as “the big
Police Department (“KPD”) Officer Amanda Bunch
testified that, at approximately 1:41 p.m., she responded to
the victim's residence to investigate a report that
“three males force[d] a lady back into her house at
gunpoint.” Id. Officer Bunch took position
near the home and waited for backup to arrive. Id.
Two other officers arrived nearly simultaneously to one
another and, at that point, the front door opened and a black
male carrying a television began to exit. Id.
Officer Bunch saw the individual drop the television and run
back into the house. Id. She testified that the
other two officers went to the back of the house while she
moved to the driveway of the residence. Id.
Bunch stated that the other officers placed one subject in
custody at the back of the house. Id. An officer and
his police dog arrived, and the dog was released inside the
home. Id. The dog drove the other two suspects onto
the back deck, where they were placed into custody.
Id. Officer Bunch handcuffed a white male,
identified as Joshua Webb, and performed a search of his
person, where she discovered “[t]wo five-dollar bills,
a lighter, his wallet, . . . a gold kind of bracelet chain
type thing, and . . . a pill bottle” with the
victim's name on it. Id.
Officer Tim Riddle was another of the responding officers,
and he testified that he took cover next to a tree where he
could see both the front and rear exits of the victim's
home. Id. Officer Riddle observed a black male
carrying something out of the home, and he saw the individual
drop what he was carrying and go back in the house when the
officers “began to give verbal commands.”
Id. He then saw an elderly white woman run from the
front door and a black male “trying to run out the back
door.” Id. That man was apprehended by Officer
John Stevens, who was in the back alley. Id. Officer
Riddle radioed for K-9 assistance, and after the K-9 officer
arrived and warned the home's occupants that the dog was
going to be released, a white male and a black male exited
the rear of the home and surrendered. Id. Officer
Riddle placed the second black male, identified as Kris
Young, into custody. Id.
Officer John Stevens, another responding officer, recalled
that Petitioner was the first to exit the victim's home,
followed quickly by Webb and Young. Id. at *3.
Petitioner cooperated with officers' commands and got
down on the ground immediately. Id. Officer Stevens
placed Petitioner in custody and searched him, finding $110
in cash and the victim's automatic teller machine
(“ATM”) card on his person. Id.
forensic officer took photographs and collected evidence at
the scene, which included a Ruger pistol, a nine-millimeter
pistol, and a .20-gauge sawed-off shotgun, all of which were
conclusion of the State's proof, Petitioner and his
co-defendants elected not to present any proof. Id.
A Knox County Criminal Court jury convicted Petitioner of
aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, especially
aggravated kidnapping, and possession of a firearm with the
intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous
felony. (See Doc. 5-6, at 91-92.) Following the
verdict, the trial court set aside the guilty verdicts for
especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary.
(See Doc. 5-2, at 57-59, 69-70.) The trial court
also dismissed the firearms convictions, reasoning that the
firearms convictions could not survive the dismissal of the
especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary
convictions, as they were the predicate dangerous felonies
for the firearms offenses. (See ...