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State v. Trammell

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

December 13, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
BUFORD TRAMMELL

          Session September 25, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 106715 Steven Wayne Sword, Judge

         A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Buford Trammell, of six counts of rape, three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, one count of solicitation of a minor, one count of casual exchange of a controlled substance, and one count of sexual battery by an authority figure. After merging the appropriate convictions, the trial court ordered an effective sentence of twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the jury's verdict and that the trial court erred when it imposed consecutive sentences. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

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

          Mark E. Stephens, District Public Defender, and Jonathan P. Harwell (on appeal), Assistant Public Defender, Knoxville, Tennessee, and Michael G. Hatmaker (at trial), Jacksboro, Tennessee, for the appellant, Buford E. Trammell.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Charme P. Allen, District Attorney General; and Joan S. Stewart, and Rachel D. Russell, Assistant District Attorneys 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 the Defendant's sexual contact with a minor. A Knox County grand jury indicted the Defendant for six counts of rape, three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, two counts of solicitation of a minor, one count of casual exchange of a controlled substance, one count of sexual battery by an authority figure, and one count of attempted casual exchange of morphine.[1] At trial, the parties presented the following evidence: The seventeen-year old victim identified the Defendant as her "rapist." The victim said that she had first met the Defendant at the age of four when her mother and the Defendant began dating and that the Defendant assumed a parental role with her.

         The victim testified that the Defendant and her mother ended their relationship when the victim was in the sixth grade; however, the Defendant maintained a relationship and role in the victim's life. The victim spent weekends with the Defendant during which he would feed and "take care" of her. He provided some financial support as well, buying her clothes and school supplies. About the Defendant, the victim stated, "He was like a dad."

         The victim testified that on November 24, 2014, she drove the Defendant to Cookeville, Tennessee, as she did every month, for a doctor appointment. On the drive back, the Defendant repeatedly offered the victim "Percocet." The victim declined, but the Defendant persisted. The Defendant had an appointment for an MRI the following day in Knoxville, so the victim and the Defendant stayed in a hotel in the Knoxville area. After checking in to room 217 at the hotel, the Defendant and the victim drove to a nearby Walmart to buy clothing and toiletries for their stay because the decision to get a hotel room in Knoxville had been "spur of the moment." Once back in the room, they ordered pizza. The Defendant helped the victim dye her hair before he again began to offer the victim "Percocet." The victim acknowledged that the Defendant had given her "Percocet" "in the past" and that she had taken "[j]ust 10s."

         The victim testified that the Defendant continued to "pester" her and finally she "gave in" because she could not "take it anymore." As the victim prepared to take the "Percocet," the Defendant told the victim to "snort it." The Defendant watched as the victim snorted the "first one," and then they sat and talked while watching television. The Defendant offered the victim a second "Percocet," and the victim declined. When the Defendant offered again, the victim said that she "just went ahead and done it." The victim described the "Percocet" pill as a blue "30" and said that the Defendant obtained the pills from the doctor's office in Cookeville. She said that she used a rolled up piece of paper to snort the "Percocet."

         The victim testified that she had a cell phone that one of her mother's friends had given her. If she had internet access, she could use the phone to send text messages; however, she could not make phone calls with the cell phone. The victim recalled that she and the Defendant were lying on the bed in the hotel room when he sent her a text message that read, "Show me, LOL." The victim identified a copy of the text messaging that occurred between the Defendant and her that night. The victim recalled asking the Defendant what the message meant, and he told her that he was referring to her breasts. The following text message exchange then occurred:

The victim: Uhhhhh no
The Defendant: Say What???
The Defendant: Wrong wrong wrong.!!!!
The victim: Shut up and go to bed!
The Defendant: I'm n bed answer me beautiful….
The victim: Go to sleep!
The Defendant: I will when you answer me NOW go ahead…..
The victim: I said no!!!!

         The victim testified that by this point in the evening, she was feeling tired due to the "Percocet." When asked if she fell asleep, the victim responded, "I thought I did until . . . I remember waking up or I guess coming to, and I was on top of him in the 69 position." She stated that when she realized what was occurring, she "got off of him and went to bed." The victim confirmed that the ...


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