Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
LONNIE LEE ANGEL, JR.
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Assigned on Briefs September 25, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Bledsoe County No. 2016-CR-2
Thomas W. Graham, Judge
Petitioner, Lonnie Lee Angel, Jr., appeals the Bledsoe County
Circuit Court's denial of his petition for
post-conviction relief from his 2011 conviction for second
degree murder and his twenty-three-year sentence. The
Petitioner contends that (1) he received the ineffective
assistance of trial counsel and (2) the post-conviction court
erred by prohibiting him from compelling the attendance of
witnesses by subpoenas at the evidentiary hearing. We affirm
the judgment of the post-conviction court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
L. Gulley, Jr. (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee, and Randy
Clark (at post-conviction hearing), Pikeville, Tennessee, for
the appellant, Lonnie Lee Angel, Jr.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Katherine Redding, Assistant Attorney General; Mike Taylor,
District Attorney General; and James W. Pope III, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which Thomas T. Woodall and Robert W. Wedemeyer, Jr., JJ.,
H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE.
Petitioner's conviction relates to the February 2009
beating death of Donnie L. Lawson. This court affirmed the
Petitioner's conviction and summarized the facts of the
case as follows:
On February 21, 2009, the defendant hosted a cookout inside
the barn at his residence in Bledsoe County. The victim came
to the cookout with the defendant's father, Lonnie Lee
Angel, Sr., who passed out in his truck shortly after
arriving at the fete due to his having consumed a significant
amount of alcohol and several prescription medications. At
some point, an argument erupted over the details of the death
of Clyde Angel, the defendant's uncle who had died in a
house fire. One of the attendees, Preston Parker, who was a
"fourth cousin or something" to the defendant,
became so enraged when the victim implied that he might have
had a hand in Clyde Angel's death that he "grabbed
[the victim], and jerked him down, and . . . hit him . . . as
he went down, and . . . kicked him a few times" in the
head as he lay on the ground. Because he believed the victim
to be "a pretty rough feller" who had "whooped
two or three, shot one or two," Mr. Parker struck the
victim again as the victim attempted to regain his feet.
Following this initial beating of the victim, the
six-foot-seven-inch, 350-pound defendant declared that no one
would be permitted to leave the residence. Mr. Parker ordered
the four children who were present, Mr. Parker's nephew
and son and the defendant's sons, back to the
defendant's mobile home.
After approximately 15 minutes, the defendant allowed Virgil
"Tiny" Eller to leave after Mr. Eller convinced the
defendant that he needed to pick up his girlfriend. Shortly
thereafter, Ray Tullos and Mark Sherman arrived, and Mr.
Parker relayed to the men "what went on." Mr.
Tullos, indignant at the victim's implication regarding
the death of Clyde Angel, attacked the unconscious victim,
striking him with a "big beer bottle," "a pair
of boots," and a post driver. Later, Mr. Tullos boasted
to Mr. Parker that he had urinated on the victim. Mr. Sherman
recalled that when he and Mr. Tullos arrived, the victim lay
on the ground, unconscious and bleeding from several wounds
on his face. Mr. Sherman told the defendant that the victim
needed medical attention, and the defendant responded,
"Preston, that's enough. T he man's in a coma
Following the savage attack, the men began to discuss what
should be done with the victim, and one of the men suggested
"[h]auling [the victim] off to the rock crusher"
while the defendant aimed a gun at the victim and threatened
to shoot him. Before any action could be taken, Mr. Angel,
Sr., awoke and demanded to know what had transpired. Mr.
Angel, Sr., told the men that the victim had played no role
in Clyde Angel's death and ordered the men to leave the
victim alone. M r. Angel, Sr., asked to leave, and although
he had initially refused to allow anyone to leave, the
defendant eventually asked Mr. Sherman to drive Mr. Angel,
Both Mr. Parker and his 12-year-old nephew, D.P., testified
that the defendant struck or kicked the victim more than one
time. Mr. Parker and D.P. each testified that the defendant
aimed a gun at the victim and threatened to kill him. Mr.
Sherman testified that another attendee, Allen Watson, rather
than the defendant, threatened to shoot the victim. P.J.P.,
Mr. Parker's son, testified that he did not see the
defendant hit or strike the victim.
Mr. Angel, Sr., telephoned 9-1-1 at 9:30 p.m. and asked that
an ambulance be sent to the defendant's residence because
the victim had been beaten "to death."
When the ambulance arrived, the victim was barely alive. The
victim was "unresponsive" and "[b]arely
breathing." His face was swollen and covered in dried
blood, and his eyes were "swollen shut." He had a
"[l]arge knot on the backside of his head where it
appeared he was hit with something" and "a lot of
bruising on his chest and on his side." Weather
conditions thwarted attempts to arrange air transport for the
victim, and the victim was transported by ambulance to the
hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:00 p.m.
An autopsy established that the victim had died as a result
of multiple blunt force injuries to his head. The victim
suffered multiple head injuries, including a number of
abrasions and lacerations, two black eyes, and a broken jaw.
The victim also suffered bleeding beneath his scalp and
around his brain. As a result of the multiple blunt force
injuries inflicted on his head, the victim's brain
swelled, putting pressure on the "vital structures of
the brain that control" breathing and heart rate, which
eventually led to the victim's death.
Forensic testing confirmed the presence of the victim's
blood on a boot found in the bed of the defendant's
truck, on a post driver found in the defendant's barn, on
a beer bottle found in the defendant's barn, and on the
legs of the defendant's blue jeans. Blood found on the
front left pocket area of the defendant's blue jeans
"was consistent with a DNA mixture" of the
defendant and the victim. A short-sleeved gray t-shirt
recovered from the defendant's house had two blood
stains, one with a DNA profile that belonged to the victim
and one that contained a mixture of DNA from the victim, the
defendant, and an unknown minor contributor.
The trial court granted the defendant's motion for a
judgment of acquittal on the counts charging the defendant
with aggravated kidnapping and felony murder in the
perpetration of kidnapping, and the jury acquitted the
defendant of first degree premeditated murder but convicted
him of the lesser included offense of second degree murder.