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State v. Valentine

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

January 3, 2020

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
SEPTIAN JAMARQUIS VALENTINE

          Assigned on Briefs May 7, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Lake County No. 17-CR-10395 R. Lee Moore, Jr., Judge.

         The Defendant, Septian Jamarquis Valentine, was charged with two counts of rape. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-503. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was found not guilty on count one and guilty on count two and sentenced to fourteen years incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant contends that error exists because (1) the trial court did not allow Lisa Garrett to testify about the Defendant's negative chlamydia test performed one year after the incident; (2) the evidence was insufficient to convict the Defendant; and (3) a juror, who was "not truthful" during voir dire, "bullied" others into convicting the Defendant. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Hal J. Boyd, Tiptonville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Septian Jamarquis Valentine.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Danny H. Goodman, Jr., District Attorney General; and Lance Webb, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Thomas T. Woodall, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The Defendant was charged with the rape of two individuals, M.D. and A.G.[1] Following a trial, the Defendant was convicted of raping A.G. but was acquitted of raping M.D.

         On March 21, 2018, trial commenced with voir dire examination. Upon the State's asking if anyone was a friend of the Defendant's family, potential juror Rhonda Battee raised her hand. Ms. Battee assured the prosecutor that although she knew the Defendant's grandmother and mother and had worked with the Defendant's aunt, she had no reason to give the Defendant's testimony greater or lesser weight. Soon after, Ms. Battee informed the prosecutor that she knew Ashley Kimmons, a witness for the State. Ms. Kimmons was Ms. Battee's former sister-in-law. Ms. Battee said she had no reason to believe she would give Ms. Kimmons' testimony any greater or lesser weight because of this former relationship.

         The State called Shawntel Taylor to testify. In the early morning hours of April 2, 2017, Mr. Taylor saw the Defendant at Garage Bar, a local Tiptonville establishment. At some point in the evening, he saw M.D. and A.G. outside of the bar. He spoke to both women, noting that A.G. "was kind of drunk." While outside of the bar, he heard the Defendant yell at M.D. to stop the car she was driving and saw the Defendant get in the car.

         On cross examination, Mr. Taylor explained that he had previously had a relationship with M.D. and that she was upset on the night of April 2 because he had brought his new girlfriend to the bar. M.D. cried in front of Mr. Taylor that night.

         M.D. testified on direct examination that she went to Garage Bar with A.G. on the night of April 1, 2017. M.D. saw the Defendant at Garage Bar the same night. She admitted to drinking alcohol, but she could not recall specifically how much she had to drink. She mentioned that the Defendant "was flashing all his money in the air and [she] just grabbed it" to be funny. She denied dancing with the Defendant and relayed that he offered to buy her a drink "[e]very time he seen [sic] [her]." M.D. accepted the Defendant's last offer for a drink, but she handed it to another patron when she was served. She did not consume the drink. She denied flirting with or encouraging the Defendant.

         M.D. did not recall A.G.'s indicating that she felt unwell at the bar. However, after both women exited the bar, A.G. could not drive her car "because she was drunk, throwing up all in the car." M.D. drove the car. M.D. testified that the Defendant "jump[ed] in the car" and eventually reached over the driver's seat "trying to touch [M.D.'s] private" and she told him to stop.

         When questioned about why she did not drop the Defendant off at his intended destination, she responded that she was worried she would be pulled over by a policeman, so she decided to take A.G. home first. A.G. threw up a second time in the car before reaching her apartment.

         Upon reaching A.G.'s apartment, M.D. handed keys to the Defendant, and he "said he was going to go unlock the door." A.G. could not walk on her own and was helped inside by M.D. Once inside, A.G. was "passed out" on the living room floor, and M.D. began calling friends for a ride home. The Defendant also entered the apartment.

         The Defendant was standing in front of the coffee table and wanted M.D. to "help him count his money." She refused and continued to call friends. A.G. did not wake up during this time. M.D. fell asleep at some point and was awakened by the Defendant on top of her. Her leggings were pulled down to her knees and her legs were in the air. The Defendant's penis was in her vagina. She shoved the Defendant off of her and he pushed himself back on top of her again. She kicked the Defendant and ran out of the apartment. The Defendant followed her.

         M.D. called her sister as she was running down Cherry Street. Her sister called the police and drove to retrieve M.D. M.D. denied flirting with, kissing, or making sexual advances toward the Defendant. She denied any previous relationship with the Defendant. She said she was concerned about A.G., who was still asleep on the floor when she ran from the apartment.

         Upon officers' arriving at M.D.'s sister's residence, M.D. said she was worried about A.G. Officer Glidewell instructed her to have a rape kit examination. She was escorted to the local hospital by Officer Warren Douglas to have a rape kit examination performed. She met with a sexual abuse nurse examiner, who examined her pelvis and collected several swabs. She confirmed that she gave a statement to Officer Glidewell and testified at the preliminary hearing.

         On cross-examination, M.D. testified that she observed A.G. consume a large amount of alcohol. She confirmed that she did not call 911 upon leaving the apartment. Although M.D. acknowledged that she wrote a statement on April 2, 2017, she denied that a statement shown to her by defense counsel was hers. M.D. identified her signature at the end of the statement, however. She denied the written statement's contents that she and the Defendant "laid down on the couch" together. She indicated that the hand- written statement was actually her sister's handwriting. M.D. recalled that at the preliminary hearing, she accused the Defendant of giving her chlamydia because the sexual abuse nurse examiner had informed her that she tested positive for the sexually transmitted disease.

         Kaylah Howard, M.D.'s sister, testified that on April 2, 2017, she received a call from M.D. M.D. was "crying, very upset, and just asking [Ms. Howard] to come get [M.D.]." Upon picking up M.D., Ms. Howard placed a call to the Lake County Sheriff's Department because M.D. told her that she had been raped by the Defendant. Ms. Howard identified the hand-written statement previously shown to M.D. as being M.D.'s handwriting with her signature.

         A.G. testified that she had known the Defendant some eight or nine years but could not recall seeing the Defendant on the night of April 1, 2017. She could not remember getting sick that night. She believed that someone "did something" to one of her drinks. She did not remember agreeing to sexual intercourse.

         A.G. testified that on April 2, 2017, she was given a rape examination at the local hospital, was prescribed a "Plan B" pill, and was treated for chlamydia. She denied having a relationship with the Defendant, but she confirmed that the two had engaged in "sexual relations" once before. At the preliminary hearing, A.G. had denied having any sort of "sexual relationship" with the Defendant, but she claimed that she had misunderstood the question.

         Upon cross-examination, A.G. testified that her blood alcohol level "was way beyond the legal limit" on the night of the incident. When questioned about giving consent to the Defendant to have sex, A.G. replied, "I did not give consent for anything… I was unconscious… There was no way I could [sic] say yes or no."

         The State's next witness, Johnny Parson, testified that he worked at Garage Bar in April 2017 and knew M.D. and A.G. After the bar closed in the early morning hours of April 2, 2017, Mr. Parson visited Ms. Howard's house where he ...


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