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Winters v. State

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

January 9, 2020


          Session October 1, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 04-04042 Glenn I. Wright, Judge

         A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Trumaine Winters, of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to life in prison for the murder conviction plus twelve years for the robbery conviction. The Petitioner appealed his convictions and sentence to this court, and we affirmed the convictions but remanded for resentencing. State v. Trumaine Winters, No. W2007-00529-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 2901616 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, July 24, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Apr. 13, 2015). The Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for improperly cross-examining key witnesses and for not objecting to prosecutorial misconduct. The post-conviction court denied the petition after a hearing. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

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

          Monica A. Timmerman, Memphis, Tennessee (at hearing), and Jessica L. Gillentine and Alexander D. Camp, Jackson, Tennessee (on appeal), for the appellant, Trumaine Winters.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Zachary T. Hinkle, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Leslie Byrd, 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 Norma McGee Ogle, JJ., joined.



         I. Facts

         A. Trial

         This case originates from the Petitioner's conviction for the murder and aggravated robbery of Marcus Crawford, the victim.

         A. Trial

         The following is a summary by this court of the facts presented at trial:

The victim, Marcus Crawford, was twenty-eight years old when he was fatally shot during the course of an aggravated robbery in Shelby County. At trial, the State called eyewitness LaDonna Harris, who testified that on January 19, 2004, she resided in an apartment located at 268 Tillman in Memphis with her son and daughter and that the victim was her boyfriend. Ms. Harris recalled that shortly before midnight on January 19, the two children were in one bedroom of the apartment, and she and the victim were in the adjacent master bedroom when they heard a knock on the door. Mr. Crawford went into the living room to answer the door, and a few minutes later, Ms. Harris left the bedroom and walked down the hall to see Mr. Crawford talking to two men in the living room. Ms. Harris did not know the names of the two men at the time, but she recognized them from the neighborhood. On cross-examination, Ms. Harris testified that the two men had also visited her apartment that afternoon, after she arrived home from work, and that they inquired as to the whereabouts of Mr. Crawford. Ms. Harris described one of the men as "tall and skinny," and the other man as "short and dark-skinned." During her testimony, Ms. Harris identified the [Petitioner] as the "tall and skinny" man. She stated that the [Petitioner] wore a "gray hooded sweater with blue writing" during the robbery, and that the shorter man wore a "red hooded sweater." Ms. Harris testified that she saw the [Petitioner] pointing a gun at Mr. Crawford's head, and that when the [Petitioner] saw her enter the hallway, he ordered everyone to go back to the master bedroom. Ms. Harris and the victim went back to the bedroom as instructed, and the two men followed them.
Ms. Harris testified that, once they were all in the bedroom, the two men demanded money, and the shorter man pinned a struggling Ms. Harris behind the bedroom door "trying to smoosh [sic][her]" while the [Petitioner] pointed the gun at Mr. Crawford beside the bed. Harris told them that they did not have any money to give them, but that her purse was on the bed. The short man shook the purse and $80 in cash fell out, which he took and put in his pocket. Harris testified that the [Petitioner] kept pointing the gun at the victim, and that the victim was turned so that his back was facing the [Petitioner]. Harris testified that the [Petitioner] then shot Mr. Crawford in the back. She recalled that "they tussled for a couple of minutes," during which time the gun went off again, leaving a bullet hole in her dresser. She stated that the men then dragged the victim out of the bedroom and into the living room. Ms. Harris stated that she heard the gun being fired again, and she later observed that a bullet had gone into the ceiling. Ms. Harris stated that the men then dragged the victim outside, and that she called 911. She heard the victim outside screaming for help, and she ran outside and saw the victim lying on the porch of an apartment across the street, where a family friend of the [Petitioner] lived. The police arrived at the scene approximately fifteen minutes later. Ms. Harris testified that she identified the [Petitioner] as the shooter after viewing a photographic lineup on January 23, 2004.
Audra Woods, the fifteen-year-old daughter of Ms. Harris, testified that she was eleven years old in January of 2004. She testified that she and her five year old half-brother, Marcus, Jr., who was the son of Ms. Harris and Mr. Crawford, were in their own bedroom the entire time that the two men were in the house on the evening of January 19, 2004. Miss Woods testified that she could see into the living room from the foot of her bed, and that she saw the [Petitioner] holding a gun to the victim's head. Miss Woods testified that the gunman wore a gray hooded sweatshirt, and that the other man wore a red hooded sweatshirt. Miss Woods testified that she saw the two men and her mother and the victim go into the master bedroom, that she heard two gunshots, and that she grabbed her little brother and hid in the closet. She testified that she saw the men dragging the victim down the hallway, and that she heard another gunshot when the men were in the living room. Miss Woods stated that after the two men left the house, she went to the living room, looked out the screen door, and saw the men drag the victim across the street and leave him on the porch of an apartment. Miss Woods testified that she spoke with the 911 operator after her mother called to report the shooting and robbery. Miss Woods subsequently identified the [Petitioner] as the man she saw holding a gun to the victim's head, after she viewed a photographic lineup on January 23, 2004.
Andrew Brown testified that he was an officer with the Memphis Police Department. Brown responded to the crime scene at approximately 11:35 p.m. He observed the victim lying on the porch of the apartment complex across the street from 268 Tillman, and he recalled that the victim had been shot once in the back. Officer Brown testified that based upon his own experience and the location of the gunshot wound, he thought Mr. Crawford was in imminent danger of death. He asked the victim who shot him, and the victim responded, "I don't know right now." Officer Brown tried to calm the victim until the ambulance arrived, and he later learned that the victim died.
Alfred Gardner lived next door to Ms. Harris and her children. He testified that the victim was present at the house periodically. On the night of January 19, 2004, he awoke to the sound of doors being slammed and looked out his window, which was "foggy" from the cold air outside. Gardner stated that he observed two men cross the street and get into the passenger side of a parked vehicle, which he described as a "small minivan." Gardner stated that "one of [the men] was a little taller than the other one." He testified that he saw the vehicle pull away, and that he saw Ms. Harris outside talking on the telephone.
John Hudson, who lived at the apartment in front of which the victim was found, testified that he was a longtime family friend of the victim. On the night of the shooting, he heard knocking at his door, and upon opening the door, saw the victim lying on the porch, bleeding. Hudson testified that the victim called him by his nickname, "Uncle J.R.," and said, "Call the ambulance. I've been shot." Hudson went inside the apartment and called 911. Hudson recalled noticing a cut on the victim's arm. Hudson stated that one of his neighbors provided the victim with a blanket for comfort while they waited for an ambulance.
Sergeant Barry Hanks of the Memphis Police Department testified that he was assigned to investigate the homicide. He visited the crime scene and spoke with Ms. Harris and her daughter regarding the circumstances of the crime and possible suspects in the case. Sergeant Hanks assembled several photographic lineups of suspects. During her viewing of one of these lineups, Ms. Harris identified Reginald Shields as the man who held her against the bedroom wall and took money from her purse. Sergeant Hanks testified that he brought Shields in for questioning, and that Shields admitted he was present at the robbery, but that the [Petitioner] was responsible for shooting the victim. Sergeant Hanks recalled that Shields "minimized his involvement" in the crimes but "knew how much money was taken out of [Ms. Harris's] purse," and that Shields claimed that a third man had been involved. Sergeant Hanks testified that he prepared another photographic lineup of suspects, which contained a photograph of the [Petitioner] and five other individuals, and that on January 23, both Ms. Harris and her daughter identified the [Petitioner] as the shooter from the photographic array.
At trial, Reginald Shields testified that he knew the [Petitioner] from their having been "in and out of juvenile facilities together for about five [or] six years." Shields stated that on the date of the robbery and murder, he saw the [Petitioner] with two other people in the neighborhood in a dark blue Ford Explorer. He recalled that the [Petitioner] wore a gray hooded sweatshirt. Shields claimed that the [Petitioner] informed him of his intentions to rob the victims, and that he "pulled a gun on [Shields]" and said Shields was "going to be the watchout." Shields testified that he walked with the [Petitioner] and an unidentified third man, who allegedly wore a red sweatshirt, to Ms. Harris's residence, and that they knocked on the door. Shields stated that when the victim opened the door, the [Petitioner] went into the residence with a gun, that the "third man" went in next, and that he was the last person to enter the residence. Shields said that while they stood in the living room, the [Petitioner] put the gun in the victim's face and demanded marijuana. When the victim responded that he had no marijuana, the men searched the residence. Shields testified that the [Petitioner] took the victim to the master bedroom while he remained in the living room. Shields stated that he heard two gunshots a few minutes later. Shields said that the other two men dragged the victim out of the bedroom, and that he helped them drag the victim to the apartment across the street. Shields testified that he overheard the [Petitioner] and the "other guy" say they had stolen $80 and "a pound of weed."
Officer David Payment testified that he worked with the Crime Scene Investigation unit of the Memphis Police Department, and he described the bullet damage and bloodstains he observed inside Ms. Harris' residence, photographs of which were admitted into evidence. The State concluded its case with the testimony of Dr. O.C. Smith, who was the medical examiner in Shelby County until February of 2004, and who was admitted by the trial court as an expert in the field of forensic pathology. Dr. Smith testified that he performed the autopsy on the victim, Mr. Crawford. Dr. Smith opined that the victim's death was a homicide, caused by a gunshot wound to the back and resulting internal bleeding. Dr. Smith stated that powder burns on the victim indicated that the muzzle of the gun was within two feet from the victim at the time it was fired. Dr. Smith related that the bullet, which he believed to be between a .22 and .45 caliber in size, entered the victim's back, traveled toward his front and downward, causing injuries to his lung, diaphragm, pancreas, and small intestine, and that he found the bullet in the victim's abdominal cavity. Dr. Smith further testified that the victim had another wound to his left forearm, caused by something with a sharp edge, such as metal or glass.
The defense called Sergeant Ernestine Davidson of the Memphis Police Department as a witness. Sergeant Davidson stated that, at approximately 2:00 a.m. in the early morning after the murder and robbery, Ms. Harris initially did not want to come to the homicide bureau and talk to the police, but that she did come to the police station a few hours later that morning. Lieutenant William Woodard, also of the Memphis Police Department, testified that he received a phone call from Ms. Harris on the afternoon after the crimes were committed, and that Ms. Harris told him that a man named "Tony" was responsible for the shooting. Lieutenant Woodard stated that it was his impression that Ms. Harris had received this information by speaking with people in her neighborhood. Lieutenant Woodard testified that he learned that the name "Tony" might have been associated with Reginald Shields, whose middle name he believed was "Antonio."

Winters, 2008 WL 2901616, at *1-3.

         Based upon this evidence, the jury found the Petitioner guilty of first degree felony murder and aggravated robbery. By operation of law, the trial court imposed a sentence of life imprisonment for the first degree murder conviction. The trial court then sentenced the Petitioner to a consecutive sentence of twelve years for the aggravated robbery conviction.

         The Petitioner appealed his convictions and sentence to this court. We affirmed the convictions and the trial court's imposition of consecutive sentences, but we remanded the case for resentencing for the aggravated robbery conviction. Winters, 2008 WL 2901616, at *1. On remand, the ...

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