Kuebler v. State, No. 2012–KA–01825–COA.

CourtCourt of Appeals of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtBARNES, J., for the Court
Citation205 So.3d 623
Parties Charles L. KUEBLER a/k/a Charles L. Kueblur a/k/a Charles Kuebler a/k/a Charles Louie Kuebler a/k/a Charles Keubler a/k/a Charles Louis Kuebler, Appellant v. STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 2012–KA–01825–COA.
Decision Date08 September 2015

205 So.3d 623

Charles L. KUEBLER a/k/a Charles L. Kueblur a/k/a Charles Kuebler a/k/a Charles Louie Kuebler a/k/a Charles Keubler a/k/a Charles Louis Kuebler, Appellant
v.
STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.

No. 2012–KA–01825–COA.

Court of Appeals of Mississippi.

Sept. 8, 2015.
Rehearing Denied Feb. 23, 2016.


205 So.3d 630

Edward Blackmon Jr., Canton, Jane E. Tucker, Jackson, David Paul Voisin, attorneys for appellant.

Office of the Attorney General by Jeffrey A. Klingfuss, Melanie Dotson Thomas, attorneys for appellee.

Before IRVING, P.J., BARNES and FAIR, JJ.

BARNES, J., for the Court:

¶ 1. A Hinds County jury convicted Charles "Louie" Kuebler of the deliberate-design murder of Tamra "Tammy" Stuckey. He was sentenced to life in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC). He now appeals, raising a number of issues.

¶ 2. Finding only harmless error with the trial court's allowing evidence and its instruction regarding Kuebler's "flight," we affirm Kuebler's conviction and sentence.

STATEMENT OF FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

¶ 3. This case arises from the early morning shooting of twenty-eight-year-old Tamra in Jackson, Mississippi, on June 30, 2010. For three to four days prior to this date, Tamra had been staying with Kuebler at his apartment on Morningside Drive in Jackson. The status of Kuebler and Tamra's relationship was unclear, but testimony showed Tamra was romantically interested in Kuebler, but the sentiment was not reciprocated by him.

¶ 4. Kuebler kept a .380 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun at his apartment. Kuebler's friend, James "Nate" Robertson, who lived in the same apartment complex and "hung out" with Kuebler a couple of times a week, testified he saw the gun "all the time," in different places like the table and the couch. Two weeks prior to Tamra's death, while visiting Kuebler, Nate said he saw the gun fall out of the couch. Nate told Kuebler he ought to be careful with the gun, but Kuebler "put [the gun] up to his [own] head and pulled the trigger," stating, "I don't never keep it loaded." Nate recalled "that was the dumbest thing I [have] ever seen."

¶ 5. On the evening of June 29, 2010, at approximately 5:15 p.m., Kuebler, Tamra,

205 So.3d 631

Nate, and his friend Jennifer Olivier were "hanging out" at Kuebler's apartment. Nate and Jennifer left but returned at approximately 7:15 p.m. At around 8:00 p.m., they all went to Jennifer's apartment to watch television. At 10:30 p.m., the four individuals relocated to the pool area, where they joined Aaron Aruck and Kristen Schumacher, whom they met for the first time. Aaron and Kristen lived in a nearby house with two other roommates. During their time at the pool, Kristen heard Kuebler verbally berating Tamra, who became upset. Kristen testified:

[I]f Tammy would try to say anything, [Kuebler] would knock what she was saying down or tell her to shut up, or essentially keep her from saying anything or participating in the conversation.... There were times where [Tamra] would try and respond ... [and] verbally defend herself[,] ... but she got pretty broken down and didn't respond a whole lot after a while and got very quiet and very visibly upset.

Also, Jennifer testified that Kuebler was making offhand sarcastic comments while at the pool, and Kristen noticed he was being very aggressive vocally to Jennifer, and especially to Tamra. Additionally, Kuebler bragged about owning a gun.

¶ 6. Around midnight, Nate and Jennifer returned to their apartment. Kristen testified that Kuebler continued talking to Aaron and her, but "anytime Tamra tried to say anything, [Kuebler] would silence her and call her stupid; tell her to get in the house." Because Tamra had to be at work at 5:00 a.m. in the morning, she eventually left the pool and retired to Kuebler's apartment shortly after midnight, leaving Kuebler, Aaron, and Kristen at the pool. After Tamra left the pool area, Kuebler started propositioning Kristen for sex, which made her feel very uncomfortable. At some point Aaron realized Kristen wanted to leave the pool area because of Kuebler's behavior; so they returned to their apartment.

¶ 7. Around 12:15 a.m., Tamra walked to Jennifer's apartment to retrieve some clothes Jennifer had laundered for her. Approximately ten minutes later, Kuebler came to Jennifer's apartment to retrieve Tamra's purse.

¶ 8. At 1:18 a.m., Tamra called Jennifer and Nate, crying. She told them Kuebler was being "mean" and "ugly" to her. Jennifer offered for her to come spend the night, but Tamra refused, stating she would have to "walk past" Kuebler if she left, and that would "make matters worse." Jennifer offered to go over to Kuebler's apartment and bring Tamra to her apartment, but Nate said that would not be a good idea. Nate told Tamra to just "go l[ie] down and go to sleep." Tamra said she would.

¶ 9. At 1:35 a.m., Tamra texted her long-time friend and roommate of six months, Kirby Edgar, a single message: "Wake up .. I need [yo]u to save me." Kirby lived in Canton, Mississippi. Tamra had also called Kirby twice, minutes before the text, but Kirby was asleep and answered neither.

¶ 10. Shortly after 2:00 a.m., Aaron realized he had left his cell phone in Kuebler's apartment when he had gone there to use the restroom earlier in the evening. Aaron returned to Kuebler's apartment to retrieve his phone and found Kuebler rummaging around in his closet looking for something. Tamra appeared to be asleep on the living-room couch. Once Aaron got his phone, Kuebler "put his hand on [Aaron's] shoulder and sort of hurried [him] out of the [apartment]." Aaron returned to his place and began smoking a cigarette on the front porch. Approximately ten minutes later, Aaron heard Kuebler screaming "hysterically." Aaron ran back

205 So.3d 632

to Kuebler's apartment to find Tamra lying on the couch, shot in the forehead. When Aaron asked Kuebler what happened, Kuebler told him he and Tamra "were fooling around with each other and that she enjoyed him holding the gun to her head while they had sex."

¶ 11. Before Aaron arrived at Kuebler's apartment, apparently Kuebler ran to Jennifer and Nate's apartment, where he beat on their door and yelled, "Tammy got shot in the head. Call 911." Nate testified Kuebler was "acting pretty crazy ... screaming and yelling"; so when Nate went into Kuebler's apartment, he looked for the gun. After walking outside to call 911, Nate returned and found Kuebler's gun on the floor by the coffee table. Nate observed that Tamra appeared to be deceased. Kuebler, covered in Tamra's blood, was attempting to give her CPR. Kuebler explained to Nate that the gun had fallen on the ground and gone off. Jennifer testified that when she arrived at the scene Kuebler was screaming and crying, saying, "Tammy, wake up." He told Jennifer, "[S]omething happened. My pistol fell on the floor."

¶ 12. Aaron returned to his place to tell Kristen that Tamra had been shot. Kristen called 911. At 2:41 p.m., the Jackson Police Department (JPD) received the call reporting the shooting. Officer Derrick Archey was the first responder on the scene, but other JPD officers arrived shortly thereafter, including Officers Keith Freeman, Sean Snow, Dewayne West, Carl Ellis, Mark Seals, and Crime Scene Investigator Eneke Smith. Tamra was pronounced dead at the scene. The officers found Tamra's body lying on the couch, with a gunshot wound to the head, with her feet "tucked" under the couch pillows.

¶ 13. The officers took statements from Kristen, Aaron, Nate, and Jennifer. However, when officers attempted to put Kuebler in the back seat of a patrol car in order to question him (as is the procedure and which was done to the other witnesses), Kuebler became belligerent. He shouted obscenities and racial slurs, as well as physically resisted the officers. He was also telling the officers to "get [Tamra] some help," but the ambulance was already on the scene and medics had pronounced Tamra dead. When Kuebler refused to get into the patrol car, or put his hands behind his back after wrestling with the officers, they forced him to the ground and put handcuffs on him while he kicked and screamed. Once inside the patrol car, Kuebler proceeded to kick out one of the windows, resulting in the police placing him in leg shackles.

¶ 14. Investigator Smith recovered a Smith and Wesson .380 caliber handgun from the crime scene, along with two live rounds in the magazine, and one live round and shell casing from the floor. The gun and bullets were processed for fingerprints, but none were found. At the JPD station, Kuebler's hands were swabbed and the materials sent to the Mississippi Crime Lab (MCL) for a gunshot-residue test. Gunpowder was found on the back of Kuebler's right hand and left palm. Also, particles indicative of gunpowder were found on his right and left palms, and the back of his right and left hands. While JPD did not perform a gunshot-residue test on Tamra, Dr. Feng Li, the forensic pathologist, did. The test was sent to the MCL for processing; however, an analysis was not conducted on Tamra's kit because of the lab's policy not to perform analyses on victims "due to the fact that a victim of a gunshot wound" would always...

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2 practice notes
  • Kuebler v. State, NO. 2012–CT–01825–SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • November 10, 2016
    ...the commission of a murder, in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97–37–37 (Rev. 2014).Kuebler v. State , 2012–KA–01825–COA, 205 So.3d 623, 2015 WL 5202944 (Miss. Ct. App. Sept. 8, 2015), reh'g denied (Feb. 23, 2016).¶ 4. Kuebler's theories of defense at trial were that Tamra h......
  • Presley v. Stokes, NO. 2015–CA–00884–COA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • November 22, 2016
    ...Rester , we reversed the chancellor's judgment and remanded the case after finding that further inquiry was needed to determine whether 205 So.3d 623the appellants' family had adversely possessed the disputed property at any point prior to the current title holder's purchase of the land. Id......
2 cases
  • Kuebler v. State, NO. 2012–CT–01825–SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • November 10, 2016
    ...the commission of a murder, in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 97–37–37 (Rev. 2014).Kuebler v. State , 2012–KA–01825–COA, 205 So.3d 623, 2015 WL 5202944 (Miss. Ct. App. Sept. 8, 2015), reh'g denied (Feb. 23, 2016).¶ 4. Kuebler's theories of defense at trial were that Tamra h......
  • Presley v. Stokes, NO. 2015–CA–00884–COA
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Mississippi
    • November 22, 2016
    ...Rester , we reversed the chancellor's judgment and remanded the case after finding that further inquiry was needed to determine whether 205 So.3d 623the appellants' family had adversely possessed the disputed property at any point prior to the current title holder's purchase of the land. Id......

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