State v. Bishop, No. W2010–01207–SC–R11–CD.

CourtSupreme Court of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtWILLIAM C. KOCH
Citation431 S.W.3d 22
Docket NumberNo. W2010–01207–SC–R11–CD.
Decision Date06 March 2014
PartiesSTATE of Tennessee v. Courtney BISHOP.

431 S.W.3d 22

STATE of Tennessee
v.
Courtney BISHOP.

No. W2010–01207–SC–R11–CD.

Supreme Court of Tennessee,
at Jackson.

April 3, 2013 Session.
March 6, 2014.


[431 S.W.3d 30]


Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General; Kevin Rardin and Stacy McEndree, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.

R. Todd Mosley (on appeal); and Robert Parris (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellee, Courtney Bishop.


OPINION
WILLIAM C. KOCH, JR., J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which GARY R. WADE, C.J., JANICE M. HOLDER, CORNELIA A. CLARK, and SHARON G. LEE, JJ., joined.

WILLIAM C. KOCH, JR., Justice.

This appeal involves questions regarding when the police may legally arrest a suspect based on information provided by an accomplice and the amount of corroboration required to convict a person who has confessed to a crime. A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant of attempted aggravated robbery and first-degree felony murder. The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed both convictions after deciding (1) that the defendant's confession should have been suppressed because it was the result of an illegal arrest and detention and (2) that the evidence was insufficient to support either conviction because the State did not introduce sufficient evidence, independent of the defendant's

[431 S.W.3d 31]

confession, to corroborate the commission of the attempted robbery. State v. Bishop, No. W2010–01207–CCA–R3–CD, 2012 WL 938969 (Tenn.Crim.App. Mar. 14, 2012). We have determined that the police had probable cause to arrest the defendant. We have also determined that the defendant's in-court confession did not require corroboration but that, had his extrajudicial confession required corroboration, the State presented ample evidence that this confession was trustworthy. Therefore, we reverse the Court of Criminal Appeals and reinstate the defendant's convictions and sentences.

I.

On the evening of August 19, 2008, Marlon McKay and Courtney Bishop were sitting in a silver 1997 Mercury Cougar with tinted windows owned by Mr. McKay's girlfriend. Mr. McKay was a marijuana dealer. On this particular evening, he was carrying his girlfriend's cellular telephone and a chrome, five-shot Torus .44 magnum revolver. The night air was drizzling and damp.

Prior to that night, Mr. McKay had tried to sell a pound of marijuana to Maurice Taylor, another marijuana dealer, at a house on Cella Street where Mr. Taylor was living. Mr. Taylor declined to purchase the marijuana on that occasion because he considered it to be of inferior quality. This unsuccessful transaction gave Mr. McKay the idea to rob Mr. Taylor.

As they were sitting in the automobile, Mr. McKay explained his plan to Mr. Bishop. Mr. McKay said he would convince Mr. Taylor to meet with them by offering to sell him one pound of high quality marijuana. He told Mr. Bishop that Mr. Taylor had been robbed before, that he would be easy to rob, and that Mr. Taylor would have a wallet full of cash when he met with them. At that point, Mr. McKay passed the revolver to Mr. Bishop and then drove in the direction of Cella Street.

On that evening, Calvin McKissack, who lived on Cella Street, noticed an unfamiliar light-colored Mercury Cougar with tinted windows circling the block. Another resident of Cella Street, Brooke Howard, also observed a light-colored automobile circling the block. At one point, when the automobile stopped in front of his house, Mr. McKissack observed two African–American males in the automobile.

Meanwhile, Mareo Taylor, Maurice Taylor's older brother, was watching television with his girlfriend at the duplex on Cella Street where he and his brother were living. After receiving a telephone call at approximately 11:00 p.m., Maurice Taylor left the duplex without saying a word to his brother, locking the security door behind him as he left. Almost immediately, Mareo Taylor heard his brother call his name and then heard a gunshot. Other residents of Cella Street, including Brooke Howard and Melvin Riley, also heard the gunshot. Mr. Riley looked out of his window in time to see two African–American males run down the street, get into a light-colored automobile with tinted windows, and drive away.

Mareo Taylor rushed outside after he heard the gunshot and discovered his brother lying on his back in the yard. Maurice Taylor was in shock, and Mareo Taylor tried to revive him while his girlfriend telephoned for help. The neighbors gathered in the street to find out what was going on, and the police and paramedics arrived in minutes. Maurice Taylor was already dead from a single gunshot wound in his chest.1

[431 S.W.3d 32]

Crime scene investigators found small plastic bags lying on the ground near Maurice Taylor's body. His wallet contained $1,163.75 in cash. A search of the yard uncovered no bullet casings or other helpful evidence. Throughout the night and the following morning, the police interviewed the neighbors, and several neighbors described the light-colored sedan with tinted windows that had been circling in the neighborhood at the time of the shooting. The police also obtained information from Maurice Taylor's cellular telephone that led them to Mr. McKay's girlfriend and her silver 1997 Mercury Cougar. The police found and arrested Mr. McKay.

Mr. McKay initially declined to give a statement. Later, the police told him they obtained information from his girlfriend's cellular telephone records which revealed that Mr. McKay's final call to Maurice Taylor was made a short distance from Mr. Taylor's house. Confronted with this information, Mr. McKay confessed. In a written statement signed by Mr. McKay at 4:53 p.m. on August 22, 2008, Mr. McKay described the shooting as follows:

I was riding down Brower and I seen Courtney. He was standing outside and I had stopped to pick him up.... Maurice called about 30 minutes after Courtney got in the car. That's when we decided to try and take Maurice's money.... [W]e both needed some money I parked the car for a minute. We jumped out and we walked down Cella Street for a minute.... I got cold feet and ... [started w]alking back to the car.... That's when I guess Maurice came out of the house and I heard a shot. Courtney came running ... he said he shot him in the leg.... The next day, I seen the news and they said Maurice was dead.

While Mr. McKay did not know “Courtney's” last name, he identified Mr. Bishop from a photo lineup. The officers who took Mr. McKay's confession telephoned the case coordinator, Lt. Bart Ragland. Lt. Ragland then ordered another officer to arrest Mr. Bishop.


The police took Mr. Bishop into custody at his home on the evening of August 22, 2008. They drove him to the Memphis Criminal Justice Center. After they arrived, the police contacted a magistrate and obtained a “48 hour hold” authorization—a procedure that involves a finding of probable cause to arrest, along with an assumption that if a suspect's alibi checks out, the suspect will be released within 48 hours.

On August 23, 2008, during his second day in custody, Mr. Bishop admitted his involvement in Maurice Taylor's killing. Just as Mr. McKay had done, Mr. Bishop answered the officer's questions while a typist transcribed the dialogue. Mr. Bishop described the pistol and the automobile and explained that Mr. McKay was using his girlfriend's cellphone. He said he went with Mr. McKay to Maurice Taylor's house “to rob him of his money.” He explained:

When [Mr. McKay saw me at my girlfriend's] house he told me he had a lick for me and I said ok.... We rode around to see how it was to go ... he called Maurice to buy the pound of weed, and I was standing on the side of his car. I pulled a gun out and [Maurice saw] me pull it out and he was tussling with me. He made my fingers slip and pull the trigger making the gun go off, and we ran to [the] car and I gave the gun back to [Mr. McKay, who] said he was going to ditch the gun. He drop[ped] me off ... and I went home.

[431 S.W.3d 33]

On December 12, 2008, a Shelby County grand jury indicted Mr. Bishop for first-degree felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery.2


On September 18, 2009, Mr. Bishop moved to suppress his August 23, 2008 confession. Among other grounds, Mr. Bishop asserted that his statement should be suppressed because it was the fruit of his illegal arrest. Mr. Bishop argued that his arrest was illegal because Mr. McKay's statements implicating him in the shooting of Maurice Taylor did not provide the police with probable cause to arrest him.

The trial court conducted a hearing on Mr. Bishop's motion to suppress on October 9 and November 10, 2009. Both Mr. Bishop and Lt. Ragland testified under oath. Mr. Bishop confirmed the essential facts of his confession. He described the plan to rob Maurice Taylor and the shooting that ensued.

Lt. Ragland testified that he was responsible for aggregating all the evidence regarding the murder of Maurice Taylor collected by the twelve investigators working on the case. He testified that within twenty-four hours after the shooting, the police had obtained Maurice Taylor's phone records and had interviewed all the witnesses, including a witness who saw two African–American males running to the getaway car.

Lt. Ragland also explained how almost every detail of Mr. McKay's confession matched information that the police had already collected. For example, the police had a description of the getaway car and suspected that the murder weapon was a revolver because they had been unable to find a shell casing, despite searching the crime scene with a metal detector for over two hours. In addition, Lt. Ragland testified that Mr. McKay's confession was “believable” because Mr. McKay was admitting to participating in a terrible crime and appeared to show genuine remorse about what had...

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154 practice notes
  • State v. Reynolds, No. E2013-02309-SC-R11-CD
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • November 3, 2016
    ...is significantly less than the strength of evidence necessary to find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Bishop, 431 S.W.3d 22, 41 (Tenn. 2014); see also Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 148-49 (1972) ("Probable cause does not require the same type of specific evidence ......
  • State v. Leniart, SC 19809
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • September 10, 2019
    ...(last visited September 4, 2019); details of the story vary from one account to another. Compare State v. Bishop, 431 S.W.3d 22, 46 (Tenn. 2014), with A. Howard, Rope: A History of the Hanged (2016) pp. 145-46. 19. M. Sullo, "Adult Missing Persons in Connecticut: Advocate Says Police Aren't......
  • State v. Leniart, SC 19809, (SC 19811)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • September 10, 2019
    ...(last visited September 4, 2019); details of the story vary from one account to another. Compare State v. Bishop , 431 S.W.3d 22, 46 (Tenn. 2014), with A. Howard, Rope: A History of the Hanged (2016) pp. 145–46.19 M. Sullo, "Adult Missing Persons in Connecticut: Advocate Says Police Aren't ......
  • State v. Minor, No. W2016-00348-SC-R11-CD
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • April 11, 2018
    ...129 S.Ct. 1423, 173 L.Ed.2d 266 (2009) ; Yakus v. United States, 321 U.S. 414, 444, 64 S.Ct. 660, 88 L.Ed. 834 (1944) ; State v. Bishop, 431 S.W.3d 22, 43 (Tenn. 2014) ; State v. Jordan, 325 S.W.3d 1, 58 (Tenn. 2010). Appellate review preservation requirements ensure that the defense and th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
150 cases
  • State v. Reynolds, No. E2013-02309-SC-R11-CD
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • November 3, 2016
    ...is significantly less than the strength of evidence necessary to find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Bishop, 431 S.W.3d 22, 41 (Tenn. 2014); see also Adams v. Williams, 407 U.S. 143, 148-49 (1972) ("Probable cause does not require the same type of specific evidence ......
  • State v. Leniart, SC 19809
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • September 10, 2019
    ...(last visited September 4, 2019); details of the story vary from one account to another. Compare State v. Bishop, 431 S.W.3d 22, 46 (Tenn. 2014), with A. Howard, Rope: A History of the Hanged (2016) pp. 145-46. 19. M. Sullo, "Adult Missing Persons in Connecticut: Advocate Says Police Aren't......
  • State v. Leniart, SC 19809, (SC 19811)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • September 10, 2019
    ...(last visited September 4, 2019); details of the story vary from one account to another. Compare State v. Bishop , 431 S.W.3d 22, 46 (Tenn. 2014), with A. Howard, Rope: A History of the Hanged (2016) pp. 145–46.19 M. Sullo, "Adult Missing Persons in Connecticut: Advocate Says Police Aren't ......
  • State v. Minor, No. W2016-00348-SC-R11-CD
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Tennessee
    • April 11, 2018
    ...129 S.Ct. 1423, 173 L.Ed.2d 266 (2009) ; Yakus v. United States, 321 U.S. 414, 444, 64 S.Ct. 660, 88 L.Ed. 834 (1944) ; State v. Bishop, 431 S.W.3d 22, 43 (Tenn. 2014) ; State v. Jordan, 325 S.W.3d 1, 58 (Tenn. 2010). Appellate review preservation requirements ensure that the defense and th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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