State v. Ogle

Decision Date05 March 1984
Citation666 S.W.2d 58
PartiesSTATE of Tennessee, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Clifton Virgil OGLE, Defendant-Appellant. 666 S.W.2d 58
CourtTennessee Supreme Court

J. Andrew Hoyal, II, Asst. Atty. Gen., Nashville, for plaintiff-appellee; William M. Leech, Jr., Atty. Gen., Nashville, of counsel.

W. Zane Daniel, Steven Oberman, Knoxville, for defendant-appellant.

OPINION

BROCK, Justice.

In the trial court the defendant Ogle was convicted of the crime of arson and received a sentence of imprisonment of not less than five nor more than ten years in the State penitentiary. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed that conviction in a two-to-one decision, Judge Daughtrey dissenting.

We granted review to consider whether or not the record discloses such a violation of the rule stated in Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 88 S.Ct. 1620, 20 L.Ed.2d 476 (1968) that the conviction cannot be allowed to stand, although the defendant did not claim the benefit of the Bruton rule in either the trial court or the Court of Criminal Appeals. We conclude that the record does show such a violation and that the conviction must be reversed and the case remanded to the trial court for a new trial.

It was the State's theory that the defendant Ogle, who owned a mobile home in Knox County, hired or procured his co-defendant and brother-in-law, Sammy Miller, and a juvenile, Rodney Horner, who lived next door to the mobile home, to go to the mobile home in the nighttime and set it on fire with the use of an accelerant, such as lighter fluid; that defendant Ogle, assisted by the juvenile, Rodney Horner, moved the defendant's furniture from the mobile home on May 28, 1980, during the daytime and that on the evening of that date co-defendant Miller and Horner, as directed by the defendant, proceeded in Miller's automobile, actually owned by defendant Ogle who permitted Miller the use thereof as his own automobile, to a point near the mobile home, parked the automobile and crossed through a field to the mobile home where at about 9:45 p.m. Horner and Miller, or one of them, entered the mobile home, splashed the accelerant throughout its interior and set it on fire; that Horner and Miller then fled from the mobile home on foot but were apprehended the next day.

Earlier on the date that the mobile home was set on fire, Deputy Sheriff Wright of the Knox County Sheriff's Department received a tip that the defendant's trailer was to be burned that night and he, in turn, notified the state fire marshall's office and that agency dispatched investigator Breeding to investigate. Officers Breeding and Wright then stationed themselves in the home of the mother of the juvenile Horner which was situated next door to the mobile home that was to be burned and, from that vantage point, observed the setting of the fire, although they were unable to apprehend the arsonists and were unable to identify either of them.

Following their apprehension, juvenile Horner and co-defendant Miller made confessions which were reduced to writing by the investigating officers. Each of the statements incriminated the defendant, Ogle.

Because he was a juvenile, Horner was not indicted. However, Horner was a witness for the defense at the trial of the defendants Ogle and Miller. In his testimony he repudiated his confession previously given to the officers and denied that defendant Ogle was in any way involved in the arson of his mobile home.

The confession of co-defendant Miller, however, was identified by the officers and was admitted in evidence without alteration and without objection from either Ogle or Miller.

At the conclusion of the State's proof, the defendant Ogle did move for a directed verdict of acquittal, asserting that the only evidence against him was "hearsay" and that the State's evidence was insufficient to go to the jury; however, at no time was the Bruton rule mentioned. Neither was a Bruton violation relied upon in defendant's motion for a new trial or in his appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals. Nevertheless, Judge Daughtrey, in her dissent, took the position that the Bruton violation was so flagrant and so crucial to the State's case that it should be considered to be prejudicial plain error requiring a reversal.

In Miller's confession he stated that defendant Ogle asked him to drive the juvenile, Rodney Horner, to his mobile home on the night of May 28, 1980, a little after 10:00 p.m., the time at which the neighbors ordinarily retired for the night. In his confession Miller explained:

"I didn't receive any money for this. I did it as a favor for my brother-in-law Clifton. And because I have been driving his car with my tags on it."

Although there is some corroborating evidence in the record, such as defendant Ogle's removing from his mobile home the furnishings on the day prior to the fire, it cannot be doubted that the principal evidence connecting defendant Ogle to this offense consists of the incriminating features of the Miller confession.

Miller did not take the stand at any time during the trial and, of course, was not subject to cross-examination.

The crucial nature of the Miller confession with respect to defendant Ogle's case is shown by the statement of the prosecuting attorney, made in argument, urging the court to deny the...

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  • State v. Reid
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • May 24, 2005
    ...to charge the catch-all mitigator constitutes plain error and should be reviewed by this court. See Tenn. R.Crim. P. 52(b); State v. Ogle, 666 S.W.2d 58 (Tenn.1984). Plain error exists where the error affects a substantial right of the defendant and strikes at the very fairness or integrity......
  • State v. Brewer
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    ...Mr. Young, the trial court's failure to grant a judgment of acquittal on Count 21 rose to the level of plain error. See State v. Ogle, 666 S.W.2d 58, 60 (Tenn.1984); Tenn.R.Crim.Proc. 52(b); see also Tenn.R.App.Proc. 36(a). In short, the facts contained in the record and any inferences whic......
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    ...405-06 (Tenn.1989) (whether remarks of the trial court should be considered when no contemporaneous objection was made); State v. Ogle, 666 S.W.2d 58, 60 (Tenn.1984) (whether a Bruton violation should be considered when no contemporaneous objection was made); State v. Parton, 817 S.W.2d 28,......
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