State v. Reid, M1999-00803-CCA-R3-DD

CourtCourt of Appeals of Tennessee. Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee
Docket NumberM1999-00803-CCA-R3-DD
Decision Date31 May 2001


No. M1999-00803-CCA-R3-DD



March 13, 2001 Session

Filed May 31, 2001

Direct Appeal from the Criminal Court for Davidson County, No. 97-C-1834, Cheryl Blackburn, Judge

Paul Dennis Reid, Jr. was found guilty by a jury of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of especially aggravated robbery. Reid's convictions stem from the execution style murders of two Captain D's employees and the especially aggravated robbery of one of the employees. The jury returned a sentence of death for each of the homicides based upon its finding of three aggravating factors, i.e., (i)(2), prior violent felony; (i)(6), murder committed for the purpose of avoiding prosecution; and (i)(7), murder committed during commission of robbery. The Davidson County Criminal Court subsequently imposed a twenty-five-year sentence for the especially aggravated robbery conviction and ordered this sentence to be served consecutively to the two death sentences. In this appeal as of right, Reid presents numerous issues for our review, including (1) issues arising from suppressed evidence; (2) challenges to the selection of jurors; (3) the sufficiency of the convicting evidence; (4) the admission and exclusion of evidence at both the guilt and penalty phases; (5) the propriety of the prosecution's closing argument during the guilt phase; (6) the failure to instruct on lesser-included offenses; (7) the trial court's act of holding court into late hours of the evening without cause; (8) the admissibility in general and the introduction of specific victim impact evidence; (9) prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument; (10) the propriety of the jury instructions; (11) whether application of the (i)(7) aggravator violates State v. Middlebrooks; (12) the propriety of a twenty-five-year sentence for especially aggravated robbery; (13) the constitutionality of Tennessee's death penalty statutes; and (14) whether the sentences of death imposed by the jury are proportionate sentences. After a careful review of the record, we affirm Reid's convictions for two counts of first-degree murder and one count of especially aggravated robbery. Additionally, we affirm the imposition of the sentences of death and the accompanying sentence for especially aggravated robbery.

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

David G. Hayes, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams, J., joined; James Curwood Witt, Jr. filed a concurring opinion.

Jeffrey A. DeVasher, Assistant Public Defender (on appeal); C. Dawn Deaner, Assistant Public Defender, (at trial and on appeal); J. Michael Engle and David Baker, Assistant Public Defenders, (at trial), Nashville, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Paul Dennis Reid, Jr.

Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter, Michael Moore, Solicitor General, Kathy Morante, Tom Thurman, Roger Moore, Grady Moore, Assistant Attorney Generals, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.


In February 1999, the Appellant, Paul Dennis Reid, Jr., was convicted, in the Davidson County Criminal Court, of two counts of first-degree murder in the execution style killings of twenty-five-year-old Steve Hampton and sixteen-year-old Sarah Jackson and of one count of especially aggravated robbery.(FN1) At the conclusion of the penalty phase of the trial, the jury found the presence of three aggravating circumstances, i.e., (i)(2), the defendant had previously been convicted of a felony involving violence to a person; (i)(6), that the defendant committed the murder for the purpose of avoiding prosecution; and (i)(7), that the murder was committed while the defendant was committing a felony. Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-204(i)(2), (6), and (7) (1997). The jury further determined that the mitigating circumstances did not outweigh the aggravating circumstances and imposed sentences of death on each count. The trial court approved the sentencing verdict. At a separate sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of twenty-five years for the especially aggravated robbery conviction and ordered the Appellant to serve this sentence consecutive to his sentences of death. In this appeal as of right, the Appellant presents for our review the following issues:

I. Whether the trial court erred in denying the Appellant's Motions to Suppress the identification testimony of Michael Butterworth and Mark Farmer and the physical evidence seized from the Appellant's residence (Appellant's Issues I and II);

II. Whether the trial court properly controlled the selection of numerous jurors (Appellant's Issues III, V, VI, and VII);

III. Whether the evidence was sufficient to support the Appellant's convictions for the first-degree murders of Steve Hampton and Sarah Jackson and his conviction for especially aggravated robbery (Appellant's Issue XIV);

IV. Whether the trial court properly admitted testimony during the guilt phase of the trial (Appellant's Issues VIII, IX, and X);

V. Whether the State committed prejudicial error, at the guilt phase, by making improper comments during closing argument (Appellant's Issues XI and XII);

VI. Whether the trial court's failure to instruct on lesser-included offenses was error (Appellant's Issue XIII);

VII. Whether the trial court committed plain error by holding court into the late hours of the evening (Appellant's Issue XXVIII);

VIII. Whether the admission and exclusion of certain testimony during the penalty phase of the trial constituted error (Appellant's Issues XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI);

IX. Whether the introduction of victim impact evidence constituted error (Appellant's Issues XV, XVI, XVII, and XXIII);

X. Whether the application of the (i)(7) aggravator was appropriate when the jury found the Appellant guilty of felony murder (Appellant's Issue XXII);

XI. Whether the trial court properly instructed the jury as to mitigating factors (Appellant's Issue XXIV);

XII. Whether the twenty-five-year sentence imposed for especially aggravated robbery is excessive (Appellant's Issue XXVII);

XIII. Whether Tennessee's death penalty statutes are constitutional (Appellant's Issue IV); and

XIV. Whether the jury imposed an arbitrary and disproportionate sentence (Appellant's Issues XXV and XXVI).

Having carefully considered the Appellant's claims, we find no error of law requiring reversal. Accordingly, we affirm the Appellant's convictions, his sentence for especially aggravated robbery, and the imposition of the death penalty in this case.


A. Guilt Phase

On Sunday morning, February 16, 1997, sometime between 11:00 a.m. and noon, Sarah Jackson and Steve Hampton, two employees of a Captain D's restaurant in Nashville, were discovered dead lying face down on the floor inside the restaurant's walk-in cooler. Steve Hampton was the manager of the Captain D's restaurant located on Lebanon Road. Sarah Jackson was a high school student who worked part-time in the restaurant. The deaths were carried out in execution-style fashion. Jackson was shot four times in the head and once in the back. Two of the gunshot wounds to the head were superficial and the wound to the back did not strike any major organs or blood vessels. The medical examiner testified that Jackson may have been able to move if these were the first shots fired. However, the two wounds to the head incapacitated Jackson and caused her death. Hampton died as a result of two gunshot wounds to the back of the head and one in the back. Expert testimony suggested that both victims were lying on the floor when they were shot. The testimony further suggested, based on the blood patterns, that Jackson attempted to raise herself after she had been shot. The victims were killed with a .32 caliber weapon, which was probably a revolver. Seven thousand one hundred forty dollars, which included two hundred fifty dollars in coins, was taken during the robbery of the restaurant.

The Appellant was first developed as a suspect on June 12, 1997, after he was arrested in Cheatham County for attempting to kidnap the manager of a Shoney's restaurant. The police obtained the Appellant's fingerprints as well as his photograph from this encounter. It is this evidence which ultimately connected him to the robbery and murders at the Captain D's restaurant.

Hampton's driver's license, credit card, movie video rental card, insurance cards, birth certificate card, and his children's identification cards were subsequently found on the ground next to Ellington Parkway in Nashville, approximately 11.5 miles from the crime scene and 1.2 miles from the Appellant's residence. While the Appellant's fingerprints were not found at the scene, several unidentified prints were found. The Appellant's fingerprint, however, was found on Hampton's movie rental card. Several shoe prints were photographed on the floor near the safe inside the restaurant. The tread design of the shoe prints did not match any of the tread designs from the Appellant's shoes seized from his house; however, the length of the shoe print at the crime scene was consistent with the length of the Appellant's shoes.

The night before the murders, Sarah Jackson spent the night at the home of Steve Hampton and his family. Hampton's wife testified that they ate dinner and rented some movies from Movie Gallery. When Hampton left for work at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, he had approximately $600 in his wallet.

Michael Butterworth and Jason Carter, two employees of Captain D's working the night before the murders, testified that a man came into the restaurant sometime before closing time and inquired about a job application. The man said that he worked for Shoney's which was just down the road. Carter testified that the man asked if anyone would be at the restaurant on Sunday morning. Carter told the man Hampton would be there but that he would be busy until after...

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