State v. Taylor, W2012-02535-CCA-R3-CD

CourtCourt of Appeals of Tennessee. Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtCAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE
Docket NumberNo. W2012-02535-CCA-R3-CD,W2012-02535-CCA-R3-CD
Decision Date30 September 2014


No. W2012-02535-CCA-R3-CD


February 4, 2014 Session
September 30, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County
No. 10-06598
W. Otis Higgs, Jr., Judge

The Defendant, Pamela Taylor, was indicted for the first degree premeditated murder of her husband, Michael Taylor. Following a jury trial, she was convicted of second degree murder. The trial court sentenced her as a Range I, violent offender to twenty-one years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues: (1) the trial court erred in declining to suppress her statement to police; (2) the trial court erred in abbreviating voir dire and jury selection, which prevented her from properly questioning prospective jurors and kept her from invoking her last two peremptory challenges; (3) the ex parte communication between two senior attorneys with the district attorney's office and the trial judge created an appearance of impropriety; (4) the successor judge erred in finding that the presiding judge had satisfied her duty as the thirteenth juror; (5) the trial court erred in admitting opinion testimony requiring specialized and/or expert knowledge; (6) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of her character and her prior bad acts; (7) the State committed pervasive prosecutorial misconduct; (8) the trial court erred in excluding evidence of the victim's violence, anger, and aggression, which were offered as corroborative evidence that the victim was the first aggressor; (9) the evidence was insufficient to sustain her conviction for second degree murder; and (10) the trial court erred in imposing an excessive sentence. Upon review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

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

CAMILLE R. MCMULLEN, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which JOHN EVERETT WILLIAMS and ALAN E. GLENN, JJ., joined.

André C. Wharton and Alexander C. Wharton, for the Defendant-Appellant, Pamela Taylor.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Deshea Dulany Faughn, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Patience R. Branham and

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Charles Summers, III, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.



On December 23, 2009, the Defendant, Pamela Taylor, fatally shot her husband Michael Taylor. In her appellate brief, the Defendant provided an abbreviated statement of the evidence presented at trial. As we will explain, there was sufficient evidence to support the Defendant's conviction for second degree murder.

State's Proof

Diane Welch, the victim's mother, testified that although the Defendant was married to the victim at the time of his death, the victim intended to divorce the Defendant and to move in with her and her husband until he could get a one-bedroom apartment. Ms. Welch stated that the Defendant and the victim had met as teenagers and that the Defendant had been pregnant with the victim's child when she graduated from high school. However, she said the victim never married the Defendant until their child, Brittany, was nearly seventeen years old. Prior to his marriage to the Defendant, the victim was married to Wendy Taylor, and their marriage lasted several years before ending in divorce.

Ms. Welch stated her belief that the Defendant was a very jealous girlfriend and wife. Over the years, she had seen the Defendant get angry if other women paid attention to the victim. When the Defendant and the victim were approximately twenty-four years old, the Defendant suddenly appeared when the victim and his date returned home, and the victim had to restrain the Defendant so that the other woman could get into her car to leave. Ms. Welch also stated that the Defendant grabbed another woman by the head and pushed her after the woman tapped the victim on the back. She had seen the Defendant sitting outside in her car and had observed her driving back and forth in front of her home when the victim lived with her. Ms. Welch asserted that the victim was not a violent person and that she had never seen him angry with the Defendant or possessive of her. She never saw any evidence that the victim was physically abusing the Defendant, and the Defendant never complained of abuse and never told her that she was afraid of the victim.

Brittany Taylor, the daughter of the Defendant and the victim, testified that she had never seen the victim act violently toward another person. However, she acknowledged that the victim had yelled at her or her sisters if they were misbehaving and had yelled at the Defendant when they argued. One time she saw the victim push the Defendant but never

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observed any other incidents between them. Brittany1 said she never observed any bruises or marks on the Defendant. During one incident, the victim became angry and pushed some things off the counter top, breaking a ceramic bowl she had made. She also said that the victim regularly broke video game controllers and that she had seen him break a golf club after hitting a bad shot. She said she had never seen the victim break any furniture. Brittany was aware that victim smoked marijuana and used steroids.

On December 22, 2009, at 9:28 a.m., Brittany received a text message from the Defendant, stating, "Please come to the apartment." At 10:28 a.m., she received another text message from the Defendant, which said, "The police just left." Then, at 10:42 a.m., the Defendant sent a third text message, stating, "You have got to get your stuff. Dad is losing it." After receiving this third text, Brittany and her boyfriend went to her parents' apartment to pick up some of her furniture. When she arrived, she saw the victim outside doing some work, and he nodded to her. That night at 9:16 p.m., the Defendant sent Brittany the following text message:

Dad and I are fine. Please don't worry about anything . . . It's back to normal for the night. I'm working tomorrow and you got the items out of the apartment that he likes to threaten or break. He moved on to threatening me now . . . ha. I think he is going to bed and I am tired too. Love you lots.

On December 23, 2009, around 9:00 a.m., Brittany received the following voicemail message from the Defendant: "Please call Nana, your dad has attacked me again." Brittany drove to her parent's apartment, where she discovered that the Defendant had shot and killed the victim.

John Simmons, Brittany's boyfriend, stated that on the afternoon of December 22, 2009, he took Brittany to her parents' apartment to get her furniture. When they arrived, they saw the Defendant, who "seemed fine." Mr. Simmons stated that he was in the apartment for approximately thirty to forty-five minutes and did not observe any marks or injuries on the Defendant. He said he had never talked to the victim about steroids and had never noticed any aggressive behavior from the victim. He said the victim's mood was "very consistent."

Edie Lloyd, the office manager of the corporate office of Fogelman Management Group, testified that the day of the victim's funeral, the Defendant called her. During this call, the Defendant asked if the victim's last paycheck would deposit onto his iPay card. The Defendant also asked about the victim's life insurance and 401K benefits. The Defendant

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told Ms. Lloyd, "I know I'm the beneficiary and I don't have a job right now." She said she needed this money "for Brittany and for [the victim's mother] and the funeral."

Stephanie Joyner, the human resource manager at Fogelman Management Group, testified that the victim had been employed at the Madison Apartments as the maintenance supervisor. She stated that on December 22, 2009, she received an email from the victim's manager stating that the victim wanted to remove the Defendant as a beneficiary from his $97,000 life insurance policy and his other benefits effective January 1, 2010, because they had just had a big disagreement. Ms. Joyner informed the victim's manager that the victim would have to make any changes in writing, but she never received anything from the victim prior to his death.

Wendy Taylor, the victim's ex-wife, testified that she had been married to the victim for seven years before they amicably divorced. She stated that although the victim took steroids during their marriage, he did not have anger problems. Wendy stated that the biggest problem in their marriage was that the victim was nonconfrontational and would leave anytime they had an argument. She asserted that the victim was never physically abusive or violent with her. When she and the victim separated during their marriage and then reconciled, the Defendant informed Wendy that she and the victim had dated during their separation. Wendy stated that the Defendant "was obsessed with" the victim during their marriage. She also said that the Defendant frequently prevented the victim from seeing Brittany if he did not do as she asked, which "was a headache throughout the marriage."

Timothy Maness, who worked with the victim at the Madison Apartments, testified that he and the victim...

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