Tigue v. Commonwealth, 2017-SC-000156-MR

Decision Date01 November 2018
Docket Number2017-SC-000156-MR
Citation600 S.W.3d 140
Parties Shawn TIGUE, Appellant v. COMMONWEALTH of Kentucky, Appellee
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court — District of Kentucky

A circuit court jury found Shawn Tigue guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, second-degree possession of a controlled substance, third-degree possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a controlled substance not in its original container. After finding the first-degree burglary conviction to be an aggravator, the jury recommended a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, which the trial court adopted. The parties agreed on sentences for the remaining convictions: 20 years for the first-degree burglary conviction, 12 months for the two possession convictions, and 90 days for the improper-container conviction. Tigue then appealed directly to this Court as a matter of right, raising several issues for review. We reverse the portion of the judgment that contains Tigue's first-degree murder conviction, affirm the remainder of the judgment, and we remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND.

At 12:55 p.m. on April 11, 2003, the dead body of elderly, bedridden Bertha Bradshaw was found lying on her bed, the victim of a gunshot wound to the back. Authorities were notified, and a neighbor reported seeing a vehicle belonging to Shawn Tigue, leaving the Bradshaw residence at 10:30 that morning. An inspection of the residence revealed pry marks on the doorjambs of the two doors leading into the house and a large hole in a door.

Based on this information, Trooper Jeremy Lee performed a traffic stop on Tigue's maroon Chevrolet truck, in which Tigue was the passenger and his wife the driver. After a search of Tigue and the truck, Trooper Lee found a prescription pill bottle on Tigue that "had a scraped and tampered label and three types of drugs" that Tigue identified as being his medication. Inside the truck was an army bag filled with shotgun shells. Trooper Lee then brought Tigue in for questioning.

At 6:50 that evening, Detective Don Perry interviewed Tigue, noting he appeared to be intoxicated. Tigue told Detective Perry that he bought the Xanax that was found on his person from a drug dealer. For another of the drugs found on his person, hydrocodone, Tigue claimed he had a prescription, which he claimed helped alleviate his self-diagnosed seizures. Tigue also claimed that the army bag and shotgun shells belonged to his late father.

Tigue told Detective Perry that he left his house at around 9 or 10 that morning to visit his cousin, Buddy Tigue. Tigue then stated that he and Buddy made a run to Ferndale for illegal drugs. Tigue admitted to having ingested "about four" of the Xanax pills. Tigue also spoke about the pill bottle, stating that identifying information on it had been scratched off. Nonetheless, Tigue had the prescription filled at the Rite Aid Pharmacy. Tigue stated that he was wearing a red flannel shirt that morning but had changed his clothes.

Tigue told Detective Perry that he "heard Bertha Bradshaw got shot just before we left ... for ... brother's wife's birthday party." Tigue then explained his contact with Bradshaw: "I don't know her very well. When I was little ... she would give us pops and cookies and stuff like that." Tigue denied knowing about Bradshaw's medical condition, for which she was prescribed pain killers.

The next morning, Detective Perry took possession of several evidentiary items, including Bradshaw's purse found at a nearby Rite Aid Pharmacy, the pill bottle, and the army bag with the shotgun shells. Detective Perry then decided to interview Tigue again. He told Tigue details of what he knew from his investigation so far and proposed various scenarios as to what occurred. Tigue then stated that between 10 a.m. and noon on April 11, an individual named Danny Smith brought him the army bag, the pill bottle with the scratched-off label, and a Xanax prescription belonging to Bradshaw. Tigue stated that Smith told him to fill the prescriptions, which they would split, and to get rid of the army bag. Tigue stated that he "kind of knew that [Smith] had robbed somebody," but denied knowing that Bradshaw had been murdered. Upon conclusion of the interview, Detective Perry started looking for Smith.

Within 30 minutes of leaving the second interview, Detective Perry was paged to return because Tigue wanted to speak with him further. Before Detective Perry began his third interview of Tigue, Tigue stated that he wanted to give a "confession." Tigue then proceeded to outline his purported involvement in the events of this case.

According to Tigue, he drove to the Bradshaw residence, parking his truck on Bradshaw's property, but did not remember at what time this occurred. Tigue knocked on the door, but no one answered. The entrance to the residence had two doors to be opened before entry into the residence was possible. Tigue used a screwdriver to break through the first door, then "rammed his fist" through the second door. Tigue even attempted to show officers the marks on his hand from the break in.

Tigue then entered the residence and proceeded throughout the house. Tigue admitted he intended to rob Bradshaw. He saw Bradshaw lying in bed facing the window. He entered a room across from the bedroom and found Bradshaw's husband's gun. He took the gun, stating that he did so "just to have it, just in case she got up, just to scare her with it, so I could have time to get away." Bradshaw then called out, asking, "Who's there?" Tigue then turned the safety off the gun and shot Bradshaw in the back.

Tigue then took Bradshaw's prescription pills, her purse, the gun, and her husband's army bag with shotgun shells. Tigue stated that he was high on pills during this time, "but that ain't no excuse."

Tigue left the residence and hid the gun at a cemetery. After the interview, Tigue led police to the location of the gun, which they recovered.

At trial, various witnesses other than those identified above testified.

A Rite Aid pharmacist testified to having filled Bradshaw's prescription on April 11. The pharmacist testified that a young, tall, slender, dark-haired male brought Bradshaw's bottle in to fill. The pharmacist stated that he knew it was Bradshaw's bottle based on the unique identifiers he places on each patient's prescription bottles. Although Bradshaw herself did not come in to fill the prescription, the pharmacist stated that no restrictions existed on who could get a prescription filled. According to the pharmacist, the prescription was for 60 Xanax pills, and he admitted to mixing pill brands, but not strengths, as a part of his practice. Another Rite Aid pharmacist confirmed that on April 11, an individual "brought in a pocketbook to me" having a prescription with the name "Bertha Bradshaw" on it.

Buddy Tigue, Tigue's cousin, also testified. Buddy stated that Tigue was at Buddy's house at noon on April 11 "to purchase some pain pills from [Buddy]," having driven up in a maroon Chevrolet truck. Buddy stated that he sold Lorcet and Xanax pills to Tigue. Buddy also stated that "[Tigue] pulled a pill bottle out of his pocket and put them back in his pocket." Buddy then stated that Tigue offered to sell Buddy a gun, a "12-gauge Remington pump, blue steel, looked like a brand-new gun to me." Buddy then said that Tigue told him the gun was "hot." Buddy did not buy the shotgun.

Charles Griffin also testified. Griffin was riding his four-wheeler to get his mail the morning of Bradshaw's murder at around 8:15 or 8:30. Griffin testified to having heard a gunshot, knowing that it was a gunshot because of his vast hunting experience. After hearing the shot, Griffin testified to having seen Danny Smith trying to get out of a tangle of vines at the bottom of a hill on the Bradshaw premises. Smith did not have anything in his hands; rather, "He was using his hands to get through the thicket."

Fay Neal, Tigue's mother, testified. She was staying at a friend's house in Kettle Island on April 11. It was the residence of Billie Storms, and Neal was there helping care for Storms's elderly, bedridden mother, Juanita. Neal stated that Tigue came to see her at 8:30 a.m. to get the key to their shared post-office box. According to Neal, Storms and her sister, who were away from the house at the time, came back to the house and shared a smoke with Tigue. Billie Storms also testified for a very limited purpose: to tell the jury that Neal told Storms that Neal caught Tigue attempting to break into Storms's mother's room. Neal testified that Storms is "best friends" with Danny Smith's mother.

Virginia Middleton, Danny Smith's aunt, also testified. She stated that on April 11, at about 9 or 9:30 a.m., she saw Smith "passing towards the bridge up to her brother's house" on foot. Middleton is a resident of Dorton Branch, which, according to trial testimony, is about 20 minutes from Kettle Island. Middleton testified that Smith "was wearing a camouflage jacket and a camouflage pair of pants."

Teresa Monroe, Tigue's sister, testified at trial that Smith was like family to her and was constantly around. Monroe testified about Smith's aggressive behavior, prompting her to notify police of his behavior for fear of what he would do to her children. Although she had not heard Tigue's confession to the ultimate events of this case, Monroe was convinced that it was false.

Lastly, Tigue himself, also acting as hybrid counsel, testified at trial. Tigue's testimony was very different from the confession he gave to Detective Perry. Tigue stated that Danny Smith killed Bradshaw. He said that while returning from the visit with his mother at Storms's house in Kettle Island, he encountered Smith, who asked him for a ride, to which Tigue agreed. Tigue stated that once in the truck, "He explained to me that he Went to [Bradshaw's] house and he believed he killed her." Tigue said that he...

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2 cases
  • Bennett v. Commonwealth
    • United States
    • Kentucky Court of Appeals
    • 17 Julio 2020
    ...such issues." We also note that theparty that "opened the door" to the impeachment in Prater was the opposing party.Tigue v. Commonwealth, 600 S.W.3d 140, 153 (Ky. 2018) (emphasis in original) (footnotes omitted). The incident resulting in the Cabinet's investigation in 2011 was a collatera......
  • Tigue v. Costanzo
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Kentucky
    • 30 Septiembre 2021
    ...of KRS 505.020, 505.030, and double jeopardy. Tigue's argument is based upon the unfounded belief that our opinion, Tigue v. Commonwealth, 600 S.W.3d 140 (Ky. 2018), rendered in his direct appeal, was a dismissal because determined the evidence of Tigue's guilt on murder was insufficient. T......

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