Woods v. State, W2021-01332-CCA-R3-PC

CourtCourt of Appeals of Tennessee. Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee
Writing for the CourtROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE
PartiesDARIN WOODS v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
Docket NumberW2021-01332-CCA-R3-PC
Decision Date22 November 2022

DARIN WOODS
v.

STATE OF TENNESSEE

No. W2021-01332-CCA-R3-PC

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

November 22, 2022


Assigned on Briefs October 4, 2022

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 14-03680 Paula L. Skahan, Judge

The Petitioner, Darin Woods, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for attempted second degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, for which he is serving an effective twenty-seven year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

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

Shae Atkinson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Darin Woods.

Jonathan Skrmetti, Attorney General and Reporter; Benjamin A. Ball, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; Leslie Byrd, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

ROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which J. ROSS DYER and TOM GREENHOLTZ, JJ., joined.

OPINION

ROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE

On April 18, 2014, the Petitioner participated in the robbery of Devin and Dedrick Bradley.[1] The Petitioner and his cousins, Rodney Fleming and Sanders Malone, lured Devin and Dedrick to the back of an apartment complex where Mr. Fleming and the

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Petitioner, brandishing a gun, told them to hand over their money and the keys to their car. In response, Dedrick and Devin ran, and the Petitioner shot Devin in the back. Mr. Malone was not present for the shooting but heard shots and picked up Mr. Fleming in his Jeep. Later, Mr. Malone met with Mr. Fleming and the Petitioner at the Petitioner's brother's house, where Mr. Malone learned about what had happened. Law enforcement officers developed suspects, including Mr. Malone, after Mr. Malone's mother called the police. Mr. Malone implicated Mr. Fleming and the Petitioner in the incident. Devin identified the Petitioner from a photograph lineup as the shooter and later testified to that fact at trial. The Petitioner testified at trial, denying his involvement in the robbery of the Bradley brothers and the shooting. State v. Darin Woods, No. W2016-01486-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL 2820126, at *1-3 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 29, 2017), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 20, 2017).

On April 30, 2018, the Petitioner filed a timely pro se petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition, and the Petitioner appealed. This court reversed the judgment of the post-conviction court and remanded the case for the post-conviction court to determine whether counsel should be appointed or whether the Petitioner should be permitted time to retain private counsel. See Darin Woods v. State, No. W2019-00514-CCA-R3-PC, 2020 WL 864160, at *2 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 19, 2020). Upon remand, the post-conviction court appointed post-conviction counsel. As relevant to this appeal, the Petitioner, in his petition, alleged that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel as counsel failed to challenge a photograph lineup and failed to investigate a prosecutorial misconduct claim.

At the post-conviction hearing, trial counsel testified that he had practiced law for more than fifteen years at the time he represented the Petitioner and that the majority of his cases were criminal defense. Counsel said the Petitioner's case was difficult because several eyewitnesses, including the Petitioner's own family members, placed the Petitioner at the scene of the crime. When asked about his trial strategy, counsel said that he attempted to discredit the witnesses' testimony and to suggest that the codefendants were conspiring against the Petitioner. Counsel said he hired an investigator to assist with the investigation and the Petitioner's defense.

Trial counsel testified that he reviewed all the discovery with the Petitioner and met with the Petitioner a minimum of ten times before trial. He said he and the Petitioner discussed trial strategy "numerous times," including discussing the complaint, the photograph lineup, and the other discovery provided by the State. He said he conveyed the State's plea offer, which he thought was twenty-four years, to the Petitioner and discussed its pros and cons. Counsel said that he recommended the Petitioner accept the offer. Counsel said he also talked to the Petitioner about any lesser included offenses for which the Petitioner could be convicted at trial.

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Trial counsel testified that he communicated with the Petitioner's family. He said the Petitioner's mother shared her ideas about the case with counsel. He said he contacted the Petitioner's sister, who lived in Boston, regarding the case and about her serving as a possible alibi witness, but she was unable to confirm that the Petitioner was with her at the time of the crimes. Counsel said that, as a result, he elected not to call the sister as an alibi witness. Counsel stated that he told the Petitioner an alibi defense based on his sister's testimony would not work at trial.

Trial counsel testified that he had no problems communicating with the Petitioner. Counsel related his experiences working with criminal defendants, including those who suffered from mental illness, and stated he did not believe a mental health examination was warranted. Counsel said that he and the Petitioner discussed at length whether he should testify at trial and that when the Petitioner indicated he intended to testify, counsel worked with the Petitioner in preparing his trial testimony. Counsel stated that he thought he did everything he could have done to defend...

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