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Posted by: Stacey Shrader Joslin on Jun 20, 2013

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Joseph A. McClusky, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Ledarren Hawkins.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; William E. Young, Solicitor General; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; Jody S. Pickens, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): KOCH

The defendant was convicted in the Circuit Court for Madison County of first degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. On this appeal, the defendant seeks reversal of his first degree murder conviction on the ground that the trial court declined his request for a jury instruction on defense of a third person. He also seeks reversal of his evidence-tampering conviction on the ground that his abandonment of the murder weapon did not amount to tampering with physical evidence. The Court of Criminal Appeals upheld his convictions and sentences. State v. Hawkins, No. W2010-01687-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 543048 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 16, 2012). Based on this record, we have determined that the trial court properly denied the defendant’s request for an instruction on defense of a third person. However, we have also determined that the defendant did not tamper with physical evidence in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-16-503(a)(1) (2010) by tossing the murder weapon over a short fence where it could be easily observed and recovered. Accordingly, we affirm the defendant’s conviction and sentence for first degree murder and reverse his conviction and sentence for tampering with physical evidence.