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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Mar 5, 2014

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Mike Whalen, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Benjamin Keith Fowler.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Assistant Attorney General; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Kevin Allen, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): WITT

A Knox County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Benjamin Keith Fowler, of six counts of first degree felony murder, two counts of criminally negligent homicide, two counts of especially aggravated burglary, one count of attempted aggravated robbery, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court merged the homicide verdicts and imposed two convictions of first degree murder. The court also merged the especially aggravated burglary verdicts and imposed a single conviction of that offense. In this appeal, the defendant contends that prosecutorial misconduct and the behavior of a State witness deprived him of the right to a fair trial, that the trial court erred by admitting certain testimony, and that the trial court erred by prohibiting the admission of certain evidence. Although we discern no error with regard to the issues presented by the defendant, we observe plain error with regard to the defendant’s conviction of especially aggravated burglary. Because dual convictions for first degree felony murder and especially aggravated burglary in this case are prohibited by statute, the defendant’s conviction of especially aggravated burglary is modified to a conviction of aggravated burglary and remanded to the trial court for resentencing. The judgments of the trial court are affirmed in all other respects.