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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Nov 21, 2014

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Stephen Bush, District Public Defender; and Sanjeev Memula and Anna Benson (at trial), and Phyllis Aluko (on appeal), Assistant District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Markius Williams.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Paul Hagerman, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

The defendant was convicted, after a jury trial, of two counts of aggravated robbery, Class B felonies, and sentenced to concurrent nine-year sentences for a robbery of a couple that took place outside a laundromat. The indictment charged the defendant with having accomplished the crimes with a deadly weapon or through the display of an article used or fashioned to lead the victims to reasonably believe it was a deadly weapon. The trial court correctly instructed the jury orally regarding the elements of aggravated robbery in both counts. However, the written jury instructions for Count 2 omitted the element that the defendant used a deadly weapon and instead instructed the jury to consider whether the victim suffered serious bodily injury. The defendant appeals, challenging both the sufficiency of the evidence and the incorrect instructions under plain error. We conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the verdicts and that the error in charging the jury was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt because the jury necessarily found that the defendant used a deadly weapon when it convicted the defendant in Count 1. We accordingly affirm the convictions.