STATE OF TENNESSEE v. VANESSA COLEMAN - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Dec 9, 2014

Head Comment: With Concurring Opinion

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Theodore H. Lavit; Joseph R. Stewart; Cameron Griffith, Lebanon, Kentucky; and Russell T. Greene, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Vanessa Coleman.

Attorneys 2:

Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; John H. Bledsoe, Senior Counsel; Randall Eugene Nichols, District Attorney General; Leland Price and Ta Kisha Fitzgerald, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, the State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): WOODALL

In this case both victims were sexually assaulted. Accordingly, we will identify them by their initials. Defendant, Vanessa Coleman, was one of four defendants charged by presentment for offenses which occurred in January 2007, involving the deaths of the victims, C.N. and C.C. In her first trial, Defendant was acquitted of all charges alleging the murder, kidnapping, and rape of victim C.N. She was convicted of several counts of the lesserincluded offense of facilitation of charges alleging the murder, kidnapping, and rape of victim C.C. Defendant was granted a new trial by the trial court based upon structural error in the proceedings of the first trial. Following the second trial, a jury found Defendant guilty of the following offenses against victim C.C.: three counts of facilitation of first degree murder, one count of facilitation of second degree murder, two counts of facilitation of aggravated kidnapping, six counts of facilitation of rape, and one count of facilitation of misdemeanor theft. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged Defendant’s convictions for facilitation of first degree murder and second degree murder into one conviction and imposed a sentence of 25 years for that conviction. The trial court also merged Defendant’s two convictions for facilitation of aggravated kidnapping and imposed a sentence of six years to be served consecutively to Defendant’s 25-year sentence. The trial court merged Defendant’s six convictions for facilitation of rape into three convictions and imposed a sentence of four years for each conviction, to be served concurrently with each other but consecutively to Defendant’s remaining sentences. For Defendant’s facilitation of misdemeanor theft conviction, the trial court imposed a sentence of six months to be served concurrently with the remaining sentences. Thus, Defendant received a total effective sentence of 35 years for her convictions. In this appeal as of right, Defendant raises the following issues for our review: 1) whether the evidence at trial was sufficient to sustain her convictions; 2) whether the trial court should have dismissed the presentment because Defendant was subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury before the filing of the presentment in this case; 3) whether the trial court erred by admitting testimony of Defendant’s statements made during unrecorded interviews; 4) whether the trial court should have excluded photographs of the victims’ bodies; 5) whether all of Defendant’s convictions for facilitation of rape should have been merged into one conviction; and 6) whether the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record before us, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.