STATE OF TENNESSEE v. CHRISTOPHER SWIFT AND MARQUAVIOUS HOUSTON - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on May 6, 2015

Head Comment: With dissenting opinion.

Court: TN Court of Criminal Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Charles Mitchell (on appeal and at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant Christopher Swift. Lance R. Chism (on appeal) and Larry Copeland (at trial), Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Marquavious Houston.

Attorneys 2:

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Alcock, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Pam Fleming and Reginald Henderson, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Judge(s): OGLE

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellants, Christopher Swift and Marquavious Houston, of first degree premeditated murder; attempted first degree premeditated murder, a Class A felony; and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. After a sentencing hearing, they received effective sentences of life plus twenty-six years. On appeal, the appellants contend that (1) the trial court erred by refusing to sever their trials; (2) the trial court erred by allowing the State to display an assault rifle for demonstrative purposes when the rifle was not used to commit the crimes; (3) the trial court erred by allowing the surviving victim to testify after the police destroyed his recorded statement; and (4) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions. In addition, Houston contends that (5) the State’s failure to name the predicate felony in count 3 of the indictment, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, voids the charge and (6) that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive sentencing. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court committed reversible error in Swift’s case by refusing to sever the appellants’ trials and by allowing the State to show the jury an assault rifle that was not used in the crimes. Therefore, his convictions are reversed, and his case is remanded to the trial court for a new trial. Houston’s convictions and sentences, however, are affirmed.