TBA Law Blog

Posted by: Katharine Heriges on May 1, 2017

The Tennessee Supreme Court has affirmed James Hawkins’ premeditated murder conviction and sentence of death for the 2008 murder of Charlene Gaither, Hawkins’s long-term girlfriend and the mother of his children. Proof at trial showed that Hawkins had murdered Gaither because she threatened to expose his sexual abuse of their daughter. The Court of Criminal Appeals upheld his convictions and the jury's death sentence. Upon its automatic review of the case, the Supreme Court ruled that, although Hawkins was illegally seized without a warrant, the admission into evidence of the statement he gave while illegally held was harmless error beyond a reasonable doubt, and any impropriety had not deprived Hawkins of a fair trial. Justice Cornelia Clark wrote the majority opinion, while Justice Sharon Lee authored a concurring opinion.