An out of court confession in a Tennessee criminal case must have independent evidentiary corroboration before it can be sufficient to sustain a conviction. Accomplice witness testimony must also have independent corroboration to be sufficient. Of course, if you have both of these things independently, they can corroborate each other. This occurred in the recent Tennessee case of State v. Hall, M2013-02090-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn.Crim.App. 9-5-2014).
In the Hall case, the defendant was convicted of first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery. An accomplice testified at trial that the defendant choked the victim to death inside the victim’s apartment and took property from the apartment. In addition, an inmate not otherwise connected with the case testified about incriminating statements, admitting to having murdered and robbed the victim, the defendant made to that inmate while they were incarcerated together.
On appeal, the defendant argued that neither the accomplice testimony nor the confession evidence was corroborated, which should render that evidence insufficient to sustain a conviction. The Court of Criminal Appeals noted that the accomplice testimony and confession corroborated each other. In addition, they pointed out that both were also independently corroborated by other evidence … including cell phone location data placing the defendant and the accomplice near the scene of the crime, and the evidence that the defendant pawned some of the victim’s property which had been taken during the robbery. Furthermore, the defendant texted photos of himself taken with the victim’s cell phone after the victim died. This additional evidence would have corroborated either the confession or accomplice testimony or both. The confession and accomplice testimony corroborated each other as well. There was more than enough evidence to sustain the convictions.
For more information on what evidence may be sufficient to convict someone of a crime, contact Hindman & Associates.