State of Tennessee v. Henry Lee Jones

State of Tennessee v. Henry Lee Jones
W2009-01655-SC-DDT-DD

The defendant was indicted for two first degree murders in Shelby County. During the trial, the court allowed the jury to hear evidence of a third murder allegedly committed by the defendant in a different state, ruling that the out-of-state murder qualified as a “signature crime” and was relevant to the issue of identity. The defendant was convicted as charged and received a sentence of death for each offense. In a divided opinion, the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. Because the out-of-state murder did not qualify as a signature crime and, under these circumstances, the danger of unfair prejudice outweighed the probative value of the evidence, the trial court erred by allowing the proof of the third murder. Because the error does not qualify as harmless, the convictions must be reversed and a new trial must be granted. On remand, the State may again seek the death penalty for each offense.

Authoring Judge: 
Chief Justice Gary R. Wade
Originating Judge: 
Judge John P. Colton, Jr.
Date Filed: 
Thursday, September 25, 2014