State of Tennessee v. Michael Rimmer

State of Tennessee v. Michael Rimmer
W2017-00504-SC-DDT-DD

This is a direct appeal in a capital case. The defendant had one prior trial. In the second trial, a Shelby County jury found the defendant guilty of first degree premeditated murder, murder in the perpetration of robbery, and aggravated robbery. He was sentenced to death plus a consecutive eighteen years of incarceration. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the convictions and the sentence. We now consider the appeal on automatic review pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-206(a)(1). We hold the following: (1) based on sequential jury instructions given in the first trial, the first jury did not have a full opportunity to consider the felony murder count, so double jeopardy principles did not bar retrial on the felony murder count; (2) alleged prosecutorial misconduct in the first trial did not trigger double jeopardy protections and did not bar retrial of the defendant; (3) because the State did not have a duty to preserve the defendant’s vehicle, the trial court did not err in denying the defendant’s motion to suppress DNA evidence from the vehicle; (4) the trial court did not err under Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b) in admitting evidence of the defendant’s prior convictions for rape and assault of the victim; and (5) the trial court did not err under Rule 404(b) in admitting evidence of the defendant’s escape attempts and corroborating evidence of homemade shanks in his cell. We hold further that imposition of the death penalty is not arbitrary, given the circumstances of the crime; that the evidence supports the jury’s finding that the State proved one aggravating circumstance beyond a reasonable doubt; that the evidence supports the jury’s conclusion that the aggravating circumstance outweighed any mitigating circumstances beyond a reasonable doubt; and that the sentence of death is neither excessive nor disproportionate to the penalty imposed in similar cases. As to the remaining issues raised by the defendant, we agree with the conclusions of the Court of Criminal Appeals and attach as an appendix to this opinion the relevant portions of the intermediate court’s decision. We affirm the convictions and the sentence.  Note:  See "Rehear Order May 21, 2021".

Authoring Judge: 
Justice Holly Kirby
Originating Judge: 
Judge Chris Craft
Date Filed: 
Friday, April 16, 2021