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Logan v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia

June 20, 2017

TYRONE LOGAN, S/K/A TYRONE LAMONT LOGAN
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

         FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CHESTERFIELD COUNTY Thomas V. Warren, Judge Designate

          Craig S. Cooley for appellant.

          Virginia B. Theisen, Senior Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

          Present: Chief Judge Huff, Judges Petty and Beales.

          OPINION

          RANDOLPH A. BEALES JUDGE.

         Following a bench trial on December 29, 2015, the trial court convicted Tyrone Lamont Logan ("appellant") of one count of attempted murder of Joshua Bryant in violation of Code §§ 18.2-32 and 18.2-26, one count of shooting at an occupied vehicle in violation of Code § 18.2-154, and one count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony in violation of Code § 18.2-53.1.[1] On appeal, appellant argues that the trial court erred in finding the evidence sufficient to prove that appellant was the shooter and in finding the evidence sufficient to prove that the shooter acted with malice. Appellant also contends that the trial court erred at the sentencing hearing when it refused to allow appellant to call certain witnesses at sentencing and by refusing to allow appellant to proffer the witnesses' testimony for the record on appeal.

         I. Background

         We consider the evidence on appeal "in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, as we must since it was the prevailing party" in the trial court. Beasley v. Commonwealth, 60 Va.App. 381, 391, 728 S.E.2d 499, 504 (2012) (quoting Riner v. Commonwealth, 268 Va. 296, 330, 601 S.E.2d 555, 574 (2004)).

         So viewed, the evidence showed that a social gathering took place on Christmas Eve 2014 at a house located just off a public road in Chesterfield County. Ryan Gooden ("Gooden"), appellant's stepson, was living in the house with his grandmother, his aunt, and the aunt's boyfriend. Gooden testified that there was drinking at the party and that he and appellant had taken "a shot together" that evening.

         When Joshua Bryant ("Bryant" or "the victim") arrived in his pickup truck at approximately 5:00 p.m., a man named Mark Crocker ("Crocker") climbed into the passenger seat. Bryant, who was confined to a wheelchair, remained in the truck and conversed with Crocker. Behind Bryant's seat was a wheelchair, a shotgun, and a "muzzleloader" firearm. The record indicates that Bryant and appellant were the only individuals who had firearms, and Bryant unequivocally testified that he never removed either of his firearms from behind his seat or even talked about their presence.

         Several people gathered around Bryant's truck, including appellant. Appellant turned to Gooden and asked, "Is he [Bryant] all right with you?" Gooden answered that he was, and noted their family connection.

         Bryant testified that appellant and Gooden walked to the back of Bryant's truck and continued to talk, raising their voices on occasion. Appellant repeatedly asked Gooden if Bryant was "all right" with Gooden. Watching the pair from his rearview mirror, Bryant saw appellant remove a pistol from beneath his shirt. Gooden and Giles also each testified that they observed appellant holding a firearm out. Gooden also testified that they were "[s]tanding there talking. And next thing you know, I'm standing there, and I seen a gun." Donnie Giles testified that he came out of his house and observed the men speaking loudly. Giles also testified that he "heard Ryan telling Tyrone [appellant] that everything was okay and won't no problems out there or nothing like that. And then after that, I really ain't -- I think then I just remembered him having a gun after that."

         Appellant then walked up to the driver's side of the truck, opened the door, and pointed the gun at Bryant. Bryant testified that appellant said, "Don't nobody move." Giles testified that appellant had said, "It's about to get real out here. Don't nobody move." Giles also testified that he observed appellant "holding [the gun] in one hand and opening the door of the truck with the other hand. Then after that, Ryan took off running." Giles testified that appellant followed Ryan, and "all of us got out of there after that." Appellant ran after Gooden and asked, "Where are you going?" Gooden shut the door behind him, but appellant kicked the door open. Bryant testified that he did not see anything after appellant kicked the door in because he decided he needed to leave. Glenda Jenkins, Gooden's aunt, testified that she saw appellant "coming in the door" as she was sitting on the floor opening gifts.

         Bryant immediately started his truck, backed it up to turn around, and drove out of the driveway as "fast as he could." Mark Crocker was still in the passenger's seat of the truck. Bryant had traveled approximately ten yards down the road when he heard gunfire. Four or five shots rang out, one of which pierced the glass behind the truck cab and lodged in the passenger visor in front of Crocker. No one observed who was shooting at the vehicle at the time the bullets were being fired. Bryant testified that he had only driven down the road about thirty feet from the driveway when he started hearing the shots. The trial court asked Bryant, "So whoever fired the shots ran out into the road?" to which Bryant responded, "Yes." Another bullet struck the rear bumper of the truck. When Officer Alan Rowlett arrived at the house to investigate the shooting, he observed that the rear window of the Ford truck had been shattered. The police recovered four cartridge casings that all matched the same firearm. One cartridge was found in the driveway of the home, and the other three cartridges were close by - on the road just past the front yard line.

         II. Standard of Review

         When considering the sufficiency of the evidence presented below, "a reviewing court does not 'ask itself whether it believes that the evidence at the trial established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.'" Crowder v. Commonwealth, 41 Va.App. 658, 663, 588 S.E.2d 384, 387 (2003) (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318-19 (1979)). "Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, as we must since it was the prevailing party in the trial court, " Riner v. Commonwealth, 268 Va. 296, 330, 601 S.E.2d 555, 574 (2004), "[w]e must instead ask whether 'any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, '" Crowder, 41 Va.App. at 663, 588 S.E.2d at 387 (quoting Kelly v. Commonwealth, 41 Va.App. 250, 257, 584 S.E.2d 444, 447 (2003) (en banc)). See also Maxwell v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 437, 442, 657 S.E.2d 499, 502 (2008). "This familiar standard ...


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