The Tennessee Supreme Court released an opinion, Tennessee v. Kevin Anthony Dickson, earlier this week that affirmed the attempted murder conviction for one East Tennessean, Kevin Anthony Dickson. Dickson was found guilty after one of his accomplices shot two individuals who were connected with a drug dealer that had sold Dickson poor quality cocaine.
According to the recently released opinion, the trouble began when Dickson purchased cocaine from a drug dealer in Gatlinburg and was then upset over the quality of the drug he received. According to the Court, Dickson procured weapons and ammunition and enlisted two friends to help him confront the drug dealer who sold him the bad coke and extract a refund. The group gathered their weapons, with Dickson only carrying a set of brass knuckles and a metal baton, ultimately forcing their way into the drug dealer’s home.
After entering the cabin where the drug dealer was staying, one of Dickson’s accomplices, whom Dickson had given a .45 pistol, shot and seriously wounded two unarmed victims with no connection to the drugs. Dickson and others then went on to beat several other guests in the cabin with the metal bat and other instruments. Thankfully everyone survived the attack, though one of those who were shot was left partially paralyzed.
Dickson and his friends were arrested and ultimately taken to trial where the judge ruled that Dickson was criminally responsible for the actions taken by the shooter. Given his close association with the shooter, Dickson was found guilty of two counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of aggravated burglary, attempted aggravated robbery and aggravated assault. Dickson was sentenced to consecutive 25-year sentences for each attempted murder conviction.
Dickson appealed his case to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals which ultimately reduced one of the counts down to attempted second-degree murder, finding that there was not enough evidence of premeditation with respect to the shooting of the first victim who was shot almost immediately upon entering the house. The case was then appealed up to the Supreme Court, which considered whether there was sufficient evidence to justify the two convictions for attempted first-degree murder.
Unfortunately for Dickson, the Supreme Court decided that that the lower court was right to convict him of two counts of attempted first degree murder and also that the consecutive 25-year sentences were proper.
The Supreme Court said that Dickson could be criminally responsible for the actions of his co-defendant because he acted with intent to promote the commission of the offense. The Court also found that Dickson’s co-defendant acted with premeditation when he fired upon his victims. This was shown by the co-defendant agreeing to take a loaded pistol into the cabin, something that a reasonable person could determine showed planning on the part of the shooter to use the deadly weapon on those located in the cabin. The Court said the co-defendant had formed the intent to commit the act before ever entering the house, which is why the attempted first-degree murder charge for the first victim ought to be reinstated.