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State v. Pierce

23 S.W.3d 289 (2000)

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State v. Pierce

Tennessee Supreme Court

23 S.W.3d 289 (2000)

Facts

Following an argument with her parents at a gas station in Florida, 14-year-old Sarah Comacho locked her parents out of the family’s van and stole the van by driving away. Fifteen-year-old Lon Mitchell Pierce, Jr. (defendant) and his 16-year-old girlfriend, April Worley, were in the van and fled with Comacho. The teenagers drove the van to Worley’s grandmother’s house in Virginia. For the next few weeks, the three drove the van around Virginia and Tennessee, staying with Worley’s grandmother or at motels. After Comacho was nearly apprehended for shoplifting, they switched license plates with another, similar vehicle. Twenty days after they had taken the van from Comacho’s parents, the police located the van in Virginia when all three teenagers were inside. A low-speed chase ensued, with Pierce driving the van. The chase continued into Tennessee, and eventually an officer, Deputy Mullins, positioned his police car across a road to try to set up a roadblock. Mullins got out of his car and leaned across the hood, pointing his gun at the approaching van. The van hit the hood of the police car, and the impact threw Mullins into the air. Mullins landed hard on the road, suffered severe head injuries, and died almost immediately. The van veered off the road and rolled over, and Pierce, Comacho, and Worley were arrested. Pierce was charged with first-degree murder in the perpetration of a theft. Pierce was convicted and appealed. The court of criminal appeals affirmed the conviction, and Pierce again appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Drowota, J.)

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