State v. Renner

912 S.W.2d 701 (1995)

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State v. Renner

Tennessee Supreme Court
912 S.W.2d 701 (1995)

KL

Facts

Robert Renner (defendant) visited the home of an ex-girlfriend, Micki Reynolds, to spend time with her son, with whom he was close. Greg Shuttles was also visiting Reynolds at the time. When Renner arrived, Shuttles was sitting in the living room watching television. Renner and Shuttles argued briefly, and Renner went into the kitchen with Reynolds to ask if they could get back together. Renner then went to Reynolds’s son’s room to spend time with him, returning later to the kitchen to get a beer for himself and popsicle for the child. While in the kitchen, he heard Shuttles load a firearm. Renner feared for his own safety, pulled out his own gun, and decided to leave. He passed through the living room to exit through the front door. As he did, Renner saw Shuttles reach into his back pocket and threaten to kill Renner. Renner shot Shuttles, who died. Police found a loaded gun in Shuttles’s rear pocket. At trial, Renner confirmed in response to questions by the prosecutor that there was a rear door in the kitchen but said it was broken and he could not use it. During closing arguments, the prosecutor told the jury that there was no duty to retreat when a person was being attacked and stated that Renner was not assaulted or under threat of assault by Shuttles, who was sitting on the sofa watching television when he was killed. The trial court instructed the jury that the prosecutor’s statements were not evidence and that a person had no duty to retreat. Renner was convicted of first-degree murder and appealed, claiming that the prosecutor deprived him of a fair trial by suggesting to the jury that he had a duty to retreat. The appellate court upheld the conviction, and Renner appealed again.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Birch, J.)

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