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State v. Rimmer

Supreme Court of Tennessee
250 S.W.3d 12 (2008)


Facts

Michael Rimmer (defendant) and Ricci Ellsworth had an on-again, off-again romantic relationship over many years. Rimmer was subsequently incarcerated for the aggravated assault and rape of Ellsworth. During his imprisonment, Rimmer told two inmates that he planned to kill Ellworth upon his release. At the time of Rimmer’s release from prison, Ellsworth worked as a night manager at a hotel. Late one evening when nobody answered the hotel telephone, an individual went into the hotel office and discovered blood splatters on the sink, wall, toilet, and towels. The responding police officers observed signs of a struggle, puddles of blood, and signs that a victim may have been dragged from inside the office to the outside curb. Ellsworth was never found. Several days later, an Indiana police officer pulled over Rimmer’s vehicle. Bloodstains on the carpet and rear seat belt matched Ellsworth’s blood type. The State of Tennessee (plaintiff) charged Rimmer with first-degree murder. At the close of the evidence, the trial court instructed the jury that reasonable doubt is doubt resulting after viewing all of the evidence in the case. The trial court also instructed the jury that reasonable doubt “does not mean a doubt that may arise from possibility” and that reasonable doubt does not require absolute certainty. The jury convicted Rimmer, and he appealed, arguing the trial court erred in its instruction on reasonable doubt.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wade, J.)

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