State of Tennessee v. Rickey Alvis Bell, Jr. - Concurring In Part and Dissenting In Part

State of Tennessee v. Rickey Alvis Bell, Jr. - Concurring In Part and Dissenting In Part
W2012-02017-SC-DDT-DD


I concur with the majority’s holdings as to the trial court’s denial of Mr. Bell’s motion to strike the death notice based on intellectual disability; the constitutionality of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-203 that prohibits the execution of any intellectually disabled person; and the trial court’s denial of Mr. Bell’s motions for mistrial. I agree with the majority’s conclusion that the trial court erred by refusing to allow Mr. Bell to introduce evidence that Rick Harris, the victim’s husband, was having an affair with his ex-wife at the time the victim was murdered. However, I disagree that the error was harmless. In my view, the State failed to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that this error did not affect the outcome of the trial. Because Mr. Bell was deprived of his constitutional right to present a defense and the State failed to show that the error did not affect the verdict, Mr. Bell is entitled to a new trial. For these reasons, I respectfully dissent from the majority’s holding that Mr. Bell is not entitled to a new trial and would pretermit the remaining issues.

Authoring Judge: 
Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee
Originating Judge: 
Judge Joe H. Walker, III
Date Filed: 
Thursday, September 10, 2015