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Inconsistent/Mutually Exclusive Verdicts

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Case: State of Tennessee v. Marlo Davis

Issue: What happens when a defendant is convicted of an intentional and a reckless offense for the same act?

Facts: Defendant was convicted of reckless homicide on a premeditated murder count, and second degree murder on a felony murder count, all for the same act. The trial court merged the reckless homicide into the second degree murder charge. Defendant argued that the merger should have been the other way around because of mutually exclusive verdicts.

Appellate Decision: The intermediate court held that the lesser charge was properly merged into the greater charge. The court recognized the sparse Tennessee case law on inconsistent/mutually exclusive verdicts, but concluded that the current state of the law permits merger into the greater offense so long as there is sufficient evidence of both charges.

Review Granted: November 13, 2013.

Prediction: Given the sparse law on the subject, Ben believes the supreme court accepted the case to clarify the law but will affirm on the same basis as the intermediate court.