Supreme Court affirms convictions upon finding no prosecutorial misconduct

March 27, 2013

In a unanimous opinion, the Tennessee Supreme Court rejected the claim of the defendant that the district attorney in her trial for the kidnapping and murder of her husband’s ex-wife had improperly used a grand jury proceeding as an investigatory tool for pending indictments.

On September 8, 2002, the body of the victim, LeeAnn Mangrum, was found floating in a creek in Dickson County. An autopsy established that, while she had suffered severe blunt force trauma, her cause of death was drowning.

Police found the victim’s trailer in disarray and were told differing accounts by the victim’s ex-husband, Terry Mangrum; their two children, a 15-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter; and Kimberly Mangrum, who now was married to Terry Mangrum, Sr. Terry Mangrum, Sr., had custody of the children. The police also found DNA evidence indicating that Kimberly Mangrum and the son had been at the victim’s trailer around the time the murder took place.  

A Dickson County grand jury initially indicted Kimberly Mangrum, her husband, and the son for several offenses, the most serious of which was first degree murder. The district attorney later granted immunity to the daughter and issued a subpoena for her testimony before the grand jury. Kimberly Mangrumasked the trial court to prevent  the daughter from testifying, arguing that the purpose of the subpoena was to improperly obtain evidence to support the pending charges.

When the trial court denied her request, the daughter told the grand jury that Kimberly Mangrum had brutally assaulted the victim with a baseball bat outside the victim’s trailer and had taken her to a creek, where she forced the son to hold the victim underwater. According to the daughter, Kimberly Mangrum then directed the son and daughter to break into the trailer through a window, destroy several of the victim’s possessions, and take jewelry and othervaluables.

After hearing the testimony of the daughter, the grand jury returned a new indictment, adding a count against Terry Mangrum, Sr. for accessory after the fact. The trial court upheld the procedure used by the district attorney. At the conclusion of her trial, Kimberly Mangrum was found guilty of aggravated burglary, especially aggravated kidnapping, and felony murder. The trial court sentenced her to concurrent terms of imprisonment of life, 25 years, and six years.

Adopting the rule used in other jurisdictions, the Supreme Court held that“prosecutorial abuse of the grand jury process occurs [only] when the dominant purpose of a grand jury proceeding is to investigate a defendant for an offense for which he or she has already been indicted.” Finding that Kimberly Mangrum had failed to show that any such misconduct had taken place during the prosecution, the Court affirmed her convictions.

To read the State of Tennessee v. Kimberly Mangrum Opinion authored by Chief Justice Gary R. Wade, visit the Opinions section of TNCourts.gov.