APPEAL FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF TULSA COUNTY THE HONORABLE
WILLIAM J. MUSSEMAN, DISTRICT JUDGE
APPEARANCES AT TRIAL MARNY HILL SOPHIA JOHNSON ASSISTANT
PUBLIC DEFENDERS COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT.
BENJAMIN FU KENNETH ELMORE ASSISTANT DISTRICT
ATTORNEYSCOUNSEL FOR STATE.
APPEARANCES ON APPEAL STUART W. SOUTHERLAND TULSA COUNTY
PUBLIC DEFENDER'S OFFICE COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT.
HUNTER OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL JAY SCHNIEDERJAN ASSISTANT
ATTORNEY GENERAL COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE.
Appellant Renese Bramlett was convicted by jury in the
District Court of Tulsa County, Case No. CF-2015-4266, of
First Degree Murder, in violation of 21 O.S.2011, §
701.7. The jury assessed punishment at life imprisonment
without the possibility of parole. The Honorable William J.
Musseman, District Judge, presided at trial and sentenced
Bramlett accordingly. Bramlett appeals his Judgment and
Sentence, raising the following issues:
(1) whether his statement should have been suppressed as
fruit of the poisonous tree because his arrest violated
Oklahoma law and was therefore illegal;
(2) whether the admission of his video recorded interview was
error which violated his rights under the Fourteenth
(3) whether he was denied his right to due process and a fair
trial by the admission of evidence of prior bad acts;
(4) whether inadmissible hearsay was admitted in violation of
his rights under the Confrontation Clause;
(5) whether a discovery violation deprived him of his right
to a fair trial;
(6) whether the trial court erred in ruling that Corporal
Shilling's testimony was lay testimony rather than expert
(7) whether prosecutorial misconduct deprived him of a fair
trial requiring modification of his sentence.
We affirm the judgment but vacate the sentence of the
district court and remand the case for resentencing.
On the night of March 19, 2015, Michelle Spence took her
fourteen and eleven year-old sons to their grandparents'
house to spend the night. Between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. the
following day, their grandfather took the boys home to
Spence's house and dropped them off. Their mother
wasn't home and when Spence had not come home by 10:00
p.m., the boys walked down the street to see if she was at
Renese Bramlett's apartment.  When the two boys arrived
at Bramlett's apartment complex, they saw their
mother's vehicle, a blue Mercedes-Benz SUV, parked in the
parking lot of the apartment complex across the street. They
tried to call Bramlett but he did not answer. The boys walked
around the apartments and when they did not find their
mother, they went to her vehicle to charge their phone.
Inside the SUV they found their mother dead in the backseat.
She was naked and wrapped in a blanket. The boys went to an
apartment for help and the occupants called the police.
Michelle Spence's death was subsequently ruled a homicide
caused by asphyxia due to strangulation.
The case against Bramlett was pieced together from
information the police gathered from Spence's neighbors,
video surveillance footage from a security guard at the
apartment complex where Spence's SUV was found, video
footage from a QuickTrip located between Spence's house
and Bramlett's apartment, and cell phone records from
Spence's phone and from Bramlett's phone. Cell phone
records indicated that Spence called Bramlett from her home
at 10:48 p.m. on March 19, 2015. At around 11:11 p.m. video
surveillance from a QuickTrip located between Spence's
house and Bramlett's apartment showed a Cadillac similar
to Bramlett's traveling on 129th East Avenue in the
direction of Spence's house. Cell phone records showed
that Bramlett's phone was taken to Spence's house
around this time and remained there until after 2:00 a.m.
when it was taken back to his apartment. Spence's phone
remained at her house until 2:10 a.m. when it, too, was taken
to Bramlett's apartment. Video Surveillance from the
Quicktrip showed a vehicle that looked like Spence's SUV
traveling on 129th East Avenue toward Bramlett's
apartment around this same time at 2:14.
A security guard patrolling several apartment complexes in
his vehicle noticed Spence's SUV in the Stonecrest
apartment complex across the street from Bramlett's
apartments during his patrol at 3:57. The SUV had not been
there when he drove by earlier at 11:07.
At approximately 6:45 a.m. on March 20, 2015, when
Spence's neighbor left his house to go to work, there was
a dark Cadillac blocking his driveway. Another neighbor also
noticed the Cadillac between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m. She had seen
it at Spence's residence before. Video surveillance from
the QuickTrip showed an African-American man with a body type
similar to Bramlett's walking in the direction of
Spence's house at about 7:30 a.m. Approximately 28
minutes later the QuickTrip video surveillance showed a green
Cadillac traveling in the direction of Bramlett's
Cell phone records showed that a call was made from
Bramlett's phone to the bus station and that Spence's
phone was at the bus station at 1:47 p.m. on March 20, 2015.
That was the location of the last activity on Spence's
phone. Bramlett's Cadillac was discovered later parked
near the bus station.
Bramlett was subsequently located in Chicago, Illinois. He
was arrested on a material witness warrant and taken into
custody in Chicago where he was interviewed by Tulsa
detectives on July 22, 2015. During this interview, Bramlett
denied seeing Spence on the night she was killed; he claimed
to have last seen her several days earlier. When advised that
the detectives had evidence to the contrary, Bramlett
terminated the interview. He was arrested, charged with first
degree murder, and returned to Oklahoma to stand trial.
Bramlett testified at his trial. He acknowledged that he and
Spence had been friends since 2012 and although they had been
boyfriend/girlfriend in the past, they were not romantically
involved at the time of her death. They remained friends
because they used drugs together multiple times a week; their
drug of choice was PCP. Bramlett testified that on Thursday,
March 19, 2015, Spence contacted him right before he got off
work around 10:30. He went home, got some PCP, and went over
to her house. They smoked the PCP and when they had used all
that he brought over, she wanted more. They got in her car
and she drove him to his apartment where she left him to go
meet her dealer to get more PCP. Bramlett testified that he
made her leave her phone with him so that she would be sure
to come back to get him. He wanted her to take him back to
her house to get his car so that he would not have to walk
there to get it. Bramlett testified that he eventually went
to sleep until morning. When he awoke and Spence had not come
back or called he started walking to her house to get his
car. Bramlett testified that went he returned to his
apartment complex in his car he noticed Spence's SUV
parked in that parking lot of the complex across the street.
He thought she had a drug deal there and started panicking
because he was worried that something went wrong. Bramlett
testified that he started operating out of fear because he
knew that he was one of the last people to see her. He called
the bus station, bought a ticket to Chicago, and left that
day. He testified that Spence's phone died so he threw it
into the trash at the bus station. Bramlett acknowledged that
the QuickTrip video introduced by the State of the car
driving by and person walking could have been his car and
him. He denied that he killed Spence.
Legality of Arrest and Admissibly of Statement
Bramlett argues that his statement to the police should not
have been admitted at trial because it was made during an
illegal arrest and detention and was therefore fruit of the
poisonous tree. Bramlett raised the issue below and appeals
the trial court's ruling overruling his objection to the
admission of his statement. This Court reviews a trial
court's ruling on a motion to suppress for an abuse of
discretion. State v. Pope, 2009 OK CR 9, ¶ 4,
204 P.3d 1285, 1287. See also Gomez v. State, 2007
OK CR 33, ¶ 5, 168 P.3d 1139, 1141. In reviewing a trial
court's decision, we defer to the trial court's
findings of fact ...