Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/06/2020
Format: 07/06/2020
State of Tennessee v. Bryan James Cooke
M2019-01164-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The Defendant, Bryan James Cooke, challenges his effective sentence of two consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole resulting from his convictions of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, and a theft offense. Both the Defendant’s motion for a new trial and his notice of appeal were filed over one year after the entry of the judgment forms, and the Defendant has given no explanation of the untimely filings. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/02/20
State of Tennessee v. Todd Alan Schmeling
M2019-00474-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The pro se Defendant, Todd Alan Schmeling, was convicted by a Warren County Circuit Court jury of facilitation of possession of .5 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to deliver, a Class C felony; facilitation of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class E felony; simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced to an effective term of eight years as a Range II offender in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that: (1) his due process rights were violated by his lack of access to updated law books in preparation for trial and appeal; (2) he was improperly prosecuted on the possession of a firearm charge; (3) Lieutenant Mara committed “official misconduct” and “official oppression” by a statement he made during the traffic stop; (4) the trial court erred in denying his motion for production of Lieutenant Mara’s statements; (5) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for facilitation of possession of .5 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to deliver; (6) his rights to due process and exculpatory evidence were violated vis-à-vis the testing of the drugs by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (“TBI”); (7) the State made an improper closing argument; (8) the trial court committed plain error in its jury instruction on possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; (9) the notices of enhanced punishment filed by the State were deficient; and (10) the trial court erred in sentencing him. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/20
State of Tennessee v. John C. Elrod
M2019-01399-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The Defendant, John C. Elrod, appeals the trial court’s order imposing confinement after finding a violation of his probation. In two separate cases, the Defendant pleaded guilty to multiple offenses, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of seven years of probation. In May 2019, the trial court issued a probation violation warrant based upon allegations that the Defendant had violated the terms of his probation by testing positive for amphetamines and methamphetamines on November 27, 2018 and January 24, 2019. After a hearing, the trial court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court abused its discretion when it revoked his probation and when it ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/06/20
State of Tennessee v. Samantha Grissom Scott - dissenting
M2018-01852-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

I dissent from the dismissal of this appeal. The majority contends that the certified question is not dispositive of the case because “even if the Defendant’s consent to search the home was constitutionally invalid and exigent circumstances did not exist, the evidence would have been inevitably discovered.” The majority rests its decision on the theory that the deputies could have obtained and executed a search warrant to search the Defendant’s home for the third-party arrestee, Dishman, which would have eventually revealed the drug-related evidence. I believe that the majority misapprehends the inevitable discovery doctrine in rejecting the certified question in this case. See United States v. Quinney, 583 F.3d 891, 894-95 (6th Cir. 2009) (reversing denial of motion to suppress evidence seized from defendant’s residence without a warrant based on misapplication of inevitable discovery doctrine after recognizing that finding the evidence admissible simply because the agents could have obtained a warrant would have totally obviated the warrant requirement); State v. Cothran, 115 S.W.3d 513, 525 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2003) (“Proof of inevitable discovery ‘involves no speculative elements but focuses on demonstrated historical facts capable of ready verification or impeachment.’”) (quoting Nix v. Williams, 467 U.S. 421, 444 n.5 (1984)). Applying the inevitable discovery doctrine, as the majority has done here, would render virtually every Fourth Amendment determination certified pursuant to Rule 37 meaningless. Regardless, based on this record, the inevitable discovery doctrine does not defeat the dispositive nature of the certified question in this case.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/20
State of Tennessee v. Samantha Grissom Scott
M2018-01852-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The Defendant, Samantha Grissom Scott, pleaded guilty in the Circuit Court for Warren County to possession with the intent to deliver more than twenty-six grams of methamphetamine and to possession of drug paraphernalia. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-434 (2018) (possession with the intent to deliver methamphetamine), 39-17-425 (2018) (possession of drug paraphernalia). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective eight years and ordered her to serve 180 days’ confinement with the remainder on probation. On appeal, the Defendant presents a certified question of law regarding the legality of the warrantless entry into her home. We dismiss the appeal because the certified question is not dispositive of the case.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/20
State of Tennessee v. Robbie Joe Kilgore
M2019-00281-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The defendant, Robbie Joe Kilgore, appeals the order of the trial court revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his original three-year sentence in confinement. Upon review of the record, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding the defendant violated the terms of his probation, and the imposed sentence is proper. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/20/19
Chad Ray Thompson v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01074-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The Petitioner, Chad Ray Thompson, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his jury convictions for first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that he received ineffective assistance at trial due to trial counsel’s (1) failure to seek funding for an investigator and adequately prepare for trial; (2) failure to call certain witnesses; and (3) failure to file any pretrial motions or object at trial to exclude evidence. He also submits that the cumulative effect of these errors deprived him of a fair trial. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/25/19
State of Tennessee v. Donald Lee Shields, Jr.
M2019-00344-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

After a trial, a Warren County jury found Defendant, Donald Lee Shields, Jr., guilty of three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of false imprisonment, and one count of attempted aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a Range I standard offender to an effective sentence of eighteen years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for especially aggravated kidnapping. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/15/19
Deanna Whitman v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01701-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The defendant, Deanna Whitman, appeals the denial of her motion, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36, to correct a clerical error in her judgments. Specifically, the defendant asserts that the judgments fail to adequately reflect the number of pretrial jail credits awarded by the trial court. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/08/19
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Wayne Johnson
M2017-01672-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

Defendant, Timothy Wayne Johnson, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his motion filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, in which Defendant alleged that his split confinement sentence was illegal because the judgment form designated his confinement in the Tennessee Department of Correction, rather than the local jail or workhouse. Having reviewed the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/19
City of McMinnville v. Steven Erich Hubbard
M2018-00223-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

Defendant, Steven Erich Hubbard, appeals from his conviction for failure to obey a stop sign in violation of a municipal ordinance. Because such appeals are considered civil in nature, we are without subject matter jurisdiction to hear this appeal. Therefore, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 17, we transfer the case to the Tennessee Court of Appeals for further adjudication.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Donald Lyndon Madewell
M2018-00183-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The Defendant, Donald Lyndon Madewell, was convicted by a jury of promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine. On appeal, he challenges the denial of his motion to suppress, asserting that he lacked common authority over the hotel room and could not provide valid consent to search. He also alleges that evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. After our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Stephen Berline Orrick
M2017-01856-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

This interlocutory appeal concerns the Warren County Circuit Court’s order granting the Defendant’s motion to disqualify the Office of the District Attorney General for the Thirty-First Judicial District based upon an imputed conflict of interests of an assistant district attorney general. On appeal, the State contends that the trial court abused its discretion by granting the motion. We reverse the order of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Bobby Ray Graves, Jr.
M2017-00088-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

A Warren County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Bobby Ray Graves, Jr., of failure to appear, a Class E felony, and the trial court sentenced him to six years in confinement. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction because the State failed to prove that he “went into hiding to avoid prosecution” and that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/23/18
Ronald Henry Aho v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00163-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

In 2012, the Warren County Grand Jury indicted Petitioner, Ronald Henry Aho, in case number F-13913 for aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000 but less than $10,000. Petitioner was also indicted in case number F-13974 for two counts each of aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000 but less than $10,000. In January 2014, Petitioner entered best interest guilty pleas in case numbers F-13913 and F-13974 to a total of two counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of theft over $1,000 but less than $10,000 in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining charges and the dismissal of charges contained in three additional indictments. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Petitioner was sentenced to serve a total effective sentence of twenty-three years, with the first fifteen years to be served at sixty percent release eligibility and the last eight years to be served at forty-five percent release eligibility. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his pleas were unknowingly and involuntarily entered. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Ramiro R. Ibarra
M2017-00668-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The Defendant, Ramiro R. Ibarra, pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide and three counts of vehicular assault. The trial court sentenced him to twelve years and ordered that he serve 364 days in confinement and the remainder of his sentence on Community Corrections. The Defendant’s probation officer alleged that the Defendant violated his probation and, at a hearing, the Defendant admitted that he violated the conditions of his probation. The trial court revoked his probation and ordered that he serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it ordered that he serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/18
State of Tennessee v. John David Smartt
M2016-01407-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

Defendant, John David Smartt, was indicted for five counts of rape of a child, (Counts 1, 2, 3, 6, and 9); one count of rape (Count 12); three counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a child, (Counts 4, 7, and 10); and three counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a child (Counts 5, 8, and 11). Following a second jury trial, after the first trial ended in a mistrial, Defendant was convicted as charged on all twelve counts. The trial court imposed and effective sentence of 153 years' incarceration. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that: 1) the trial court erred by allowing testimony regarding a recorded phone call by the victim to Defendant; 2) the trial court erred by allowing into evidence Defendant's wife's journal; 3) the evidence was insufficient to support Defendant's convictions; 4) this court should overturn prior case law, so that the testimony of a victim regarding the content of sexually explicit material must be corroborated; and 5) his sentence is excessive. Having reviewed the entire record and the arguments of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/17
State of Tennessee v. James William Mabe
M2016-02096-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley
The Defendant, James William Mabe, was found guilty by a Warren County Circuit Court jury of three counts of attempted rape of a child, a Class B felony, and three counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-522 (2014) (child rape); 39-12-101 (2014) (attempt); 39-13-504 (2014) (aggravated sexual battery). The trial court merged the attempted child rape convictions with the aggravated sexual battery convictions and imposed eleven-year sentences for each conviction. The court ordered partial consecutive sentences, for an effective twenty-two-year sentence at 100% service. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the trial court erred by failing to require the State to make an election of the offenses, (3) the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser included offenses of child rape; and (4) his sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/17
Joseph Anthony Saitta, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00081-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The petitioner, Joseph Anthony Saitta, Jr., appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his Warren County Circuit Court conviction for rape of a child. The petitioner alleges he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that the cumulative effect of trial counsel’s errors resulted in the denial of a fair trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/08/17
State of Tennessee v. Eric Dwayne Wilson
M2016-00822-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

Defendant, Eric Dwayne Wilson, in a jury trial, was convicted of third offense driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), and of violating the implied consent law following a bench trial. Defendant pleaded nolo contendere to failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to have each required lamp and stoplight in operating condition. Defendant received a sentence of eleven months, twenty-nine days, with three hundred days of confinement in the county jail and the remainder of the sentence on supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, and his license was revoked for six years. Concerning the implied consent violation, the judgment form indicates that Defendant’s driver’s license was revoked for one year “consecutive to any revocation or suspension currently in effect.” Defendant was also sentenced to thirty days each for failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to have each required lamp and stoplight in operating condition to be served concurrently with the DUI charge. On appeal, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for DUI and that there was no proof relating to the implied consent form and the search warrant. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/25/17
State of Tennessee v. Vanessa Rennee Pinegar
M2015-02403-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The defendant, Vanessa Rennee Pinegar, appealed her convictions of one count of facilitation of delivery of 0.5 or more grams of cocaine within a drug-free school zone and two counts of attempted delivery of 0.5 or more grams of cocaine within a drug-free school zone, challenging the denial of her motion to sever the trial of the defendants, certain evidentiary rulings, the jury instructions, the sufficiency of the evidence, and her effective nine-year sentence.  This Court affirmed the convictions and sentence.  The defendant filed an application for permission to appeal to our Supreme Court.  The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the application and remanded the case to this Court for reconsideration of sentencing in light of State  v. Gibson, 506 S.W.3d 450 (Tenn. 2016).  Upon reconsideration, we vacate the defendant’s enhanced sentences under the Drug-Free School Zone Act and remand the matter to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.  In all other respects, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
State of Tennessee v. James E. Ferrell
M2016-01157-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The Defendant, James E. Ferrell, was issued a citation for operating a vehicle while unrestrained by a safety belt, a Class C misdemeanor.  He was found guilty and assessed a fine for the violation in General Sessions Court, and he appealed to the Circuit Court, which imposed a judgment of conviction and a fine.  The Defendant alleges in this appeal that the Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction over the offense because there was no warrant issued in the case.  We conclude that the Circuit Court had jurisdiction based upon the issued citation and affirm the conviction.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Chad Ray Thompson
M2015-01534-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley

Chad Ray Thompson (“the Defendant”) was indicted by the Warren County Grand Jury for one count of first degree premeditated murder, one count of first degree felony murder, and one count of especially aggravated robbery in connection with the death of his cousin, Tracy Allen Martin (“the victim”).  Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that there was insufficient evidence to show premeditation for his first degree premeditated murder conviction and that there was insufficient evidence to prove the underlying felony of especially aggravated robbery for his first degree felony murder conviction.  Upon review, we conclude that the Defendant is not entitled to relief.  Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/01/16
State of Tennessee v. Vanessa Renee Pinegar
M2015-02403-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The defendant, Vanessa Renee Pinegar, was convicted of one count of facilitation of delivering 0.5 or more grams of cocaine within a school zone and two counts of attempted delivery of 0.5 or more grams of cocaine within a school zone.  The trial court merged her attempted delivery convictions and imposed an effective sentence of nine years and a fine of $2000.  The defendant appeals her convictions, challenging the denial of her motion to sever the trial of the defendants, certain evidentiary rulings, the jury instructions, the sufficiency of the evidence, and her sentence.  Upon review, we affirm the convictions and sentences.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/28/16
State of Tennessee v. Hollis Fisk, Jr.
M2015-01552-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

This is Defendant’s, Hollis Fisk, Jr., direct appeal of his robbery conviction and accompanying eight-year sentence in confinement.  He argues that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction and that the trial court abused its discretion in determining the length of his sentence and by denying an alternative sentence.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/02/16