Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/17/2020
Format: 01/17/2020
Timothy Roy Bozza v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01607-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The petitioner, Timothy Roy Bozza, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his conviction of first degree murder, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/20
Jonathan Mitchell Grimes v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01665-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

Petitioner, Jonathan Grimes, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which sought relief from his conviction of aggravated sexual battery. On appeal, Petitioner asserts four claims of ineffective assistance of counsel: (1) trial counsels did not take reasonable steps to keep the State from presenting prejudicial allegations at trial that were not included in the indictment; (2) trial counsels failed to communicate a favorable plea and failed to actively seek out a favorable plea for Petitioner; (3) trial counsels failed to visit or take photos of the crime scene; and (4) trial counsels failed to present evidence of the victim’s medical history regarding her credibility. After reviewing the briefs and the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/20
State of Tennessee v. William Thomas Reed
M2018-01591-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Defendant, William Thomas Reed, was convicted after a jury trial of attempted rape of a child, three counts of rape of a child, and two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means, and he received an effective sentence of thirty-five years. The State’s evidence included DNA analysis, and after conviction, the Defendant requested but was denied post-conviction DNA analysis. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred in denying him a hearing on the admissibility of the DNA analysis technique used by the State’s expert, that the trial court erred in admitting the DNA evidence, and that the trial court erred in denying his motion for post-conviction DNA analysis and appointment of an expert witness. We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting the evidence and that the Defendant did not establish the necessary criteria for post-conviction DNA analysis. Accordingly, the trial court’s judgments are affirmed.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/20
David Allen Binkley v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00389-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Petitioner, David Allen Binkley, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his guilty plea to aggravated robbery and his effective sentence of eight years with a release eligibility date of eighty-five percent. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not knowingly entered. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/20
Montez Deontay Ridley v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01773-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Montez Deontay Ridley, was convicted by Davidson County jury of aggravated robbery and received a sentence of nine years’ imprisonment. State v. Montez Deontay Ridley, No. M2015-01607-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL 359091, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Jan. 24, 2017)(no perm. app filed). He appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel based on the failure to cross-examine the victim concerning his inconsistent description of the gun used in the robbery. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/20
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. Robert D. Cameron, III
M2018-01406-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

Following a bench trial, Robert D. Cameron, III, Defendant, was convicted of driving under the influence (“DUI”) and DUI per se. On appeal, Defendant asserts that the trial court erred in denying his Motion to Suppress the video recording of his traffic stop, the blood test results, and the results of his field sobriety tests. The trial court found reasonable suspicion for the stop and probable cause for the ensuing arrest. Finding no error, we affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Alejandro Avila-Salazar
M2019-01143-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Alejandro Avila-Salazar, Petitioner, appeals the dismissal of what the post-conviction court determined to be his second petition for post-conviction relief (the “2018 Petition”). The State concedes that the post-conviction court “improperly dismissed” the 2018 Petition and asks this court to remand the case to the post-conviction court for a ruling on Petitioner’s claims “based on the evidence received at the hearing already afforded.” We hold that the amended judgment of conviction correcting an illegal sentence in the original judgment by imposing a new, more punitive sentence that includes community supervision for life was a separate judgment for the purposes of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-102, that the 2018 Petition presented an issue that had not been previously litigated, that the 2018 Petition was the first post-conviction challenge to the new judgment, and that the post-conviction court erred in finding the 2018 Petition was a second petition. We reverse and remand for a determination on the merits of the claims raised in the 2018 Petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/15/20
State of Tennessee v. G'Wayne Kennedy Williams aka Kenney Williams
W2018-00924-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

The Defendant, G’wayne Kennedy Williams, a/k/a Kenney Williams, was convicted by a jury of three counts of rape, eight counts of rape of a child, three counts of aggravated statutory rape, three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, three counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, eleven counts of incest, eight counts of aggravated sexual battery, and two counts of violating the sex offender registry. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of sixty-four years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant argues (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for rape and rape of a child; (2) that the trial court erred by admitting evidence of the Defendant’s prior bad acts; (3) that admission of the victim’s complete hospital record was improper given that the records contained hearsay statements and that the record was prepared for purposes of prosecution; (4) that the trial court erred by qualifying a witness as an expert in sexual assault nurse examination; (5) that the trial court erred by not declaring a mistrial after the State attempted to enter a recording of the victim’s forensic interview into evidence without having provided the interview to the defense before trial; (6) that the trial court erred by failing to sever the sex offender registry charges; and (7) that the trial court erred in its application of enhancement and mitigating factors in sentencing. Following a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence is insufficient to support five counts of rape of a child, five counts of aggravated sexual battery, and five counts of incest. In addition, some of the convictions for incest, aggravated statutory rape, statutory rape by an authority figure, and sexual battery by an authority figure were improperly merged. We remand the case for resentencing and the entry of new judgments. In all other respects, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/14/20
State of Tennessee v. John P. Russell
W2019-00346-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

John P. Russell, Defendant, appeals the trial court’s denial of his “Motion to Receive Jail Credits and Time at Liberty.” Because Defendant’s Notice of Appeal was not timely filed and the interest of justice does not warrant waiver, we dismiss the appeal.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Steven Dale Davidson, Jr.
M2018-00182-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Defendant, Steven Dale Davidson, Jr., was convicted by a jury of voluntary manslaughter and vehicular homicide. Thereafter, the trial court merged the counts and imposed an effective ten-year sentence, to run consecutively to a previous sentence for which probation had been revoked due to the convictions in this case. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by excluding the complete police interview of a defense witness and in its consideration during sentencing of enhancement and mitigating factors. Upon review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Aaron Dale Dodson
M2018-01333-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

The Defendant, Aaron Dale Dodson, was convicted by a jury of one count of first degree felony murder; one count of especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony; and one count of aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-202, -304, -403. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his felony murder and especially aggravated robbery convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/20
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Wooten - concurring opinion
E2018-01338-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

I agree with all of Judge McMullen’s well-reasoned opinion except the determination that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the audio recording of the 911 call to be played in its entirety before the jury.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/20
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Wooten
E2018-01338-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Defendant-Appellant, Jeffrey Wooten, was convicted as charged by a Knox County jury of three alternative counts of first degree felony murder; first degree premeditated murder; two counts of especially aggravated burglary; especially aggravated robbery; two counts of aggravated robbery; two counts of attempted especially aggravated kidnapping; two counts of carjacking; two counts of evading arrest; two counts of employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; aggravated burglary; and automobile theft, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment without parole plus forty-eight years to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in admitting portions of a 911 call; that there was insufficient evidence to support the Defendant’s convictions; that the trial court erred in allowing evidence of an alleged offense in Georgia during the penalty phase; and that the trial court erred in imposing partial consecutive sentencing. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand this case for entry of judgment forms for each count of the indictment.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/20
Antonio M. Crockett v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01416-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Antonio M. Crockett, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his jury conviction for first-degree felony murder. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges the following grounds of ineffective assistance of trial counsel: (1) failure to impeach a witness; (2) failure to assert a proper basis for severance pretrial or renew the motion to sever at trial; (3) failure to request a jury instruction; (4) failure to object to the State’s articulating multiple theories during its closing argument; (5) failure to object to the prosecutor’s inflammatory comments during the State’s rebuttal argument; (6) failure to develop and present evidence of the disproportionality of a mandatory life sentence. The Petitioner also argues that his mandatory life sentence is unconstitutional and that he was deprived of a fair trial on the basis of cumulative error. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/20
State of Tennessee v. Shalonda Weems
M2018-02288-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Shalonda Weems, Defendant, was indicted in a two-count indictment for aggravated child neglect and felony murder in connection with the starvation death of her six-month-old child. The jury found Defendant guilty of aggravated child neglect and reckless homicide. Defendant filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(e) Motion for Judgment of Acquittal (“the Motion”) as to both counts. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the Motion in part, set aside the guilty verdict for aggravated child neglect, and entered a judgment of acquittal. The court denied the Motion as to the reckless homicide verdict and entered a judgment of conviction. The State appeals claiming that the trial court erred in granting the Motion. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment of acquittal for aggravated child neglect.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/20
Trumaine Winters v. State of Tennessee
W2018-02090-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn I. Wright

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Trumaine Winters, of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to life in prison for the murder conviction plus twelve years for the robbery conviction. The Petitioner appealed his convictions and sentence to this court, and we affirmed the convictions but remanded for resentencing. State v. Trumaine Winters, No. W2007-00529-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 2901616 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, July 24, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Apr. 13, 2015). The Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for improperly
cross-examining key witnesses and for not objecting to prosecutorial misconduct. The post-conviction court denied the petition after a hearing. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/09/20
Arnold Stevens v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00530-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

Petitioner, Arnold Stevens, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, Petitioner argues that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary due to the ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/08/20
Joshua Iceman v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02202-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The petitioner, Joshua Iceman, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/06/20
State of Tennessee v. Deddrick Clay
W2018-01716-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Defendant, Deddrick Clay, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for especially aggravated robbery and for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of especially aggravated robbery and found not guilty of the firearm possession charge. Following a sentencing hearing, Defendant was sentenced to serve 22 years incarcerated. Defendant’s sole issue on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/06/20
State of Tennessee v. Septian Jamarquis Valentine
W2018-01400-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Defendant, Septian Jamarquis Valentine, was charged with two counts of rape. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-503. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was found not guilty on count one and guilty on count two and sentenced to fourteen years incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant contends that error exists because (1) the trial court did not allow Lisa Garrett to testify about the Defendant’s negative chlamydia test performed one year after the incident; (2) the evidence was insufficient to convict the Defendant; and (3) a juror, who was “not truthful” during voir dire, “bullied” others into convicting the Defendant. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/03/20
Timothy A. Baxter v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00590-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

In 2010, Timothy A. Baxter, Defendant, was charged with aggravated assault and was arraigned on May 9, 2011. Defendant was subsequently charged with failure to appear for his June 13, 2011 court date on the aggravated assault charge. A jury found Defendant guilty of failure to appear, and the trial court sentenced him to six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. This court affirmed Defendant’s judgment of conviction on direct appeal in January 2014. Defendant filed a pro se “Motion to Correct Record and Amend Judgment” on March 21, 2018. The trial court dismissed this motion on April 17, 2018, and Defendant filed a pro se “Motion to Alter or Amend” under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) on April 30, 2018. The trial court denied Defendant’s Motion to Alter or Amend on March 8, 2019, and Defendant timely appeals. Because Defendant has failed to provide an adequate record for review, and because this court does not have jurisdiction, the appeal is dismissed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/03/20
State of Tennessee v. Dustin Todd King
M2019-00241-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Dustin Todd King, Defendant, pled guilty to four counts of aggravated statutory rape and one count of violation of a no-contact order with the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of the sentences after a sentencing hearing. The trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of four years, eleven months and twenty-nine days, ordering partial consecutive sentencing. As a collateral consequence, the Defendant was placed on the sex offender registry. On appeal, Defendant challenges his sentence as excessive. After a review, we determine that the trial court sentenced Defendant to a sentence within the range for each conviction and followed the proper sentencing procedure. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/30/19
Randy Jackson v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01644-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Petitioner, Randy Jackson, was convicted of aggravated robbery and attempt to commit aggravated robbery and received an effective twenty-two-year sentence. He appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, and we accordingly affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/30/19