Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/29/2016
Format: 07/29/2016
State of Tennessee v. Brian Lee Webb
W2015-01809-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

The Defendant, Brian Lee Webb, was convicted by a Benton County jury of rape of a child (Count 1) and aggravated sexual battery (Count 2). He was sentenced to a concurrent term of forty years' confinement for the child rape conviction and twelve years' confinement for the aggravated sexual battery conviction, for an effective sentence of forty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC). On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions and that the trial court erred in not considering certain mitigating evidence in sentencing. Because neither the record nor the judgment reflects service of the aggravated sexual battery conviction at 100% as mandated by statute, we are compelled to remand Count 2 for entry of corrected judgment. In all other respects, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Benton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/16
Deandre Blake v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01423-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Brandon O. Gibson
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

The petitioner, Deandre Blake, appeals the post-conviction court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his convictions for two counts of felony first degree murder and resulting life sentence. On appeal, the petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/16
State of Tennessee v. James Lackey
M2015-01508-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas. Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Alan Patterson

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, James Lackey, was convicted of one count of second degree murder, seeTennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-210, for which he received a sentence of twenty-two years to be served at one-hundred percent.  On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, arguing that the proof supported a finding that he acted in self-defense, and (2) that the twenty-two year sentence imposed was excessive.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/16
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Braden
M2015-00991-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The appellee, Thomas Braden, was indicted for possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, and possession of Alprazolam, all misdemeanors.  He filed a motion to suppress the evidence, arguing that the affidavit in support of the search warrant for the home in which the drugs were found was defective because it failed to establish ongoing criminal activity at the residence.  The Maury County Circuit Court granted the motion, and the State now appeals.  Upon review of the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/16
State of Tennessee v. John Edward Dawson
E2016-00123-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, John Edward Dawson, was convicted of aggravated burglary, burglary, vandalism of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, and possession of burglary tools. The trial court sentenced the Defendant, as a Range II multiple offender, to ten years for aggravated burglary; eight years for burglary; eight years for vandalism of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000; and eight years for theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000. The trial court also sentenced the Defendant to eleven months and twenty-nine days for possession of burglary tools. All the sentences were ordered to run concurrently for an effective ten years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions and contends that his sentence is excessive. Discerning no error, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

McMinn County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/16
State of Tennessee v. David Cloar
E2015-01069-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas Wright

Following a jury trial in 1992, the Defendant, David Cloar, was found not guilty by reason of insanity on two counts of first degree murder. The Defendant was then involuntarily committed to the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 33-7-303(c). The Defendant now appeals from the trial court’s order denying his discharge, following a ninety-day furlough to a residential group home, from involuntary commitment. The Defendant contends that it was not established by clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence that he was ineligible for discharge under the applicable statute. Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand this case for the entry of an order discharging the Defendant pursuant to the discharge plan submitted by the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/16
Jose Segura v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00929-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

Petitioner, Josue Segura, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the trial court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of counsel. Following a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/26/16
State of Tennessee v. Bradley Darrin Williams
M2015-00946-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

A Williamson County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Bradley Darrin Williams, for one count of driving under the influence (“DUI”) and one count of DUI per se. The Defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress the evidence obtained as a result of his traffic stop. The trial court denied the Defendant’s motion, and the Defendant pleaded guilty to the two counts of DUI. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced the Defendant to eleven months and twenty-nine days, to be served on probation after the service of seven days in confinement. The Defendant reserved a certified question of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) as to whether the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress because the officer did not have reasonable suspicion justifying the stop.  After review, we conclude that the traffic stop was lawful and thus, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/26/16
Brian O'Neal Elliott v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02000-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

In 2012, the Petitioner, Brian O’Neal Elliott, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to twenty-five years of incarceration to be served at 100%.  In 2013, the Petitioner filed a pro sepetition for post-conviction relief.  The post-conviction court appointed counsel, who filed an amended petition for post-conviction relief alleging that the Petitioner had received the ineffective assistance of counsel.  The post-conviction court held a hearing on the petition and denied relief.  We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/26/16
State of Tennessee v. Monica Dawn Hammers
E2015-00464-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

A Hamilton County jury found the Defendant, Monica Dawn Hammers, guilty of attempted aggravated child abuse. Pursuant to an agreement between the parties, the trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I offender to serve a nine year sentence through supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the evidence presented at trial is insufficient to support her conviction; (2) the trial court erred in allowing the State to present evidence of the Defendant's prior bad acts; and (3) the trial court failed to instruct the jury on lesser-included offenses. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/26/16
Raygan L. Presley v. Grady Perry, Warden
W2016-00182-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

In 2008, a Warren County jury convicted the Petitioner, Raygan L. Presley, of three counts of aggravated sexual battery, and the trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of twenty-two years, to be served at 100%. Upon review, this Court ordered that all the sentences run concurrently, for a total effective sentence of eleven years, to be served at 100%. See State v. Raygan L. Presley, No. M2007-02487-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 3843849, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Aug. 18, 2008), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. In December 2015, the Petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus relief alleging that his sentence had expired. He asserted that, in addition to the pretrial jail credits, he had earned 140 days of behavior credits and 492 days of program credits, meaning that his sentence expired on November 1, 2015. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that the face of the judgments did not show that his sentence had expired and that he must pursue relief pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the trial court erred when it dismissed his petition. After review, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s judgment.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
Danny Ray Lacy v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02345-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

In 1996, a Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Danny Ray Lacy, of first degree felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, and the trial court sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the Petitioner's conviction and sentence. State v. Lacy, 983 S.W.2d 686 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1997). The Petitioner filed an unsuccessful petition for habeas corpus relief. Danny Ray Lacy v. Cherry Lindamon, Warden, No. M2009-00072-CCA-R3-CO, 2009 WL 3029619, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Sept. 22, 2009), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. The Petitioner then filed this petition for writ of error coram nobis, alleging that the Jackson Police Department possessed exculpatory evidence. The coram nobis court dismissed the petition, and, after review, we affirm that judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Ardell Allen
E2015-00825-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

Based on a tip from a confidential informant, police stopped the Defendant and ultimately discovered cocaine in his pocket. He was charged with possession of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a daycare, a Class B felony. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence, which the trial court granted. The State appeals, arguing that the confidential informant's credibility and basis of knowledge were sufficiently established, giving officers reasonable suspicion to seize the Defendant. Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
Edward Bruce Coleman v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01747-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

The petitioner, Edward Bruce Coleman, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2010 Davidson County Criminal Court jury conviction of aggravated assault, for which he received a sentence of 12 years. In this appeal, the petitioner contends that the order denying post-conviction relief was inadequate and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Wells
E2015-00561-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

A Sullivan County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Kevin Wells, of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; two counts of possession of a Schedule III controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, a Class D felony; and driving on a revoked license, a Class B misdemeanor, and he received an effective thirteen-year sentence as a Range III, persistent offender. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence, by allowing the State to introduce text messages from a codefendant's cellular telephone into evidence, and by admitting his statement into evidence. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Freddie Ali Bell
M2015-01999-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

In conjunction with the entry of a nolo contendere plea to driving under the influence (“DUI”), Defendant, Freddie Ali Bell, reserved a certified question for appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A) in which he asked this Court to determine whether the record supports the finding of probable cause or reasonable suspicion to legally permit a seizure of Defendant and his vehicle.  After a review, we determine that the evidence supports a finding of probable cause for the stop.  Consequently, the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress is affirmed.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
David Reed v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01441-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The petitioner seeks habeas corpus relief, alleging that he is imprisoned despite the fact that his sentence has expired. The crux of the petitioner's argument is that his two-and-one-half-year sentence for burglary was to be served prior to his two-year sentence for vandalism and that the burglary sentence therefore expired prior to the time he violated his probation. He also disputes the award of sentencing credits. Because the face of the record shows that the petitioner's sentence for burglary was to be served after his sentence for vandalism and that the probationary period had not expired at the time of revocation, we conclude that the habeas corpus court properly dismissed the petition, and we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Demetrius J. Pirtle and Cordarius R. Maxwell
W2014-02222-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The defendants, Demetrius J. Pirtle and Cordarius R. Maxwell, were each convicted by a jury of one count of robbery, a Class C felony; one count of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; six counts of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony; six counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony; one count of vandalism of property worth $1,000 or more, a Class D felony; and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. After merging the aggravated assault convictions into the attempted second degree murder convictions, the trial court sentenced both defendants to an effective thirty-year sentence. On appeal, Mr. Pirtle challenges only the sufficiency of the evidence, asserting that his identity was insufficiently proven on all counts save the vandalism conviction and that the elements of robbery were not established. Mr. Maxwell raises the same issues as Mr. Pirtle, and he also challenges the conviction on the weapons offense as inconsistent with the other parts of the jury's verdict and contests the imposition of consecutive sentences. The appeals were consolidated. Following our review, we affirm the defendants' sentences and convictions.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
Arthur Ray Turner v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01572-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

The petitioner, Arthur Ray Turner, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2012 Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated rape, and attempted aggravated rape, for which he received a sentence of 70 years.  In this appeal, the petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Mack C. Stone
M2016-00273-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The defendant, Mack C. Stone, appeals the summary dismissal of his motion, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence imposed for his 1992 Davidson County Criminal Court guilty-pleaded convictions of the sale of cocaine.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. John A. Bailey
W2015-02330-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

On October 26, 2007, the defendant, John A. Bailey, pled guilty to aggravated robbery and evading arrest and received an eight-year sentence for aggravated robbery, two-year sentence for evading arrest, and almost five years of pretrial jail credit. The trial court then imposed alternative sentences of unsupervised state probation for both convictions. The sentences were to be served concurrent with one another and a prior federal sentence, for which the defendant was already incarcerated. The defendant’s state sentences expired on December 21, 2010, yet he filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence on July 6, 2015, asserting in part that he illegally received probation for the aggravated robbery conviction. The trial court summarily denied the motion without a hearing and without appointing counsel for the defendant. The defendant now appeals, maintaining that his sentence was illegal. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s untimely motion to correct his sentence.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Aaron Reinsburg
W2014-02436-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Defendant, Aaron Reinsberg, was convicted by a Shelby County Jury of two counts of rape (Counts 1 and 2), one count of assault (Count 3), and two counts of official misconduct (Counts 4 and 5). At the sentencing hearing, the trial court merged Counts 2 and 3 into Count 1, and Count 5 was merged into Count 4. The trial court imposed a sentence of eleven years for rape in Count 1 and one year for official misconduct in Count 4 to be served concurrently for an effective sentence of eleven years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was not sufficient to support his rape convictions and that the trial court erred in sentencing him to eleven years. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin E. Trent
E2015-00753-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John McAfee

The defendant, Kevin E. Trent, appeals the trial court's denial of his request for alternative sentencing. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the defendant pled guilty to vehicular homicide by intoxication, a Class B felony. The agreement specified an eight-year sentence with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the court ordered that the sentence be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that the decision was error because the trial court incorrectly concluded that confinement was necessary to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offense. Following review of the record and the evidence before us, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in requiring full confinement and reverse the sentence consistent with this opinion.

Claiborne County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16
State of Tennessee v. Jason Gonzalez
E2015-01107-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

In this appeal as of right by the State, the State challenges the ruling of the trial court dismissing the case. Because no document in the record qualifies as a valid arrest warrant and no other event occurred to timely commence the prosecution in this case, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16
James Thomas v. Randy Lee, Warden
E2015-02427-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The Petitioner, James Thomas, filed a petition in the Johnson County Criminal Court seeking habeas corpus relief from his aggravated assault conviction, alleging that his conviction was void because the affidavit of complaint attached to his arrest warrant was not signed. The habeas corpus court denied relief without a hearing, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16