Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 03/28/2017
Format: 03/28/2017
State of Tennessee v. Andrew Boykin
W2016-01055-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Appellant, Andrew Boykin, pled guilty in the Madison County Circuit Court to possession of one-half gram or more of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of one-half gram or more of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal impersonation, and evading arrest. The trial court merged the convictions for possession of cocaine, and the Appellant received an effective ten-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that his sentence is excessive and that the trial court should have ordered alternative sentencing. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Tyrone Batts
M2015-01662-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Tyrone Batts, of two counts of rape, a Class B felony; one count of attempted rape, a Class C felony; and one count of robbery, a Class C felony.  After a sentencing hearing, the Appellant received an effective thirty-six-year sentence.  On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his robbery conviction, that the trial court erred by allowing a nurse practitioner to testify about statements made by the victim, that the trial court erred by allowing the prosecutor to make improper comments during the State’s closing arguments, that his separate convictions for rape and attempted rape violate due process and double jeopardy, and that the trial court erred by imposing the maximum punishment in the range for each offense and consecutive sentencing.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Mitchell Blake Puckett
M2015-01938-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry Wallace

A Cheatham County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Mitchell Blake Puckett, of attempted first degree premeditated murder, a Class A felony, for which he received a sixteen-year sentence.  On appeal, the Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his conviction.  He concedes that the evidence established he committed attempted second degree murder but maintains that the State failed to adduce proof of premeditation to sustain a conviction of first degree murder.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/17
Ryan James Howard v. State of Tennessee
E2015-02186-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

Petitioner, Ryan James Howard, appeals from the post-conviction court's dismissal of Petitioner's post-conviction petition following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner asserts that he is entitled to relief because he received ineffective assistance of counsel in the proceedings leading to his convictions for one count of second degree murder and one count of voluntary manslaughter. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/24/17
Ronnie Lamont Harshaw v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00900-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Petitioner, Ronnie Lamont Harshaw, pled guilty to two counts of attempted first degree murder, Class A felonies; three counts of aggravated assault, Class B felonies; reckless endangerment by firing into an occupied habitation, a Class C felony; two counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, Class D felonies; and two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, Class C felonies. He received an effective sentence of thirty-six years. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective and that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. On appeal, the Petitioner also argues that the criminal gang enhancement statute, which was applied to increase his aggravated assault convictions from Class C felonies to Class B felonies, is unconstitutional. Upon review, we conclude that pursuant to State v. Bonds, 502 S.W.3d 118 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2016), the criminal gang enhancement statute is unconstitutional; therefore, we must reverse the judgments for the aggravated assault convictions in counts three, four, and five in case number 100379; vacate the criminal gang enhancements in those convictions; and remand for entry of judgments reflecting that each aggravated assault conviction is a Class C felony with a sentence of fifteen years. The Petitioner's total effective sentence remains the same. The judgments of conviction are affirmed in all other respects.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/24/17
Ronald Cauthern v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01905-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash

Ronald Cauthern (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis in the Gibson County Circuit Court, alleging that he was entitled to a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. The coram nobis court summarily denied the petition after concluding that the petition was untimely. The Petitioner now appeals the denial of coram nobis relief. Upon review, we affirm the coram nobis court’s determination that the Petitioner’s claim regarding an unedited videotape is time-barred. However, we reverse the judgment of the coram nobis court as to the Petitioner’s claim regarding lab bench notes and remand for the coram nobis court to determine whether the Petitioner is entitled to due process tolling on this claim.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Larry Prewitt
W2016-01516-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

In September 2009, Larry Prewitt (“the Petitioner”) pled guilty to two counts of aggravated burglary and was sentenced to three years in the workhouse with release eligibility after service of thirty percent of the sentence. On May 18, 2016, the Petitioner filed a “Motion to Challenge the Criminal Court Jurisdiction,” arguing that the judgments were void, his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary, and the indictments were fatally defective, which the trial court denied. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Anthony J. Bookout, Sr.
W2016-01694-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

In April 2016, the Madison County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant, Anthony J. Bookout, Sr., on charges of driving under the influence (DUI), driving while his alcohol concentration was .08% or more (DUI per se), DUI second offense, leaving the scene of an accident, and evading arrest. Following a trial, a jury convicted the Defendant of DUI, DUI per se, DUI second offense, and leaving the scene of an accident involving injuries, for which the Defendant received an effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days suspended to supervised probation following the service of ninety days in jail. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/24/17
State of Tennessee v. James Allen Ballew
M2016-00051-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

In this second appeal of the amount of restitution ordered in a Class E felony theft case, the defendant, James Allen Ballew, appeals the $36,473.00 at the rate of $50 per month that the trial court ordered he pay to the victim lumber company, arguing that the amount is unreasonable given the evidence of the victim’s losses presented at the second restitution hearing, the two-year length of his sentence, and his financial resources and future ability to pay.  The State concedes that the trial court erred by imposing an amount of restitution that the defendant could not reasonably be expected to pay and by ordering a payment schedule that exceeds the length of the sentence.  Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court with respect to restitution and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Spencer Peterson
W2016-00787-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Spencer Peterson (“the Defendant”) appeals the summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the trial court’s summary denial of the motion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/17
State of Tennessee v. John Hudson
W2016-00913-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

John Hudson (“the Defendant”) appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion for reduction of sentence under Rule 35 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, asserting that he was entitled to relief because the trial court acted without jurisdiction when it revoked the Defendant’s probation. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/17
State of Tennessee v. Clyde Hobbs
M2016-00924-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

The Defendant, Clyde Hobbs, appeals as of right from the Grundy County Circuit Court’s revocation of his probation and order of confinement for eight years.  The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it determined that the Defendant had violated specialized conditions of his probation.  Additionally, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in fully revoking the Defendant’s probation without considering possible alternatives.  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/17
State of Tennessee v. Carl Hall
W2016-00915-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Appellant, Carl Hall, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Appellant contends that the trial court erred because his motion stated a colorable claim for relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/17
State of Tennessee v. William Crayton
W2016-01708-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The defendant, William Crayton, 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 2009 Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of criminal attempt to commit first degree murder. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Tony Wolfe
W2016-00903-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Tony Wolfe, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his motion to reopen his post-conviction petition on the basis of newly discovered scientific mental health evidence. He contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying his motion without conducting a hearing on the merits. Because the Petitioner has no appeal as of right from the denial of a motion to reopen and did not follow the procedure required for seeking permission to appeal, we dismiss the appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Earl Vantrease
M2016-01200-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary S. McKenzie

The Defendant, Earl Vantrease, was convicted by a Putnam County jury of aggravated robbery in 2003 and received a sixteen-year sentence as a Range II offender.  Thirteen years later, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1 requesting that the trial court correct an illegal sentence.  The trial court summarily dismissed the motion.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in dismissing his motion.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Troy Love
E2015-02297-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Defendant, Troy Love, was found guilty by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of two counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-522 (2014) (rape of a child), 39-13-504 (2014) (aggravated sexual battery). He was sentenced to consecutive terms of twenty-five years each for the rape of a child convictions and to a concurrent term of ten years for aggravated sexual battery, for an effective sentence of fifty years to be served as a Violent Offender. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his pretrial statement, (2) the court erred in denying the Defendant‘s pretrial motions relative to interaction between the victim and State agents and for a "taint hearing" to determine the victim‘s reliability, (3) the court erred in failing to conduct a pretrial hearing to corroborate the reliability of the Defendant‘s pretrial statements, (4) the court erred in denying the motion for a directed verdict and for judgment of acquittal, (5) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions, (6) the court and the prosecutor improperly referred to "Count 8" despite the fact that only three counts were submitted to the jury, (7) the court erred in its jury instructions, (8) the sentence is improper, and (9) due process requires relief due to the existence of cumulative error. We affirm the rape of a child convictions, and we reverse the aggravated sexual battery conviction and remand for a new trial.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/21/17
Mitchell Nathaniel Scott v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01210-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

After pleading guilty to one count of aggravated child abuse, Petitioner sought unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty plea.  Subsequently, Petitioner sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, among other things.  The post-conviction court denied relief, and Petitioner appeals.  After a review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Lee Williams
M2016-00568-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Defendant, Christopher Lee Williams, was convicted of reckless endangerment, aggravated kidnapping, and domestic assault.  Defendant raises the following issues on appeal: (1) whether dual convictions for aggravated kidnapping resulting in bodily injury and domestic assault based on bodily injury are proper, and (2) whether the trial court failed to consider a statutory mitigating factor in fashioning Defendant’s sentence.  After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/21/17
Kelley Elizabeth Cannon v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01869-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

A Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Kelley Elizabeth Cannon, of first degree premeditated murder and a life sentence was imposed.  On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the Petitioner’s conviction and sentence.  State v. Kelley Elizabeth Cannon, No. M2010-01553-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 5378088, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Oct. 30, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 9, 2013).  The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, and the post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing.  On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel, asserts that the post-conviction court erred by preventing her use of trial exhibits for a demonstration and challenges the validity of the search warrants in this case.  After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher L. Smith
M2016-00662-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

The defendant, Christopher L. Smith, pled guilty to two counts of aggravated burglary and one count of aggravated assault, all Class C felonies, in exchange for an effective sentence of six years with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court.  Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of confinement, which the defendant now challenges.  After review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/17
Cedric Watkins v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00681-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The petitioner, Cedric Watkins, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his first degree premeditated murder conviction, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of trial counsel.  Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/17
Tehren Wilson v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00770-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

The Petitioner, Tehren Wilson, appeals as of right from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to file a written request for a jury charge on fraudulent use of a credit card as a lesser-included offense of identity theft. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Jeffery Keith Toone, Jr.
W2015-02332-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

The Defendant-Appellant, Jeffery Keith Toone, Jr., pled guilty to two counts of extortion, ten counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, and two counts of solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor and received an effective four-year sentence, suspended to supervised probation after service of two consecutive sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days in the county jail. As a condition of his guilty plea, Toone sought to reserve several certified questions of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A), generally arguing that the transfer of his case from juvenile court to circuit court was improper. Because Toone's certified questions are overly broad, the appeal is dismissed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Joe Edward Daniels
M2015-01939-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Earl Durham

A jury convicted the Defendant, Joe Edward Daniels, of first degree (premeditated) murder.  The Defendant was also convicted of certain collateral crimes and traffic offenses, including tampering with evidence, a Class D felony; abuse of a corpse, a Class E felony; failure to give notice of an accident, a Class C misdemeanor; leaving the scene of an accident, a Class C misdemeanor; driving on the wrong side of the road, a Class C misdemeanor; and failure to use due care, a Class C misdemeanor.  The Defendant appeals his murder conviction, asserting that the State failed to prove premeditation and that the State’s proof regarding the chain of custody of the corpse should have preceded the medical examiner’s testimony.  The Defendant also claims error in the jury instructions, including the trial court’s decision not to charge attempt; the trial court’s decision to charge flight; the trial court’s inclusion of a charge regarding criminal responsibility and lack of notice regarding that charge; and the trial court’s failure to charge facilitation.  After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Jackson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/16/17