Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/03/2020
Format: 06/03/2020
Antwion Dowdy v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00398-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

In 2014, the Petitioner, Antwion Dowdy, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and four counts of aggravated assault, and the trial court sentenced him to life imprisonment. The Petitioner appealed his convictions to this court, and we affirmed the judgments. State v. Antwion Dowdy, No. W2015-02342-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 7654950 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Feb. 21, 2016), no perm. app. filed. Subsequently, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the postconviction court denied after a hearing. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/20
State of Tennessee v. Demetrius D. Blakemore
W2019-00555-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, Demetrius Blakemore, appeals the order of the Madison County Circuit Court revoking his probation in four cases. On appeal, Blakemore argues that the trial court erred in revoking his probation because his probationary period had expired. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/20
State of Tennessee v. Terrell Lamont Reid
W2019-00636-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The Defendant, Terrell Lamont Reid, pursuant to a plea agreement, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with intent to sell and to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and received an effective seventeen-year sentence. He filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 alleging that his sentence was illegal because his firearm offense sentence was enhanced under the criminal gang enhancement statute. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion after determining that the sentence was not illegal. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by denying relief because the enhanced sentence for his firearm conviction was unconstitutional and illegal. We reverse the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/20
Darin Woods v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00514-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The Petitioner, Darin Woods, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for attempted second degree murder, aggravated robbery, attempted aggravated robbery, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, for which he is serving an effective twenty-seven-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in denying his petition without holding a meaningful hearing. We reverse the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/20
State of Tennessee v. Cleotris Ruben
W2019-00507-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Defendant, Cleotris Ruben, entered best interest pleas in two separate cases to one count of Class E felony theft of property and one count of Class A misdemeanor theft of property. Prior to a sentencing hearing, the Defendant filed motions to withdraw his guilty pleas, which the trial court denied. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of one year in the workhouse and six years of supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motions to withdraw his pleas because he provided sufficient evidence demonstrating that a “fair and just reason” justifies the withdrawal of his guilty pleas. After a review of the record, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for appointment of new counsel and a new hearing on the Defendant’s motions to withdraw his pleas.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/20
Javonta Marquis Perkins v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02223-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

The Petitioner, Javonta Marquis Perkins, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he argued that juvenile counsel was ineffective for waiving the juvenile transfer hearing and failing to investigate his mental health in connection with the transfer. The Petitioner’s case was transferred to criminal court, and after two trials, he was convicted of aggravated robbery, carjacking, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. He received an effective sentence of thirteen years. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/20
State of Tennessee v. Willard C. Land
M2018-02121-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

In January 2015, the Sequatchie County Grand Jury indicted Defendant, Willard C. Land, for first degree premeditated murder. Following a trial in February 2018, a jury found Defendant guilty of the lesser-included offense of second degree murder, for which Defendant received a sentence of thirty-five years’ incarceration. On appeal, Defendant contends that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of Defendant’s prior threats and acts of violence against the victim and others, and he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sequatchie County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/20
Michael Delk v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00842-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

On September 21, 2015, the Davidson County Grand Jury indicted Petitioner, Michael Delk, for aggravated rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, sexual exploitation of a minor, and ten counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. On May 4, 2017, Petitioner pled guilty to one count of rape of a child and one count of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court sentenced Petitioner to serve twenty-seven years at one hundred percent for rape of a child and eight years at one hundred percent for especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, consecutive to the first count, for a total effective sentence of thirty-five years to serve at one hundred percent. On July 20, 2018, Petitioner filed an untimely pro se Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. After a hearing, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition as time-barred. Following a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/20
State of Tennessee v. Timothy T. Millican
M2019-00121-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

A Giles County jury convicted Timothy T. Millican, Defendant, of one count of theft of property with a value of at least $10,000 but less than $60,000. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a Range I standard offender to four years at thirty percent release eligibility, which the trial court suspended to five years’ supervised probation following the service of a year in jail. On appeal, Defendant asserts that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/20
State of Tennessee v. Gustavius Smith
M2018-02182-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Gustavius Smith, Defendant, admitted to violating the terms of probation and was allowed to enter a six-month program at a rehabilitation facility. After three additional violation of probation warrants were issued alleging Defendant received new criminal charges, and after Defendant was expelled from two rehabilitation programs, the trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve the balance of his sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Discerning no error, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/18/20
State of Tennessee v. Presley William Nave, Jr.
M2018-02085-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant, Presley William Nave, Jr., pled guilty to one count of statutory rape, a Class E felony, and one count of child abuse, a Class D felony, in exchange for a two-year sentence on probation. Following a hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to register as a sex offender. The Defendant appeals, arguing (1) that the trial court gave improper weight to the original offenses charged; and (2) that the trial court did not consider factors weighing against placing the Defendant on the sex offender registry. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/18/20
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan A. Wheatley
M2019-00071-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe

After a jury trial, the Defendant, Jonathan A. Wheatley, was convicted of two counts of child abuse and neglect. Subsequently, the trial court ordered a new trial, and the Defendant later pled guilty to one count of child abuse and neglect. As a condition of his guilty plea, he sought to reserve the right to appeal three certified questions of law challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion to set aside his two initial convictions. Following our review of the record, we dismiss the appeal because the Defendant failed to properly certify his questions of law in accordance with Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2).

Houston County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/18/20
Casey Carlos Raines v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00805-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry Wallace

The petitioner, Casey Carlos Raines, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2016 convictions of simple possession of methamphetamine and failure to appear, as time-barred. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/18/20
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Lindsey
W2018-01987-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Timothy Lindsey, of aggravated rape for a crime committed in 2005, and he was sentenced to serve thirty years in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and asserts that the ten-year delay in indicting him violated his right to due process. We conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the verdict and that the Defendant has waived the issue of pre-indictment delay. Accordingly, the trial court’s judgment is affirmed and the case remanded for correction of the judgment form.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Nathan Allen Wallace
W2018-01649-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

A Tipton County jury convicted the Defendant, Nathan Allen Wallace, of rape, aggravated statutory rape, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and incest, and the trial court sentenced him to eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it: (1) admitted prior statements by the victim into evidence; (2) declined to enforce a subpoena for the victim’s DCS record; (3) admitted expert testimony on the subject of “grooming”; and (4) limited his cross-examination of the victim. The Defendant also contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that his request for a suspended sentence should have been granted. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Jerry A. Thigpen
M2018-00118-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody N. Kane

The Defendant, Jerry A. Thigpen, was found in contempt of court for four separate acts of publishing online certain materials related to his underlying charge of misdemeanor assault, and he received an aggregate sentence of forty days in jail, with two days suspended. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the evidence was insufficient to support a finding of guilt, that he did not have adequate notice of the charges, that the trial court erred in admitting evidence, that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at the hearing, and that the trial court was obligated to recuse itself. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Gregg T. Merrilees
M2019-01194-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

Gregg T. Merrilees, Defendant, was indicted for aggravated robbery, robbery in concert with two or more persons, and especially aggravated kidnapping. The week prior to trial, the State moved to amend count one to change the theory by which it would prove aggravated robbery. Defendant filed a response stating that he did not consent to amendment and requesting a continuance if the trial court granted the motion to amend. The trial court granted the State’s motion to amend and denied Defendant’s motion to continue. The same week, Defendant moved for a second continuance so that he could employ private counsel rather than appointed counsel, and the trial court denied the motion. Prior to the jury panel being sworn, the trial court issued preliminary jury instructions. Defendant was convicted of aggravated robbery in count one and robbery in concert with two or more persons in count two. He was acquitted of the especially aggravating kidnapping in count three. The trial court merged counts one and two and sentenced Defendant to serve eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by amending the indictment without also granting Defendant a continuance, by denying Defendant’s motion to continue so he could employ private counsel, and by issuing preliminary jury instructions prior to the jury panel being sworn. Defendant also argues that cumulative error requires the granting of a new trial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the judgments of the circuit court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Willie Lee Ballard
E2019-00452-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz

The defendant, Willie Lee Ballard, appeals the revocation of the probationary sentences imposed for his convictions of rape and violating the sex offender registration requirements. Because we discern no error in the ruling of the trial court, we affirm the order of revocation. Because, however, we discern clerical error in the judgment form for case number 277642, the case is remanded for the entry of a corrected judgment.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/13/20
State of Tennessee v. Ernest Ervin
W2018-01342-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Defendant, Ernest Ervin, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of burglary of a motor vehicle. The trial court imposed a sentence of six years as a Career Offender to be served in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by admitting surveillance video without sufficient authentication and that the evidence was insufficient 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 02/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Atu Campbell
W2019-00380-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Defendant-Appellant, Atu Campbell, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, alleging that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary. Because the trial court failed to provide the Defendant with an evidentiary hearing, the State concedes error. Upon our review, we reverse the determination of the trial court and remand for a hearing on the allegations raised in the Defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Terence Dewayne Borum
W2019-00666-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Defendant, Terence Dewayne Borum, pleaded guilty to burglary, vandalism, and theft of property valued at more than $500 and after an appeal of the trial court’s initial ten-year sentence on probation received a twelve-year sentence on remand. He filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 alleging that his sentence was illegal because the trial court improperly sentenced him as career offender. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion after determining that the sentence was not illegal and that this issue had been determined in a previous appeal. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by denying relief because he was improperly sentenced as a career offender. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Marvin Stinnett
W2019-00097-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell

The Defendant, Marvin Stinnett, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of two counts of attempted first degree murder, two counts of employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, three counts of aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, for which he received an effective sentence of thirty years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his convictions for attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Robert Elijah Oxendine
M2019-00288-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael E. Spitzer

Robert Elijah Oxendine (“Defendant”) pled guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of improper passing. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective four-year sentence with one year of incarceration and the balance on probation. Defendant claims that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him to split confinement rather than full probation and by using elements of the offense as a factor to enhance the sentence. We affirm the trial court’s imposition of a four-year sentence, but we reverse the court’s imposition of split confinement and remand for entry of amended judgments of conviction placing Defendant on probation.

Perry County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Rubalddi Espinoza Yoc
M2018-00585-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Defendant, Rubalddi Espinoza Yoc, appeals the revocation of his community corrections sentence and his subsequent resentencing to serve ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”). Defendant argues that the original violation warrant was invalid because his detention and deportation by immigration authorities was a civil matter rather than a criminal arrest or conviction; that the trial court abused its discretion in resentencing Defendant; and that he should receive sentencing credit until the date that he conceded a violation of community corrections. Based on our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/11/20
State of Tennessee v. Nicholas Todd Sutton
E2019-01062-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffery Hill Wicks

The Petitioner, Nicholas Todd Sutton, appeals as of right from the Morgan County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that (1) the evidence of several jurors’ viewing the Petitioner in shackles and handcuffs during his capital trial and sentencing hearing is newly discovered, (2) the Petitioner is without fault for failing to present this evidence previously, (3) equitable tolling of the statute of limitations applies, (4) constitutional considerations require the coram nobis court to address this case on the merits, and (5) the coram nobis court abused its discretion by summarily dismissing the petition. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/11/20