Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 10/15/2019
Format: 10/15/2019
William Zukowski v. Shawn Phillips, Warden
W2019-00575-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

William Zukowski, Petitioner, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, claiming the trial court lacked jurisdiction to pronounce judgment and sentence for his five convictions of rape of a child because (1) his consecutive sentences violated double jeopardy, (2) the indictment was deficient because the charges were multiplicitous, and (3) the trial court’s failure to require an election violated his constitutional right to a unanimous jury verdict. The habeas corpus court found that Petitioner’s claims were not cognizable habeas corpus claims and summarily dismissed the petition. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Brewston Cole
W2019-00245-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

The Defendant, Brewston Cole, pleaded guilty to possession of over .5 grams of a Schedule VI controlled substance with the intent to sell, and the trial court sentenced him to a two-year term of supervised probation. The Defendant reserved a certified question of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) as to whether the warrantless search of the Defendant’s vehicle was lawful based on the length of the traffic stop. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/06/19
Antonio Q. Clifton v. State of Tennessee
W2018-02289-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell

In 1998 and 1999, the Petitioner pleaded guilty to three different drug offenses. State v. Antonio Clifton, No. W2016-00175-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 6427862, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Oct. 31, 2016), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. Several years later, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus and a motion to correct an illegal sentence, both of which were denied based on the fact that his sentences had expired. The Petitioner filed this, his second petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The habeas corpus court denied the petition for failure to comply with procedural requirements and because the Petitioner’s sentence had expired. On appeal, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/06/19
Jeffery Yates v. State of Tennessee
W2018-02246-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

In this procedurally complex and litigious case, the Petitioner, Jeffery Yates, was convicted in three sets of convictions, 1993, 1994, and 2003, of: (1993) especially aggravated kidnapping, attempted aggravated robbery, and aggravated kidnapping, receiving an effective eighteen-year sentence; (1994) five counts of aggravated assault, receiving a ten-year concurrent sentence; and (2003) aggravated robbery, receiving a thirty-year Range II sentence. The Petitioner has repeatedly and unsuccessfully challenged his convictions and sentences. In this, his latest challenge, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief challenging his 2003 convictions. He contended that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that the trial court had improperly amended his judgment of conviction. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition, concluding that the grounds for relief had clearly been waived because they had not been raised in the Petitioner’s prior petition for post-conviction relief. In the alternative, the trial court stated that, if it considered the petition as a motion to re-open the prior post-conviction proceeding, the Petitioner had failed to meet his burden of proof. We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/06/19
Darion Merriweather v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01373-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The petitioner, Darion Merriweather, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his
guilty-pleaded conviction of carjacking, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not entered into knowingly and voluntarily. Because the record establishes that counsels’ performance was deficient and that the petitioner’s guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary, we reverse the denial of post-conviction relief, vacate the petitioner’s guilty plea, and remand for trial.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/06/19
Steven Padgett King v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00652-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Petitioner, Steven Padgett King, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he sought application of the rule announced in Ward v. State, 315 S.W.3d 461 (Tenn. 2010). We reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand to the post-conviction court for a new evidentiary hearing to determine whether Petitioner is entitled to relief pursuant to Ward.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/05/19
Reginald Lamon Goldsmith v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01814-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

The Petitioner, Reginald Lamon Goldsmith, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court abused its discretion in failing to appoint post-conviction counsel and summarily dismissing the petition. Following our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition as time-barred and conclude that the Petitioner has waived his due process claim.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/04/19
State of Tennessee v. Raymond Watison
W2018-00552-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The defendant, Raymond Watison, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of first degree premeditated murder, claiming that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the statements he gave to the police following his arrest, that the trial court erred by admitting certain testimony in violation of evidence rule 404(b), that the trial court erred by permitting the State to admit the defendant’s statements as rebuttal evidence, that the State knowingly presented false testimony, that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the prosecutor impermissibly misled the jury during closing argument, and that the cumulative effect of the errors deprived him of a fair trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
Dantario Burgess v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01707-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Dantario Burgess, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, 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.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Rashida Tyquisha Groomster
M2018-00579-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

A Davidson County Jury in Case No. 2017-C-1591 convicted Defendant, Rashida Tyquisha Groomster, of theft of property over $1,000 in value. She also pled guilty to theft of property less than $1,000 in value in Case No. 2017-B-1407. The trial court initially imposed an effective one-year sentence to be served in confinement. However, an amended judgment was subsequently entered indicating that Defendant was to serve her effective one-year sentence on community corrections. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction for theft of property over $1,000 in value, that the trial court improperly denied her request for judicial diversion, and the trial court erred by denying alternative sentencing. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Dominique Alexander Booker
E2018-00777-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

In 2017, the Defendant, Dominque Alexander Booker, pleaded guilty to three counts in two separate cases, and the trial court sentenced him to a probationary sentence. In 2018, the Defendant’s probation officer filed a probation violation warrant alleging that the Defendant had violated his probation by committing assault and vandalism and by not notifying his probation officer of the new offenses. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation sentences for both cases. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it admitted into evidence the police officer’s recount of the victim’s statements about the assault as an excited utterance over the Defendant’s hearsay objection. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
Devin Whiteside v. State of Tennessee
W2018-02051-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The petitioner, Devin Whiteside, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his guilty-pleaded convictions of aggravated robbery, alleging that his guilty pleas were invalid because he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Raymon Muhammad
W2018-02141-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The defendant, Raymon Muhammad, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of first degree murder, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Erik Standback
W2018-01804-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Erik Standback, of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and reckless endangerment. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of eighteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
Ronnie Ingram v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01875-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, Ronnie Ingram, 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 and on appeal. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
Samuel Winkfield v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01873-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Petitioner, Samuel Winkfield, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis from his second degree murder and tampering with evidence convictions, for which he received an effective sentence of twenty-five years. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Wayne Jackson
M2017-01528-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

A Montgomery County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant with second degree murder (count one), vehicular homicide (count two), aggravated assault (count three), failure to complete boating safety certification (count four), and operating a motorboat without a valid identification number (count five). Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant entered a guilty plea to reckless homicide, a lesser included offense of second degree murder (count one). The plea agreement further provided that the Defendant plead guilty as a Range II, multiple offender pursuant to Hicks v. State, 945 S.W.2d 706, 709 (Tenn. 1997) (holding that a knowing and voluntary guilty plea waives any irregularity as to offender classification or release eligibility), with the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of his sentence. In exchange for the Defendant’s plea of guilty, the State agreed to dismiss the remaining counts in the indictment. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of five-years’ imprisonment. Ten days later, the Defendant filed a motion to modify his sentence pursuant to Rule 35 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. Following a second hearing, the trial court denied relief and imposed the same sentence. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in sentencing the Defendant and in failing to grant his Rule 35 motion to modify the sentence. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Clarence Reed Julian
E2019-00074-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

Defendant, Clarence Reed Julian, pled guilty to criminal simulation in exchange for a sentence of two years as a Range II, multiple offender with the manner of service of the sentence to be determined after a sentencing hearing. At the hearing, the trial court denied an alternative sentence, ordering Defendant to serve the sentence in incarceration. Defendant appeals. After a review, we determine there is a clerical error in the judgment form. The judgment form wrongly designates Defendant as a Range I, standard offender and the technical record indicates that Defendant, as a Range I offender, has already received the benefit of Determinate Release from the Department of Correction. We remand for entry of a corrected judgment form, designating Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender, requiring Defendant to complete his sentence as such an offender. Otherwise, we affirm the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Randy Champion
W2018-01393-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Randy Champion, of one count of especially aggravated robbery, two counts of attempt to commit second degree murder, two counts of employment of a firearm, one count of attempt to commit especially aggravated robbery, and one count of attempt to commit aggravated robbery. For these convictions, the trial court ordered an effective sentence of twenty-four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to prove his identity as a perpetrator of the offenses, that the trial court improperly denied his motion for severance, and that the State presented inconsistent theories of prosecution at trial. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/29/19
James Walter Grooms, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01777-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas J. Wright

The petitioner, James Walter Grooms, Jr., appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, which petition challenged his conviction for two counts of aggravated assault, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/29/19
State of Tennessee v. Michael Andrew Lethco
E2018-01042-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

The defendant, Michael Andrew Lethco, was convicted of aggravated sexual battery for which he received a nine-year sentence. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction and asserts the State elicited improper testimony from the victim regarding other instances of abuse which prejudiced the defendant. Upon our thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/29/19
State of Tennessee v. Robert Jason Allison
M2017-02367-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Defendant, Robert Jason Allison, was indicted for two counts of delivery of marijuana; possession with intent to distribute over ten pounds of marijuana in a drug-free school zone; possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; and two counts of money laundering. Following a jury trial, at which Defendant represented himself, he was convicted as charged. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed partial consecutive sentencing resulting in an effective 25-year sentence. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that: 1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for money laundering; 2) the indictment conflated two subsections of the money laundering statute; 3) the trial court failed to instruct the jury on all of the elements of money laundering; 4) Defendant’s convictions for money laundering violate double jeopardy; 5) the money laundering statute is unconstitutionally vague; 6) Defendant was deprived his right to a speedy trial; 7) the trial court erred by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized as a result of his warrantless arrest; 8) the trial court erred by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized as a result of a search warrant; 9) the trial court erred in finding that Defendant waived his right to the assistance of counsel at trial; 10) the trial court abused its discretion in ordering consecutive sentencing; and 11) Defendant’s fines are excessive. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we find no error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/29/19
Giovanne Treymane Johnson a.k.a. Giovoanne Treymane Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00755-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Petitioner, Giovoanne Treymane Johnson, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial. More specifically, he argues that trial counsel rendered deficient performance by failing to file a motion to sever his trial from that of his co-defendant and for failing to challenge the admission of his co-defendant’s inculpatory statement. Having reviewed the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/29/19
Adayse Gaddy v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01272-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth Norman

The Petitioner, Adayse Gaddy, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2015 guilty plea to possession with the intent to sell or to deliver less than one-half gram of cocaine, for which he is serving a
ten-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/29/19
State of Tennessee v. William Robert Goodwin
E2018-01683-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

The Defendant-Appellant, William Robert Goodwin, appeals from the order of the Knox County Criminal Court revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. In this appeal, the Defendant concedes that he violated his probation; however, he contends the trial court abused its discretion in ordering confinement because his probation violations were minor, he had established a stable life and work history, and he had compelling family reasons to remain on probation. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/29/19