Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/24/2020
Format: 01/24/2020
Nathaniel P. Carson v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00042-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Petitioner, Nathaniel P. Carson, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his 2010 convictions of two counts of first degree felony murder and two counts of especially aggravated robbery. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/02/19
Petr Pompa v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00075-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The Petitioner, Petr Pompa, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and two counts of statutory rape by an authority figure. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to: 1) raise in the motion for new trial the admissibility of opinion testimony from a school resource officer; 2) raise in the motion for new trial the admissibility of character testimony provided by a school counselor; and 3) object to the prosecutor’s statements during closing argument. Following a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/02/19
James Holmes v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01709-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Petitioner, James Holmes, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner argues that he was denied effective assistance of counsel because his attorneys failed to adequately prepare for Petitioner’s trial and because there was a breakdown in communication between Petitioner and his attorneys. Following a review of the briefs and record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Dana Ray Davison
W2018-00968-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

A McNairy County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Dana Ray Davison, of attempted voluntary manslaughter; employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony; employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony while having a prior felony conviction; aggravated assault with a deadly weapon; felony reckless endangerment; possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony drug offense; criminal trespass of a habitation; and the intentional killing of an animal. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the two convictions of employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony and ordered that the Appellant serve a total effective twenty-year sentence for all of the convictions. Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324(h)(2), the twenty-year sentence included a mandatory ten-year sentence to be served at one hundred percent for employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony while having a prior felony conviction. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the sentencing provisions of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324 violate the principles of due process because they lack definiteness and specificity. The State contends that the trial court erred by not sentencing the Appellant for both convictions of employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony before merging the convictions. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

McNairy County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Tommie Taylor
W2018-02269-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The defendant, Tommie Taylor, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction, arguing the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant was the person who shot the victim. After our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/26/19
Barry Leon Ferguson v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00134-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The petitioner, Barry Leon Ferguson, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective the assistance of counsel prior to and during his guilty plea hearing. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/26/19
State of Tennessee v. Jamal Bowens
W2019-00253-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

The defendant, Jamal Bowens, appeals from the entry of an order denying his motion to suspend the remainder of his sentence pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-35-306(c). The defendant pleaded guilty to robbery and aggravated assault, both Class C felonies, for which he received a total effective sentence of six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In denying the defendant’s motion, the trial court found the defendant was not a suitable candidate for probation. Following our review of the record, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/26/19
Antonio Richardson v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00368-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The petitioner, Antonio Richardson, 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. The petitioner also challenges the constitutionality of Rule 13 of the Tennessee Supreme Court Rules, claiming the post-conviction court erred in its adherence to the same. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition and the post-conviction court’s application of Rule 13.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/26/19
Carl J. Wagner v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02000-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The pro se Petitioner, Carl J. Wagner, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction DNA analysis and the dismissal of his Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 motion to correct/relieve him of his judgments of conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/26/19
Donald Peden v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01670-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The petitioner, Donald Peden, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his convictions of attempted first degree murder and theft of property valued at $500 or less, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Because the petitioner’s post-conviction counsel also represented the petitioner on direct appeal, we remand to the post-conviction court to determine whether the petitioner knowingly and voluntarily agrees to waive post-conviction counsel’s conflict of interest.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/26/19
State of Tennessee v. Ketorrence Eugene Rollins
M2018-02150-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

The defendant, Ketorrence Eugene Rollins, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of two counts of aggravated robbery, arguing that the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to sustain his convictions. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/26/19
Hubert Glenn Sexton, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01864-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The petitioner, Hubert Glenn Sexton, Jr., appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, in which the petitioner challenged his conviction for two counts of first degree murder, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we conclude the petitioner was denied his constitutional right to a fair and impartial jury and received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court, vacate the petitioner’s convictions, and remand the case to the trial court for a new trial.

Scott County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/25/19
Chad Ray Thompson v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01074-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The Petitioner, Chad Ray Thompson, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his jury convictions for first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that he received ineffective assistance at trial due to trial counsel’s (1) failure to seek funding for an investigator and adequately prepare for trial; (2) failure to call certain witnesses; and (3) failure to file any pretrial motions or object at trial to exclude evidence. He also submits that the cumulative effect of these errors deprived him of a fair trial. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/25/19
Daniel G. Carr v. State of Tennessee - Concurring/Dissenting
M2017-01389-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody Kane

I concur with the majority’s conclusions to reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and to remand this case for consideration of whether due process requires tolling of the one-year statute of limitations and, if so, whether the Petitioner is entitled to
post-conviction relief. However, I respectfully disagree with the majority’s conclusion that the Petitioner is entitled to habeas corpus relief.

Macon County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/21/19
Daniel G. Carr v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01389-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody Kane

In this consolidated appeal, the Petitioner, Daniel G. Carr, appeals the Macon County Circuit Court’s dismissals of his petitions for post-conviction and habeas corpus relief from his 1999 convictions for rape, attempted rape, aggravated sexual battery, statutory rape, and two counts of sexual battery and his effective ten-year sentence. He contends that the court erred in denying post-conviction relief without holding an evidentiary hearing and that the court erred by denying habeas corpus relief because the court lacked jurisdiction to amend the judgments. Because the Petitioner had completed his term of imprisonment prior to entry of the amended judgments, we agree with the Petitioner, and conclude that the court was without jurisdiction to enter the amended judgments. We reverse and vacate the court’s judgment relative to the habeas corpus claim, and we remand this matter with instructions to grant habeas corpus relief. In the event of further review, we also conclude that the court erred in dismissing the Petitioner’s post-conviction petition without a hearing, and we remand this case for consideration of whether due process requires tolling the post-conviction statute of limitations and, if so, whether the Petitioner is entitled to post-conviction relief.

Macon County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/21/19
Rodney Jennings v. State of Tennessee
E2019-00343-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas C. Greenholtz

The petitioner, Rodney Jennings, 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.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Billy McCarty Amyx
E2018-01733-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex Pearson

A Hawkins County jury convicted the Defendant, Billy McCarty Amyx, of filing a false report and fabricating evidence, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the evidence does not support his convictions and that the trial court abused its discretion when it ordered him to serve six years. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Marshall Mathis
M2019-00279-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry Wallace

Petitioner, Douglas Marshall Mathis, appeals the denial of both his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 and his motion to withdraw his original, pro se petition for post-conviction relief, which was granted in 2001. Because Petitioner failed to state a colorable claim for relief and because the life sentence imposed for his first degree murder conviction is legal, we affirm the denial of his Rule 36.1 motion. Because Petitioner’s original petition for post-conviction relief was heard and granted nearly two decades ago, we affirm the denial of Petitioner’s motion to withdraw that petition.

Houston County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Omari Shakir Davis
M2018-01779-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

In this delayed appeal, the defendant, Omari Shakir Davis, challenges the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of alternative sentencing for his guilty-pleaded conviction of possession with intent to sell or deliver 15 grams or more of a substance containing heroin. The State contends that this appeal should be dismissed as untimely. Our review of the record indicates that the defendant’s notice of appeal was untimely. Because the interests of justice do not support our waiving the timely filing requirement, this appeal is dismissed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Randy Milligan
W2019-00377-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

Randy Milligan (“Defendant”) pled guilty, as a Range III persistent offender, to delivery of a Schedule III controlled substance, a Class D felony. At a subsequent hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant to eleven years, with a forty-five percent release eligibility, to serve in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by denying Defendant’s request for a suspended sentence. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

McNairy County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/19/19
State of Tennessee v. Darius Deshun Mitchell
W2018-01364-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Defendant, Darius Deshun Mitchell, was convicted by a Lauderdale County Circuit Court jury of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of first degree felony murder, two counts of especially aggravated robbery, and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202 (2014) (subsequently amended) (first degree murder), 39-13-403 (2018) (especially aggravated robbery), 39-17-1307(b)(1)(B) (2010)(subsequently amended) (possession of a weapon by a person who has been convicted of a felony drug offense). The trial court merged the first degree murder convictions with respect to each of the two victims into a single judgment of conviction for first degree murder as to each victim and imposed concurrent life sentences, which were to be served concurrently with a federal sentence and consecutively to a sentence for which the Defendant was on parole. The court imposed twenty-five-year sentences for each of the two especially aggravated robbery convictions and ordered that they be served concurrently with each other and to federal sentence and consecutively to the first degree murder sentences and to a sentence for which the Defendant was on parole. The court imposed a six-year sentence for the firearm conviction and ordered that it be served concurrently with a federal sentence and consecutively to the first degree murder sentences and to a sentence for which the Defendant was on parole. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/19/19
Willie Lee Hughes, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00248-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

A Williamson County jury convicted Petitioner, Willie Lee Hughes, Jr., of aggravated robbery, for which he received a sentence of twenty-five years’ incarceration. Petitioner filed for post-conviction relief, which was denied following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner appeals, asserting that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to: (1) explore racial bias during jury selection; (2) challenge the lack of diversity in the venire; (3) advise Petitioner of his right to allocution at sentencing; and (4) argue on appeal that the trial court erred by failing to declare a mistrial after being advised of an interaction between jurors and Petitioner’s son. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/19/19
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Burkhart, Alias Antonio Markezzee Burkhart
E2018-001749-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

In two consolidated cases, the Defendant pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the sex offender registry, reserving two certified questions of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) regarding the validity of his original judgment and the validity of the reporting requirements. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/19
Anthony Todd Ghormley v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01625-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don Ash

The Petitioner, Anthony Todd Ghormley, appeals the Blount County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of attempted first degree murder, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of especially aggravated burglary, and three counts of aggravated assault and resulting effective sentence of one hundred five years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel and that the trial court was impermissibly biased against him. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/15/19
State of Tennessee v. Justin Ryan Johnson, Alias
E2018-01457-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Following a revocation hearing, the trial court revoked the probation of Defendant, Justin Ryan Johnson, and ordered confinement for his remaining sentence. On appeal, Defendant alleges the trial court abused its discretion and requests the revocation be reversed and his sentence be returned to enhanced probation. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/15/19