Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/22/2019
Format: 07/22/2019
Marcus Rhodes v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01220-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Marcus Rhodes, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged the validity of his guilty pleas to attempted second degree murder, reckless endangerment, three counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, for which he received an effective ten-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective and that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered. Specifically, he contends that trial counsel and the trial court misinformed him regarding his potential sentencing exposure if convicted at trial. We conclude that the Petitioner has waived this issue, and we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/19
State of Tennessee v. Chad Edward Massengale
E2018-00387-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The defendant, Chad Edward Massengale, appeals his Hamilton County Criminal Court jury conviction of first degree murder, claiming that the trial court erred by denying the defendant’s motion to suppress his statement to the police and by refusing to instruct the jury that a certain State’s witness was an accomplice as a matter of law and arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/02/19
Adam Nicholas Wallace v. State of Tennessee
E2017-02481-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

Petitioner, Adam Nicholas Wallace, appeals the Scott County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2016 conviction for aggravated sexual battery, for which Defendant was sentenced to imprisonment for ten years. The postconviction court dismissed Petitioner’s post-conviction petition as time-barred because it was filed outside the one-year limitations period. On appeal, Petitioner contends that due process requires tolling of the statute of limitations. We disagree. Having reviewed the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the post-conviction court’s dismissal of Petitioner’s petition.

Scott County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/02/19
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Bronson, Jr.
M2018-01172-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

A Montgomery County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Gregory Bronson, Jr., for two counts of felonious possession of marijuana and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm. The Defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress the evidence resulting from the search of his residence. The trial court denied the Defendant’s motion, and, after his request for interlocutory appeal to this court was denied, the Defendant pleaded guilty to the indicted charges and reserved a certified question of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) as to whether the search of the Defendant’s residence by law enforcement was lawful. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/02/19
State of Tennessee v. Geremy Paul Mathis
M2018-01139-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

A Coffee County jury convicted the Defendant, Geremy Paul Mathis, of felony failure to appear, and the trial court sentenced him to three and a half years in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court improperly admitted his prior convictions; (2) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion when sentencing him to serve three and a half years in confinement. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/02/19
State of Tennessee v. Denerra Rose McTaggart
M2018-00747-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Denerra Rose McTaggart, pleaded guilty to initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine and failure to appear. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve ten years of incarceration for the initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine conviction, followed by two years of probation for the failure to appear conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court improperly denied alternative sentencing. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/19
Corey Demonn Scott v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01126-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Petitioner, Corey Demonn Scott, appeals from the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2016 guilty pleas to second degree murder and to vandalism, for which he is serving an effective eighteen-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
Willie Morgan v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01833-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Over three years ago, Petitioner, Willie Morgan, was convicted by a jury of aggravated robbery and sentenced to eleven years in incarceration. His direct appeal was unsuccessful. State v. Willie Morgan, No. W2016-01445-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL 1380005, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 13, 2017), no perm. app. filed. Petitioner sought post-conviction relief, arguing in his petition that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied relief after an evidentiary hearing. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Michael Sargent
W2018-00517-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Appellant, Michael Sargent, is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Mario Myers
W2017-01917-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Defendant, Mario Myers, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of attempted first degree murder, a Class A felony; aggravated assault, a Class C felony; reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, a Class E felony; and intentionally evading arrest in a motor vehicle and creating a risk of death or injury to innocent bystanders or other third parties, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-12-101 (2018) (criminal attempt), 39-13-202 (2018) (version effective prior to January 1, 2019) (first degree murder), 39-13-102 (aggravated assault) (Supp. 2012) (amended 2013, 2015, 2018), 39-13-103 (Supp. 2012) (amended 2013) (reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon), 39-16-603(b)(1), (b)(3) (2010) (amended 2016) (intentionally evading arrest in a motor vehicle and creating a risk of death or injury to innocent bystanders or other third parties). The trial court sentenced the Defendant, a Range I offender, to twenty-five years for attempted first degree murder, six years for aggravated assault, two years for reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, and four years for intentionally evading arrest in a motor vehicle and creating a risk of death or injury to innocent bystanders or other third parties. The court ordered that the sentences for attempted first degree murder and aggravated assault were to be served consecutively, for an effective thirty-one-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) he was incompetent at the time of the trial and has been denied due process because a competency evaluation was never performed, and (3) the trial court erred in excluding him from the courtroom during the sentencing hearing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Cameron Martin
W2018-01085-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Madison County Grand Jury indicted Cameron Martin, Defendant, for four counts of convicted felon in possession of a handgun. After the trial court denied his motion to suppress, Defendant pled guilty pursuant to a plea agreement to one count of possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, reserving a certified question of law. The trial court sentenced Defendant to five years as a Range I standard offender and dismissed the remaining counts. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Wesley Dawone Coleman
W2018-01609-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Defendant, Wesley Dawone Coleman, appeals his conviction for first degree premeditated murder, for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred in excluding lay testimony regarding an unwritten code followed by prison inmates and the possible risks of violating the code. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
Charis Lynn Jetton v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01857-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Charis Lynn Jetton, appeals from the Fayette County Circuit Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her 2016 guilty pleas to voluntary manslaughter and to possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, for which she is serving an effective ten-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Fayette County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Frank Bolka, III
W2018-00798-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Defendant, Joseph Frank Bolka, III, entered open guilty pleas to possession of 0.5 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to deliver and simple possession of marijuana, and he was sentenced to serve eight years in the Community Corrections program. The record reflects that the Defendant attempted to reserve a certified question regarding the legality of the traffic stop which led to the discovery of the drugs. Because the notice of appeal was untimely and because the record reflects that the question was not properly preserved, we dismiss the appeal.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
George Franklin v. State of Tennessee - Concur In Part, Dissent In Part
W2017-01174-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

I respectfully disagree with the conclusion by the majority that the Petitioner’s trial counsel was effective during the sentencing portion of his representation of the Petitioner, and I would remand the case for resentencing. I concur with the majority opinion pertaining to the alleged Brady violation.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
George Franklin v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01174-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Petitioner, George Franklin, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of one count of second degree murder and nine counts of attempted second degree murder and resulting effective sentence of 102 years in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective at sentencing and that the State violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by failing to disclose a witness’s statement. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
Stacey Tyrone Green v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00765-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

A Marion County jury convicted the Petitioner, Stacey Tyrone Green, of one count of aggravated robbery, one count of burglary, one count of aggravated assault, and three counts of facilitation to commit aggravated robbery, burglary, and aggravated assault. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of fourteen years and six months in the Tennessee Department of Correction, and this court affirmed the trial court’s judgment on appeal. State v. Stacey Tyrone Green, No. M2015-003230CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 381414, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 1, 2016), no perm. app. filed. The Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial, which was heard and denied by the post-conviction court. The Petitioner here appeals the ruling of the post-conviction court. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
Steven Tyler Nabi v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01449-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Following a reversal and remand of this case for the post-conviction court to make appropriate findings of fact and conclusions of law, Steven Tyler Nabi v. State, M2017-00041-CCA-R3-PC, 2018 WL 1721869, at *5-6 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 9, 2018), the post-conviction court denied relief a second time. On appeal, the Petitioner, Steven Tyler Nabi, argues that his guilty pleas were not knowing, intelligent, or voluntary. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Cecil Bernard Skyles, Jr.
E2018-01376-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

Defendant, Cecil Bernard Skyles, Jr., pled guilty in two separate cases and received a sentence to serve on supervised probation. After multiple probation violations, the trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and ordered his sentence into effect. Defendant appealed. After a review of the record, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. Consequently, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Patrick Bumpus
W2018-01034-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

Defendant, Patrick Bumpus, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary. The State concedes that the trial court erred by summarily denying the motion. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for an evidentiary hearing.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/19
State of Tennessee v. Derek Cunningham
W2018-02075-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Defendant, Derek Cunningham, appeals from the denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Because Defendant has failed to state a colorable claim for relief, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/29/19
State of Tennessee v. Shannon James Keener
M2018-00730-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

The Appellant, Shannon James Keener, pled guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to rape and received a ten-year sentence to be served in confinement. On appeal, the Appellant claims that his sentence is excessive and that the trial court erred by refusing to grant his request for alternative sentencing. Based upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/26/19
Joseph Mark Whitmore v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01526-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The Petitioner, Joseph Mark Whitmore, appeals from the Putnam County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in failing to find that trial counsel was ineffective in advising him that he could withdraw his guilty plea within thirty days of his sentencing hearing and in failing to adequately represent him at sentencing. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/26/19
Phillip Harris v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01091-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Phillip Harris, Petitioner, was convicted of one count of attempted second degree murder, five counts of misdemeanor reckless endangerment, and one count of unlawful employment of a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony, for which he received a total effective sentence of fourteen years and six months to serve in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Petitioner sought post-conviction relief, but the post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing.  On appeal, Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to discuss trial strategy with Petitioner and inform Petitioner of the proof to be presented by the defense at trial. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/19
State of Tennessee v. Bryan Keith Thomas
E2017-02247-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

The Defendant, Ryan Kevin Thomas, was indicted for first degree premeditated murder; first degree felony murder; and theft of property valued at more than $500 but less than $1000; a Class E felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-202, -14-103, -14-105 (2010). Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of the lesser-included offense of second degree murder, a Class A felony, and of the charged offenses of first degree felony murder and theft. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210 (2010). The trial court later merged the second degree murder conviction into the first degree felony murder conviction and imposed a total effective sentence of life. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s convictions for first degree felony murder and second degree murder; (2) the trial court erred in admitting an autopsy photograph; (3) the trial court erred in excluding hearsay testimony from a proposed witness for the defense; and (4) the trial court erred in approving the jury’s verdict as the thirteenth juror.1 Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/19