Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 11/17/2019
Format: 11/17/2019
State of Tennessee v. Victor Wise
W2018-01343-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Lammey, Jr.

The defendant, Victor Wise, appeals his Shelby County Circuit Court jury convictions of two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of attempted aggravated robbery, and two counts of aggravated assault, challenging the exclusion of certain evidence, the sufficiency of the convicting evidence, and the propriety of the 44-year effective sentence. We affirm the defendant’s convictions but conclude that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences. Accordingly, the defendant’s total effective sentence is modified to 12 years.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/18/19
State of Tennessee v. David William Gary
E2018-00194-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

A Knox County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, David William Gary, of rape, and the trial court sentenced him to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction, that the trial court erred by allowing testimony regarding his expressed interest in a specific type of sexual activity, and that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to present evidence that a police investigator improperly influenced the victim’s preliminary hearing testimony. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/18/19
Harold Francis Butler, III v. State of Tennessee
E2018-00914-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Petitioner, Harold Francis Butler, III, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of first degree felony murder, attempted first degree premeditated murder, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and resulting sentence of life plus thirty-one years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the State violated his constitutional rights by conducting an unduly suggestive identification procedure that rendered the identification unreliable and by eliciting false testimony from a key witness at trial. He also raises numerous allegations of ineffective assistance of trial counsel and contends that he is entitled to a new trial under the cumulative error doctrine. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/18/19
State of Tennessee v. Johnthony K. Walker
E2018-00936-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

Defendant, Johnthony K. Walker, was convicted of six counts of criminally negligent homicide, eleven counts of reckless aggravated assault, seven counts of assault, one count of reckless endangerment, one count of reckless driving, and one count of the use of a portable electronic device by a school bus driver after a school bus he was driving crashed leaving six children dead and numerous other children injured. The trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of four years for the convictions and denied judicial diversion after a sentencing hearing. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court improperly denied judicial diversion and/or an alternative sentence. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/17/19
State of Tennessee v. Helen Ruth Kirby
E2019-00122-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffery Hill Wicks

Petitioner, Helen Ruth Kirby, appeals from the summary denial of her petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging her guilty-pleaded conviction for second degree murder. Because Petitioner failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Roane County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/17/19
Ronnie Wilson v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01362-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge.D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

The Petitioner, Ronnie Wilson, appeals from the Jefferson County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel because trial counsel (1) made no effort to exclude a prior aggravated robbery conviction that the State sought to use as impeachment evidence; (2) failed to explain the concept of criminal responsibility to the Petitioner; and (3) was intoxicated when he met with the Petitioner prior to trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Jefferson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/17/19
State of Tennessee v. Charles Eugene Darvin, Jr.
M2018-01669-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

Following a bench trial before the Davidson County Criminal Court, the Defendant-Appellant, Charles Eugene Darvin, Jr., was convicted as charged of especially aggravated robbery, see Tenn. Code Ann. §39-13-403, a Class A felony. The trial court later accepted the agreement of the parties to sentence the Defendant to a term of fifteen years’ imprisonment, to be served at 100%. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support the element of serious bodily injury as required to establish the offense. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/17/19
John Burley Alberts v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00994-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

The Petitioner, John Burley Alberts, appeals the Williamson County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for four counts of rape of a child, for which he is serving an effective 100-year sentence. He contends that the
post-conviction court erred in denying his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/16/19
State of Tennessee v. Darrell Wren
W2018-02087-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Darrell Wren, of second degree murder, attempt to commit second degree murder, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court imposed an effective forty-five year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for second degree murder and attempt to commit second degree murder and that the trial court’s sentence is excessive. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments and remand for the execution of a corrected judgment for the employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony conviction.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/13/19
Jason Wayne Staggs v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01688-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

Petitioner, Jason Wayne Staggs, pled guilty in the Tipton County Circuit Court as a persistent offender to (1) burglary of a building, (2) theft of property valued over $10,000 and less than $60,000, and (3) evading arrest. The trial court sentenced Petitioner pursuant to a plea agreement to an effective sentence of fifteen years’ incarceration to be served at forty-five percent. Petitioner timely filed pro se petitions for post-conviction relief, and the post-conviction court appointed counsel, who filed an amended petition. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the post-conviction petition in a written order. On appeal, Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and his guilty plea was unknowing. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/13/19
Sean Patrick Goble v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01659-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex Pearson

The Petitioner, Sean Patrick Goble, appeals from the Greene County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001 (the Act), Tennessee Code Annotated sections 40-30-301 to -313 (2018). The
post-conviction court denied relief on the basis that the results of the DNA analysis would not have exculpated the Petitioner of first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the court erred in dismissing his petition. We affirm the judgment of the
post-conviction court.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/13/19
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Edward Wilson
M2018-00578-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Following a jury trial, Defendant, Joseph Edward Wilson, was convicted of two counts of the sale of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine, one count of the sale of less than 0.5 grams of cocaine, and one count of delivery of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine. The trial court merged one of Defendant’s convictions for the sale of 0.5 grams or more and his conviction for the delivery of 0.5 grams or more because they were part of the same criminal episode. The trial court sentenced Defendant to serve an effective twelve-year sentence. The sole issue raised on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions. Having reviewed the entire record and the parties’ briefs on appeal, we affirm Defendant’s convictions and sentences, but we remand this case to the trial court for entry of a judgment for the merged offense pursuant to State v. Berry, 503 S.W.3d 360 (Tenn. 2015). Additionally, on remand the trial court is directed to enter corrected judgments for each of Defendant’s remaining convictions to clarify which of Defendant’s sentences run concurrently.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/13/19
State of Tennessee v. Martiness Henderson
W2018-02015-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

A Shelby County jury convicted the juvenile defendant, Martiness Henderson, of first degree murder committed during the perpetration of a robbery. After conviction, the trial court immediately imposed a life sentence which the defendant now challenges as unconstitutional. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/12/19
Richard Kelly Smith v. Grady Perry, Warden
W2019-00159-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

Richard Kelly Smith, Petitioner, filed a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus (“the Petition”), claiming that he is “being illegally restrained of his liberty by an illegal, void, and/or expired criminal conviction/sentence.” The habeas corpus court found that his sentence had not expired and that the Petition “demonstrate[d] no right to relief” and summarily dismissed the Petition. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/11/19
State of Tennessee v. Manoochehre Lee Dadfar
M2018-01547-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Manoochehre Lee Dadfar, appeals the Lincoln County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation for his convictions for initiating the manufacture of methamphetamine and possession with the intent to sell a controlled substance and ordering him to serve the remainder of his effective ten-year sentence in confinement. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/11/19
State of Tennessee v. Helena Moore
E2018-00709-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey Hill Wicks

The Appellant, Helena Moore, appeals the trial court’s revocation of her community corrections sentence and order to serve her original two-year sentence in confinement, contending that she should have been returned to community corrections. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Roane County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/10/19
State of Tennessee v. Makoyous Houston
E2018-01118-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The Appellant, Makoyous Houston, appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probation, contending that the proof adduced at the hearing was insufficient to support the revocation and that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering him to serve his sentence in confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/10/19
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