Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 12/09/2019
Format: 12/09/2019
State of Tennessee v. Richard Williams
E2018-01460-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

Richard Williams, Defendant, was indicted on two counts of attempted first degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder where the victim suffered serious bodily injury, and two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted on all counts as charged and received a total effective sentence of thirty-six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/28/19
State of Tennessee v. Gary Lee Bragg
E2018-01789-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Defendant, Gary Lee Bragg, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of two counts of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; possession of burglary tools, a Class A misdemeanor; and two counts of drug possession, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. § 39- 14-403 (2018); 39-14-701 (2018), 39-17-418 (2018). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range III, persistent offender to twelve years for each aggravated burglary conviction and to eleven months, twenty-nine days for each misdemeanor conviction. The court ordered consecutive service of the aggravated burglary sentences, for an effective twenty-four-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support one of the aggravated burglary convictions and (2) the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/28/19
State of Tennessee v. Randy Earl Edwards
M2018-02247-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

The defendant, Randy Earl Edwards, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s order revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the balance of his 10-year sentence for the sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine in confinement. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/28/19
James Bostic, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01369-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

The petitioner, James Bostic, Jr., appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged the revocation of the community corrections placement for his 2014 guilty-pleaded conviction of the sale of cocaine. In this appeal, the petitioner claims entitlement to post-conviction relief on grounds that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel at the community corrections revocation hearing. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/28/19
State of Tennessee v. Nathaniel A. Rhodes
M2018-00136-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody N. Kane

The Defendant-Appellant, Nathaniel A. Rhodes, entered guilty pleas to one count of TennCare fraud in case number 15-CR-1060 and to one count of sale of Alprazolam in case number 15-CR-1061, with the trial court to determine the range, length, and manner of service of his sentences following a sentencing hearing. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 71-5-2601(a)(5)(A), 39-17-417. Thereafter, the trial court imposed two consecutive ten-year sentences in confinement. On appeal, Rhodes argues that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. After reviewing the record in this case, we affirm the judgment of the trial court but remand the case for entry of corrected judgments as specified in this opinion.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/28/19
State of Tennessee v. Rickey Driver
W2018-02114-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

A Fayette County jury convicted the defendant, Rickey Driver, of violating the requirements of the sexual offender registry due to his failure to report during 2016. The trial court imposed a six-year sentence which was suspended after 120 days of service. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. Following our review of the record and pertinent authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Fayette County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Trenton Ray Forrester
W2018-01947-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The defendant, Trenton Ray Forrester, aggrieved of his Henderson County Circuit Court jury convictions of aggravated burglary and theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $2,500, appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the propriety of the fully-incarcerative, six-year effective sentence. We affirm both the conviction and the accompanying sentence. Because, however, the trial court failed to consider the defendant’s ability to pay when setting the amount of restitution, we reverse the restitution order and remand the case for a new restitution hearing.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/19
Jonathon D. Brown v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02055-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Petitioner, Jonathon D. Brown, was convicted by a Robertson County jury of aggravated rape, especially aggravated kidnapping, and theft of property over the value of $1,000, for which he received an effective sentence of sixty years’ incarceration. Petitioner filed for post-conviction relief, which was denied following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner appeals, asserting that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to adequately meet with Petitioner given the severity of the charges and trial counsel’s failure to secure a land survey to “further buttress his venue argument.” After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Antonious Johnson and Rodney Williams
W2018-01125-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendants, Antonious Johnson and Rodney Williams, were convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree felony murder, aggravated burglary, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and Defendant Johnson was additionally convicted of aggravated robbery and theft of property valued at more than $1000. Defendant Johnson received a sentence of life imprisonment plus nine years, while Defendant Williams received a life sentence. On appeal, the Defendants argue that the trial court improperly admitted the victim’s testimony and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain their convictions. Additionally, Defendant Johnson argues that he is entitled to relief based on cumulative error, while Defendant Williams argues that the trial court committed plain error in admitting a photograph of him at the crime scene and that his life sentence is cruel and unusual because he was a juvenile at the time of the offense. After thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/23/19
Brian Lee Webb v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01664-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles C. McGinley

Petitioner, Brian Lee Webb, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Because Petitioner failed to establish that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Benton County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/23/19
State of Tennessee v. Sean Angelo Davenport
E2018-01273-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

A jury convicted Defendant, Sean Angelo Davenport, of first degree premeditated murder, and Defendant was sentenced to life. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient for a rational juror to have found him guilty of first degree premeditated murder; (2) the trial court erred by instructing the jury on flight; (3) the trial court erred by failing to give Defendant’s requested jury instruction on spoliation; (4) the trial court erred by admitting evidence of Defendant’s prior bad acts; and (5) the trial court erred by failing to order a mistrial when, during deliberations, the jury asked if Defendant had access to their personal information. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/23/19
State of Tennessee v. Charles E. Mason, Jr.
E2018-01310-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James L. Gass

The Defendant, Charles E. Mason, Jr., pled guilty to four counts of aggravated assault and one count of aggravated stalking charged in three separate indictments and received an aggregate sentence of twenty years to be served on probation. The trial court found the Defendant in violation of his probation for three convictions of aggravated assault and for aggravated stalking and ordered him to serve these sentences in confinement. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the trial court erred in revoking his probation and that the trial court erred by not including graduated sanctions under Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-28-304 when it reinstated his probation approximately six months prior to the instant violation. We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in revoking the Defendant’s probation and that the issue regarding graduated sanctions has been waived. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Cocke County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/23/19
State of Tennessee v. Mohamed A. Almahmmody
M2018-01274-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

A jury convicted Mohamed A. Almahmmody, Defendant, of one count of first degree premeditated murder and three counts of aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced Defendant to a total effective sentence of life plus six years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained from his cell phone as a result of an invalid search warrant and that the trial court erred in declining to provide a special jury instruction on self-defense in the killing of an innocent bystander. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/23/19
State of Tennessee v. Osei Sorrell
E2018-00831-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

A Hamilton County jury convicted the Defendant, Osei Sorrell, of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment. The trial court dismissed the aggravated assault conviction in its capacity as 13th juror and imposed an effective
nine-year sentence for the remaining convictions. The Defendant raises the following issues on appeal: (1) the jury venire did not represent a cross-section of Hamilton County; (2) the trial court erred when it denied his motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence that would have resulted in a different verdict; (3) the trial court erred in declaring the victim unavailable to testify; (4) the trial court erred when it limited the proof of the victim’s gang affiliation; (5) Agent Hudson was not qualified as an expert on firearms identification; and (6) the trial court erred when it allowed the victim’s prior out of court identification of the Defendant as the shooter to be admitted. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/22/19
State of Tennessee v. Tosha Marie Silcox
E2018-02206-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Reed Duggan

Defendant, Tosha Marie Silcox, appeals from the trial court’s revocation of her probation in November 2018. Without presenting the issue to the trial court, Defendant now challenges the trial court’s 2016 probation revocation order, which modified Defendant’s original 2014 sentence. The modified probation order required Defendant to serve a sentence of split confinement for a period of one year and extended Defendant’s probation. With regard to the 2018 revocation, Defendant argues that the State failed to prove that Defendant disobeyed a lawful order of the probation officer and that she used “abusive, threatening, or intimidating behavior” towards her probation officer. After hearing oral argument and conducting a full review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/22/19
State of Tennessee v. David B. Garnder
M2018-00289-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Petitioner, David B. Gardner, appeals the denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis based upon newly discovered evidence. After thoroughly reviewing the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the error coram nobis court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/19
State of Tennessee v. James Mitchell
M2018-00368-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Defendant, James Mitchell, entered a plea of guilty to possession with intent to sell more than .5 grams of methamphetamine. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a Range I, standard offender, to eight years. Defendant attempted to reserve a certified question of law under Rule 37(b)(2)(A) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence seized after a search of his person that occurred when he arrived by car at another person’s home which was being searched pursuant to a search warrant. After review, we conclude that this Court does not have jurisdiction to address the certified question because the certification did not meet the requirements of State v. Preston, 759 S.W.2d 647 (Tenn. 1988). The appeal is, therefore, dismissed.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/19
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Edward Christian
M2018-00320-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa Jackson

Defendant, Douglas Edward Christian, was convicted of Class B felony possession of .5 grams or more of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance, with the intent to sell or deliver (Count 1); Class B felony possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, with the intent to sell or deliver (Count 2); Class D felony possession of a Schedule III controlled substance, Bu[p]reno[r]phine, with the intent to sell or deliver (Count 3); and Class A misdemeanor possession of marijuana, a Schedule VI controlled substance (Count 4). The trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective term of twenty-years as a Range II offender. On appeal, Defendant claims that the trial court “erroneously used foreign judgments” to sentence him as a Range II offender, considered unsubstantiated information in sentencing him, wrongly denied pretrial jail credits, and erred by denying Defendant his right to a speedy trial. After a thorough review of the record and briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/19
State of Tennessee v. Tyson B. Dodson
M2018-01087-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Defendant, Tyson B. Dodson, pled guilty to burglary, failure to appear, domestic assault, and vandalism valued at $1000 or less. After entering a guilty plea, the trial court imposed a sentence of three years, with eleven months and twenty-nine days to be served in confinement and the remainder of the sentence to be served under supervised probation. In addition, the Defendant was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $999. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by altering the terms of the plea agreement and ordering restitution at the sentencing hearing and that the Defendant was denied his constitutional right to due process because the trial court failed to ensure that the Defendant had notice that restitution would be addressed at the sentencing hearing. Following our review, we reverse the order setting the restitution amount and remand for a restitution hearing, at which the trial court shall consider Defendant’s financial resources and ability to pay and determine the proper amount and schedule of restitution payments. In all other respects, the judgments are affirmed.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/19
Lee D. Watts v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01379-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross H. Hicks

The petitioner, Lee D. Watts, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2015 convictions of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/19
State of Tennessee v. Zackary James Earl Ponder
M2018-00998-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe

The defendant, Zackary James Earl Ponder, appeals his Stewart County Circuit Court jury convictions of first degree premeditated murder and aggravated assault, claiming that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence three photographs of the victim, by refusing to allow the defendant pretrial access to the criminal history of a State witness, by limiting his cross-examination of the investigating officer, by permitting the prosecutor to express his personal opinion during closing argument, and by failing to address “the fine portion of the defendant’s sentence.” He also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence for his conviction of first degree murder. Although we conclude that portions of the State’s closing argument were improper, we deem the error harmless. We detect clerical error in the judgment for the defendant’s conviction of aggravated assault that necessitates the entry of a corrected judgment for that count. Otherwise, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Stewart County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/19
David N. Shaver v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01862-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James L. Gass

Petitioner, David N. Shaver, appeals the Grainger County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner asserts that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in connection with his guilty plea proceedings. Specifically, he contends that trial counsel failed to properly explain the terms of the plea agreement and failed to conduct a proper investigation into the charge against Petitioner. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Grainger County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Robert Diggs
E2018-01755-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

Robert Diggs, Defendant, pled guilty to two counts of sale of a Schedule III controlled substance within a drug-free zone (counts one and five), two counts of delivery of a Schedule III controlled substance within a drug-free zone (counts two and six), and one count of maintaining a dwelling where a controlled substance was kept or sold (count seven). The trial court ordered Defendant to serve concurrent sentences of two years in the Tennessee Department of Correction for the convictions in counts one and five. No sentence was imposed in counts two and six. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by ordering him to serve his sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction because the trial court incorrectly determined that his convictions under the Drug-Free School Zone Act (“DFSZ Act”) made him ineligible for community corrections. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we conclude that the trial court properly determined that Defendant was not eligible for community corrections because Defendant was convicted under the DFSZ Act and we affirm the convictions.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Mimi Barrett
E2018-01643-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

Mimi Barrett, Defendant, pled guilty to three counts of sale of a Schedule III controlled substance within a drug-free zone (counts one, three, and five), three counts of delivery of a Schedule III controlled substance within a drug-free zone (counts two, four, and six), and one count of maintaining a dwelling where a controlled substance was kept or sold (count seven). The trial court ordered Defendant to serve concurrent sentences of two years in the Tennessee Department of Correction for each conviction. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by ordering her to serve her sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction because the trial court incorrectly determined that her convictions under the Drug-Free School Zone Act (“DFSZ Act”) made her ineligible for community corrections. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we conclude that the trial court properly denied community corrections on the ground that Defendant was convicted under the Drug-Free School Zone Act. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Ronald Ailey
E2017-02359-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The Defendant, Ronald Ailey, was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated assault. Thereafter, the trial court imposed concurrent terms of four and one-half years, denied the Defendant’s request for judicial diversion, and ordered the Defendant to serve six months’ incarceration before being released on supervised probation. Upon the Defendant’s motion for new trial, he argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel due to trial counsel’s failure to call exculpatory witnesses, failure to investigate and prepare for trial, failure to impeach certain State’s witnesses, failure to prepare the Defendant to testify, failure to object to improper questioning of the Defendant on crossexamination, and failure to adequately advise the Defendant during plea negotiations. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying him judicial diversion or total probation and by applying certain enhancement factors. He also challenges the trial court’s ruling that he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Upon a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/19/19