Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/20/2020
Format: 01/20/2020
Kendall Joy v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00100-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The petitioner, Kendall Joy, appeals from the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis by the Shelby County Criminal Court. The petitioner argues his Fourth Amendment rights were violated, and he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. After our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
Deangelo Norton v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01420-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The petitioner, Deangelo Norton, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, 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.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
Jeremy P. Duncan v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00021-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Jeremy P. Duncan, of two counts of aggravated assault, one count of possession of cocaine with the intent to sell, one count of possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, one count of being a felon in possession of a handgun, and one count of tampering with the evidence. The trial court imposed an effective twenty-four-year sentence. The Petitioner appealed, and this court affirmed the convictions and sentence. See State v. Jeremy Peres Duncan, No. W2017-00529-CCA-R3-CD, 2018 WL 1182579 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Mar. 6, 2018), perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 8, 2018). The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition, claiming he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. The Petitioner appeals the denial, maintaining that his counsel was ineffective. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Tevin Mantez Harris
M2018-00638-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

A Robertson County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Tevin Mantez Harris, of second degree murder and possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed, and the trial court sentenced him to concurrent sentences of twenty-two years to be served at one hundred percent and eleven months, twenty-nine days, respectively. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by allowing witnesses to testify about his being Muslim and his “viewpoint” toward Christianity and that his twenty-two-year sentence is excessive because the trial court misapplied an enhancement factor. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Michael Atha
E2018-00663-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

The Defendant, Jonathan Michael Atha, was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated rape, four counts of aggravated robbery, and three counts of aggravated kidnapping, for which he received an effective sentence of fifty years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant argues (1) that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the victims’ in-court identifications of the Defendant; (2) that the trial court erred by declining to issue a limiting jury instruction regarding the State’s failure to preserve evidence; (3) that the trial court erred in ordering the Defendant to serve consecutive sentences for aggravated rape; and (4) that the cumulative effect of these errors deprived the Defendant of a fair trial. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Missy Daniella Lane
E2017-01907-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ben W. Hooper, II

A Cocke County Jury found Defendant, Missy Daniella Lane, guilty of reckless homicide. The trial court imposed a sentence of two years to be served in confinement. On appeal, Defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to support her conviction for reckless homicide; (2) whether the trial court erred by denying Defendant’s motion for an extension of time to file an amended motion for new trial; (3) whether the Cocke County Grand Jury had jurisdiction to render a superseding presentment; (4) whether the trial court denied Defendant the right to peremptory challenges during voir dire; (5) whether Defendant was prejudiced by a violation of the rule of sequestration by the State’s witnesses; (6) whether the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by calling Derrick Raines as a witness; (7) whether the trial court violated Defendant’s right to a public trial; (8) whether the State’s expert witnesses testified improperly; (9) whether the trial court improperly denied Defendant’s request for jury instructions; (10) whether the jury was exposed to extraneous information; (11) whether the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments; (12) whether the trial court properly denied alternative sentencing; and (13) cumulative error. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Cocke County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Arnold Asbury
E2018-01095-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

Arnold Asbury, Defendant, claims that the trial court erred by denying his “Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea Prior to Sentencing” and, as a result, that he was denied a right to trial by jury. Although we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to withdraw the guilty plea, we determine that the trial court committed reversible error at the subsequent sentencing hearing because it neither properly accepted Defendant’s Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement pursuant to Rule 11(c)(4) nor properly rejected the plea agreement pursuant Rule 11(c)(5). We reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand for a hearing in which the court may, in its discretion, either reject or accept the Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement. If the trial court rejects the plea agreement and Defendant opts to withdraw his guilty pleas, Defendant will have the right to a trial by jury. If the trial court accepts the agreement, it must sentence Defendant pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/19
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Caldwell
M2018-02068-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Defendant, Christopher Caldwell, appeals the Sumner County Criminal Court’s order revoking his community corrections sentence for his convictions for burglary of a motor vehicle and felony theft and ordering him to serve the remainder of his effective twelve-year sentence in confinement. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his community corrections sentence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/19
State of Tennessee v. Wayford Demonbreun, Jr.
M2018-02159-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Petitioner, Wayford Demonbreun, Jr., appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that his convictions are illegal because the trial court failed to award pretrial jail credits, the date his sentences were imposed is in question, the trial judge’s name was not printed on the judgment forms, and the judgment forms were not stamped filed. We affirm the trial court’s denial of relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/19
State of Tennessee v. Frazier Lee Savage
E2018-01307-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Defendant, Frazier Lee Savage, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of possession with intent to sell less than fifteen grams of heroin within 1,000 feet of a child care agency, a Class B felony; possession with intent to deliver less than fifteen grams of heroin within 1,000 feet of a child care agency, a Class B felony; possession with intent to sell alprazolam within 1,000 feet of a child care agency, a Class D felony; possession with intent to deliver alprazolam within 1,000 feet of a child care agency, a Class D felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417(a)(2) (2018) (possession with intent to deliver), 39-17-417(a)(3) (possession with intent to sell), 39-17-425 (2018) (possession of drug paraphernalia), 39- 17-432 (2018) (providing enhanced penalties for drug offenses committed in Drug-Free School Zones). After a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the two heroin counts and the two alprazolam counts and imposed an effective twelve-year sentence at 100% service. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from a warrantless search of a motel room. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/19
Rachel Kay Bond v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01324-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Petitioner, Rachel Kay Bond, appeals the Lawrence County Circuit Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from her conviction of first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she was denied the effective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to: 1) request a change of venue; 2) strike three potential jurors; 3) investigate the existence of text messages stored in the Petitioner’s cell phone; 4) adequately cross-examine a witness; and 5) challenge the Petitioner’s competency. The Petitioner also alleges that trial counsel was ineffective because he allowed her to testify. Following a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/19
Cordricus Arnold v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01187-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Cordricus Arnold, 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.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/18/19
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