Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 05/16/2022
Format: 05/16/2022
Lance Falcon v. State of Tennessee
E2021-00398-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson

The Petitioner, Lance Falcon, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for rape, statutory rape by an authority figure, and sexual battery by an authority figure, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective for not objecting to the trial court’s questioning of the Petitioner during his testimony before the jury and that his trial counsel and appellate counsel were ineffective for not raising an objection to the lack of merger and/or violation of double jeopardy as to count three of the indictment. Based on our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying relief

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/22
Jamarcus Jackson v. State of Tennessee
E2021-00642-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy Street

The Petitioner, Jamarcus Jackson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for second degree murder, misdemeanor assault, and misdemeanor reckless endangerment, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s failure to subpoena critical defense witnesses. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/22
Michael Wayne Robinson v. State of Tennessee
W2021-00886-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Michael Wayne Robinson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for reckless endangerment, aggravated assault, and unlawful possession of a weapon, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received the effective assistance of trial counsel. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/22
Monoleto Delshone Green v. State of Tennessee
W2021-00527-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The pro se Petitioner, Monoleto Delshone Green, appeals the habeas corpus court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Because the Petitioner’s notice of appeal is untimely and we find nothing that warrants the waiver of the timely notice of appeal requirement, we dismiss the appeal.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/22
State of Tennessee v. Teresa Sumpter
W2021-00119-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant, Teresa Sumpter, for the Class A felony of theft of property valued over $250,000 and for the Class B felony of money laundering. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of sixty years to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction and ordered the defendant pay $373,412.77 in restitution. The defendant filed this timely appeal, challenging the evidence supporting her theft conviction and the trial court’s ruling allowing the defendant’s prior theft convictions to be entered into evidence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/30/22
State of Tennessee v. Jimmy Evan Milstead
W2020-01705-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles C. McGinley

The Defendant-Appellant, Jimmy Evan Milstead, was convicted by a Hardin County criminal court jury of unlawful possession of a weapon, driving on a revoked license, and evading arrest. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in 1) failing to suppress a rifle discovered in the car that the Defendant was driving; and 2) in admitting the rifle after the rifle was left in the Defendant’s car for 26 days in an impound lot. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/30/22
State of Tennessee v. John David Grant
M2021-00672-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Defendant, John David Grant, appeals from the Robertson County Circuit Court’s revocation of his effective six-year community corrections sentence for his aggravated assault and vandalism of property convictions.  On appeal, he contends that his counsel at the revocation hearing provided ineffective assistance.  Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/30/22
State of Tennessee v. Joel Ernest Blanton
M2020-00155-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

A Van Buren County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant, Joel Ernest Blanton, for seven counts of rape of his eleven-year-old daughter and one count of aggravated sexual battery of his ten-year-old daughter.  At the conclusion of trial, the jury convicted the Defendant of six counts of rape of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual battery, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of 212 years.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for rape of a child in Counts 1, 2, and 4 and that his sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Van Buren County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/22
State of Tennessee v. Michael James Elrod
E2021-00622-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

Michael James Elrod, Defendant, was indicted by the McMinn County Grand Jury for second degree murder and aggravated assault after attacking his parents with a hunting knife. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged. The trial court sentenced Defendant to 20 years for second degree murder. The trial court sentenced Defendant to three years, suspended to probation, for aggravated assault. The sentences were ordered to be served consecutively. Defendant maintains on appeal (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions based on his insanity and diminished capacity defenses; and (2) that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

McMinn County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/28/22
William Eblen v. Kevin Genovese, Warden
W2021-01090-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The pro se petitioner, William Eblen, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Circuit Court for Lake County, arguing the trial court erred in summarily dismissing his petition. He insists his sentence should have expired, but the Tennessee Department of Correction “erased” sentence reduction credits he had earned. The State contends the trial court properly dismissed the petition. Upon our review of the record, the applicable law, and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the ruling of the trial court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/24/22
Brett A. Patterson v. State of Tennessee
M2020-00720-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Petitioner, Brett A. Patterson, filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis in the Montgomery County Circuit Court, contending that newly discovered evidence revealed that a vial of the victim’s blood was broken during transportation to the crime laboratory with other items of evidence, and the blood spilled onto the other evidence.  The Petitioner further contended a “tow-in receipt” for a vehicle the Petitioner had been driving revealed that the State had obtained certain items of evidence prior to the issuance of a search warrant.  Additionally, the Petitioner contended that the statute of limitations for filing the error coram nobis petition should be tolled.  After an evidentiary hearing, the coram nobis court denied the petition.  On appeal, the Petitioner challenges the coram nobis court’s ruling.  Based upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/24/22
Benjamin Lee Pearson, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2020-01267-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

The Petitioner, Benjamin Lee Pearson, Jr., pled guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual battery and received a total effective sentence of sixteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  Thereafter, the Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition, alleging that his counsel was ineffective and that his guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered.  The post-conviction court denied relief, and the Petitioner appeals.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/24/22
State of Tennessee v. Jason Matthew Campbell
M2020-01045-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Defendant, Jason Matthew Campbell, appeals his convictions and effective twenty-three-year sentence for possession of more than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine with the intent to sell or deliver, possession of a firearm by a convicted violent felon, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.  The Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to establish his constructive possession of the methamphetamine and pistol and that the prosecutor committed misconduct during rebuttal argument by violating the missing witness rule, shifting the burden of proof, and stating a personal opinion. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/24/22
State of Tennessee v. Franklin Monroe McMillan
E2020-00610-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy Harrington

Defendant, Franklin Monroe McMillan, was convicted by a jury of two counts of rape of a child and was sentenced by the trial court to a total effective sentence of eighty years. On appeal, Defendant contends that the forensic interview of the child victim was erroneously admitted, that the trial court improperly denied his motion to exclude DNA evidence, and that the prosecutor made improper statements during closing rebuttal argument. Following our review of the entire record, the briefs of the parties, and the arguments of counsel, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/22
Jessie Dotson v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01059-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Special Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Petitioner, Jessie Dotson, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his postconviction petition, in which he challenged his six convictions for first degree premeditated murder and three convictions for attempted first degree murder and his resulting sentences of death for each of the first degree murder convictions plus 120 years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal; (2) the Administrative Office of the Courts (“AOC”) and the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court improperly vacated the post-conviction court’s orders granting the Petitioner’s request for funding of experts; (3) the convictions and death sentences were the result of juror misconduct; (4) the State and the trial court committed various errors; (5) the Petitioner’s convictions and death sentences and Tennessee’s execution method are unconstitutional; and (6) cumulative error warrants relief. Upon reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs and oral arguments, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/22
Malik Yelder v. State of Tennessee
E2021-00633-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Malik Yelder, Petitioner, pled guilty to failure to appear, carjacking, and two counts of aggravated robbery. As a result, he received an effective nine-year sentence. Petitioner subsequently filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 to correct an illegal sentence in which he argued that trial counsel was ineffective. The postconviction court treated the pleading as a petition for post-conviction relief, appointed counsel, and held a hearing. The post-conviction court denied relief and dismissed the petition. Petitioner appealed. After a review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/22
Oscar Smith v. State of Tennessee
M2021-01339-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

Petitioner, Oscar Smith, a death row inmate, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition requesting analysis of evidence pursuant to the Post-Conviction Fingerprint Analysis Act of 2021.  Based upon our review of the record, oral arguments, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/22
State of Tennessee v. James Arthur Evans
E2021-00512-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

A Bledsoe County jury convicted the Defendant, James Arthur Evans, of resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to six months suspended to probation after service of twenty days in jail. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/22
Eugene Franklin v. State of Tennessee
M2021-00367-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry R. Tidwell

Petitioner, Eugene Franklin, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief challenging his convictions upon his guilty pleas to two counts of aggravated sexual battery, for which he received consecutive eight-year sentences resulting in an effective
16-year sentence.  Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by finding that he received the effective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were knowingly and voluntarily entered.  Following our review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of the petition.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/22
State of Tennessee v. Stanley Allen
W2021-00673-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Shelby County Grand Jury issued an indictment charging Defendant, Stanley Allen, with aggravated statutory rape, solicitation of a minor, and sexual battery. Following a trial, a jury found Defendant guilty of solicitation of a minor and sexual battery. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge of aggravated statutory rape. Defendant later entered a no contest plea to a lesser-included offense of assault by offensive touching on this charge. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective one-year sentence suspended to three years of supervised probation, and the court denied Defendant’s request for judicial diversion. On appeal, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for sexual battery and that the trial court abused its discretion in denying judicial diversion. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/22
State of Tennessee v. Sonya Nale - concurring in part and dissenting in part
E2021-00276-CCA-R9--CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William B. Acree

I respectfully dissent from the majority’s holding that the trial court abused its discretion by disqualifying the Twelfth Judicial District Attorney General’s office. As noted by the majority, a trial court’s decision to disqualify a prosecutor or an entire district attorney general’s office is reviewed under an abuse of discretion standard. Clinard v. Blackwood, 46 S.W.3d 177, 182 (Tenn. 2001); State v . Culbreath, 30 S.W.3d 309, 313 (Tenn. 2000). A court abuses its discretion by “apply[ing] an incorrect legal standard, or reach[ing] a decision which is against logic or reasoning that caused an injustice to the party complaining.” State v. Shirley, 6 S.W.3d 243, 247 (Tenn. 1999); see Clinard, 46 S.W.3d at 182.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/22
State of Tennessee v. Sonya Nale
E2021-00276-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William B. Acree

The Defendant, Sonya Nale, is charged by indictment with bribery of a public servant, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-16-102 (2018). After the trial court granted the Defendant’s motion to disqualify the Twelfth Judicial District Attorney’s office, we granted the State’s application for an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9 to review the trial court’s order. We reverse the trial court’s order disqualifying the district attorney general’s office from prosecuting the case.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/22
State of Tennessee v. Michael Ray Hogan
E2020-01496-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The Defendant, Michael Ray Hogan, appeals as of right from the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s revocation of his probation and reinstatement of the remainder of his four-year sentence based upon his committing new offenses, failing to report his arrests to his probation officer, and for failing to report to his probation officer. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by: (1) finding that the Defendant violated his probation because the firearm and suspected marijuana were seized in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights; (2) considering proof that occurred after the violation warrant was filed; (3) and requiring the Defendant to serve the balance of his sentence in custody. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/22
State of Tennessee v. Corey Allen Harris
W2021-00030-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Corey Allen Harris, was convicted after a jury trial of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and he received an effective eighteen-year sentence. The Defendant filed a motion for a new trial asserting that the evidence was insufficient and that the prosecutor’s argument was so improper as to constitute plain error. On appeal, the Defendant renews the challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence and the prosecutor’s closing argument, and he asks for relief based on the omission from the jury instructions of the statutory definition of attempt. Because the jury was not properly instructed on the elements of the offense of attempted second degree murder, we reverse the convictions for attempted second degree murder and employment of a firearm during the commission of attempted second degree murder, and we remand for further proceedings. The aggravated assault conviction is affirmed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/22
State of Tennessee v. Jeffery T. Siler
E2021-00395-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson

The pro se Defendant, Jeffrey T. Siler, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s order summarily dismissing his motion to correct a clerical error. See Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s order pursuant to Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the order of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/22