Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 02/22/2018
Format: 02/22/2018
State of Tennessee v. Richard E. Reed
E2017-00114-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The Defendant, Richard Eugene Reed, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of possession with intent to sell 0.5 gram or more of cocaine in a drug-free school zone, a Class A felony; possession with intent to deliver 0.5 gram or more of cocaine in a drug-free school zone, a Class A felony; possession with intent to sell 0.5 gram or more of cocaine within a drug-free childcare zone, a Class B felony; possession with intent to deliver 0.5 gram or more in a drug-free childcare zone, a Class B felony; possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class D felony; and unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417 (2010) (amended 2012, 2014) (possession of 0.5 gram or more of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver), 39-17-432 (2014) (drug-free school zone and drug-free childcare zone enhancement), 39-13-1324 (2010) (amended 2012, 2014) (possession of firearm during commission of a dangerous felony), 39-17-1307 (2014) (amended 2017) (unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon). The trial court merged the drug-related convictions and sentenced the Defendant to an effective twenty years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/18
Jay Dee Garrity v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01463-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The Petitioner, Jay Dee Garrity, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of three counts of aggravated sexual battery and resulting effective forty-eight-year sentence to be served at 100%. On appeal, he contends that he is entitled to a new trial because trial counsel was presumptively ineffective under United States v. Cronic, 466 U.S. 648 (1984). In the alternative, he contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel under the usual Strickland standard. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the Petitioner received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel under Strickland. Therefore, the judgment of the post-conviction court is reversed, the judgments of conviction are vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/18
State of Tennessee v. Bryan Austin Demeza
W2016-02086-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Tipton County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant, Bryan Austin DeMeza, on charges of aggravated child neglect, first degree felony murder, and three counts of aggravated child abuse. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress his statements to law enforcement, which the trial court denied. The jury convicted the Defendant as charged and sentenced him to life for the first degree murder conviction. At a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the Defendant’s convictions for three counts of aggravated child abuse into his conviction for aggravated child neglect and sentenced the Defendant to twenty years to be served concurrently with his life sentence.The trial court denied the Defendant’s motion for new trial. On appeal, the Defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statements because he was subject to custodial interrogations without being informed of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966); (2) the trial court erred in admitting extrinsic evidence of the Defendant’s prior false statements under Tennessee Rules of Evidence 401 and 608(b); and (3) the evidence was insufficient for a rational juror to have found the Defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The State argues that the trial court erred in merging the Defendant’s three aggravated child abuse convictions into his aggravated child neglect conviction. After a thorough review of the evidence and applicable case law, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions for felony murder and three counts of aggravated child abuse. Because the evidence at trial was insufficient for a rational juror to have found the Defendant guilty of aggravated child neglect beyond a reasonable doubt but was sufficient for a finding of guilt of child neglect, we reduce the Defendant’s aggravated child neglect conviction to child neglect and remand for sentencing on the child neglect conviction. We also conclude that the trial court erred in merging the three aggravated child abuse convictions into the aggravated child neglect conviction and remand for sentencing on the Defendant’s three aggravated child abuse convictions.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/18
John Ashley Snider v. State of Tennessee - Concurring In Results Only
W2017-00582-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Trial counsel pursued an appeal following a guilty plea by Petitioner, wherein trial counsel’s work resulted in Petitioner’s appeal being dismissed for a procedural reason. The procedural reason for dismissal of the appeal was that the certified question of law was not dispositive of the case.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/18
John Ashley Snider v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00582-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Petitioner, John Ashley Snider, pleaded guilty to six drug-related charges in exchange for an effective sentence of ten years of Community Corrections, after the service of eleven months and twenty-nine days. At the time of the plea, he reserved a certified question for appeal regarding law enforcement officers’ warrantless entry into his home and the seizure of his person. This court dismissed the appeal, holding that the certified question was not dispositive of the case. State v. John Ashley Snider, No. W2014-01848-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 5014605, at *3-4 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Aug. 25, 2015), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 14, 2015). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court held a hearing, after which it denied the petition. On appeal, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/18
State of Tennessee v. Corey Jones
W2017-00157-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Corey Jones, of aggravated kidnapping, robbery, aggravated burglary, and theft of property valued at $1,000 or more. The trial court imposed an effective nineteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in requiring that the Defendant wear physical restraints at trial and that the trial court made improper comments in the presence of the jury regarding the credibility of the State’s witnesses. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. We remand for entry of a corrected judgment reflecting a three-year sentence for the theft conviction.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/18
State of Tennessee v. Dewayne Jones
W2016-02070-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

A jury convicted the Defendant, Dewayne Jones, of rape of a child, incest, and aggravated sexual battery for crimes committed against his daughter, and he was sentenced to an effective sentence of thirty-five years. The Defendant appeals, asserting (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions; (2) that the trial court committed error in questioning a witness; (3) that the trial court erred in failing to merge the convictions; (4) that the trial court improperly imposed consecutive sentences; (5) that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction; and (6) that he is entitled to relief under a theory of cumulative error. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court and remand for correction of a judgment form to reflect the proper statutory provision for the conviction offense.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/18
State of Tennessee v. Kortney Ball
M2017-01436-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

Defendant was convicted by a Rutherford County Jury of driving under the influence (“DUI”), retaliation for past action, assault, and resisting arrest. The trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of two years, of which Defendant was ordered to serve six months in incarceration and the balance of the sentence on supervised probation. Defendant appeals his conviction for retaliation for past action, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/18
State of Tennessee v Lesandru Deniesh Webster
M2017-00939-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

Defendant, Lesandru Deniesh Webster, was convicted of aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping. She received an effective sentence of thirty-five years and six months. On appeal, Defendant argues that she was denied her right to a jury selected from a fair cross-section of the community and that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions. After review, we hold that Defendant is not entitled to relief. The judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/18
State of Tennessee v. Perry Lewis Sisco
M2017-01202-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

Perry Lewis Sisco, the Defendant, was convicted by a jury of one count of rape of a child and four counts of rape and was sentenced to twenty-five years for rape of a child and to twelve years on each of the rape convictions. The four twelve-year sentences were ordered to be served concurrently with each other but consecutively to the twenty-five-year sentence, for a total effective sentence of thirty-seven years. On appeal, the Defendant claims that: (1) the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress his statement; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion for the recusal of the 13th Judicial District Attorney General and his staff; (3) the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing; and (4) there was insufficient evidence to sustain the convictions. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/18
James Allen v. State of Tennessee
E2017-01043-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa Rice

The petitioner, James Allen, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2013 Washington County Criminal Court jury convictions of first degree murder and possession of a firearm with intent to employ it during the commission of first degree murder, for which he received a life sentence. In this appeal, the petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Christopher M. Mullins
E2017-01087-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The defendant, Christopher M. Mullins, appeals the revocation of the six-year probationary sentence imposed for his 2013 conviction of manufacturing .5 grams or more of methamphetamine, arguing that the trial court erred by ordering that he serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Terry Sanders
M2017-00905-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

Terry Sanders, the Movant, filed a “Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence” pursuant Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure claiming that his sentence was illegal because the State failed to comply with the ten-day notice requirement of intent to seek enhanced punishment, the State intentionally filed an improper notice to interfere with the Movant’s due process rights, and the trial court erred in calculating his prior felony convictions and sentencing him as a career offender. The trial court found that the Movant failed to state a colorable claim and summarily dismissed the motion. We affirm.

Houston County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Mark Hartsfield
M2016-01959-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Russell Parkes

In 2016, the Defendant, Timothy Mark Hartsfield, entered a best interest plea to possession of methamphetamine, possession of synthetic marijuana, and unlawful possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The Defendant 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 was valid based on statements made by the investigating officer in the search warrant application. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to ten years of incarceration. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Benjamin Tate Brown
M2017-01150-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

The Defendant, Benjamin Tate Brown, was indicted for driving under the influence (DUI), driving while his blood alcohol concentration was .08% or more (DUI per se); and DUI, second offense. Following a bench trial, the Defendant was found guilty of DUI, second offense, and the remaining charges were dismissed. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in not suppressing the evidence because the officer lacked probable cause to stop his vehicle and in finding the offense was a second offense because his convictions were more than ten years apart. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Antwuan Matias Gordon
M2017-01306-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Defendant, Antwuan Matias Gordon, entered an open guilty plea to one count of driving a motor vehicle after having been declared a habitual motor vehicle offender, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-616. The trial court sentenced Defendant to serve four years in incarceration. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying an alternative sentence. After a review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Roger Terry Johnson
M2017-01249-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

Defendant, Roger Terry Johnson, is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Howard Melton
E2017-00613-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R, McGee

The defendant, Howard Melton, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury conviction of sexual exploitation of a minor, claiming that the trial court erred by improperly admitting certain evidence and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Mena Mekhaen Boutrous
M2017-00835-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Defendant, Mena Mekhaen Boutrous, was convicted of two counts of aggravated arson and one count of attempted first degree murder after a bench trial. The trial court merged the two counts of aggravated arson and sentenced Defendant to twenty years for the conviction for aggravated arson and twenty years for the conviction for attempted first degree murder, to be served concurrently. On appeal, Defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred by excluding evidence of Defendant’s mental health; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions; and (3) the sentences were excessive. After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Duran Maszae Lee
E2017-00368-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge

The Defendant, Duran Maszae Lee, was convicted by an Anderson County Criminal Court jury of possession with the intent to sell or to deliver more than 0.5 gram of cocaine, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-417(a)(4) (2010) (amended 2012, 2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to sixteen years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) that the indictment is duplicitous, and (3) the trial court erred by failing to exclude his pretrial statements to the police. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Matthew George Vogel
E2017-00894-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz

The Defendant, Matthew George Vogel, appeals from the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s revocation of probation for his Range I, eight-year sentence for possession with the intent to sell methamphetamine, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-417 (2014). The Defendant contends that the trial court erred in revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/18
Darrell M. Anderson v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00922-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The petitioner, Darrell M. Anderson, 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 judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/15/18
Rodney Smith v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00406-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The petitioner, Rodney Smith, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his Shelby County Criminal Court convictions for attempted especially aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, convicted felon in possession of a handgun, and convicted felon in possession of a firearm. On appeal, the petitioner alleges he received ineffective assistance of counsel due to trial counsel’s failure to call a material witness at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Cole-Pugh
W2017-00469-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Brandon Cole-Pugh, was convicted of being a felon in possession of a handgun and sentenced to eight years. On appeal, the defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of his request for an instruction on the defense of necessity. Having thoroughly reviewed the record, we conclude the trial court did not err in denying the defendant’s request on the defense of necessity.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Ernest Butler aka Antonio Butler
W2017-00136-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Defendant, Ernest Butler, aka Antonio Butler, was convicted of first degree felony murder and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and fifteen years, respectively, to be served consecutively. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the murder conviction. We disagree and affirm the judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/15/18