Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 12/26/2014
Format: 12/26/2014
Richard Cleveland Martin v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02480-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Richard Cleveland Martin, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and first degree felony murder committed during the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate a kidnapping.  Following merger, the trial court sentenced him to life in prison.  After an unsuccessful direct appeal, petitioner filed this petition for post-conviction relief alleging the following claims of ineffective assistance of counsel: (1) failure to ensure that petitioner understood the trial process; (2) failure to request a mental health examination; (3) failure to view the crime scene or interview and develop potential witnesses; and (4) failure to analyze or review a supplemental DNA Report.  Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/17/14
Gary Dwayne Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02034-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The petitioner, Gary Dwayne Johnson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  He stands convicted of multiple charges based upon his actions following his escape from custody at a hospital where he was being treated.  He was sentenced, as a career offender, to an effective term of one hundred and forty-one years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, he contends that the post-conviction court erred in its denial because he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel.  Specifically, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to adequately investigate the case and potential exonerating evidence; (2) failing to pursue a motion for severance; (3) failing to include all issues in the motion for new trial; and (4) failing to file mitigating factors and provide adequate representation at the sentencing hearing.  Following review of the record, we conclude that the post-conviction court properly denied relief.  As such, the judgment of the court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
Gary Dwayne Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02034-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The petitioner, Gary Dwayne Johnson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  He stands convicted of multiple charges based upon his actions following his escape from custody at a hospital where he was being treated.  He was sentenced, as a career offender, to an effective term of one hundred and forty-one years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, he contends that the post-conviction court erred in its denial because he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel.  Specifically, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to adequately investigate the case and potential exonerating evidence; (2) failing to pursue a motion for severance; (3) failing to include all issues in the motion for new trial; and (4) failing to file mitigating factors and provide adequate representation at the sentencing hearing.  Following review of the record, we conclude that the post-conviction court properly denied relief.  As such, the judgment of the court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
Nathaniel Carson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00422-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Jude D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth Norman

The Petitioner, Nathaniel Carson, appeals as of right from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call a second alibi witness and failing to request a bill of particulars.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
State of Tennessee v. Charles Godspower
M2013-00721-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg

The appellant, Charles Godspower, pled guilty in the Rutherford County Circuit Court to second degree murder and attempted first degree murder, Class A felonies, and received concurrent 30-year sentences to be served at 100% and 35%, respectively.  On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to reduce his sentences.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
State of Tennessee v. Corrin Kathleen Reynolds - separate concurring
E2013-02309-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Sword
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Corrin Kathleen Reynolds
E2013-02309-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter, Sp.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Sword

Defendant, Corrin Kathleen Reynolds, was charged with several criminal offenses, including driving under the influence, after she was involved in a fatal car accident in Knox County. While Defendant was at the hospital being treated for her injuries, a blood sample was taken for law enforcement purposes. Defendant filed motions seeking to suppress the results of the blood analysis. After two hearings, the trial court granted Defendant’s motion. The trial court and this Court granted the State’s request to pursue an interlocutory appeal. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we determine that the record supports the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant did not give actual consent to the contested blood draw. However, the record preponderates against the trial court’s conclusion that Officer Strzelecki lacked probable cause to believe that Defendant had consumed alcohol. Therefore, we determine that the warrantless blood draw was proper under subsection (f)(1) of the implied consent statute because Defendant did not refuse the blood draw. Accordingly, Defendant’s blood test results are not subject to suppression on the grounds argued; we reverse the trial court’s grant of Defendant’s motion to suppress and remand this matter for further proceedings.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Stephen Rene Morris
M2013-01265-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley

The defendant, Stephen Rene Morris, was convicted of Class A misdemeanor assault and sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days, which was suspended to supervised probation.  The defendant now appeals his conviction asserting: (1) that the trial court erred by instructing the jury that misdemeanor assault is a lesser included offense of Class E felony abuse of an adult, the original charge; and (2) that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction.  Following review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did err in instructing the jury, but the resulting error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  Additionally, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction.  As such, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Alajemba
M2013-00968-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg

The defendant, Jonathan Alajemba, appeals his Rutherford County Circuit Court jury convictions of felony murder, second degree murder, attempted first degree murder, attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and facilitation of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated robbery, claiming a violation of his right to a speedy trial; that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the statement he made to police and his motion for transcription of witness statements; that the trial court erred by declaring a witness unavailable for the purpose of admitting prior testimony; that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions of first degree felony murder, facilitation of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated robbery, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary; that the trial court made several erroneous evidentiary rulings; and that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument.  Because the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions of aggravated burglary and felony murder in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate a burglary, those convictions are reversed, and the charges are dismissed.  The felony murder convictions predicated upon robbery and theft remain unaffected.  The trial court’s judgments are affirmed in all other respects.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
Derrick Taylor v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02053-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Wright

The petitioner, Derrick Taylor, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that his guilty pleas were knowing and voluntary. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Deangelo Sevier v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00363-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The petitioner, Deangelo Sevier, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Donald Ragland v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02778-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Donald Ragland, appeals the trial court’s denial of his “Motion to Reconsider Relief from Judgment,” asserting that he is entitled to relief based on testimony surrounding the affidavit supporting his arrest. We conclude that the petitioner does not have an appeal as of right from the denial of such motion and dismiss the appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Landreo Lurry v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00337-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

The pro se petitioner, Landreo Lurry, appeals the order of the trial court dismissing his petition for writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that his petition failed to state a claim for habeas relief. The petitioner argues that he is entitled to habeas corpus, error coram nobis, and post-conviction relief because his Tennessee burglary convictions, which were used to enhance his federal firearms sentence, occurred following the improper transfer of his case from juvenile to criminal court without a transfer hearing or the representation of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court dismissing the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Jackson and Joletta Summers
W2013-00185-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett

The husband-wife defendants, Antonio Jackson and Joletta Summers, were convicted of voluntary manslaughter, a Class C felony, and attempted voluntary manslaughter, a Class D felony. Defendant Summers was also convicted of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. Defendant Jackson was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to concurrent terms of eight years for the voluntary manslaughter conviction and four years for the attempted voluntary manslaughter conviction. Defendant Summers was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent terms of three years for each of the manslaughter convictions and to six years for the firearm conviction, to be served consecutively to the three-year sentence. The defendants now appeal, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the denial of their motion to sever, and certain evidentiary rulings made by the court. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Ivy
W2013-02655-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The defendant, Thomas Ivy, was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, and sentenced to eleven months, twenty-nine days, suspended to probation. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Billy Dean Sizemore
M2013-01853-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy Easter

A Lewis County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Billy Dean Sizemore, of delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance, a Class C felony, and the trial court sentenced him as a Range III, persistent offender to fourteen years in confinement.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction; that the trial court erred by allowing evidence of a prior bad act in violation of Rule 404(a), Tennessee Rules of Evidence; that the trial court’s failure to give the jury a limiting instruction regarding the prior bad act constitutes reversible error; and that the trial court improperly relied on the presentence report showing prior convictions in Florida rather than requiring the State to produce certified copies of the judgments of conviction.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lewis County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Croasmun
M2014-00243-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

The defendant, Brandon Croasmun, appeals from the Cannon County Circuit Court’s denial of his motion for a suspended sentence.  Because the trial court’s denial was based on its erroneous belief that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the motion, as conceded by the State, we reverse the decision of the trial court and remand for a hearing.

Cannon County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Danny J. C. King
M2014-00562-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest Durard

This matter is before the Court upon the State’s motion to affirm the judgments of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Appellant, Danny J. C. King, has appealed the Marshall County Circuit Court order denying Appellant’s request for alternative sentencing.  Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court did not err in denying alternative sentencing.  The State’s request meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Accordingly, the State’s motion is granted, and the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Daniel Vallejo, Jr.
M2013-02028-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The appellant, Daniel Vallejo, Jr., was convicted in the Williamson County Circuit Court of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; theft of property valued more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, a Class D felony; and two counts of automobile burglary, a Class E felony.  After a sentencing hearing, he received an effective nine-year sentence.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the aggravated burglary conviction; that his statements to police were inadmissible because they were tainted by an illegal search; that his jailhouse statements to his wife were inadmissible because they were protected by marital privilege; and that evidence deemed inadmissible at trial also was inadmissible at sentencing.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Emonnie Dion Branch, Jr.
M2013-01843-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The appellant, Emonnie Dion Branch, Jr., pled guilty in the Sumner County Criminal Court to twenty-three offenses resulting from two home invasions, two convenience store robberies, and an assault of a fellow inmate.  The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of one hundred and thirty years.  On appeal, the appellant challenges the length of the sentences imposed by the trial court.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/06/14
Cyntoia Denise Brown v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00825-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The Petitioner, Cyntoia Denise Brown, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery and resulting concurrent sentences of life and eight years.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel, that she is “entitled to relief under error coram nobis,” that her mandatory life sentence is unconstitutional, and that she was denied due process.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/06/14
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Todd Ghormley
E2013-01932-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don R. Ash

In an opinion filed on January 20, 2012, this court determined that the trial court erred by failing to hold a competency hearing and remanded the case to the trial court to conduct a retrospective competency hearing. See State v. Anthony Todd Ghormley, No. E2010-00634-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Knoxville, Jan. 20, 2012) (Ghormley I). Following the hearing on remand, the trial court concluded that the defendant was competent to stand trial. The defendant now appeals that decision. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
Doris Williams v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00033-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Doris Williams, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and received an out-of-range sentence of thirty-five years to be served at 100%.  In her post-conviction petition, she claimed that she received ineffective assistance of counsel and that her guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary.  The post-conviction court denied relief.  On appeal, petitioner argues that she was heavily medicated during trial counsel’s representation of her and during her plea hearing, that trial counsel did not advise her in a manner she could comprehend due to said medication, and that she entered her guilty plea without a full understanding of the consequences.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
State of Tennessee v. Roy Anthony Haley
M2013-02756-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Russell

The defendant, Roy Anthony Haley, appeals his Bedford County Circuit Court jury conviction of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, contending that the sentence imposed by the trial court was excessive.  We affirm the conviction and sentence but remand for correction of a clerical error in the judgment.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
Ivan Charles Graves v. State of Tennessee
E2013-02445-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

Petitioner, Ivan Charles Graves, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Petitioner was convicted by a Knox County jury of first degree premeditated murder and felony murder in the perpetration of a kidnapping. The trial court merged Petitioner’s convictions and sentenced Petitioner to life in prison. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After a careful review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to establish that he is entitled to post-conviction relief. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/04/14