Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 12/04/2016
Format: 12/04/2016
State of Tennessee v. Travis Lindsey
M2015-01954-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The Defendant, Travis Lindsey, was convicted by a Maury County Circuit Court jury of the sale of 0.5 gram or more of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school, a Class A felony, and sale of 0.5 gram or more of cocaine, a Class B felony.  See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-432 (2014) (school zone), 39-17-417(A)(3)(C)(1) (2010) (amended 2012, 2014) (sale of cocaine).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent sentences of twenty years for the sale of cocaine in a drug-free zone conviction and ten years for the sale of cocaine conviction.  The court also ordered concurrent service with an unrelated sentence in federal court.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for sale of cocaine in a drug-free zone, (2) the court erred by allowing testimony relative to the Defendant’s prior bad acts, and (3) the court erred by admitting into evidence recorded statements in violation of the Confrontation Clause.   We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Brannon Harrison Shockley
E2016-00261-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword
The Defendant, Brannon Harrison Shockley, pleaded guilty in the Knox County Criminal Court to aggravated assault, a Class C felony, with an agreed sentence of four years with the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court. See T.C.A. § 39-13-102(a)(1)(A)(iv) (2014) (amended 2015) (aggravated assault by strangulation). The court denied alternative sentencing. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by denying him alternative sentencing. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/16
State of Tennessee v. James Ronald Rollins
E2016-00186-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The appellant, James Ronald Rollins, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence in the Hamilton County Criminal Court pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion, and the appellant appeals the ruling. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/16
Kimberly Mangrum v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00383-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

The Petitioner, Kimberly Mangrum, appeals the Dickson County Circuit Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions for first degree felony murder, attempted first degree premeditated murder, aggravated burglary, and especially aggravated kidnapping and her effective life sentence.  The Petitioner contends that (1) she received the ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal and (2) counsel’s ineffective assistance deprived her of due process of law.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/16
State of Tennessee v. Austin Dean
E2015-01217-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword
The Defendant, Austin Dean, pleaded guilty to eleven counts of aggravated robbery, Class B felonies. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-402 (2014). Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court merged Counts 2 and 3 into Count 1, merged Counts 5, 6, and 7 into Count 4, and merged Counts 9, 10, and 11 into Count 8, and the court would determine the length and manner of service of the sentences. The trial court imposed three eight-year sentences and ordered partial consecutive service, for an effective sixteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive service. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/07/16
State of Tennessee v. John Freitas
W2015-02492-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The defendant, John Freitas, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of assault and domestic assault, both Class A misdemeanors, and sentenced to consecutive terms of eleven months and twenty-nine days in the county workhouse. On appeal, he argues that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) his convictions for assault and domestic assault violate double jeopardy; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion by imposing consecutive sentences. After review, we conclude that it violates double jeopardy for the defendant to receive punishments for assault and domestic assault. Therefore, we order that the defendant's convictions stand but that amended judgments be entered showing that the simple assault conviction merges into the domestic assault conviction for imposition of one sentence.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/07/16
Adam C. Braseel v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00057-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

Petitioner, Adam Clyde Braseel, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder, felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, and assault and sentenced to an effective sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.  State v. Adam Clyde Braseel, No. M2009-00839-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 3609247, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 17, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Feb. 17, 2011).  On direct appeal, this Court merged the aggravated assault and attempted first degree murder convictions and corrected several clerical errors in the judgments.  In all other respects, the convictions and sentences were affirmed.  Petitioner subsequently sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, arguing, among other things that trial counsel should have filed a motion to suppress the pre-trial identification of Petitioner as the perpetrator, should have challenged the eyewitness identification of Petitioner at trial, and should have requested a jury instruction on eyewitness identification.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court granted relief.  The State appealed.  After a thorough review, we reverse and remand the judgment of the post-conviction court.  All of Petitioner’s covictions are reinstated and his petition for post-conviction relief is dismissed.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Ashley Kelso
M2015-00661-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

The trial court revoked Ashley Kelso’s (“the Defendant”)probation and ordered her to serve the balance of her sentence.  After a review of the record and applicable law, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the Defendant violated her probation or by ordering that she serve her sentence in incarceration.  The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Tina Lynn Szabo
W2015-02264-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

This is an appeal by permission, pursuant to Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. A Henry County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Tina Lynn Szabo, for various charges arising out of a traffic stop based upon the Defendant's erratic driving and the subsequent blood test results obtained by a search warrant for a blood draw. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the blood test results obtained as a result of a search warrant, and the trial court suppressed the blood test results, ruling that an error within the warrant and an untimely return rendered the search warrant invalid. The State filed a motion for an interlocutory appeal, which was granted by the trial court. We granted the Rule 9 appeal, and the State asserts that the trial court erred when it granted the Defendant's Motion to Suppress. After review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Henry County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/16
Kenneth Sherron v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00515-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Kenneth Sherron, pleaded guilty to facilitation of kidnapping. Thereafter, the Petitioner filed an untimely petition for post-conviction relief, and the post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition as time-barred. The Petitioner appeals, asserting that the post-conviction court erred when it summarily dismissed the petition. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Tonya Lavette Christopher - concurring
E2015-02038-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole
I join in the majority's disposition of this case. I write separately only to highlight an apparent precedential conflict that came to light upon pondering footnote three in the majority opinion.
 
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Tonya Lavette Christopher
E2015-02038-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Defendant, Tonya Lavette Christopher, pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI), first offense. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-401. The Defendant's plea agreement preserved a certified question of law regarding the legality of the police encounter which preceded her arrest. Following our review, we conclude that the police officer's detention of the Defendant was justified upon reasonable suspicion of obstructing a roadway in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-307. Accordingly, the DUI judgment is affirmed.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Khalid M. Mohssin
M2015-02125-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Khalid M. Mohssin, entered an open guilty plea to conspiracy to sell and deliver more than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-12-103; -17-417. At the subsequent sentencing hearing, the trial court determined the Defendant would receive a five-year sentence, as a Range I, standard offender, and denied alternative sentencing. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by enhancing his sentence to five years and by denying his request for a suspended sentence. Following our review, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s sentencing decision. Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Marty V. Bell
W2015-02525-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Defendant pled guilty to aggravated rape and received a sentence of twenty-five years as a multiple rapist. The Defendant now challenges his sentence as illegal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, asserting that the trial court erred by failing to make a factual finding of his previous rape conviction and that a disparity exists between the length of his sentence and other shorter sentences for more serious convictions. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court's dismissal of the Defendant's motion to correct his sentence.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Brian Adams
W2015-02066-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

A jury found that the Defendant, Brian Adams, was guilty of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced the defendant to an effective sentence of ninety years. The Defendant asserts that his convictions should be overturned on the basis of insufficient evidence. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Alberto Conde-Valentino
M2015-01872-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The defendant, Alberto Conde-Valentino, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, claiming that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion for severance of co-defendants, that the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on accomplice testimony, and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Cuben Lagrone
E2014-02402-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Cuben T. Lagrone, of attempted second degree murder, employing a firearm during the commission of attempted second degree murder, attempted first degree premeditated murder, employing a firearm during the commission of attempted first degree premeditated murder, and reckless endangerment. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II multiple offender to a total effective sentence of sixty-five years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence from a cell phone seized during a traffic stop and weapons seized during a traffic accident investigation; (2) the trial court erred when it allowed the State to play a video recording during its opening statement; (3) the trial court erred when it instructed two witnesses, without first appointing counsel, to testify against the Defendant after the witnesses invoked their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and when it allowed the State to make an inappropriate comment in front of the jury on this matter; (4) the trial court improperly admitted into evidence the first victim’s 911 call, images of the Defendant near or displaying firearms, and the Defendant’s jail call, and improperly declined to admit into evidence the second victim’s letter to the first victim; (5) the evidence is insufficient to sustain any of his convictions; (6) the trial court erred when it failed to grant a new trial based on a witness’s recantation; (7) the trial court erred when it instructed the jury regarding the truthfulness of witnesses and regarding criminal responsibility; (8) the trial court erred when it denied the Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal; (9) the trial court erred when it sentenced the Defendant; and (10) due process requires a reversal of the Defendant’s convictions because of the effect of cumulative error. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the trial courts judgments of convictions in all respects. We vacate the sentences for the two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a felony and remand for resentencing on those two counts.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Terrance Stepheny
W2015-01787-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The defendant, Terrance Stepheny, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a Range II, multiple offender to seventeen years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and argues that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence by not sentencing him at the lower end of his range. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court but remand for entry of a corrected judgment to reflect the defendant’s conviction offense as aggravated robbery, which was omitted.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
Clarence Tyrone Pruitt v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02133-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The petitioner, Clarence Tyrone Pruitt, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and entered an unknowing and involuntary guilty plea. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Darrell Thomas Gooch
W2016-00117-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Defendant, Darrell Thomas Gooch, appeals as of right from the Dyer County Circuit Court's revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his effective ten-year sentence.The Defendant contends (1) that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation because it relied on an additional probation violation introduced at the hearing that was not included in the violation warrant; (2) that the trial court ignored factors that mitigated his presence at the rape victim's apartment complex; and (3) that the four curfew violations, alone, were insufficient to revoke probation. Following our review, we affirm the trial court's revocation of the Defendant's probationary sentence and order of confinement.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
Cameron Brown v. State of Tennessee
M205-01434-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The petitioner, Cameron Brown, appeals from the Sumner County Criminal Court order granting in part and denying in part his petition for writ of error coram nobis, which petition attacked his 2008 guilty-pleaded convictions of four counts of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000; one count of forgery; passing a worthless check in an amount more than $500; and failure to appear as well as his 2011 guilty-pleaded conviction of escape.  Because the writ of error coram nobis is not available to collaterally attack guilty-pleaded convictions, the judgment of the coram nobis court granting the petition for writ of error coram nobis and vacating the petitioner’s conviction of forgery is reversed, and the case is remanded for reinstatement of that conviction and the accompanying four-year sentence.  The judgment of the coram nobis court denying the remaining claims for coram nobis relief is affirmed.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Paul Brent Baxter
M2016-00049-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

Defendant, Paul Brent Baxter, was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault and received concurrent sentences of fifteen years.  On appeal, he argues that his sentences are excessive.  We affirm the judgments, but we conclude, as a matter of plain error, that the judgments must be merged into a single conviction.  Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are remanded.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Larenzo Jerome Morgan, Jr.
W2016-00114-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The State appeals the Dyer County Circuit Court’s order granting Larenzo Jerom Morgan, Jr.’s, request for jail credit toward his Dyer County sentence for time he spent serving a sentence in the Missouri Department of Corrections on Missouri convictions. Because we conclude that the trial court was without authority to award jail credit on the Dyer County sentence for time served on the unrelated Missouri convictions, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Michael A. Alderson
M2015-01395-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The defendant, Michael A. Alderson, was convicted by a jury of introducing drugs into a penal institution, a Class C felony, after he was arrested for an unrelated offense and disburdened himself of a small amount of marijuana in the “trap” room leading to the Maury County jail.  The trial court sentenced the defendant as a Range II offender to ten years’ imprisonment.  On appeal, the defendant asserts that he was denied his right to self-representation.  The defendant also argues that the marijuana should have been suppressed because his initial arrest was unlawful, and he asserts error in sentencing.  Because we conclude that the trial court erred in denying the defendant his right to self-representation, we reverse the judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Rosa Emma Honeycutt
E2015-00790-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

A Sullivan County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Rosa Emma Honeycutt, of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse, a Class A misdemeanor, and the trial court sentenced her to eleven months, twenty-nine days to be served on unsupervised probation. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying her request for judicial diversion. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and grant judicial diversion.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/16