Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/02/2015
Format: 07/02/2015
State of Tennessee v. Robert R. Bishop
M2014-01485-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Earl Durham

Appellant, Robert R. Bishop, pleaded guilty to simple possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to eleven months, twenty-nine days, suspended to probation.  Subsequently, the general sessions court found that appellant violated his probation.  He appealed the general sessions court’s judgment to criminal court.  After a hearing, the criminal court also found that appellant had violated his probation.  He now appeals to this court, arguing that his due process rights were violated when the probation office disposed of potentially exculpatory evidence and that the minimum due process requirements for probation revocation proceedings were not met.  Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/21/15
Brandon Mobley v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00481-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Petitioner, Brandon Mobley, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court's dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when his trial counsel allowed a stun belt to be placed on the Petitioner without a hearing or any evidence from the State that use of the stun belt served a legimate necessity. Specifically, the Petitioner argues that wearing the stun belt forced him to testify against his will, affected his demeanor while testifying, impeded his ability to communicate with trial counsel, and “imparied his ability to take an active interest in the presentation of his case.” Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/21/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeffery Combs
E2014-01175-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.

The Defendant, Jeffery Combs, appeals as of right from his jury convictions for eighteen counts of forgery and one count of theft of property valued at $1,000.00 or more but less than $10,000.00, for all of which he received an effective twelve-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant challenges only the sufficiency of the convicting evidence, arguing that his identity was not sufficiently established to support the eighteen counts of forgery; that one count of forgery was for an electronic check which he did not sign and, therefore, cannot be guilty of; that he cannot intend to steal property or defraud someone of their money if that person was known to have died; and that it was improper to aggregate the amount of each separate forgery to support the conviction for Class D felony theft. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/15
State of Tennessee v. Tammy Joy Ogden
W2014-01851-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Defendant, Tammy Joy Ogden, pleaded guilty in case number 35CC1-2014-CR-18 to delivery of morphine, a Class C felony, and to delivery of carisoprodol, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417(a)(2) (2012) (amended 2014) (delivery), 39-17-408(b)(1)(I) (2014) (classifying morphine as a Schedule II controlled substance), 39-17-412(c)(5) (2014) (classifying carisoprodol as a Schedule IV controlled substance). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range III, persistent offender to concurrent terms of ten years' confinement for the morphine conviction and eight years' confinement for the carisoprodol conviction. In case number 35CC1-2014-CR-113, the Defendant pleaded guilty to delivery of morphine, a Class C felony, and to delivery of alprazolam, a Class D felony. See id. §§ 39-17-417(a)(2) (delivery); 39-17-408(b)(1)(I) (morphine); 39-17-412(c)(1) (classifying alprazolam as a Schedule IV controlled substance). The court sentenced the Defendant as a Range III, persistent offender to concurrent terms of ten years' confinement for the morphine conviction and eight years' confinement for the alprazolam conviction. The court also ordered the sentences in each case to be served consecutively to each other, for an effective twenty-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the court erred by (1) denying her alternative sentencing and (2) imposing partially consecutive service of the sentences. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/15
State of Tennessee v. Alfred Ward
E2014-01192-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword
A Knox County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Alfred Ward, of two counts of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and misdemeanor theft. The trial court merged the aggravated burglary convictions and sentenced him as a Range III, persistent offender to an effective sentence of eleven years in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand the case for correction of the judgments.
 
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/15
State of Tennessee v. Tracy Dale Tate
E2014-01191-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

A Knox County jury found the Defendant, Tracy Dale Tate, guilty of one count each of sale and delivery of cocaine within 1,000 feet of an elementary school and one count each of sale and delivery of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a recreational center. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-417, -432. The trial court merged count two into count one and merged count four into count three, resulting in convictions for sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of an elementary school and sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a recreational center. The Defendant received a total effective sentence of thirty years. In this appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. He further argues that the trial court erred by failing to merge his four guilty verdicts into a single conviction, and the State concedes this point. Following our review, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the Defendant’s convictions, but we agree that the trial court erred by failing to merge all the Defendant’s guilty verdicts into a single conviction, and we therefore remand for entry of a corrected judgment reflecting this merger.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/15
Joe Clark Mitchell v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00754-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Lee Holloway, Jr.

The appellant, Joe Clark Mitchell, filed in the Maury County Circuit Court a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1.  The motion was summarily denied, and the appellant timely appealed the ruling.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/15
Gary Bohannon v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01368-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, Gary Bohannon, was convicted of first degree (premeditated) murder and received a life sentence. He filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the postconviction court denied. He now appeals, arguing that his right to due process and a fair trial was violated by statements that the trial court made to the jury during voir dire. He also argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel did not object to the statements of the trial court, failed to ask for a continuance or a recess after the direct testimony of a witness, failed to locate and call a witness, and erroneously stated in closing argument that the petitioner made a statement to police. After a thorough review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/19/15
State of Tennessee v. Heng Lac Liu
M2013-02838-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Hen Lac Liu, of four counts of sexual battery. On appeal, the Defendant contends: (1) that the trial court improperly admitted hearsay evidence; (2) that the trial court improperly excluded defense evidence of the victim’s bias and lack of credibility; and (3) that the cumulative effect of these errors warrants a new trial. After a thorough review, we conclude that the cumulative effect of the errors by the trial court warrant a new trial for the Defendant.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/19/15
John Edward Lynch v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01831-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Petitioner, John Edward Lynch, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. After the post-conviction court was unable to locate the Petitioner for ten months because the Petitioner had been transferred to federal custody and did not notify the court that his address had changed, the post-conviction court “sua sponte” dismissed the Petition on its merits. After careful review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we conclude that the petition alleged a colorable claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, thereby entitling Petitioner to appointed counsel and to an opportunity to amend his petition with the aid of post-conviction counsel. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is reversed and remanded.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/19/15
William Keith Blackburn v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00950-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

Petitioner, William Keith Blackburn, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and especially aggravated robbery. He received an effective life sentence. Petitioner challenged his convictions on appeal, and a panel of this court affirmed the judgments of the trial court. State v. William Keith Blackburn, No. M2009-01140-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 2893083 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 20, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 19, 2011). On appeal, Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call John Haggard, Adrian Rich, and Brent Olive as witnesses at trial. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/19/15
Jimmy Heard v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02661-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Keith Siskin

Petitioner, Jimmy Heard, stands convicted of criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, and attempted second degree murder, for which he received an effective twenty-nine-year sentence.  He unsuccessfully sought post-conviction relief from his convictions and now appeals, claiming ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for failing to: (1) submit a transcript of the hearing on petitioner’s motion to recuse the trial judge; (2) address petitioner’s bond increase without a hearing; (3) address petitioner’s allegedly unlawful interrogation by law enforcement officers; and (4) object to a judge hearing his appeal who allegedly was once assigned to hear his case at trial.  Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/19/15
Antonio Johnson v. David B. Westbrook, Warden
M2014-01403-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

Petitioner, Antonio Johnson, appeals the summary dismissal of his two petitions for writ of habeas corpus challenging the legality of his sentences on the basis that the trial court failed to properly award all requisite pre-trial jail credits.  Following our extensive review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/19/15
Ronnie Bradfield v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01735-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Ronnie Bradfield, appeals the trial court's denial of his pro se motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. Following our review, we affirm the trial court's judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Lonnie Lee Angel, Jr.
E2014-00732-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas Graham
The defendant, Lonnie Lee Angel, Jr., appeals his Bledsoe County Circuit Court jury conviction of second degree murder and the accompanying 23-year sentence, claiming that the trial court committed plain error by commenting on the testimony of a child witness, that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the trial court erred by providing jury instructions on flight and on second degree murder as a lesser included offense of first degree murder, and that the trial court erred by applying two enhancement factors. Discerning no error, we affirm.
 
Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Michael Crockett
M2013-02744-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

Defendant, Michael Crockett, was indicted by the Rutherford County Grand Jury for third offense driving on a suspended license, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and theft over $500. Defendant filed a pre-trial motion to suppress evidence obtained from the traffic stop and subsequent search of his vehicle. In his motion, Defendant asserted that: 1) probable cause did not exist to conduct a traffic stop of Defendant’s vehicle; 2) the duration of the stop was unreasonable and resulted in an unlawful detention of Defendant; and 3) the canine sweep of Defendant’s vehicle was improper. Following a hearing, the trial court denied Defendant’s motion. Defendant subsequently entered a guilty plea to possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant was sentenced to three years to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. As part of his plea, Defendant reserved a certified question of law, in which he challenges the trial court’s ruling on his motion to suppress. Having reviewed the parties’ briefs and the record before us, we conclude that the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Tiffany Marie Webb
E2014-01721-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
The Defendant, Tiffany Marie Webb, pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted aggravated child  abuse and three counts of attempted aggravated child endangerment, which, the trial court merged by agreement into one count of attempted aggravated child abuse. The Defendant agreed to a sentence of nine years, with the trial court to determine the manner of service of the sentence. After a hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve her sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied her request for an alternative sentence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Roy Lee Sewell
M2014-02060-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

Appellant, Roy Lee Sewell, pleaded guilty to the sale of dihydrocodeinone and the sale of alprazolam.  Appellant was placed on probation as a result of his plea agreement, and after appellant’s conviction on new charges, the trial court revoked his probation.  On appeal, appellant argues that his probation had expired prior to this revocation due to an illegal extension of his probation a year earlier.  After reviewing the record, the arguments, and the relevant law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Clay County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Otis Quirino Loyola, Sr.
M2014-01621-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

The defendant, Otis Quirino Loyola, Sr., appeals his Montgomery County Circuit Court convictions of aggravated child neglect and aggravated child abuse which resulted in an effective 20-year sentence to confinement.  On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect.  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the circuit court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Kyle Roger Stewart
M2014-01309-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

Defendant, Kyle Roger Stewart, appeals from the trial court’s revocation of probation. On March 21, 2012, Defendant pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated burglary. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Defendant received concurrent sentences of four years with 180 days to be served in confinement and the balance to be suspended on probation. Defendant also agreed to pay $17,875.00 in restitution to the victims. On December 19, 2013, a “Probation Violation Report” was filed, alleging that Defendant had violated the conditions of his probation by failing to report a change in his residence, failing to report to his probation officer, and failing to pay restitution as ordered. Following a probation revocation hearing, the trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and ordered Defendant to serve his sentences in confinement. Defendant appeals and asserts that the trial court denied him procedural due process by failing to make adequate findings regarding the evidence supporting his probation revocation. Defendant also asserts that the trial court’s decision to revoke probation and order Defendant to serve his sentence does not comply with the sentencing principles. Having reviewed the record before us and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Sharon Donella Phillips
E2014-00996-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.

The defendant, Sharon Donella Phillips, appeals her Sullivan County Criminal Court jury convictions of reckless endangerment and aggravated arson, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence on the arson conviction and the length of her sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15
Wilmarcus H. Martin v. State of Tennessee
E2014-02009-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Petitioner, Wilmarcus H. Martin, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his guilty-pleaded conviction for cocaine possession with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a park. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, leading to an involuntary plea, because trial counsel told him incorrectly that his release eligibility would be changed from 100% to 85% by the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) once he began serving his sentence, and because trial counsel failed to reserve a challenge to the search as a part of the guilty plea. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15
State of Tennessee v. Nicos Broadnax and Aaron Cook
W2014-00506-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

A Shelby County jury convicted Nicos Broadnax and Aaron Cook of aggravated robbery. The trial court ordered Defendant Broadnax, as a Range I standard offender, to serve eleven years, and ordered Defendant Cook, as a multiple offender, to serve nineteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant Broadnax asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. Defendant Cook also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence but additionally asserts that: (1) the trial court improperly declined to strike the jury venire following notice that the jury pool was tainted by comments from observers at the trial; (2) the prosecutor's misstatement of facts during closing argument unfairly prejudiced him; and (3) his sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15
State of Tennessee v. Jessica Green
W2014-00332-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, Jessica Green, entered guilty pleas to one count of theft of property less than $1,000 and one count of forgery under $1,000, both Class E felonies. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103; 39-14-114. The trial court denied judicial diversion and imposed one-year concurrent sentences for each offense, which were suspended to probation. In this appeal, the Defendant-Appellant contends that the trial court erred in denying her request for judicial diversion. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15
Myron Tate v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01699-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Petitioner, Myron Tate, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to advise him regarding the sufficiency of his indictment. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15