Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/30/2015
Format: 08/30/2015
Philander Butler v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01366-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The defendant, Philander Butler, appeals the summary dismissal of his Rule 36.1 Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion, finding that the challenged 1989 and 1990 sentences had expired and that “the intent of Rule 36.1 was not to revive old cases.” On appeal, the defendant argues that the rule states that he may challenge an illegal sentence “at any time.” He also argues that because he erroneously filed his motion in the wrong division of the Criminal Court for Shelby County that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to deny his motion. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/15
State of Tennessee v. Chad M. Nichol
M2014-01474-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Earl Durham

The Defendant, Chad M. Nicol, pleaded guilty to passing a worthless check of more than $500. The trial court sentenced him as a career offender to serve six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it sentenced him as a career offender. He further contends that the trial court erred when it ordered his sentence to be served consecutively to his sentence for another conviction and when it ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/15
Shane Michael Grogger v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01615-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

Petitioner, Shane Michael Grogger, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  He argues that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by failing to adequately investigate Petitioner’s mental health issues and by failing to raise the rejection of a requested jury instruction as an issue on direct appeal.  After a careful review of the record, the decision of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Overton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/15
Ralph T. O'Neal, III v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00319-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Petitioner, Ralph T. O’Neal III, appeals the trial court’s order summarily dismissing his pro se petition for post-conviction, habeas corpus, and error coram nobis relief.  We find that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Katherine Louise Holmes
M2014-00420-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The defendant, Katherine Louise Holmes, was convicted of attempted first degree (premeditated) murder, a Class A felony.  The trial court imposed a sentence of twenty-two years.  On appeal, she argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain her conviction; that the trial court unduly restricted her cross-examination of a witness; that the trial court erred in revoking her bond; that the trial court erroneously did not permit surrebuttal evidence; and that the trial court improperly enhanced her sentence.  Following our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/15
Ewing Green, IV v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01239-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The petitioner, Ewing Green, IV, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  He pled guilty to second degree murder, a Class A felony, especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony, and tampering with evidence, a Class C felony.  Pursuant to the agreement, he was sentenced to an effective forty-year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the petitioner contends that his plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily because he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel.  Specifically, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to review discovery with him and by misleading the petitioner with regard to the consecutive nature of the sentences.  Following review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Roderick Dewayne Crosby
M2014-00914-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The defendant, Roderick Dewayne Crosby, was convicted of four counts of aggravated kidnapping, Class B felonies, three counts of aggravated robbery, Class B felonies, one count of burglary, a Class C felony, one count of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and one count of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class D felony.  The trial court imposed an effective sentence of thirty-four years.  On appeal, the defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for aggravated kidnapping; the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress a photographic lineup identification; and that the trial court erroneously applied an enhancement factor and erred by imposing consecutive sentencing.  After reviewing the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand the case for resentencing for the firearm offense and for the entry of a corrected judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Ashley Altman
M2014-00086-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Lee Holloway, Jr.

The defendant, Ashley Altman, appeals her Giles County Circuit Court jury convictions of manufacturing marijuana, possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, claiming that the trial court erred by refusing to suppress evidence obtained during a search of her residence and that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.  We affirm the convictions and sentences but remand for correction of clerical errors in one of the judgments.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeffery D. Aaron
M2014-01483-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

Defendant, Jeffery D. Aaron, was indicted by the Williamson County Grand Jury for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), and driving while his blood alcohol concentration was .08 percent or more (DUI per se). Prior to trial, the trial court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of the state trooper’s stop of Defendant. The State appeals. After a thorough review of the record, relying upon our supreme court’s decision in State v. Brotherton, 323 S.W.3d 866 (Tenn. 2010), we conclude that the trooper had reasonable suspicion, based on specific and articulable facts, that Defendant had committed or was about to commit the Class C misdemeanor offense set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-8-123(1). Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is reversed.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/15
Steven D. Hill v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00999-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

A Maury County jury convicted petitioner, Steven D. Hill, of aggravated arson, aggravated burglary, and theft over $1,000. The trial court sentenced him to an effective term of twenty years. He unsuccessfully appealed his convictions to this court and subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, petitioner alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/15
State of Tennessee v. Alfred Calvin Whitehead
M2014-00748-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

The Defendant, Alfred Calvin Whitehead, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of possession of 0.5 gram or more of cocaine with the intent to deliver in a Drug-Free School Zone, a Class A felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417(a)(4) (2010) (amended 2012, 2014) (possession of cocaine with intent to sell), 39-17-417(c)(1) (classifying the offense as a Class B felony), 39-17-432(b)(1) (2014) (requiring that offenses committed in a Drug Free School Zone be sentenced one classification higher and affecting the minimum required service and release eligibility of the sentence). The Defendant, a Range II offender, was sentenced to serve twenty-eight years with a minimum required service of twenty-five years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, (2) the trial court erred in failing to grant a mistrial because a juror slept during a portion of the proof, (3) the trial court erred in permitting a police officer to testify as an expert witness, and (4) the sentence imposed constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/15
Christopher Allen Cummins v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01197-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.

The petitioner, Christopher Allen Cummins, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying the petition.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/15
State of Tennessee v. Deandre D. Rucker
M2014-00742-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The defendant, Deandre D. Rucker, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to sever, the evidence is insufficient to sustain the conviction, and the court erred in denying a motion for a mistrial or a cautionary instruction because of prosecutorial misconduct during the State’s closing argument. Following our review, we conclude that the defendant’s first two assignments of error are without merit. However, we agree that the State’s closing argument was improper to such a degree that we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for a new trial.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/15
Frank Shackelton v. David B. Westbrook, Warden
M2015-00252-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr.

The pro se petitioner, Frank Shackleton, appeals the Davidson County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his conviction and sentence are illegal and void because he pled guilty to an offense with a different date from the offense date in the indictment. Because the petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/15
State of Tennessee v. Twanna Blair
E2014-01377-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
In this appeal, the State challenges the trial court’s dismissal of two counts of conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder, a Class A felony. Through a series of indictments, the State charged the defendant, Twanna Blair, with one count of conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder, three counts of felony murder, and one count of especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony. The trial court consolidated the indictments and required the State to elect which offenses it wished to prosecute. The State chose not to prosecute the defendant on the charge of conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder and proceeded to trial on Count 2 of the indictment, especially aggravated robbery, and Counts 3, 4, and 5 of the indictment, felony murder. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury was deadlocked. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for acquittal as to Count 2. The trial court also granted the motion of acquittal for felony murder and the lesser included offense of second degree murder in Counts 3, 4, and 5. The trial court declared a mistrial in Counts 3, 4, and 5 for the remaining lesser included offense of facilitation of felony murder. After the mistrial, the State re-indicted the defendant for a host of offenses, including two counts of conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, which the trial court granted. The State now appeals, challenging only the dismissal of the two counts of conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder. The State argues that: (1) the indictments are not barred by the statute of limitations; (2) the Double Jeopardy Clause does not prohibit the re-indictment of the defendant; and (3) Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 8 does not prevent an indictment for additional charges after the declaration of a mistrial. After thoroughly reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we conclude that the indictments are not prohibited by the statute of limitations or the Double Jeopardy Clause but that the indictments constitute the “saving back” of charges that Rule 8 is intended to prevent. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/15
Shaun Alexander Hodge v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01005-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

A Knox County Criminal Court Jury convicted the petitioner, Shaun Alexander Hodge, of first degree premeditated murder, and the trial court imposed a life sentence. Subsequently, the petitioner filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, arguing that he was entitled to a new trial based upon the recantation of a State witness. After an evidentiary hearing, the coram nobis court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals. Based upon our review of the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/08/15
State of Tennessee v. Rodney Jeffries
W2014-02464-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Rodney Jeffries, the Defendant, appeals the summary dismissal of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the summary dismissal of his motion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Michael G. Kohlmeyer
M2014-01359-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge George C. Sexton
A Humphreys County jury convicted the Defendant, Michael G. Kohlmeyer, of two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class D felony, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of two years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress photographs and videos police officers found on his cellular telephone because the police officers did not have consent to search the phone or probable cause to view photographs and videos on the phone. After review, we affirm the convictions and sentences. We remand the case to the trial court for the entry of corrected judgments reflecting that the convictions and sentences are for sexual exploitation of a minor rather than attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.
Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Terrance E. Kindall
M2014-01680-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg

The appellant, Terrance E. Kindall, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s revoking his community corrections sentence for carjacking and ordering that he serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the appellant was statutorily ineligible for community corrections. Therefore, the appellant’s community correction sentence is vacated, and the case is remanded to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the illegal sentence was a bargained-for element of the appellant’s plea agreement.  

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Michael Anthony Smith
M2014-01930-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

In a plea agreement encompassing several cases, the Defendant, Michael Anthony Smith, pleaded no contest to one count of theft of property valued over $1,000, one count of sale of a Schedule II drug, one count of sale of a Schedule IV drug, and one count of theft of property valued less than $500. In exchange for his plea, the State dismissed several charges against him. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of nine years to be served on supervised probation. It also ordered that he successfully complete the 23rd Judicial Drug Court Program and pay restitution. Subsequently, the Defendant’s probation officer filed a warrant, alleging that he had ceased to participate in the 23rd Judicial Drug Court Program. At a hearing, the Defendant admitted the violation, and the trial court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. William Seigler
M2014-02559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor
The Appellant, William Seigler, is appealing the order of the trial court denying his “motion to correct sentence.” The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.
Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. William Seigler
M2014-02559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor
The Appellant, William Seigler, is appealing the order of the trial court denying his “motion to correct sentence.” The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.
Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. William Seigler
M2014-02559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor
The Appellant, William Seigler, is appealing the order of the trial court denying his “motion to correct sentence.” The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.
Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Vickie Lynn Perry
E2014-01088-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

Defendant, Vickie1 Lynn Perry, appeals her convictions for first degree murder and robbery, arguing: 1) that there is insufficient evidence to establish that she killed the victim while committing felony robbery; 2) that the State introduced improper evidence; 3) that the trial court improperly admitted evidence of a specific instance of conduct to impeach Defendant‟s character for truthfulness; and 4) that the State made improper remarks during its closing argument. After careful review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Susan Gail Stephens
M2014-01270-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa Jackson

In this interlocutory appeal, Susan Gail Stephens (“the Defendant”) challenges the prosecutor‟s denial of her application for pretrial diversion. She asks this court to remand the case to the prosecutor with instructions that the Defendant be granted pretrial diversion. She also asks us to instruct the prosecutor to grant pretrial diversion nunc pro tunc to the Defendant‟s 2012 update to her application for pretrial diversion. Upon review, we find that there is no substantial evidence in the record to support the denial of pretrial diversion. Accordingly, we reverse the order of the trial court and remand the case to the trial court with instructions that the Defendant be granted pretrial diversion upon the terms and conditions of the diversion to be established by the trial court. However, we decline to instruct that pretrial diversion be granted nunc pro tunc to 2012.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15