Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/30/2014
Format: 07/30/2014
Marvin Green v. Jerry Lester, Warden
W2013-02525-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph Walker III

Petitioner, Marvin Green, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief in which he alleged that an insufficient indictment and an improper offense classification rendered his conviction void. Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court was correct in dismissing the petition for habeas corpus relief and 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.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/14
Michael Daniels v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01478-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rebecca J. Stern

The Petitioner, Michael Daniels, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/14
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Krasovic
M2013-00607-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

Appellant, Kenneth Krasovic, was charged with one count of vehicular homicide by reckless conduct and five counts of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon stemming from an automobile crash that occurred in Grundy County.  The jury found Appellant guilty on all counts and the trial court sentenced Appellant to a total effective sentence of twelve years and six months.  Appellant filed a motion for a new trial which was denied after a hearing.  Appellant then filed this appeal, arguing (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions, and (2) that the trial court improperly limited counsel’s closing argument as to the defense of “sudden emergency.”  Upon review of the record, we find that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support the convictions and that there was no improper limitation of defense counsel’s closing argument.  We affirm the decision of the trial court.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/14
Oscar T. Berry v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01927-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

Petitioner, Oscar Berry, was convicted of first degree murder in 1991 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.  He filed a direct appeal of his conviction, which was dismissed by this Court in 1992.  State v. Oscar Thomas Berry, No. 01-C01-9201-CR-00033, 1992 WL 275402 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Oct. 8, 1992).  His petition for post-conviction relief, filed in 1997, was dismissed by the trial court as untimely.  In 2013, Petitioner filed a motion to reopen the post-conviction proceedings.  He contended that several recent decisions by the United States Supreme Court established constitutional rights in post-conviction proceedings that did not exist at the time of his conviction, thereby allowing his case to be re-opened under the authority of Tennessee Code Annotated §  40-30-117(a)(1).  The trial court rejected his theory and dismissed his motion.  After careful review of the controlling law, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/14
State of Tennessee v. Shira Jean Stafford
M2013-01319-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

Appellant, Shira Jean Stafford, was indicted by the Jackson County Grand Jury for preventing or obstructing a law enforcement officer from effecting a stop, frisk, halt, or arrest in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-16-602.  She was convicted by a jury and sentenced to six months, to be served on probation.  After the denial of a motion for new trial, she appealed.  Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence; the trial court’s decision to allow evidence regarding a civil case during the criminal trial; and the trial court’s failure to issue a curative instruction to the jury.  After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Jackson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/14
State of Tennessee v. Justin David Fife
M2013-02211-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

The Circuit Court of Montgomery County revoked the probation of Appellant, Justin David Fife, after he failed to report that he had been arrested for assault and was found to be in “constructive possession” of a handgun.  He argues on appeal that the gun was not his, that the discovery of the gun was the product of an illegal search, and that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the evidence about the weapon.  After carefully examining the evidence, we affirm the Circuit Court’s judgment.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/14
State of Tennessee v. Walter Lee Hicks, Jr.
M2013-01410-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Crigler

Appellant, Walter Lee Hicks Jr., was convicted by a Marshall County jury of numerous offenses  that arose from an encounter with an officer of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.  The sentences imposed included four years for reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, eight years for evading arrest and creating a risk of death and injury, and five years for giving a false report.  The trial court ordered that the sentences be served consecutively, with all remaining sentences to be served concurrently, for a total effective sentence of seventeen years at thirty-five percent.  Appellant argues (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for reckless endangerment and giving a false report, and (2) that the sentence imposed was excessive and contrary to law.  After thoroughly examining the record, we find no error in either the verdicts or the sentence, and we affirm the trial court.  However, we remand to the trial court for correction of the judgment to reflect that Appellant’s convictions for assault and felony reckless endangerment are merged.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/14
State of Tennessee v. Daniel Muhammad
W2013-01395-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

Defendant, Daniel Muhammad, and his co-defendant Michael Taylor were indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for aggravated arson. Defendant filed a motion to have his case severed from that of his co-defendant. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of the lesser included offense of facilitation of aggravated arson. The jury was unable to reach a verdict as to co-defendant Taylor, and the trial court declared a mistrial. Defendant was sentenced as a Range II multiple offender to 12 years of incarceration. Defendant appeals his conviction and raises the following issues for our review: 1) whether the trial court abused its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion to sever; 2) whether the trial court erred by not granting Defendant’s motion for a mistrial; and 3) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain Defendant’s conviction. After a careful review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
Montrel Gilliam v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01187-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Montrel Gilliam, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Criminal Court for Shelby County. He was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and three counts of attempted first degree murder and received an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus sixty-seven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
State of Tennessee v. Jennifer Leigh Salyers
E2013-02332-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Defendant, Jennifer Leigh Salyers, pled guilty to two counts of reckless aggravated assault. The trial court denied the Defendant’s application for judicial diversion and sentenced her to serve sixty days in jail, followed by two years of supervised probation. The Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it denied her application for judicial diversion and a sentence of full probation. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
State of Tennessee v. Ashley K. Moyers
E2013-01608-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

Ashley K. Moyers (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of sale or delivery of a Schedule II drug in a drug-free zone. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to four years’ incarceration and imposed the $40,000 fine assessed by the jury. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting her conviction. She also contends that her $40,000 fine is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the Defendant’s conviction but decrease the Defendant’s fine from $40,000 to $2,000.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
Dennis Wade Suttles v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01016-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

The petitioner, Dennis Wade Suttles, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his petition in which he sought relief from his death sentence, claiming that he was intellectually disabled. On appeal, the petitioner contends that the trial court erred in denying (1) his petition for writ of error coram nobis, (2) his motion for a declaratory judgment, and (3) his stand-alone claim under the intellectual disability provisions in Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-203. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14
State of Tennessee v. Brian Dunkley & William Miller
M2012-00548-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

A Davidson County jury convicted Defendant Brian Dunkley of conspiracy to commit first degree murder. The jury convicted Defendant William Miller of one count of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, one count of attempted aggravated burglary, and one count of attempted first degree murder. The trial court sentenced both defendants to effective sentences of twenty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant Dunkley asserts that: (1) the trial court erred when it admitted text messages into evidence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b); (2) the trial erred when it denied his motion for new trial because the trial court failed to function as the thirteenth juror and because newly discovered evidence warranted a new trial; (3) there is insufficient evidence to support his conviction; and (4) the trial court improperly applied enhancement factors when it sentenced him. Defendant Miller asserts that: (1) there is insufficient evidence to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred when it denied his motion for new trial because the trial court failed to function as the thirteenth juror; and (3) the trial court erred when it imposed consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/14