Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/26/2017
Format: 04/26/2017
Tommy Nunley v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01487-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Campbell

The petitioner, Tommy Nunley, appeals the summary denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, which petition challenged his 1998 Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of aggravated rape, claiming that the trial court erred by treating his petition for writ of error coram nobis as a petition for DNA testing and by summarily dismissing the petition. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
Timothy Lee Armstrong v. Tammy Ford, Warden
W2016-00891-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Petitioner, Timothy Lee Armstrong, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus in which he challenged his 1994 convictions for felony murder and especially aggravated robbery and his effective sentence of life imprisonment. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
Roosevelt Bigbee v. Jonathan Lebo, Warden
W2016-01997-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The petitioner, Roosevelt Bigbee, appeals the dismissal of his habeas corpus petition in which he alleged the felony murder indictment upon which he was convicted and incarcerated to be void. The petitioner asserts that because he was not separately indicted for the underlying felony of attempted robbery, upon which the felony murder conviction rested, the murder indictment is void. Following our review, we affirm the habeas court’s dismissal of the petition as the petitioner has failed to show he is entitled to relief.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
Charles Edgar Ledford v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00208-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

Petitioner, Charles Edgar Ledford, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that his guilty pleas for various child sex offenses were involuntary and unintelligent as a result of the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Defendant also claims that trial counsel provided ineffective assistance at his sentencing hearing. Additionally, Petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred by precluding evidence on an issue it deemed previously determined and that he is entitled to a new evidentiary hearing because post-conviction counsel failed to comply with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 28. After reviewing the record, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Elton Keith McCommon
W2015-01228-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

The defendant, Elton Keith McCommon, was indicted for two counts of aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, one count of evading arrest, one count of driving under the influence, and one count of driving with a suspended or revoked license. Following trial, a jury found the defendant guilty of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, evading arrest, and driving with a suspended or revoked license. The trial court sentenced the defendant as a career offender and imposed an effective twelve-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for reckless endangerment and evading arrest. The defendant also challenges the trial court’s evidentiary ruling regarding items found during a search incident to his arrest. Finally, the defendant disputes his status as a career offender. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Haywood County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Clifton
E2015-02307-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Defendant, Christopher Clifton, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Subsequently, Defendant entered a guilty plea to aggravated assault as a Range I standard offender. The State recommended and the trial court imposed a four-year sentence at thirty percent with the ability to apply for probation. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea based on his assertion that the plea was not voluntarily or knowingly entered. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Humphre Ford
W2015-02407-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

A Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Humphre Ford, of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, unlawful possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, and two counts of simple possession of marijuana. Due to his extensive criminal history, the trial court imposed a within-range consecutive sentence of twelve years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of a handgun convictions and the imposition of consecutive sentences. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Lynn a.k.a. Jerome Buss
M2015-02413-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

Defendant, Johnny Lynn, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 to correct an illegal sentence.  Defendant contends that the trial court erred by concluding that relief was not available because his sentence was legal and, thus, he failed to state a colorable claim under Rule 36.1. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee.

Perry County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Kelly Nicole Henderson
M2016-01325-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda J. McClendon

We granted this interlocutory appeal to review the trial court’s order granting the Defendant’s motion to suppress the results of a breath alcohol test.  Prior to trial, the Defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of the breath alcohol test based upon a violation of State v. Sensing,843 S.W.2d 412 (Tenn. 1992).  The trial court granted the Defendant’s motion to suppress, and the State filed for an interlocutory appeal.  After review of the record and applicable authority, we hold that the trial court erred in suppressing the results of the blood alcohol test because the State attempted to properly admit them through expert testimony in accordance with Tennessee Rules of Evidence 702 and 703.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
Bobby Dewayne Presley v. State of Tennessee - Dissent
M2015-00520-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

I agree with the majority that this case has a “mystifying” procedural history.  I write separately to express my concerns regarding the authority of the Petitioner’s mother, acting through a standard form durable power of attorney, to dismiss the Petitioner’s direct appeal of his 2011 conviction.  Equally concerning is the waiver by the Petitioner’s mother of appellate counsel’s conflict in representing the Petitioner during his direct appeal and post-conviction proceedings.  As the majority notes, the issue of the Petitioner’s mother authority to act on behalf of the Petitioner was not raised.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
Bobby Dewayne Presley v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00520-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

Petitioner sought post-conviction relief alleging that trial counsel’s ineffectiveness prevented him from seeking a direct appeal.  The post-conviction court denied relief after a hearing, finding that Petitioner failed to show he was prejudiced by trial counsel’s actions.  We determine that the record does not preponderate against the findings of the post-conviction court.  Therefore, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Tavis Bowers
W2016-01007-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The defendant, Tavis Bowers, was convicted by a Madison County jury of two counts of assault by offensive or provocative touching, a Class B misdemeanor, and one count of resisting arrest, also a Class B misdemeanor. He was sentenced by the trial court to concurrent six-month sentences for the assault convictions, to be served consecutively to a six-month sentence for the resisting arrest conviction. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and argues that the trial court committed plain error by not instructing the jury on self-defense. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/17
Rodney Watkins v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00075-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The petitioner, Rodney Watkins, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2009 Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of second degree murder, for which he received a sentence of 25 years. In this appeal, the petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/17
Kenneth L. Langley v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01726-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Petitioner, Kenneth Leroy Langley, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The habeas corpus court found that it was without jurisdiction to hear the petition because the Petitioner filed the writ in the incorrect county. Although we hold that the habeas corpus court had jurisdiction, we nevertheless affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/17
State of Tennessee v. Allan Wayne Bradberry
M2016-00501-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne Lockert-Mash

The defendant, Allan Wayne Bradberry, was convicted of twenty-five counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1005, three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-532, one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1003,one count of rape,Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-503,and three counts of incest, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-302.  On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court failed to require the State to elect the offenses upon which it sought to convict the defendant.  The defendant also argues the trial court’s imposition of partial consecutive sentencing resulted in an excessive, eighty-four-year sentence.  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/17
Khaleefa Lambert v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01059-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Khaleefa Lambert (“the Petitioner”) was found guilty of first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping by a Montgomery County jury, for which the Petitioner received a sentence of life plus eighteen years.  This court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions and sentences, and our supreme court denied further review.  The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, which the post-conviction court denied.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance based on trial counsel’s failure to: (1) investigate evidence and case law that would have contradicted the State’s argument of premeditation; (2) discuss jury selection with the Petitioner; and (3) discuss the decision to testify with the Petitioner.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/17
Deangelo Moody v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02424-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The State appeals the trial court’s granting the petitioner, Deangelo Moody, post-conviction relief from his conviction for first degree felony murder after finding that the petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel.  After review, we reverse the post-conviction court’s grant of relief and reinstate the judgment against the petitioner.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/17
Willie C. Cole v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00625-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Petitioner, Willie C. Cole, filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, challenging various aspects of trial counsel’s representation as ineffective, among other things.  After appointment of counsel and a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief and dismissed the petition.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/01/17
Kevin Lee Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02273-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Petitioner, Kevin Lee Johnson, entered a guilty plea on April 17, 2013, for failure to appear, a Class E felony. The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition challenging his conviction for failure to appear and also challenging a 2012 conviction for operating a vehicle after having been declared a motor vehicle habitual offender (“MVHO”). The post-conviction court dismissed both claims. On appeal, this court affirmed the dismissal of the part of the petition related to the 2012 conviction but reversed and remanded for a hearing on the part of the petition related to the conviction for failure to appear. See Kevin Lee Johnson v. State (Kevin Lee Johnson I), No. M2014-01166-CCA-R3-PC, 2015 WL 2445817, at *3 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 22, 2015) no perm. app. filed. The post-conviction court held an evidentiary hearing on the allegation that the Petitioner received the ineffective assistance of counsel during his guilty plea to the charge of failure to appear, and the post-conviction court denied the petition, finding neither deficiency nor prejudice. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/01/17
Gene E. Nevils a/k/a Gene E. Edwards v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00686-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

In 2014, the Petitioner, Gene E. Nevils a/k/a Gene E. Edwards, pleaded guilty to sale of 0.5 or more grams of cocaine and was sentenced to twelve years of incarceration.  In 2015, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he had not entered his guilty plea knowingly and voluntarily and that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel.  The post-conviction court held a hearing on the petition and denied relief.  We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/01/17
Henry Thomas Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00820-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

A Montgomery County jury convicted the Petitioner, Henry Thomas Johnson, of premeditated first degree murder and aggravated burglary.  On appeal, this Court affirmed the sufficiency of the convicting evidence.  State v. Henry T. Johnson, No. M2010-02452-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 1071809, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Mar. 28, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 16, 2012).  The Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief in which he contended that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition.  On appeal, the Petitioner maintains his contention, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective because his trial counsel failed to effectively cross-examine multiple witnesses.  After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/01/17
Billy Richard Hicks v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01437-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Petitioner, Billy Richard Hicks, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his convictions for driving under the influence (“DUI”), tenth offense; violation of the motor vehicle habitual offender (“MVHO”) statute; driving on a revoked license, second or subsequent conviction; and criminal impersonation. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to show the video of the Petitioner’s performance on the field sobriety tests to the Petitioner prior to trial. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/17
Rachel L. Calhoun v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00858-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Petitioner, Rachel L. Calhoun, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief in which she challenged her guilty pleas to two counts of first degree murder, one count of especially aggravated robbery, one count of identity theft, and one count of fraudulent use of a credit card and her effective life sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she was denied her right to the effective assistance of counsel, arguing that trial counsel should have independently tested palm print evidence used against her. She also argues that her pleas were unknowing and involuntary. We affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Jesse James Somerville, IV
W2016-01128-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The defendant, Jesse James Somerville, IV, appeals the order of the trial court revoking his probation and imposing his original sentence of eight years in confinement. Upon review of the record, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the defendant violated the terms of his probation. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Darnell Keith Roberts
W2016-01542-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

The defendant, Darnell Keith Roberts, pled guilty to aggravated robbery. The trial court subsequently sentenced the defendant, a Range II, multiple offender, to fifteen years of imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant contends the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Weakley County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/17