Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 02/28/2015
Format: 02/28/2015
State of Tennessee v. Jaron Harris
E2014-00822-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Jaron Harris, of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated robbery, four counts of first degree felony murder, one count of second degree murder, one count of attempted second degree murder, two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and two counts of aggravated assault. The trial court merged several of the convictions, dismissed one count of aggravated assault, and then sentenced the Defendant to serve a total effective sentence of life plus fourteen years. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; and (2) the trial court erred when it allowed crossexamination of the Defendant about statements he made to other inmates about escaping from the courtroom. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Reginald Perry Davis Lashley
M2014-00733-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

The defendant, Reginald Perry Davis Lashley, appeals the revocation of his probationary sentence.  The defendant pled guilty to two counts of criminal attempt to deliver a controlled substance, to wit ecstasy, and received an effective six-year sentence, which was suspended to supervised probation following service of one year in incarceration.  Subsequently, a violation warrant was issued alleging that the defendant had violated the terms and conditions of his probation by being arrested for DUI, using intoxicants to excess, failing to report the new arrest, and failing to verify payment of costs and fines.  Following a hearing, the trial court found the defendant had violated the terms and conditions of his probation and ordered that the balance of the sentence be served in incarceration.  On appeal, the defendant contends that the decision to revoke was not supported by sufficient evidence.  Following review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in revoking the defendant’s probation.  As such, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/15
Keesha Washington v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00250-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

The Petitioner, Keesha Washington, appeals the Williamson County Circuit Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her 2010 conviction for aggravated arson and her eighteen-year sentence.  She contends that the post-conviction court erred by denying her relief because she received the ineffective assistance of counsel.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/15
Willie Moore v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00334-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Petitioner, Willie Moore, pleaded guilty to eleven counts of identity theft, Class D felonies, and received the agreed-upon sentence of eleven years on each count to be served concurrently with each other as a persistent offender at forty-five percent release eligibility. He filed the instant petition for post-conviction relief on the basis that his guilty pleas were not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered. The post-conviction court denied relief, and this appeal followed. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/15
Don Sanders v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02781-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Lammey, Jr.

The Petitioner, Don Sanders, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief seeking relief from his conviction of first degree premeditated murder and resulting life sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by ruling that his petition was untimely and by refusing to toll the one-year statute of limitations for his mental incompetence. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the post-conviction court’s dismissal of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/15
Alphonzo Chalmers v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00377-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the petitioner, Alphonzo Chalmers, of first degree murder, and the trial court imposed a sentence of life imprisonment in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Thereafter, the petitioner filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, arguing that newly discovered mental health records entitled him to a new trial. The coram nobis court summarily denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Rickey Bell
W2014-00049-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

Rickey Bell (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, rape, and two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to a total effective sentence of forty-nine years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion for a bill of particulars and in allowing proof of certain prior bad acts. The Defendant also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions for rape of a child and rape. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for a bill of particulars and in allowing the admission of proof of prior bad acts. We also conclude that there was sufficient evidence supporting the convictions for rape of a child and rape. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Calvin Douglas
W2014-00505-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant-Appellant, Calvin Douglas, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of three counts of aggravated assault and one count of reckless endangerment with a dangerous weapon. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of 20 years‟ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for aggravated assault and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in imposing consecutive sentences. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Courtney B. Matthews
M2005-00843-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

In 1996, a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury convicted the defendant, Courtney B. Matthews, of four counts of first degree felony murder and one count of especially aggravated robbery.  The jury sentenced the defendant to a term of life in prison without the possibility of parole for each first degree murder conviction, and the trial court sentenced the defendant to a term of 25 years in prison for the especially aggravated robbery.  The court ordered that all sentences be served consecutively.  On appeal, the defendant contends: (1) that he was denied due process in the delay of the preparation of his trial transcript and of the hearing on the motion for new trial; (2) that the trial court erred in not reopening the hearing on the motion for new trial; (3) that the trial court erred by permitting cameras in the courtroom during the trial; (4) that the cameras “invaded” the deliberations of the jury; (5) that the trial court should have changed venue due to the influence of pretrial publicity; (6) that the trial court erred by admitting photographs of the victims; (7) that the trial court erred by admitting DNA evidence; (8) that the trial court erred by certifying a state witness as an expert in DNA analysis; (9) that the trial court erred by admitting the testimony of the medical examiner; (10) that the trial court erred by permitting the medical examiner to utilize demonstrative aids during his testimony; (11) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions under a theory of criminal responsibility for the conduct of another; (12) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions under a theory of direct liability; (13) that the trial court violated his due process rights by “forcing” the state to proceed on inconsistent theories at his trial and the trial of his codefendant; (14) that the trial court erred by interrupting jury deliberations to provide an instruction on criminal responsibility for conduct of another; (15) that the convictions for especially aggravated robbery and felony murder violate double jeopardy principles; (16) that the evidence was insufficient to support the finding that the murders were heinous, atrocious, or cruel; (17) that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on certain non-statutory mitigating factors; and (18) that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentencing.  Upon hearing oral arguments and reviewing the briefs of the parties, the extensive record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Rubalddi Espinoza Yoc
M2014-01031-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Defendant, Rubalddi Espinoza Yoc, was convicted by a jury of one count of possession with intent to sell 0.5 grams or more of a Schedule II controlled substance and one count of delivery of 0.5 grams or more of a Schedule II controlled substance.  The trial court merged the two counts and sentenced Defendant to nine years’ incarceration as a Range I, standard offender, with all but one year suspended on probation.  On appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence.  Based upon our review of the record and legal authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/15
In Re: American Bonding Company
M2014-00249-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael W. Binkley

This is an appeal by Williamson County Bail Bondsman, Amir Karshenas of American Bonding Company, of the trial court’s denial of his motion to recuse the judge from hearing matters related to his authority to conduct business as a bail bondsman.  Following our review, we affirm the denial of the motion to recuse.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Scott Tucker
M2014-00861-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

The defendant, Jeffrey Scott Tucker, was convicted after a jury trial of assault, a Class A misdemeanor; assault of a law enforcement officer, a Class A misdemeanor; domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor; and resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor.  The defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence for the domestic assault conviction, contending that the testimony did not establish that the victim was in fear.  The simple assault conviction, which the parties agreed would merge with the domestic assault conviction, was dismissed by the trial court after the jury returned a verdict.  The defendant asserts that allowing the jury to consider the simple assault charge was error that affected his other convictions.  We conclude that the evidence is sufficient to sustain the verdicts. We further conclude that the jury properly considered the simple assault charge. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/15
Marques Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01419-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Petitioner, Marques Johnson, entered into a plea agreement in two separate cases.  In the first case, Petitioner pled guilty totwo counts of burglary of a motor vehicle and one count of theft of property valued over $500 and was sentenced to an effective sentence of six years.  In the second case, Petitioner pled guilty to two counts of burglary of a motor vehicle and one count of theft of property valued over $1,000 and was sentenced to an effective sentence of twelve years.  The trial court held a sentencing hearing and determined that the sentences should run consecutively, for a total effective sentence of eighteen years.  This Court affirmed that decision on direct appeal.  State v. Marques Sanchez Johnson, No. M2012-00169-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 5188136 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 18, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Jan. 22, 2013).  Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that he did not enter his plea knowingly and voluntarily.  Petitioner claimed that his trial counsel never informed him of his right to testify at the sentencing hearing or to make a statement of allocution.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, finding that Petitioner had not proven his claim by clear and convincing evidence.  After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court. 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/15
William A. Osborne v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00458-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

A Sumner County jury convicted the Petitioner, William A. Osborne, of three counts of facilitation of aggravated burglary, one count of facilitation of theft of property valued more than $500, one count of theft of property valued between $1,000 and $10,000, and one count of theft of property valued between $500 and $1,000.  The trial court sentenced him as a career offender and ordered the Petitioner to serve an effective sentence of thirty-six years.  The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court.  State v. William A. Osborne, No. M2010-02412-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 1243243, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Apr. 5, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 17, 2012).  The Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective on multiple grounds.  The post-conviction court dismissed the petition after a hearing.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Willard V. Fleming
E2014-01137-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

A jury convicted the defendant, Willard V. Fleming, of facilitation of the sale of cocaine, a Class D felony; facilitation of keeping or maintaining a dwelling used for keeping or selling controlled substances, a Class E felony; and assault, a Class A misdemeanor. The defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and denial of his motion to acquit, asserting that the co-defendant’s testimony regarding the defendant’s involvement was insufficiently corroborated; that there was no proof that drugs were present because only lay testimony supported the conclusion that the substance sold was cocaine; that the evidence was insufficient to prove that the defendant maintained the dwelling; and that the confidential informant’s testimony did not establish the elements of assault. We conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the verdicts, and we accordingly affirm.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Devin Rogers
W2013-02442-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The defendant, Devin Rogers, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and was sentenced to eleven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statement to police and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/25/15
Joshua Bishop v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00509-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The petitioner, Joshua Bishop, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that his guilty plea was knowing and voluntary. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Jones
W2013-02119-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant of the aggravated assault of Jack Austin. The trial court sentenced the appellant as a Range II, multiple offender to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Desmond Sykes
W2013-02005-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Desmond Sykes, of two counts of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective nine years in confinement. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress his statement to police and evidence obtained pursuant to his arrest because the police lacked probable cause for the arrest. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Sanford McNair, Jr.
E2014-00916-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Defendant, Joseph Sanford McNair, Jr., was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of possession with the intent to sell more than 0.5 grams of cocaine in a drug-free zone, a Class B felony, possession with the intent to deliver more than 0.5 grams of cocaine in a drug-free zone, a Class B felony, and possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417(a)(4) (2010) (amended 2012, 2014) (possession with intent to sell and to deliver), 39-17-432 (2014) (drug-free school zone), 39-17-418 (2010) (amended 2014) (possession of marijuana). The trial court merged the possession with the intent to deliver cocaine conviction with the possession with the intent to sell cocaine conviction and sentenced the Defendant to twelve years’ confinement. The court ordered concurrent service of eleven months and twenty-nine days for the marijuana possession conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for possession with the intent to sell more than 0.5 grams of cocaine and (2) the court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Paul Lewis
E2014-00918-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

The defendant, Joshua Paul Lewis, was convicted of two counts of rape of a child, Class A felonies, and one count of attempted rape of a child, a Class B felony. He received twentyfive year sentences for the convictions for rape of a child and a ten-year sentence for attempted rape of a child, all to be served concurrently, for an effective sentence of twentyfive years. On this delayed appeal, the defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion for acquittal; and (3) the cumulative effect of the errors at trial deprived him of his right to a fair trial. After reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Mark A. Crites
M2014-00560-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

Appellant, Mark A. Crites, was convicted of driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”), second offense.  The trial court sentenced him to eleven months and twenty-nine days in confinement.  On appeal, appellant argues that the assistant district attorney general committed prosecutorial misconduct in her closing argument and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. 

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/15
Nazario Araguz v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01131-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Petitioner, Nazario Araguz, was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to deliver 300 grams or more of cocaine in a drug-free school zone and possession with intent to deliver 300 grams or more of cocaine in a drug-free school zone.  He received concurrent seventeen-year sentences.  Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief.  On appeal, petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel did not properly advise him regarding his right to testify. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court. 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Gallaher
M2014-01232-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robbie T. Beal

Defendant, Jeffrey Gallaher, was indicted by the Lewis County Grand Jury for one count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of introduction of contraband into a penal institution, and one count of possession of a schedule IV drug.  After a jury trial, Defendant was found not guilty of aggravated assault.  He was convicted of introduction of contraband into a penal institution and simple possession.   The trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of six years in incarceration as a Range II, multiple offender.  On appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence for the conviction for introduction of contraband into a penal institution.  He does not challenge the conviction for simple possession.  We conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction for introduction of contraband into a penal institution.  Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed. 

Lewis County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/15
State of Tennessee v. Robert B. Ledford
E2014-01010-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Appellant, Robert B. Ledford, appeals as of right from the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Appellant contends that the trial court erred in summarily denying his motion because the motion stated a colorable claim for relief. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/15