Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/28/2017
Format: 07/28/2017
State of Tennessee v. Paul Avery Reno
M2016-01903-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The Defendant, Paul Avery Reno, pleaded guilty to statutory rape, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. § 39-113-506 (2014). Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant agreed to a six-year sentence as a Range III offender, with the method and manner of service to be determined by the trial court. The court ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the court erred by (1) denying judicial diversion, (2) denying alternative sentencing, and (3) ordering the Defendant to register as a sex offender. We affirm the judgment of the trial court but remand for a new sentencing hearing.

Sequatchie County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/17
State of Tennessee v. Micah Alexander Cates
E2014-01322-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

The Tennessee Supreme Court has remanded this case for reconsideration in light of State v. Reynolds, 504 S.W.3d 283 (Tenn. 2016). See State v. Micah Alexander Cates, No. E2014-01322-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 5679825, at *1-6 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 28, 2015), perm. app. granted, case remanded (Tenn. Nov. 16, 2016). Relevant to the current remand, this court concluded in the previous appeal that a new trial was necessary because the warrantless blood draw was not justified by exigent circumstances and that the evidence obtained from the blood draw should have been suppressed. Upon further review, we conclude that the good-faith exception to the exclusionary rule permitted the admission of the relevant evidence, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Carter County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Whitney Kristina Harris
E2016-00604-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The Defendant, Whitney Kristina Harris, was convicted upon her guilty pleas of tampering with evidence, a Class C felony, and accessory after the fact to first degree murder, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-16-503 (2014) (tampering with evidence), 39-11-411 (2014) (accessory after the fact). The Defendant pleaded guilty as a Range II offender as a term of the plea agreement and agreed to an effective ten-year sentence. The manner of service of her sentence was reserved for the trial court’s determination. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in imposing incarceration rather than an alternative sentence. We affirm the judgments of the trial court, and we remand the case for correction of a clerical error on the accessory after the fact judgment.

Carter County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/17
Shawn Bough v. State of Tennessee
E2017-00015-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Petitioner, Shawn Bough, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis regarding his convictions for felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, for which he is serving an effective life sentence. The coram nobis court dismissed the petition after a hearing because it determined the newly discovered evidence was not credible and would not have led to a different result at the trial. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the court erred by dismissing the petition. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Anna Chick
M2016-01907-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

The defendant, Anna Chick, appeals her Williamson County Circuit Court conviction of failure to appear, see T.C.A. 39-16-609, arguing that Code section 39-16-609 is unconstitutional; that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction; that the trial court erred by admitting certain evidence in violation of the defendant’s constitutional right to confront the witnesses against her; that the State failed to establish that the offense was committed before the finding of the indictment; and that the six-year sentence imposed in this case constitutes unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/17
Joletta Summers v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02157-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

Petitioner, Joletta Summers, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions for voluntary manslaughter, attempted voluntary manslaughter, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. On appeal, Petitioner asserts that she received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel mentioned during opening statement an inculpatory statement that was never introduced into evidence; failed to adequately argue for severance of her case from her codefendant’s; failed to object to the State’s improper closing argument; failed to file a timely motion for new trial; and failed to argue on appeal that the trial court erred in failing to specify the predicate felony in the jury instructions for the employment of a firearm charge. Upon our review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Dewayne Jones
W2016-00074-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Defendant, Dwayne Jones, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a Range I, standard offender to five years of incarceration. The trial court also imposed the $7000 fine assessed by the jury. The Defendant raises three issues on appeal: whether the trial court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction due to the Defendant’s pending petition to remove the case to federal court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1443; whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain his conviction because the proof did not show that the victim suffered serious bodily injury; and whether the trial court erred in imposing the $7000 fine without making any specific findings of fact regarding the Defendant’s financial circumstances and ability to pay. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Arnold Travis Nunnery
M2016-01932-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

The Defendant was indicted for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI); driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more (DUI per se); DUI, second offense; and unlawful possession of a weapon. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained as a result of a blood draw taken pursuant to a search warrant, and the trial court granted the motion. The State sought and was granted permission to appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9. We hold that the police officer’s execution of the search warrant was unconstitutional, that exigent circumstances did not justify the blood draw, and that the good faith exception does not apply. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment suppressing the results of the blood draw and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Lewis County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Robert Allen Territo
M2016-00548-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody N. Kane

Pro se petitioner, Robert Allen Territo, appeals the summary dismissal of his Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence by the Circuit Court for Jackson County. On appeal, the petitioner argues that (1) he should have been sentenced as a Range I offender; (2) the trial court erred by improperly enhancing his sentence above the statutory minimum; (3) the trial court violated Rule 11 by accepting his guilty plea; and (4) he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Jackson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Willie Hardy, Jr. - concurring in part, dissenting in part
M2016-01748-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross Hicks

I agree with the majority's conclusion that the evidence was sufficient to support the Defendant's conviction for aggravated robbery and that the record supports the length of the Defendant's within-range sentences. However, I respectfully dissent from the majority's conclusion regarding the trial court's imposition of consecutive sentences.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Willie Hardy, Jr.
M2016-01748-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross Hicks

The defendant, Willie Hardy, Jr., appeals his Montgomery County Circuit Court jury conviction of aggravated robbery, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that the sentence imposed was excessive. Because the trial court failed to make the requisite findings, we vacate the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentencing and remand for the limited purpose of making the appropriate findings on this issue. In all other respects, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Sean Farris
W2016-01778-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

A jury convicted the Defendant, Sean Farris, of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve ten years and six months in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court improperly allowed the admission of prior convictions; (2) the trial court unreasonably limited crossexamination of the victim; (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; and (4) his sentence is excessive. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/17
Demetrius Hollins v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01359-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Demetrius Hollins, of attempted second degree murder and especially aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of sixty years of incarceration. This Court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions and sentence on appeal. State v. Demetrius Hollins, No. W2012-02001-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 6199463, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Nov. 25, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 15, 2014). The Petitioner filed a petition for postconviction relief alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel based upon his trial counsel’s failure to subpoena several alibi witnesses. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner relief, and we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/17
Derek Cunningham v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01974-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Petitioner, Derek Cunningham, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Pursuant to a guilty plea, the Petitioner was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to thirty years of incarceration. The Petitioner sought post-conviction relief, asserting that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that he entered his plea unknowingly and involuntarily. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the postconviction court’s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/17
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Dewayne Theus
W2016-01626-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Brandon Dewayne Theus, of unlawful possession of a firearm after previously having been convicted of a felony involving the attempted use of force, violence, or a deadly weapon. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to nine years in the Tennessee Department of Correction as a Range II, multiple offender. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence discovered as a result a vehicle stop, the sufficiency of the evidence, and his sentence. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, we remand the case to the trial court for correction of the judgment to reflect that the Defendant was convicted pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1307(b)(1)(A) rather than section 39-17-1307(c).

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/17
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Scott Long
E2015-01287-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Reed Duggan

Defendant, Jeffrey Scott Long, was indicted by the Blount County Grand Jury for first degree murder, felony murder during the perpetration of a burglary, aggravated burglary, and aggravated assault. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged, and the trial court merged the two murder convictions. The trial court imposed a life sentence for the murder conviction and concurrent six-year sentences for the remaining two convictions. In this appeal as of right, Defendant raises the following issues for our review: 1) Defendant's statement to police should have been suppressed because he made an unequivocal request for counsel, and he did not knowingly and voluntarily waive his Miranda rights; 2) the trial court erred by admitting into evidence an order of protection granted to the victim against Defendant; 3) the trial court erred by admitting into evidence autopsy photos; 4) the trial court should have suppressed evidence seized as a result of a warrantless search of Defendant's apartment; 5) the trial court erred by allowing expert testimony outside the scope of the forensic pathologist's expertise; 6) the trial court erred by denying Defendant's request for a special jury instruction; 7) the trial court erred by allowing evidence that was not properly authenticated; 8) Defendant was denied a fair trial because a portion of trial testimony was not transcribed; 9) the evidence was insufficient to sustain Defendant's convictions; 10) the State exceeded the scope of its closing argument on rebuttal; and 11) the cumulative effect of the errors requires reversal of Defendant's convictions. Having carefully reviewed the entire record and briefs of the parties, we conclude that there is no error. Accordingly, we affirm Defendant's convictions.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Devon Alvon Wilson
M2017-00248-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Devon Alvon Wilson (“the Defendant”) appeals the Maury County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation and imposing his sixteen-year sentence for three counts of possession of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, three counts of possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of a Schedule III substance with intent to sell, and evading arrest. On appeal, the Defendant acknowledges that he violated probation but argues that the trial court should have ordered only a partial revocation. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Tedarrius Lebron Myles
E2016-01478-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas C. Greenholtz

A jury convicted the Defendant, Tedarrius Lebron Myles, of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. The Defendant appeals, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdicts, that hearsay evidence regarding the Defendant’s identity was admitted in error, and that the State failed to qualify an expert witness to testify. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient and that the Defendant cannot demonstrate plain error in the admission of evidence, and we accordingly affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Xavier Sanchez Skaggs
E2016-01861-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

In 2008, the Defendant, Xavier Sanchez Skaggs, pleaded guilty to possession of contraband in a penal institution, and the trial court sentenced him to a suspended sentence of eight years, as a Range II offender. The trial court ordered this sentence to be served consecutively to other sentences being served by the Defendant. In 2016, the Defendant’s probation officer filed an affidavit alleging that the Defendant had failed to regularly attend relapse prevention classes and that he also failed two drug screens. The Defendant pleaded guilty to violating his probation, and the trial court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve the balance 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 because the trial court failed to address the Defendant’s underlying problem of persistent drug use. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/17
Corey Cortez Abernathy v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01258-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

In 2012, the Petitioner, Corey Cortez Abernathy, pleaded guilty to burglary of an automobile and theft of property and agreed to a sentence of two years of incarceration. In 2013, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief based upon ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court held a hearing on the petition and denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel because his counsel failed to file a motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence. We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/17
State of Tennessee v. John Brichetto
E2016-01675-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paul G. Summers

In 2012, a Morgan County jury found the Defendant, John Brichetto, guilty of theft of property valued at more than $60,000. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to ten years of incarceration and ordered him to pay $142,215 in restitution to the victim. In 2016, the Defendant filed one of several motions pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, seeking to correct an illegal sentence. The trial court summarily denied Rule 36.1 relief. On review, having determined that the Petitioner has failed to state a colorable claim for Rule 36.1 relief, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/17
Charles D. Sprunger v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01096-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Petitioner, Charles D. Sprunger, appeals the Cumberland County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2010 conviction for sexual exploitation of a minor and his eight-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that (1) he was denied his right to trial counsel of his choice because his “untainted” real property was seized before the trial pursuant to the civil asset forfeiture statutes and (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/17
State of Tennessee v. Virgil Lucas Baker
M2016-00974-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Virgil Lucas Baker, of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; vandalism of property valued more than $500 but less than $1,000, a Class E felony; and assault, a Class A misdemeanor. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him to concurrent sentences of fifteen years; six years; and eleven months, twenty-nine days, respectively. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the victim’s identifications of him and 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.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/17
Randall Turner v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01969-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams,
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Petitioner, Randall Turner, filed a motion to reopen his post-conviction petition in which he challenged his guilty pleas to first degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, and two counts of aggravated robbery and his effective sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The post-conviction court denied the motion, and the Petitioner subsequently filed two motions to rehear, both of which the post-conviction court denied. The Petitioner filed a notice of appeal pursuant to Rule 3 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we dismiss the appeal.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/17
State of Tennessee v. Elijah Ogle
E2016-02468-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

The Defendant, Elijah Ogle, pled guilty to aggravated burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, three counts of aggravated domestic assault, three counts of illegal possession of a firearm, domestic assault, possession of a weapon with the intent to go armed, possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. He received an effective ten-year sentence which was to be served on probation. A violation of probation warrant was issued against the Defendant, charging him with having been arrested for aggravated domestic assault, failing to report the arrest to his probation officer, failing to refrain from contact with the victim, and continuing to engage in assaultive behavior. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve his sentence in prison. The Defendant appeals. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/17