Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/22/2017
Format: 01/22/2017
State of Tennessee v. Gary Allen Taylor
E2016-00977-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin
The Defendant, Gary Allen Taylor, entered a guilty plea to aggravated assault, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and failure to appear in court, with sentencing to be determined by the trial court. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court found that the Defendant was a Range I standard offender and imposed a three-year prison sentence. The Defendant appeals the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing. We conclude that the trial court did not err in sentencing the Defendant to a term of imprisonment. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/17
State of Tennessee v. William Rolandus Keel - Concurring
M2016-00354-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Although I concur with lead opinion’s conclusion that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing the Defendant, I write separately to express my opinion that the imposition of consecutive, 30-year sentences to be served at 100% pushes the limit of the presumption of reasonableness under State v. Pollard, 432 S.W.3d 851 (Tenn. 2013) and State v. Bise, 380 S.W.3d 682 (Tenn. 2012).  Without intending to diminish the reprehensibility of the offense of rape of a child, I would note that the effective 60-year sentence in this case is the same length as a life sentence for first degree murder, but with a life sentence, a defendant may be awarded up to 15% sentence reduction credits and be released after serving 51 years, whereas the Defendant’s 60-year sentence is to be served pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-523 “undiminished by any sentence reduction credits.”

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/17
State of Tennessee v. William Rolandus Keel
M2016-00354-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The defendant, Williams Rolandus Keel, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of rape of a child, claiming that the trial court erred by denying his motion to compel production of certain documents, that the trial court erred by excluding the testimony of his expert witness, and that the sentence imposed was excessive.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/17
State of Tennessee v. James E. Ferrell
M2016-01157-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The Defendant, James E. Ferrell, was issued a citation for operating a vehicle while unrestrained by a safety belt, a Class C misdemeanor.  He was found guilty and assessed a fine for the violation in General Sessions Court, and he appealed to the Circuit Court, which imposed a judgment of conviction and a fine.  The Defendant alleges in this appeal that the Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction over the offense because there was no warrant issued in the case.  We conclude that the Circuit Court had jurisdiction based upon the issued citation and affirm the conviction.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Jimmy Heard
M2016-00622-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

The Appellant, Jimmy Heard, is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence filed pursuant to Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1  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 01/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Robert G. Thornton, Jr. - Dissenting
M2015-01555-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

I respectfully dissent from the majority’s conclusion that the police had probable cause to search the Defendant’s vehicle.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/17
State of Tennessee v. Robert G. Thornton, Jr.
M2015-01555-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The Defendant entered a plea of nolo contendere to eleven counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class D felony, with an agreed-upon sentence of two years for each count, all to be served concurrently. The Defendant reserved a certified question of law challenging the search of his vehicle and its contents, including a laptop computer which was the source of the images which serve as the basis of the convictions.  After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that there was probable cause to search the Defendant’s vehicle, and we accordingly affirm the convictions.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/17
Randall Coleman v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01174-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Petitioner, Randall Coleman, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of one count of rape of a child and five counts of aggravated sexual battery and resulting effective sentence of fifty-five years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/17
State of Tennessee v. Heather Young
E2016-02240-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Eugene Eblen
The Defendant, Heather Young, was convicted by a Morgan County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder. See T.C.A. § 39-13-202(a)(1) (2014). The Defendant received a life sentence. On appeal, she contends that the evidence is insufficient to support her conviction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Stanley Mitchell
E2016-00601-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Scott Green
The defendant, Jeffrey Stanley Mitchell, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury
convictions of one count of facilitation of the possession with intent to sell more than 26
grams of cocaine within a drug-free school zone, one count of third offense simple
possession of marijuana, two counts of the facilitation of the sale of .5 grams or more of
cocaine within a drug-free school zone, and two counts of the sale of .5 grams or more
of cocaine within a drug free school zone, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to
support his convictions. Because our supreme court has determined that the provisions
of the Drug-Free School Zone Act do not apply to convictions of facilitation, the
sentences imposed for the defendant’s convictions of facilitation must be reversed and
the case remanded for resentencing on those counts. The judgments of the trial court
are affirmed in all other respects.
 
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/09/17
Rivera L. Peoples v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02139-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Rivera L. Peoples, filed in the Davidson County Criminal Court a petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of first degree murder, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective.  The Petitioner also filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, alleging that newly discovered evidence in the form of recanted testimony entitled him to relief.  The trial court denied both petitions.  On appeal, the Petitioner challenges the rulings of the trial court.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/06/17
State of Tennessee v. Jennifer Murray Jewell
M2015-02141-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph Woodruff

The Defendant, Jennifer Murray Jewell, entered a “best interest” guilty plea to one count of theft of property valued at over $60,000 in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-103, a Class B felony.  Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant was sentenced to ten years of supervised probation, and the parties agreed that restitution would be set by the trial court at a subsequent hearing.  After considering the proof presented at the hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to pay more than $800 per month as restitution.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court failed to follow correct procedure or consider her ability to pay in calculating the amount of monthly restitution she would owe.  She also argues that the restitution award should be overturned because the State failed to prove the amount of the loss.  Because we conclude that the State introduced inadequate proof regarding the valuation of the loss, we reverse and remand for a new hearing on the issue of restitution.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/06/17
State of Tennessee v. Elizabeth Griswold
E2015-02259-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

Defendant, Elizabeth Griswold, appeals the trial court’s revocation of her community corrections sentence and the imposition of a sentence of confinement. Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Tommy Lee Baldwin
E2016-00930-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman
The defendant, Tommy Lee Baldwin, appeals the revocation of the probationary sentence imposed for his Hamilton County Criminal Court guilty-pleaded convictions of violating his community supervision requirement and of violating the sexual offender registry act. Discerning no error, we affirm.
 
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/05/17
Steve Duclair v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00856-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck
The petitioner, Steve Duclair, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2011 Sullivan County Criminal Court jury convictions of the sale and delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine and the sale and delivery of .5 grams of more of cocaine within a drugfree school zone, for which he received an effective sentence of 15 years. In this appeal, the petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.
 
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/05/17
Robert Keith Ward v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01110-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle
The petitioner, Robert Keith Ward, appeals pro se from the summary dismissal of his 2016 petition for post-conviction relief, which challenged his 2004 conviction of aggravated rape. Because the petition was filed well beyond the applicable statute of limitations and because the petitioner failed to prove a statutory exception to the timely filing or a due process tolling of the statute of limitations, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
 
Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Edythe Christie
W2015-02485-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, Edythe Christie, appeals her conviction of tampering with evidence. The trial court denied judicial diversion, sentencing Defendant to four years and six months, with all but 150 days of the sentence to be served on probation. On appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, the jury instruction on tampering with the evidence, and the denial of judicial diversion. Defendant also argues that juror bias violated her right to a fair trial and impartial jury. After a review of the issues, we determine that Defendant is not entitled to relief. Consequently, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Allen Glen Begley
E2016-00331-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.
The Defendant, Allen Glen Begley, appeals as of right from the Sullivan County
Criminal Court’s revocation of the balance of his two-year probationary sentence for
failure to appear. The Defendant submits that he was not afforded due process because
the violation affidavits, which listed the wrong case number, were “fatally defective.”
Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s revocation of the Defendant’s probation.
 
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/30/16
Bennie Osby v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02479-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Bennie Osby (“the Petitioner”) was convicted after a jury trial of especially aggravated kidnapping, attempted second degree murder, aggravated robbery, and employing a firearm during the commission of a felony. He sought post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Ashanti Glass
E2015-01900-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The defendant, Ashanti Glass, was sentenced to fifteen years in confinement after a jury found her guilty of aggravated child neglect pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-15-402. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/29/16
Richard L. Vowell v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00374-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge
The Petitioner, Richard L. Vowell, appeals from the Anderson County Circuit Court’s summary denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in finding that his petition was untimely filed because the statute of limitations should have been tolled on due process grounds. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
 
Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Elizabeth Gardenhire
M2015-01998-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Elizabeth Gardenhire, was convicted of theft of property valuedat $1000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony.  The trial court sentenced the defendant as a career offender to twelve years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, arguing that the State failed to establish that she acted knowingly or that the value of the property was $1000 or more.  Based upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Jill Alyse Patrick
E2016-00741-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck
Defendant, Jill Alyse Patrick, appeals her conviction for facilitation of a violation of the sex offender registry as well as her resulting sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days to be served on probation after the service of thirty days in incarceration. After a review of the evidence, we determine Defendant is not entitled to relief. However, a clerical error in the judgment requires our remand to the trial court for correction of the error. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed and remanded.
 
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Mario Jones
W2015-01646-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Mario Jones, was convicted of two counts of rape of a child involving two different victims. He now appeals as of right from those convictions challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, noting that there was no forensic evidence to bolster the victims' narratives and asserting that those narratives lacked credibility. Following our review, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the Defendant's convictions. Therefore, the trial court's judgments are affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/28/16
Andrew Taylor v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00664-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The Petitioner, Andrew Taylor, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his guilty pleas to carjacking and aggravated robbery and his effective sentence of eight years in prison at eighty-five percent. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel, which rendered his pleas unknowing and involuntary. We affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/28/16