Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 05/26/2017
Format: 05/26/2017
State of Tennessee v. James Johnson aka Guy Bonner
W2016-00868-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Lammey

The petitioner, James Johnson aka Guy Bonner, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition apparently challenged his 2012 Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of burglary, theft of property valued at $500 or less, and resisting arrest. Because the petitioner has established sufficient facts to make a threshold showing that he complied with the “mailbox rule,” he is entitled to an evidentiary hearing at which he must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he delivered his petition to the appropriate prison official for mailing before the expiration of the statute of limitations. Thus, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand the case for an evidentiary hearing on the issue of the timeliness of the petition for post-conviction relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/17
State of Tennessee v. William Sappington
W2016-01010-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant-Appellant, William Sappington, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of theft of property with the value of more than $10,000 but less than $60,000, a Class C felony. T.C.A. § 39-14-103, 105(a)(4). The sole issue presented for our review in this appeal as of right is whether the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/17
State of Tennessee v. Charis Lynn Jetton
W2016-02107-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The defendant, Charis Lynn Jetton, pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-211, 39-17-1324(a). For her respective crimes, the trial court imposed consecutive sentences of seven years and three years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erroneously denied her request for alternative sentencing as to the voluntary manslaughter conviction. Following our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the defendant’s seven-year sentence to be served in confinement.

Fayette County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/17
State of Tennessee v. Roy Robinson
W2016-00263-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

A Shelby County jury found the defendant, Roy Robinson, guilty of aggravated assault and second degree murder. The trial court imposed an effective twenty-year sentence to be served at one hundred percent, and the defendant appealed. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his second degree murder conviction, arguing he shot his victim in self-defense. The State asserts sufficient evidence exists to support the second degree murder conviction. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/17
State of Tennessee v. Mack Jeffery Thompson
M2015-01601-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth Norman

The Appellant, Mack Jeffery Thompson, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1.  The trial court denied the motion, and the Appellant timely filed a notice of appeal.  Based upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion but remand the case for correction of a clerical error on the judgment of conviction.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/17
State of Tennessee v. Dominique Greer - concurring opinion
E2015-00922-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rebecca J. Stern

I concur in the results reached by the majority but write separately to express a different conclusion regarding the admissibility of evidence of the Defendant’s robbery of Mr. Carroll. The majority holds that the Defendant’s robbery of Mr. Carroll was properly admitted to prove identity and intent for the charged offenses. However, I believe that the probative value of the Defendant’s prior bad act is outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice to the Defendant. Thus, the evidence that the Defendant committed a prior robbery should not have been admitted pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b).

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Dominique Greer
E2015-00922-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rebecca J. Stern

Defendant, Dominique Greer, was convicted of first degree felony murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery. He received a life sentence for felony murder and eight years for attempted especially aggravated robbery to be served concurrently to the sentence for felony murder. On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) the trial court erred by admitting evidence of a prior robbery; (2) the trial court erred by instructing the jury that it could consider the prior robbery for issues other than intent and identity; (3) the trial court erred by allowing Detective Merritt to testify concerning Defendant’s cell phone records; (4) the trial court erred by overruling Defendant’s motion to suppress; (5) the trial court erred by allowing a constructive amendment to the felony murder indictment; (6) the evidence was insufficient to support Defendant’s felony murder conviction; and (7) there was cumulative error. Following our review, we reverse the judgments of the trial court because the trial court committed reversible error in its final charge to the jury.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/17
Henry Bates v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00571-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Henry Bates, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of aggravated robbery, burglary of a building, and vandalism of $1000 or more, for which he received an effective sentence of forty-two years’ imprisonment. He now appeals the postconviction court’s denial of relief arguing that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to present an alibi witness at trial. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/17
Young Bok Song, AKA Mike v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02317-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Petitioner, Young Bok Song, filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis concerning his multiple convictions for rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery and his sixty-five-year sentence. The petition was dismissed without an evidentiary hearing, and Petitioner appeals. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Donald Gwin
W2016-01783-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Defendant, Donald Gwin, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated rape, a Class A felony; aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; and aggravated assault, a Class C felony. He was sentenced to an effective term of thirty-five years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in ruling that his prior sexual battery conviction, similar to that for which he was on trial, could be introduced if he opened the door to its admissibility; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a mistrial after the jury heard that he wore an ankle bracelet for monitoring as part of the sex offender registry; (3) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for a mistrial after a local newspaper printed an article about his case; and (4) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for aggravated robbery. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/17
Jeffery Lee Miller v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00706-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Petitioner, Jeffery Lee Miller, appeals the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. The Petitioner seeks relief from his premeditated first degree murder conviction. The Petitioner argues that (1) the coram nobis court erred by determining that due process considerations did not toll the statute of limitations; (2) the coram nobis court abused its discretion by applying an incorrect legal standard regarding reasonable diligence in its order and final judgment; (3) the coram nobis court’s grounds for dismissal were erroneous; and (4) the coram nobis court’s assessment of the State’s open file policy was erroneous. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/17
James R. Wilson v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01493-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Petitioner, James R. Wilson, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis that was dismissed by the trial court as being time-barred and for failing to allege newly discovered evidence. Petitioner now appeals the denial of his petition. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Lucy Caitlin Alford and Jeremie Alford
M2016-01764-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

Following the denial of suppression motions, the defendants, Lucy Caitlin Alford and Jeremie Alford, entered guilty pleas in Franklin County Circuit Court to felony possession of methamphetamine and reserved the right to appeal certified questions of law relating to the sufficiency of the affidavit supporting the search warrant issued in this case.  The defendants assert the affidavit, which was based on information provided by a confidential informant, failed to meet the two-pronged Aguilar-Spinelli test for probable cause, lacked independent police corroboration, and was materially misleading.  The State contends the affidavit was sufficient.  Following our review of the record and pertinent authorities, including the recent Tennessee Supreme Court decision of State v. Jerry Lewis Tuttle, ___S.W.3d ___, No. M2014-00566-SC-R11-CD, 2017 WL 1246855 (Tenn. Apr. 5, 2017), we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/17
Frankie Jason Cope v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01690-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The pro se Petitioner, Frankie Jason Cope, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction DNA analysis. Following our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Shane H. Bishop
W2016-01688-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

Defendant, Shane H. Bishop, pled guilty to vehicular homicide by intoxication. He appeals from his sentence of eleven years, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by denying an alternative sentence. Because Defendant was ineligible for an alternative sentence, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Chester County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Eddie H. Pittman
W2016-00745-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

A Madison County jury found Eddie H. Pittman, the defendant, guilty of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, aggravated criminal trespass, and reckless aggravated assault. The trial court merged the reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon conviction with the reckless aggravated assault conviction and imposed an effective sentence of twelve years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his convictions and argues the trial court erred when imposing consecutive sentences. Following our review of the record and the pertinent authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
Jarrod Reese Spicer v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02160-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey W. Parham

The petitioner, Jarrod Reese Spicer, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing the trial court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel. More specifically, the petitioner claims counsel was ineffective because he failed to fully assist the petitioner until receiving full payment for his services, failed to subpoena certain witnesses to testify at trial, failed to obtain a medical expert to rebut the medical examiner’s opinion regarding the victim’s cause of death, and failed to obtain a mental evaluation. Following our review of the record and submissions of the parties, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
Sheila Mitchell v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01356-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

Pro se petitioner Sheila Mitchell appeals from the post-conviction court’s summary denial of relief. In this appeal, the State concedes, and we agree, that the petitioner stated a colorable claim in her petition. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for appointment of counsel.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
Steffon Hodges v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00895-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Steffon Hodges, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief by the Madison County Circuit Court. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that his guilty plea was involuntary and unknowing because he received ineffective assistance of counsel and was not advised of his rights before entering his guilty plea. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
Jaleel Jovan Stovall v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01981-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Jaleel Jovan Stovall, was convicted by a Hardeman County jury of rape of a child and received a sentence of twenty-five years at 100% service. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which asserted that he was denied effective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that trial counsel’s performance was deficient for failing to object to hearsay introduced by the State and for failing to argue that a letter allegedly authored by the Petitioner was not properly authenticated. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Westley A. Albright
M2016-01217-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe

The defendant, Westley A. Albright, pled nolo contendere to one count of soliciting a minor in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-528, a Class E felony, for which he received a one-year suspended sentence and deferred judicial diversion.  As a condition of probation, the defendant agreed to participate in therapeutic treatment for the duration of probation or until favorably discharged.  Prior to the conclusion of the one-year suspended sentence, the defendant’s treatment provider discharged him for failure to comply with the goals of his treatment program.  Following service of a probation warrant and a hearing, the trial court revoked the defendant’s deferred diversion and extended his probation for six months to allow for the completion of treatment.  On appeal, the defendant argues: (1) the trial court violated his due process rights by failing to advise him at the time he entered his nolo contendere plea that, as a condition of probation, he would be required to confess to the solicitation of a minor; (2) the trial court violated his due process rights by relying on a probation rule not referenced in the revocation warrant; and (3) the trial court erred when revoking his deferred diversion despite his completion of the objective requirements of the sex offender treatment program.  Upon review, we affirm the findings of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
Walter Jr. Shegog v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00034-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

Appellant, Walter Jr. Shegog, appeals the trial court’s summary denial of his petition seeking habeas corpus relief.  The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20.  Said motion is hereby granted.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Rawney Jean Taylor
M2015-02142-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

A Montgomery County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Rawney Jean Taylor, of initiating a false report, a Class D felony; criminally negligent homicide, a Class E felony; and reckless endangerment, a Class A misdemeanor, and the trial court sentenced her to three years, two years, and eleven months, twenty-nine days, respectively.  The court ordered that she serve the three- and two-year sentences consecutively for a total effective sentence of five years.  On appeal, the Appellant contends that her three- and two-year sentences are excessive, that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive sentencing, that the trial court erred by denying her request for judicial diversion, and that the trial court erred by denying her request for probation.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Vanessa Rennee Pinegar
M2015-02403-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The defendant, Vanessa Rennee Pinegar, appealed her convictions of one count of facilitation of delivery of 0.5 or more grams of cocaine within a drug-free school zone and two counts of attempted delivery of 0.5 or more grams of cocaine within a drug-free school zone, challenging the denial of her motion to sever the trial of the defendants, certain evidentiary rulings, the jury instructions, the sufficiency of the evidence, and her effective nine-year sentence.  This Court affirmed the convictions and sentence.  The defendant filed an application for permission to appeal to our Supreme Court.  The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the application and remanded the case to this Court for reconsideration of sentencing in light of State  v. Gibson, 506 S.W.3d 450 (Tenn. 2016).  Upon reconsideration, we vacate the defendant’s enhanced sentences under the Drug-Free School Zone Act and remand the matter to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.  In all other respects, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Patrick Russell Chambers
E2016-01324-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

The Defendant, Patrick Russell Chambers, pleaded guilty in the Blount County Circuit Court in case number C-24053 to possession of contraband inside a penal institution, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-16-301 (2014). The Defendant also stipulated that his conduct in case number C-20453 violated the conditions of his community corrections sentence relative to a reckless homicide conviction in case number C-20398. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range III, persistent offender to ten years’ confinement for the contraband conviction and to serve the remainder of his eight-year sentence for the reckless homicide conviction after finding that the Defendant had violated the conditions of his release. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his request for alternative sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/17