Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/27/2020
Format: 01/27/2020
State of Tennessee v. John P. Russell
W2019-00346-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

John P. Russell, Defendant, appeals the trial court’s denial of his “Motion to Receive Jail Credits and Time at Liberty.” Because Defendant’s Notice of Appeal was not timely filed and the interest of justice does not warrant waiver, we dismiss the appeal.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Steven Dale Davidson, Jr.
M2018-00182-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Defendant, Steven Dale Davidson, Jr., was convicted by a jury of voluntary manslaughter and vehicular homicide. Thereafter, the trial court merged the counts and imposed an effective ten-year sentence, to run consecutively to a previous sentence for which probation had been revoked due to the convictions in this case. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by excluding the complete police interview of a defense witness and in its consideration during sentencing of enhancement and mitigating factors. Upon review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Aaron Dale Dodson
M2018-01333-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

The Defendant, Aaron Dale Dodson, was convicted by a jury of one count of first degree felony murder; one count of especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony; and one count of aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-202, -304, -403. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his felony murder and especially aggravated robbery convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/20
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Wooten - concurring opinion
E2018-01338-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

I agree with all of Judge McMullen’s well-reasoned opinion except the determination that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the audio recording of the 911 call to be played in its entirety before the jury.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/20
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Wooten
E2018-01338-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Defendant-Appellant, Jeffrey Wooten, was convicted as charged by a Knox County jury of three alternative counts of first degree felony murder; first degree premeditated murder; two counts of especially aggravated burglary; especially aggravated robbery; two counts of aggravated robbery; two counts of attempted especially aggravated kidnapping; two counts of carjacking; two counts of evading arrest; two counts of employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; aggravated burglary; and automobile theft, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment without parole plus forty-eight years to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in admitting portions of a 911 call; that there was insufficient evidence to support the Defendant’s convictions; that the trial court erred in allowing evidence of an alleged offense in Georgia during the penalty phase; and that the trial court erred in imposing partial consecutive sentencing. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand this case for entry of judgment forms for each count of the indictment.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/13/20
Antonio M. Crockett v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01416-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Antonio M. Crockett, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his jury conviction for first-degree felony murder. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges the following grounds of ineffective assistance of trial counsel: (1) failure to impeach a witness; (2) failure to assert a proper basis for severance pretrial or renew the motion to sever at trial; (3) failure to request a jury instruction; (4) failure to object to the State’s articulating multiple theories during its closing argument; (5) failure to object to the prosecutor’s inflammatory comments during the State’s rebuttal argument; (6) failure to develop and present evidence of the disproportionality of a mandatory life sentence. The Petitioner also argues that his mandatory life sentence is unconstitutional and that he was deprived of a fair trial on the basis of cumulative error. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/20
State of Tennessee v. Shalonda Weems
M2018-02288-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Shalonda Weems, Defendant, was indicted in a two-count indictment for aggravated child neglect and felony murder in connection with the starvation death of her six-month-old child. The jury found Defendant guilty of aggravated child neglect and reckless homicide. Defendant filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 29(e) Motion for Judgment of Acquittal (“the Motion”) as to both counts. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the Motion in part, set aside the guilty verdict for aggravated child neglect, and entered a judgment of acquittal. The court denied the Motion as to the reckless homicide verdict and entered a judgment of conviction. The State appeals claiming that the trial court erred in granting the Motion. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment of acquittal for aggravated child neglect.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/20
Trumaine Winters v. State of Tennessee
W2018-02090-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn I. Wright

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Trumaine Winters, of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to life in prison for the murder conviction plus twelve years for the robbery conviction. The Petitioner appealed his convictions and sentence to this court, and we affirmed the convictions but remanded for resentencing. State v. Trumaine Winters, No. W2007-00529-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 2901616 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, July 24, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Apr. 13, 2015). The Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective for improperly
cross-examining key witnesses and for not objecting to prosecutorial misconduct. The post-conviction court denied the petition after a hearing. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/09/20
Arnold Stevens v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00530-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

Petitioner, Arnold Stevens, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, Petitioner argues that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary due to the ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/08/20
Joshua Iceman v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02202-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The petitioner, Joshua Iceman, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/06/20
State of Tennessee v. Deddrick Clay
W2018-01716-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Defendant, Deddrick Clay, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for especially aggravated robbery and for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of especially aggravated robbery and found not guilty of the firearm possession charge. Following a sentencing hearing, Defendant was sentenced to serve 22 years incarcerated. Defendant’s sole issue on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/06/20
State of Tennessee v. Septian Jamarquis Valentine
W2018-01400-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Defendant, Septian Jamarquis Valentine, was charged with two counts of rape. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-503. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was found not guilty on count one and guilty on count two and sentenced to fourteen years incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant contends that error exists because (1) the trial court did not allow Lisa Garrett to testify about the Defendant’s negative chlamydia test performed one year after the incident; (2) the evidence was insufficient to convict the Defendant; and (3) a juror, who was “not truthful” during voir dire, “bullied” others into convicting the Defendant. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/03/20
Timothy A. Baxter v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00590-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

In 2010, Timothy A. Baxter, Defendant, was charged with aggravated assault and was arraigned on May 9, 2011. Defendant was subsequently charged with failure to appear for his June 13, 2011 court date on the aggravated assault charge. A jury found Defendant guilty of failure to appear, and the trial court sentenced him to six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. This court affirmed Defendant’s judgment of conviction on direct appeal in January 2014. Defendant filed a pro se “Motion to Correct Record and Amend Judgment” on March 21, 2018. The trial court dismissed this motion on April 17, 2018, and Defendant filed a pro se “Motion to Alter or Amend” under Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) on April 30, 2018. The trial court denied Defendant’s Motion to Alter or Amend on March 8, 2019, and Defendant timely appeals. Because Defendant has failed to provide an adequate record for review, and because this court does not have jurisdiction, the appeal is dismissed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/03/20
State of Tennessee v. Dustin Todd King
M2019-00241-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Dustin Todd King, Defendant, pled guilty to four counts of aggravated statutory rape and one count of violation of a no-contact order with the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of the sentences after a sentencing hearing. The trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of four years, eleven months and twenty-nine days, ordering partial consecutive sentencing. As a collateral consequence, the Defendant was placed on the sex offender registry. On appeal, Defendant challenges his sentence as excessive. After a review, we determine that the trial court sentenced Defendant to a sentence within the range for each conviction and followed the proper sentencing procedure. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/30/19
Randy Jackson v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01644-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Petitioner, Randy Jackson, was convicted of aggravated robbery and attempt to commit aggravated robbery and received an effective twenty-two-year sentence. He appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, and we accordingly affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Grady Alton Vest
W2018-01694-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, Grady Alton Vest, was indicted by the Henderson County Grand Jury for four counts of rape of a child and four counts of incest. Defendant was convicted as charged following a jury trial. The trial court sentenced Defendant to 33 years for each rape of a child conviction and five years for each incest conviction, with two of his 33-year sentences to run consecutively, for a total effective sentence of 66 years’ incarceration. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and his effective sentence is excessive. Following our review of the entire record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/30/19
Jafarris Miller v. State of Tennessee
W2018-02111-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell

Petitioner, Jafarris Miller, appeals from the dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief. On appeal and in his pro se petition, Petitioner argues that his convictions for intentionally evading arrest in a vehicle, a Class E felony, and theft of property less than $500.00 in value, a Class A misdemeanor, are void because the arrest warrant was invalid. After review of the record and the briefs, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Gailor Paige
W2018-02214-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant, Gailor Paige, entered a negotiated guilty plea to possession with intent to sell heroin and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon with a prior crime of violence. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to consecutive six-year sentences as a Range I offender for each count. The Defendant filed a “petition to suspend the remainder of sentence after 120 day[s],” based upon his completion of four “intense” programs while incarcerated. The trial court summarily denied the request based upon a condition in the negotiated plea agreement that required the Defendant to “waive[ ] his right to later request a petition for suspension of remainder of his sentence.” The Defendant appeals, asserting that the trial court erred by denying his request for suspension of the remainder of his sentence. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/30/19
Marchello Gossett v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00364-CCA-R-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

A Tipton County jury convicted the Petitioner, Marchello Gossett, of one count of possession with intent to deliver .5 grams or more of cocaine and two counts of felony possession of a handgun. On appeal, this court affirmed the convictions. State v. Marchello Karlando Gossett, No. W2015-02414-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL 1163683, *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, March 28, 2017) perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 18, 2017). The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition, claiming that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel and prosecutorial misconduct. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/30/19
Mario Cruz Estrada v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00085-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Petitioner, Mario Cruz Estrada, appeals the Lawrence County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2015 conviction for attempted second degree murder and his twelve-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Because the notice of appeal was untimely, we dismiss the appeal.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/30/19
State of Tennessee v. Chriteris Allen
W2019-01038-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Madison County Grand Jury indicted Defendant, Chriteris Allen, in two separate indictments, each containing four counts. In Case Number 18-1445, Defendant was indicted for aggravated robbery in count one, aggravated sexual battery in count two, aggravated burglary in count three, and especially aggravated kidnapping in count four. In Case Number 18-1446, Defendant was indicted for aggravated burglary in count one, especially aggravated kidnapping in count two, aggravated robbery in count three, and aggravated rape in count four. Defendant submitted an open guilty plea on all counts. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of forty-four years at one hundred percent. On appeal, Defendant argues that his sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/27/19
Courtney B. Mathews v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01802-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don R. Ash

The Petitioner, Courtney B. Mathews, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his jury convictions for four counts of first-degree felony murder and one count of especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner’s issues center around (1) an ex parte communication between the trial judge and trial counsel that took place at the trial judge’s residence; (2) trial counsels’ inadvertent disclosure of the unredacted timeline to the co-defendant’s defense team that contained attorney-client privileged information; (3) the lack of any jury instructions on lesser-included offenses for the felony murder counts; (4) the Petitioner’s alleged absence during the issuance of the supplemental jury instruction on criminal responsibility and when the trial judge answered jury questions; and (5) cumulative error. After a thorough review of the record, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court. We conclude that due to trial counsels’ various deficiencies, there has been a complete breakdown in the adversarial process during the Petitioner’s motion for new trial proceedings. While the Petitioner’s convictions remain intact, the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Denton Jones
E2018-01981-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The State of Tennessee appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of its motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The State sought to correct the six-year sentence the trial court previously imposed for the Defendant’s two merged convictions for theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103 (2014) (theft); 39-14-105 (2014) (subsequently amended) (grading of theft). On appeal, the State contends that the six-year sentence is illegal because the trial court improperly sentenced the Defendant pursuant to the amended version of the grading of theft statute, which became effective after the commission of the offense. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Johnny David Key
M2019-00411-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Shayne Sexton

The Defendant, Johnny David Key, was convicted upon his guilty pleas of vehicular homicide, a Class B felony, and vehicular assault, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-213 (vehicular homicide) (2018), 39-13-106 (vehicular assault) (2018). The plea agreement called for Range I sentences of eight and four years, respectively, to be served concurrently, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. After a sentencing hearing, the court ordered that the Defendant serve his effective eight-year sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Fentress County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Donald Dodd
W2018-01961-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Donald Dodd, of second degree murder as charged, and the trial court imposed a sentence of twenty-five years at one hundred percent release eligibility. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-210, 40-35-501(i). On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/23/19