Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/24/2016
Format: 08/24/2016
Doris A. Whaley v. State of Tennessee
E2014-02378-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Cupp

The Petitioner, Doris A. Whaley, appeals the Washington County Criminal Court's denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her conviction of first degree premeditated murder and resulting life sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to present medical evidence that would have shown she was physically incapable of killing the victim. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/16
State of Tennessee v. Amy Denise Franklin
E2015-01619-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

Amy Denise Franklin’s (“the Defendant”) probation officer filed an affidavit alleging that she had violated five rules of probation and had absconded. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked her probation and ordered her to serve the balance of her sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering her to serve her sentence in confinement without considering alternatives to incarceration. After a review of the record and applicable law, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/16
Marcus Anthony Pearson v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01159-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Marcus Anthony Pearson (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging several claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief.  On appeal, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/16
State of Tennessee v. Donald Keith Watts a/k/a "Duck"
M2014-02540-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge George Sexton

The defendant, Donald Keith Watts, a/k/a “Duck,” was convicted of rape and sentenced to eight years at 100%.  On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial because of an allegedly improper argument by the State and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the verdict.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/16
State of Tennessee v. Paul Clifford Moore, Jr.
E2015-00585-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Paul Clifford Moore, Jr., of three counts of second degree murder. See T.C.A. § 39-13-210(a)(1). The trial court imposed three fifteen-year sentences and ordered two of the three sentences served consecutively for an effective sentence of thirty years in confinement. On appeal, Moore argues (1) the trial court erred in instructing the jury that state of passion produced by adequate provocation is an essential element of the offense of voluntary manslaughter that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the trial court erred in instructing the jury that it must determine whether the State had proven the element of state of passion beyond a reasonable doubt; (3) the sequential jury instructions prevented the jury from ever returning a verdict of voluntary manslaughter in his case; (4) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting eyewitness testimony that Moore threatened to kill victim Amber Snellings; (5) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (6) the trial court abused its discretion in imposing partially consecutive sentences; and (7) the cumulative effect of these errors violated his due process rights. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Demarcus Keyon Cole
W2015-01901-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The petitioner, Demarcus Keyon Cole, acting pro se, appeals the post-conviction court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/16
State of Tennessee v. Stevie Michael Irwin, Jr.
E2015-01448-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

Defendant, Stevie Michael Irwin, Jr., was found guilty of two counts of rape of a child, two counts of attempted rape of a child, one count of aggravated sexual battery, and one count of incest. On appeal, Defendant challenges the failure of the State to properly elect offenses; the sufficiency of the evidence for the rape and attempted rape convictions; dual convictions for rape of a child in Counts One and Three as violating his right to due process; and his sentence as excessive. After a review of the record, and in light of the recent supreme court holding in State v. Qualls, 428 S.W.3d 1 (2016), we affirm the convictions and sentences.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/16
State of Tennessee v. Charles Edward Phillips, III
W2015-01731-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

The defendant, Charles Edward Phillips, III, was convicted by a Benton County Circuit Court jury of aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony; aggravated assault, a Class C felony; interference with emergency communications, a Class A misdemeanor; and driving while license suspended, revoked, or cancelled, a Class B misdemeanor. The trial court reduced the aggravated assault conviction to simple assault, a Class A misdemeanor, and sentenced the defendant as a Range I offender to an effective term of twelve years at 100% in the Department of Correction. The sole issue the defendant raises on appeal is whether the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Following our review, we affirm the sentencing imposed by the trial court.

Benton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/16
State of Tennessee v. Joseph B. Thompson
E2015-01963-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Appellant, Joseph B. Thompson, appeals as of right from the Sullivan 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 his motion stated a colorable claim for relief and that, therefore, the trial court erred in summarily denying the motion. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/16
Aaron T. James v. Shawn Phillips, Warden
E2015-02110-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Eugene Eblen

The Petitioner, Aaron T. James, appeals as of right from the Morgan County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his judgment is void because his guilty plea to second degree murder was unknowing and involuntary. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/16
State of Tennessee v. David Anderson Hatcher
E2015-01734-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan,

The defendant, David Anderson Hatcher, appeals the revocation of the probationary sentence imposed for his Blount County Circuit Court conviction of aggravated burglary. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/16
State of Tennessee v. Antonio L. Nelson
M2014-02526-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

The Appellant, Antonio L. Nelson, pled nolo contendere in the Cheatham County Circuit Court to aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, aggravated rape, and two counts of theft of property valued over $1,000 but less than $10,000.  The trial court sentenced the Appellant to a total effective sentence of forty years.  On appeal, the Appellant challenges the length of the individual sentences imposed by the trial court and the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentencing.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/16
Ryan Robert Haase v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00251-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Russell

The Petitioner, Ryan Robert Haase, filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Marshall County Circuit Court, alleging that his counsel were ineffective for failing to advise him correctly on his range classification and that as a result, he chose to reject a plea agreement and proceed to trial.  The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/16
State of Tennessee v. Brian Allen Cathey
E2015-01284-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

Defendant, Brian Allen Cathey, pled guilty to possession with intent to sell or deliver over one-half ounce of marijuana and to possession with the intent to use drug paraphernalia in exchange for a one-year sentence as a Range I, standard offender with the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court after a sentencing hearing. The trial court denied alternative sentencing. On appeal Defendant challenges the denial of an alternative sentence. We determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Anthony Rivera
E2014-01832-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, Joseph Anthony Rivera, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of first degree felony murder committed during the attempt to perpetrate a kidnapping, first degree felony murder committed during the attempt to perpetrate a burglary, second degree murder, a Class A felony, especially aggravated burglary, a Class B felony, and aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202(a)(2) (2014) (felony murder), 39-13-210(a) (2014) (second degree murder); 39-14-404 (2014) (especially aggravated burglary), 39-13-102 (2010) (aggravated assault). The trial court merged the felony murder committed during the attempted perpetration of a kidnapping and second degree murder convictions with the felony murder committed during the attempt to perpetrate a burglary conviction and sentenced the Defendant to concurrent terms of life imprisonment for felony murder, ten years for especially aggravated burglary, and five years for aggravated assault. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his felony murder convictions, (2) the trial court erred by denying the Defendant's motion to sever, (3) the trial court erred by admitting inadmissible hearsay evidence, (4) the trial court erred by admitting autopsy photograph evidence, (5) the trial court erred by allowing the prosecution to question two witnesses relative to an unrelated homicide, and (6) the prosecutor made improper statements during his closing argument. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/16
Dallas Jay Stewart v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01682-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Crigler

The Petitioner, Dallas Jay Stewart, appeals from the denial of his petition seeking post-conviction relief from his convictions of rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, and exhibition of harmful material to a minor.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by finding that trial counsel was not ineffective by failing to object to testimony that the Petitioner took a polygraph test and by “opening the door” to evidence of an uncharged allegation that the Petitioner committed a sexual offense in Williamson County.  The Petitioner further contends that the post-conviction court erred by refusing to grant a continuance to allow the Petitioner additional time to prepare for the post-conviction hearing.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Roderick Williams
W2015-00832-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Defendant, Roderick Williams, appeals his convictions for assault, aggravated assault, and aggravated criminal trespassing, and his effective sentence of sixteen years as a persistent offender. He argues that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred in its determination of his offender classification; and (3) his convictions of assault and aggravated assault should be merged. We affirm the judgments of the trial court and remand for entry of a judgment regarding the charge dismissed before trial.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Albert Taylor
W2014-02446-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Appellant, Albert Taylor, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. On appeal, the Appellant argues that the trial court erred (1) by determining that, because his sentences had expired, he was not entitled to a motion hearing and (2) by treating his motion as a petition for habeas corpus relief. At first, the State conceded that the trial court erred. We originally determined that, even though the Appellant’s sentences were expired, he had stated a colorable claim and was entitled to a hearing, and therefore, we reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with Rule 36.1. The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the State’s application for permission to appeal and remanded the case to this court for reconsideration in light of the supreme court’s recent opinion in State v. Brown, 479 S.W.3d 200 (Tenn. 2015). After revisiting the issue, we conclude that the Appellant is not entitled to a hearing because his sentences have long ago expired. As such, we now affirm the trial court’s denial of the Appellant’s Rule 36.1 motion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Larry Malone aka Larry Sallis
W2015-00152-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Larry Malone, of theft of property valued $10,000 or more but less than $60,000 and vandalism of property valued $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, Class C felonies. On appeal, the appellant claims that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, the appellant's conviction of felony theft is modified to theft of property valued $500 or less, a Class A misdemeanor. The appellant's felony vandalism conviction is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
In re AAAA Bonding Company, LLC
M2014-02157-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Ben H. Cantrell

The appellant, AAAA Bonding Company, LLC, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s revocation of its authority to write bail bonds.  The State concedes that the trial court erred because the evidence failed to show that the owner of the company and his wife, the circuit court clerk, commingled funds and, therefore, that she received an indirect benefit from his ownership of the company to justify the revocation.  However, the State requests that we remand the case to the trial court in order for the court to consider additional proof and make additional findings as to whether the court clerk is receiving some other direct or indirect benefit from her husband’s ownership of AAAA Bonding Company, LLC.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we reverse the judgment of the trial court but decline to remand the case for further proceedings.  Therefore, the judgment of the trial court is vacated.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Charles Wayne Dalton - Concurring
M2014-02156-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard

Although I am compelled to agree with the majority’s conclusion affirming the denial of coram nobis relief, I write separately to elaborate on the conundrum the petitioner faces in this case.  It is significant to me that the petitioner was convicted by a jury of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.  The State, the defense, and the trial court stipulated that at the time of his guilty plea to other charges and waiver of his right to appeal his jury convictions, the petitioner was not advised that he would be required to register as a sex offender, see T.C.A. § 40-39-211(a), (c), and that the petitioner’s offenses did not involve an element of sex. Despite the parties’ efforts to rectify the inequity of placing the petitioner on the sexual offender registry, because the petitioner’s kidnapping related convictions automatically trigger the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry Act, they were constrained by statute to comply.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
Charles Wayne Dalton v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02156-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Petitioner, Charles Wayne Dalton, filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, seeking relief from his convictions of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated kidnapping.  The Petitioner contended that he entered guilty pleas and forfeited his right to appeal without knowing that he would be required to be on the sexual offender registry for life.  The trial court denied relief, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Marvin Johnson
W2015-00783-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Defendant, Marvin Johnson, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder. See T.C.A. § 39-13-202 (2014). The trial court imposed a life sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence, (3) the trial court erred by admitting an autopsy photograph of the victim, and (4) the trial court erred by denying his request for transcripts. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
Marquon Green v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00162-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

Petitioner, Marquon L. Green, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. More specifically he contends that trial counsel (1) failed to adequately communicate with him; (2) failed to file a motion to suppress his confession; (3) failed to prepare him to testify at trial; and (4) failed to adequately question and impeach the State's witnesses. Petitioner also argues that appellate counsel failed to address whether Petitioner's statement was the result of a coerced confession. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to show that his trial counsel or appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, and we accordingly affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Pamela Moses
W2014-02220-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Russell

The pro se defendant, Pamela Moses, appeals the Shelby County Circuit Court’s dismissal of her appeal of her convictions in the Bartlett Municipal Court for speeding and illegally parking in a handicapped parking space. Among other things, she argues that her notice of appeal was timely and that the trial court’s dismissal for failure to prosecute was improper because she was not notified of her trial date, in violation of her substantive and procedural due process rights. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court dismissing the appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/16