Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 03/27/2015
Format: 03/27/2015
William Carter King v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00512-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Petitioner, William Carter King, appeals the Fentress County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2011 guilty plea to possession of a controlled substance in a penal institution and his five-year sentence.  The Petitioner contends that (1) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and (2) his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Fentress County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Karl P. Cooper
M2013-01084-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

A Williamson County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Karl P. Cooper, of driving under the influence (DUI), second offense; speeding; and violating the open container law.  The appellant received a total effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days and was ordered to spend sixty days of the sentence in jail before being released on probation.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by allowing the State to violate the rule of witness sequestration, that the trial court erred by sustaining the State’s objection to the appellant’s request to have the arresting officer demonstrate a field sobriety test, and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his DUI conviction.  The State concedes that the trial court erred by allowing the violation of the rule of sequestration but contends the error was harmless.  Upon review, we conclude that the violation of the rule of sequestration was reversible error; accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is reversed, and the case is remanded for a new trial.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
Leon Flannel v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00181-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

The Petitioner, Leon Flannel, was convicted of murder in the perpetration of a theft and premeditated murder. In this appeal from the trial court’s denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, the Petitioner argues that the individual tests performed by the defense’s expert witness, along with their results, should have been introduced at trial to bolster the Petitioner’s diminished capacity defense. Upon review, we find that the petition for writ of error coram nobis is barred by the statute of limitations. Additionally, we find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied relief on the merits.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
Carlos Eaton v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00791-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The appellant, Carlos Eaton, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his 1995 guilty plea to first degree murder and his life sentence. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
Sean William Lee v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00335-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, Sean William Lee, pled guilty in 2004 to attempted aggravated sexual battery and was sentenced to three years, which then was suspended to six years probation. In 2013, after a probation violation warrant was filed against him, he filed a pleading styled “Motion to Revoke Probation and Impose a Sentence in Absentia.” He followed this pleading by filing a petition for writ of error coram nobis, based upon what he saw as newly discovered evidence. The coram nobis court dismissed the petition without a hearing, concluding that the statute of limitations for such a pleading had expired eight years earlier and no issues were raised which could be the basis for coram nobis relief. Following our review, we affirm the order of the coram nobis court dismissing the petition, pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Terrence Wooden, also known as Terrence Wooten
W2014-00173-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The defendant, Terrance Wooden, also known as Terrence Wooten, was convicted of the rape of the victim, who was confined to a wheelchair, and sentenced to confinement for twelve years at 100%. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
Tarrence Parham v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01437-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The petitioner, Tarrence Parham, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for attempted second degree murder and reckless aggravated assault. On appeal, he argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
Michael Brandon Adams v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01025-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Petitioner, Michael Brandon Adams, appeals the Sumner County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence.  The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred when it dismissed his motion without appointing counsel and without conducting an evidentiary hearing.  In his motion, the Petitioner asserts that his sentence is illegal on the grounds that his guilty plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel.  Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court properly denied the motion.  Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
William Lance Walker v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01305-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Crigler

A Marshall County jury convicted the Petitioner, William Lance Walker, of the sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine and the delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine.  The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court.  State v. William Lance Walker, No. M2012-01319-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 1799988, at *6 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, April 29, 2013), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 filed.  The Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective on multiple grounds.  The post-conviction court dismissed the petition after a hearing.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Gale
W2013-02772-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Defendant, Antonio Gale, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for two counts of aggravated rape. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of the lesser-included offenses of rape in Count One and assault in Count Two. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced Defendant to eleven years at 100% for the rape conviction. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant seeks resolution of the following issues on appeal: (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction of rape; and (2) whether the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing Defendant. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction for rape and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant to eleven years for the conviction. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/16/14
John Brunner v. State
W2013-02120-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

John Brunner (“the Petitioner”) was indicted for first degree murder and domestic assault. After a trial, a jury convicted him of the lesser-included offense of second degree murder and domestic assault. In this appeal from the denial of post-conviction relief, the Petitioner argues that he was denied effective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/15/14
Michael Deshawn Smith v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01344-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Michael Deshawn Smith, appeals the Fayette County Circuit Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his conviction for second degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on counsel’s failure to include a transcript of the plea submission hearing in the record on direct appeal. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Fayette County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/15/14
Shairiq Seabrooks v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02321-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The petitioner, Shairiq Seabrooks, was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to confinement for twenty-two years. His conviction was affirmed by this court, and our supreme court denied his application for permission to appeal. State v. Shairiq Seabrooks, No. W2008-00443-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 3103792, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 29, 2009), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Mar. 15, 2010). Thereafter, he filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. After an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, and the petitioner timely appealed. Following our review, we affirm the denial of relief by the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Reginald Dewayne Tumlin
E2013-01452-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rebecca J. Stern

A Hamilton County jury convicted the Defendant, Reginald Dewayne Tumlin, of two counts of child abuse, one count of criminally negligent homicide, and one count of aggravated child neglect. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of sixty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court erred when it failed to compel the State to make an election of offenses; (2) the trial court failed to instruct the jury that reckless endangerment and attempted aggravated child neglect are lesser-included offenses of aggravated child neglect; (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (4) the trial court improperly admitted medical testimony about the victim’s injuries; (5) the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct; (6) the trial court improperly instructed the jury on flight; and (7) the cumulative effect of these errors deprived the Defendant of a fair trial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/15/14
Christopher Jake Reynolds v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02658-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jim T. Hamilton

This matter is before the Court upon the State’s motion to dismiss or in the alternative to affirm the judgment of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Petitioner, Christopher Jake Reynolds, has appealed the Giles County Circuit Court order dismissing his third petition for post-conviction relief in which Petitioner alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that due process required the tolling of the statute of limitations.  Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the post-conviction court was correct in dismissing the petition and that this case meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Accordingly, the State’s motion is granted, and the judgment of the post conviction court is affirmed.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/15/14
Rodricko Thomas v. Jerry Lester, Warden
W2014-00686-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

The petitioner, Rodricko Thomas, received an effective sentence of fourteen years after pleading guilty to an included offense of aggravated robbery and nolo contendere to the charged offenses of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Two years after being sentenced, he filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging the firearm conviction was void because the indictment had not specified a predicate felony. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, and this court affirmed that dismissal because the petition did not include a copy of the assailed indictment. Rodricko O. Thomas v. Jerry Lester, Warden, No. W2013-02522-CCA-R3-HC, 2014 WL 2442272, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 23, 2014). Subsequently, he filed a second petition, making the same allegations and, with this petition, included a copy of the indictment. The habeas corpus court determined that the indictment was sufficient to apprise the petitioner of the employing a firearm offense and dismissed the petition. Because the petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/14
Mack Transou v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00537-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The petitioner, Mack Transou, appeals from the dismissal of his second coram nobis petition, some of which appears to be repackaged claims from his previous post-conviction attacks on his sentences, with others not cognizable for coram nobis relief. The coram nobis court concluded that his petition was without merit, and we concur. Accordingly, we affirm the denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/14
Ricardo Davidson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00565-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The petitioner, Ricardo Davidson, filed a petition in the Maury County Circuit Court, seeking habeas corpus relief from four felony drug convictions.  The court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that the petitioner failed to file in the court closest to him and that, regardless, his claims did not entitle him to habeas corpus relief.  On appeal, the petitioner challenges this ruling.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/14
Anthony Todd Ghormley v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00363-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don R. Ash

In 2009, a Blount County jury convicted the Petitioner, Anthony Todd Ghormley, of two counts of attempted first degree murder, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of especially aggravated burglary, and three counts of aggravated assault. State v. Anthony Todd Ghormley, No. E2010-00634-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 171940, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Jan. 20, 2012), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of 105 years of confinement. Id. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the judgments but reversed the trial court’s denial of a competency hearing and remanded the case for a competency hearing. Id. The Petitioner was deemed competent on remand. The Petitioner filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, which the coram nobis court denied. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred when it denied his petition. He asserts that the coram nobis court’s dismissal was based on “known fraud” because “three of the State’s witnesses committed perjury at the [competency] hearing.” After review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Santos Medardo Funes Romero
E2013-02137-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Santos Medardo Funes Romero, of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of twenty-five years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it did not grant a mistrial or dismiss the jury after several members of the venire discussed having been victims of child sexual abuse; (2) the trial court erred when it denied defense counsel the opportunity to question the investigator about her comments about the weakness of the case; and (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we reverse the trial court’s judgments, and we remand the case for a new trial or other proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Santos Medardo Funes Romero
E2013-02137-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Santos Medardo Funes Romero, of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of twenty-five years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it did not grant a mistrial or dismiss the jury after several members of the venire discussed having been victims of child sexual abuse; (2) the trial court erred when it denied defense counsel the opportunity to question the investigator about her comments about the weakness of the case; and (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we reverse the trial court’s judgments, and we remand the case for a new trial or other proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Billy Jason Hancock
M2012-02307-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Patterson

The defendant, Billy Jason Hancock, appeals his Putnam County Criminal Court jury convictions of first degree murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, and abuse of a corpse, claiming that the trial court erred by concluding that certain communications with his wife and his pastor were not protected by any evidentiary privilege and that the trial court’s instruction regarding jury unanimity during the penalty phase was incorrect. Discerning no error, we affirm.

 

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Janice Kirkland
E2013-02243-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy Harrington

A Blount County jury found the Appellant guilty of two counts of assault against an unacquainted homeowner. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by subjecting her to double jeopardy in convicting her of two counts of assault rather than one. She also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the convictions. Because we find that the two convictions are based on separate offenses under applicable law, and because a rational jury could find the Appellant guilty based on the evidence presented, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/11/14
State of Tennessee v. Bobby Joe Mason
E2014-00571-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy Harrington

The appellant, Bobby Joe Mason, pled guilty in the Blount County Circuit Court to robbery, a Class C felony, and criminal impersonation, a Class A misdemeanor, and received an effective three-year sentence to be served as 160 days in confinement and the remainder on enhanced supervised probation. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by revoking his probation and ordering that he serve the remainder of his sentences in confinement. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/11/14
State of Tennessee v. Letivias D. Prince
M2014-00260-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins

The petitioner, Letivias D. Prince, appeals the Williamson County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, which challenged his 1997 jury conviction of first degree murder.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/11/14