Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/19/2014
Format: 04/19/2014
State of Tennessee v. Glenn Lemual Stepp
E2013-01291-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

A Jefferson County Circuit Court Jury found the appellant, Glenn Lemual Stepp, guilty of attempted first degree murder, a Class A felony, and in violation of an order of protection, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty-five years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his attempted first degree murder conviction, contending that the State failed to prove premeditation. The appellant also complains about the twenty-five-year sentence imposed by the trial court. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Jefferson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/17/14
Randall Turner v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01515-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The petitioner, Randall Turner, filed a petition in the Hamilton County Criminal Court, seeking post-conviction relief. The trial court denied the petition because it was untimely. On appeal, the petitioner challenges the trial court’s ruling. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Joseph P. Lubecke
E2013-01798-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery

The defendant, Joseph P. Lubecke, appeals the revocation of the probationary sentence imposed for his Sullivan County Criminal Court convictions of aggravated assault and felony reckless endangerment. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Court of Criminal Appeals 03/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Brian Roberson
E2013-00376-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Cupp

The Defendant, Brian Roberson, appeals from his jury conviction for facilitation of first-degree premeditated murder. Specifically, he contends (1) that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction; (2) that the trial court erred in allowing, over the objection of defense counsel, a witness’s preliminary hearing testimony to be admitted as substantive evidence at trial under the former testimony exception to the hearsay rule; and (3) that consecutive sentencing was improperly imposed. After reviewing the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/14/14
Akil Jahi a.k.a. Preston Carter v. State of Tennessee
W2011-02669-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

The Petitioner, Akil Jahi a.k.a. Preston Carter, appeals the trial court’s denial of post-conviction relief regarding his convictions for two counts of felony murder and sentences of death. The Petitioner contends that (1) he is intellectually disabled and, ineligible for the death penalty; (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at both his original trial and resentencing hearing; (3) the death penalty is unconstitutional; and (4) the cumulative effect of all errors warrants relief. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Deon'dre Jones
W2013-00347-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, Christopher Deon’Dre Jones, was charged in a four-count indictment returned by the Madison County Grand Jury with aggravated burglary, assault, evading arrest, and vandalism. Following a trial, the jury acquitted Defendant of aggravated burglary and assault, but found him guilty as charged of misdemeanor evading arrest and misdemeanor vandalism. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of 11 months and 29 days of incarceration in the county jail for each conviction. In his sole issue on appeal, Defendant asserts that the evidence was legally insufficient to support his conviction of the offense of evading arrest. Defendant assigns no error to his conviction of vandalism. After a thorough review of the briefs and the record we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Mario Johnson
W2013-01124-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

The Defendant, Mario Johnson, was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated assault and one count of misdemeanor reckless endangerment. All verdicts were merged into a single conviction for aggravated assault, and the Defendant was sentenced to fifteen years in the Department of Correction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant argues that an instruction on self-defense, which he requested, should have been included in the final charge to the jury. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
Charles Damien Darden v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01328-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

The Petitioner, Charles Damien Darden, appeals the Robertson County Circuit Court’s denial of his “Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in Alternative Petition for Post-Conviction Relief in Alternative Petition[] for Writ of Error Coram Nobis” requesting relief from his 1996 conviction for felony murder and his resulting life sentence. The Petitioner contends that his life sentence violates the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution as discussed in Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. —, 132 S.Ct. 2455 (2012). We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Hank Wise
M2012-02520-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth Norman

The Defendant, Hank Wise, was indicted on one count of premeditated first degree murder for the death of the victim, Benjamin Goeser. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202. Following a bench trial, the Defendant was convicted of the lesser-included offense of second degree murder. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210. The trial court subsequently sentenced the Defendant to twenty-three years for the offense. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred by failing to find him not guilty by reason of insanity; and (2) that the trial court erred by imposing an excessive sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
Anthony Williams v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00826-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

A Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Anthony Williams, of first degree premeditated murder, aggravated assault, and felony reckless endangerment. The trial court ordered a total effective sentence of life imprisonment plus six years. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court. State v. Anthony Williams, No. M2007-01385-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 564231 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Mar. 5, 2009) perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 17, 2009). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it dismissed his petition because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. Zachary Ross Henderson
M2013-01539-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Keith Siskin

The Defendant, Zachary Ross Hendrixson, pled guilty to theft of property valued over $10,000, and the trial court sentenced him, as a Range II offender, to serve a six-year sentence consecutive to a ten-year sentence he was required to serve in Dekalb County. The trial court suspended the Defendant’s sentence, ordering that the Defendant serve six years on probation after his release from Dekalb County. The trial court held a hearing on restitution, after which it ordered the Defendant to pay $60,000, at a rate of $833.33 per month after he was released from prison. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it set the amount of his restitution because the amount is not reasonable. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that no error exists. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. James Louis Rhodes, II - Dissenting
M2013-00622-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Lee Holloway, Jr.

I respectfully dissent from the conclusion reached by the majority in this case. In my view, the trial court abused its discretion in denying judicial diversion. The only mention of judicial diversion by the trial court was after the court imposed the sentence in this case. In somewhat of an afterthought, the trial court stated, “I guess, I didn’t state it, but the application for diversion is denied.” Unlike judicial diversion cases in which this court has reversed and remanded due to the trial court’s failure to fully consider, explain or weigh the judicial diversion factors, see e.g., State v. Lewis, 978 S.W .2d 558, 567 (Tenn. Crim. App.1997); State v. Sean Nauss, No. E2011-00002-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 988139 at * 4 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar 22, 2012) (collecting cases), the trial court here failed even to consider the Defendant for judicial diversion. State v. Cutshaw, 967 S.W.2d 332, (Tenn. Crim. App. 1997) (concluding that “the trial judge abused his discretion by failing even to consider the defendant’s personal eligibility for judicial diversion”). On this meager record, the trial court’s denial of diversion cannot be cloaked with a presumption of reasonableness. Moreover, the record hardly assists this court in determining the appropriateness of the trial court’s denial of diversion as there was no proof other than the presentence report at the sentencing hearing. To uphold the denial of judicial diversion in this case would render consideration of the judicial diversion factors in all future cases a complete nullity. Accordingly, I would reverse the trial court’s denial of judicial diversion and remand the case for a new sentencing hearing.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14
State of Tennessee v. James Louis Rhodes, II
M203-00622-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Lee Holloway, Jr.

The defendant was convicted of assault and child neglect, both Class A misdemeanors. He was sentenced to two consecutive sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the defendant argues that his sentences are excessive and that the trial court erred by denying his request for judicial diversion. After carefully reviewing the record de novo to determine if the trial court’s sentencing decisions can be upheld, we conclude that no reversible error was committed. The judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/14