Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/27/2016
Format: 07/27/2016
Jeffery L. Vaughn v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00921-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

Petitioner, Jeffery L. Vaughn, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner asserts that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to convey a favorable plea offer, failed to file a motion to suppress text messages, and failed to adequately prepare Petitioner to testify. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Preston Rashad Royal
W2015-01334-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, Preston Rashad Royal, pled guilty to thirteen counts of burglary of an automobile and received an effective sentence of six years to be served on supervised probation after one year of confinement in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”). Defendant argues that his sentence is illegal because it directly contravenes Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-122(a). The State concedes error. We conclude that Defendant’s sentence is illegal, vacate the judgments of the trial court, and remand the case for a new sentencing hearing.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Billy Ramer
W2015-01692-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The defendant, Billy Ramer, pled guilty to one count of sexual battery for crimes committed against his granddaughter. The trial court denied judicial diversion, and the defendant appeals. We conclude that the defendant’s appeal was not timely filed and that the interest of justice, having been served by the denial of diversion, does not demand that we waive the time for filing a notice of appeal. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed. We remand the case for correction of the judgment form.

McNairy County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Anmichael Leonard
W2015-01313-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant, Anmichael Leonard, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony, identity theft, a Class D felony, and fraudulent use of a credit card, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103 (2014) (theft of property); 39-14-150 (2012) (identity theft); 39-14-118 (2014) (unauthorized use of a credit or debit card). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective twenty-four years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient support his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Brown
W2015-00990-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

A Shelby County jury found the Defendant, Christopher Brown, guilty of one count of first degree premeditated murder and three counts of aggravated assault. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erroneously admitted evidence of prior bad acts under Rule 404(b) of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence and that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
Michael Kent Walker v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00861-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The Petitioner, Michael Kent Walker, appeals the Putnam County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2012 convictions for selling Schedule I and Schedule II controlled substances in a drug-free zone, for which he received an effective sentence of twelve years.  The Petitioner contends that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary based upon erroneous advice from trial counsel regarding the amount of jail credit to which he was entitled.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Brian Christopher Dunn
M2015-00759-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter C. Kurtz

Brian Christopher Dunn (“the Defendant”) was convicted of initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine and driving with a suspended, cancelled, or revoked license—6th offense.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
Kelcey Z. Williams v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01170-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

The Petitioner, Kelcey Z. Williams, appeals from the post-conviction court's denial of relief from his conviction for second degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Bailey
W2014-02434-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The defendant, Christopher Bailey, was convicted of one count of rape of a child, a Class A felony. On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction; that the trial court erred by admitting evidence of uncharged sexual conduct; that the trial court erred by preventing him from impeaching a witness with evidence of the witness's prior convictions; and that the trial court erred by excluding evidence of the victim's prior sexual abuse. Following our thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Victoria Monquette Orr - Dissent
M2015-00690-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley


Because I cannot agree with the majority’s conclusion that the evidence was sufficient to corroborate the accomplice’s testimony implicating the Defendant in the crime, and, because I similarly disagree with the conclusion that the trial court’s admission of Mr. Taylor’s prior consistent statement was harmless error, I respectfully dissent.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Victoria Monquette Orr
M2015-00690-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

The defendant, Victoria Monquette Orr, appeals her conviction for theft of property over $1,000 but less than $10,000, a Class D felony.  On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain her conviction and that the trial court erred in admitting the prior consistent statement of a witness.  Following our review of the briefs of the parties, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/16
Joe Ross v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01622-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Petitioner, Joe Ross, appeals the trial court's denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. 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.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Devonte Bonds, et al.
E2014-00495-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Defendants Devonte Bonds, Thomas Bishop, Jason Sullivan, and Brianna Robinson were tried jointly and convicted of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The jury found that the underlying offenses committed by Defendants Bonds, Bishop, and Sullivan constituted criminal gang offenses, and they received enhanced punishment under Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-121. All of the defendants raise multiple procedural and evidentiary issues with regard to the guilt phase of the trial on the underlying offenses. Defendants Bonds, Bishop, and Sullivan also raise several issues regarding their criminal gang enhancements. Defendants Bishop and Sullivan each raise an issue with regard to their sentencing. After an exhaustive review of the record, we ascertain no error in the guilt phase of the trial on the underlying offenses. Accordingly, the trial court‘s judgment as to Defendant Robinson is affirmed. However, because the subsection of the criminal gang enhancement statute employed by the State violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and is facially unconstitutional, we reverse the judgments of the trial court as to Defendants Bonds, Bishop, and Sullivan, vacate the criminal gang enhancements, and remand for modification of the judgments and a new sentencing hearing on the underlying offenses of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/16
Ronnie Henry v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01786-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Wright

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Ronnie Henry, of four counts of aggravated robbery and four counts of robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to seventy years in prison. The Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence, and this Court affirmed his convictions and remanded the case on a sentencing issue. See State v. Ronnie Henry, No. W2006-00344-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 450459, at *5 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Feb. 19, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. 2008). The Petitioner was resentenced on remand and his sentence was affirmed on appeal. State v. Ronnie Henry, No. W2009-00089-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 3103823, at *5 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Sept. 28, 2009), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. In 2010, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court appointed counsel who filed an amended petition for post-conviction relief alleging that the Petitioner had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court held a hearing on the petition and denied relief. We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Quinton Bonner
W2015-00812--CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Defendant, Quinton Bonner, appeals the trial court's denial of a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. We affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, we remand the matter for entry of judgment forms in Counts 2, 3, and 4.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Mark Tracy Looney
M2014-01168-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mitchell Keith Siskin

A Rutherford County jury convicted the Defendant, Mark Tracy Looney, of four counts of rape of a child, one count of felony child abuse, and one count of misdemeanor child abuse.  The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of fifty years in prison.  On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it: (1) denied his motions for mistrial; (2) denied his motion to suppress his pretrial statements; (3) refused to grant a new trial based upon the State’s failure to provide a recorded statement by the victim; (4) admitted inadmissible testimony from an expert witness; (5) allowed a witness to refresh her memory by viewing a video recording; (6) determined that the evidence against him is sufficient to sustain his convictions; (7) failed to grant a mistrial in light of a juror’s failure to disclose exposure to pretrial publicity; and (8) ordered consecutive sentencing.  After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/16
State of Tennessee v. William Pillars
M2015-01032-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The defendant, William Pillars, appeals his Franklin County Circuit Court jury convictions of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, that the trial court erred by improperly admitting and excluding certain evidence, that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence the defendant’s prior convictions, and that the sentence imposed was excessive.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Susan Jo Walls
M2014-01972-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Susan Jo Walls, was convicted by a jury of being criminally responsible for the first-degree premeditated murder of her husband and of conspiring with others to commit said murder.  The trial court imposed an effective sentence of life imprisonment for these convictions.  In this direct appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions; (2) the trial court erred in allowing late-night jury deliberations; (3) the trial court erred by denying her motion to suppress an involuntary statement made to law enforcement; (4) the trial court failed to properly sanction the State for its untimely disclosure of certain phone records; (5) the trial court abused its discretion by denying her motion for a mistrial or to strike a witness’s testimony based on an alleged Jencks Act violation; and (6)the trial court erred by modifying the jury instructions in response to a jury question that was presented after deliberations had commenced.[1]  Because we conclude that the trial court erred by allowing jury deliberations to continue into the late-night hours, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand this case for a new trial.

 

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Willie Jones
W2014-02428-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The defendant, Willie Jones, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of second degree murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm, claiming that the trial court erred by admitting certain witness testimony and by excluding other witness testimony, by refusing to instruct the jury on self-defense, and by limiting his cross-examination of certain witnesses. In addition, the defendant claims that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of second degree murder, that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentencing, and that the cumulative effect of these errors prevented him from receiving a fair trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Michael Williams
W2015-00662-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Pro se petitioner, Michael Williams, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the trial court erred in summarily dismissing his motion. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Michael Mullins
E2015-00270-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Scott Green

The Defendant, Michael Mullins, pleaded guilty in the Knox County Criminal Court to aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and received a three-year sentence. See T.C.A. § 39-13-102 (Supp. 2009) (amended 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015). The trial court granted the Defendant's request for judicial diversion and ordered him to pay more than $8000 in restitution. After a probation violation report and warrant were filed with the trial court, the court determined that the Defendant violated the conditions of his release, revoked the Defendant's judicial diversion, and sentenced him to three years' enhanced probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) because the parties had a plea agreement regarding the disposition of the probation violation, the trial court erred by allowing the State to rescind the agreement and by not providing the Defendant the opportunity to choose between requiring the State to specifically perform the agreement and withdrawing his guilty plea to the probation violation, (2) the trial court's failure to consider his corrective actions during the two years the probation violation proceedings were pending violated his right to a speedy trial, (3) the court erred by holding a judicial diversion revocation proceeding before holding a probation violation proceeding, and (4) the court erred during its restitution determinations. We affirm the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the Defendant's appeal relative to restitution pursuant to the mootness doctrine.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/16
Gerry Tallant v. State of Tennessee
W2014-02519-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Gerry Tallant, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his premeditated first degree murder conviction. He argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel failed to argue in the motion to suppress that: (1) he was arrested on the murder charge although the officers lacked probable cause; (2) he was detained for a custodial interrogation although the officers lacked probable cause; and (3) he was seized without reasonable suspicion. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Casey Bryant
M2015-00938-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The defendant, Jonathan Casey Bryant, pleaded guilty in the Warren County Circuit Court to promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine, reserving as a certified question of law whether the evidence obtained following a traffic stop should have been suppressed because it arose from his illegal detention.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Patricia Tarver
E2015-01496-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

Appellant, Patricia Tarver, appeals the trial court’s revocation of her probation, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering her to serve her original sentence in confinement. Because there is substantial evidence to support the trial court’s finding that Appellant violated the terms and conditions of her probation, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by revoking Appellant’s probation and executing the underlying sentence. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Eric D. Crenshaw
W2015-01577-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Eric D. Crenshaw, pleaded guilty to theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, a Class C felony, evading arrest, a Class E felony, theft of property valued at $500 or less, a Class A misdemeanor, possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, and driving on a revoked license, a Class B misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103 (2014) (theft), 39-16-603 (2014) (evading arrest), 39-17-425 (2014) (unlawful drug paraphernalia), 55-50-504 (2012) (driving on a revoked license). Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant would receive concurrent sentences as a Range I, standard offender, with the length and the manner of service of the sentences to be determined by the trial court. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve six years for the felony theft conviction, two years for the evading arrest conviction, eleven months, twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor theft conviction, eleven months, twenty-nine days for the possession of drug paraphernalia conviction, and six months for the driving on a revoked license conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by (1) denying him alternative sentencing and (2) imposing excessive fines for his felony theft and evading arrest convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/16