Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/16/2018
Format: 08/16/2018
State of Tennessee v. Jerry Reginald Burkes
E2017-00079-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The defendant, Jerry Reginald Burkes, appeals his convictions of money laundering, theft, and sales tax evasion and the accompanying 18-year effective sentence that included five years of confinement. The defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred by permitting the State to introduce certain evidence in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b); (2) the trial court erred by concluding that certain of the defendant’s convictions would be admissible for purposes of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 609; (3) the trial court violated his constitutional privilege against self-incrimination; (4) the State failed to discover and disclose exculpatory evidence; (5) the evidence was insufficient to support a conviction of money laundering; (6) the trial court erred by imposing a Range II sentence; and (7) the sentence imposed by the trial court is illegal. Because the fiveyear term of confinement imposed by the trial court is not authorized, we vacate the sentencing decision of the trial court and remand the case for resentencing. Additionally, because the amount of restitution ordered by the trial court cannot be satisfied under the terms ordered by the trial court, we vacate the restitution order and remand the case for the trial court to impose restitution in a manner that complies with Code section 40-35- 304. We affirm the judgments of the trial court in all other respects.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/18
State of Tennessee v. Millard Ellis Spurgeon
E2016-02210-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

The defendant, Millard Ellis Spurgeon, appeals his Sevier County Circuit Court jury convictions of burglary, theft of property valued at $1,000 or more, vandalism of property valued at $1,000 or more, and possession of burglary tools, challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress certain evidence and the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/18
Nikolaus Johnson v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01660-CCA-R9-PD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

In this interlocutory appeal, the petitioner, Nikolaus Johnson, appeals the ruling of the post-conviction court ordering that he provide discovery materials to the State. The rules governing post-conviction proceedings impose upon the State an automatic and mandatory obligation to provide discovery materials to the petitioner as part of the postconviction proceeding even in the absence of a request for such materials. Although Rule 28 of the Rules of the Tennessee Supreme Court does not include a similar provision requiring automatic and mandatory reciprocal discovery from the petitioner to the State, the Post-Conviction Procedure Act provides that Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 16 governs discovery in a post-conviction proceeding. Nothing in Rule 28 specifically exempts a post-conviction petitioner from complying with the discovery requirements of Rule 16. Accordingly, we reverse that part of the post-conviction court’s ruling that held that the filing of a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, without more, triggers in the post-conviction petitioner a duty to provide reciprocal discovery to the State. Instead, we hold that a post-conviction petitioner’s duty to provide reciprocal discovery to the State arises when the State has fully complied with its own mandatory discovery obligation and has requested reciprocal discovery under the terms of Rule 16. Because the State has not yet satisfied its duty to disclose in this post-conviction proceeding, the post-conviction court erred by ordering the petitioner to provide reciprocal discovery to the State. Regarding the post-conviction court’s order that the petitioner disclose prior to the evidentiary hearing the underlying facts and data for those expert witnesses the petitioner intended to present at the evidentiary hearing, we conclude that Tennessee Rule of Evidence 705 authorizes the court’s order and, therefore, affirm.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/18
Anne Marie Kent v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01532-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

The Petitioner, Anne Marie Kent, was convicted by a Lewis County jury of two counts of aggravated child neglect or endangerment and two counts of child abuse and received an effective sentence of twenty-two years. The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition alleging that she received ineffective assistance of counsel, which was subsequently denied by the post-conviction court. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that trial counsel was ineffective by (1) failing to file a motion to change venue; (2) advising the Petitioner not to testify at trial; (3) failing to call a witness; and (4) failing to properly crossexamine a witness. Upon thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Lewis County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/18
State of Tennessee v. Martin Ellison Hughes
E2017-01953-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas J. Wright

The Defendant, Martin Ellison Hughes, was found guilty by a Hawkins County Criminal Court jury of two counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-102 (2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range III, persistent offender to concurrent terms of fifteen and ten years, for an effective fifteen-year sentence at 45% service. On appeal, the Defendant contends that his sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/18
Demetrius Anderson v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01179-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Petitioner, Demetrius Anderson, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief, alleging he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/18
Jerry Edward Lanier v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00920-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The petitioner, Jerry Edward Lanier, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/18
State of Tennessee v. Gabriel Dotson
W2017-01099-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The defendant, Gabriel Dotson, was convicted of rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, rape, and incest for which he received an effective sentence of thirty-five years. On appeal he challenges his convictions on the grounds there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdicts, the State made improper statements throughout trial which prejudiced the defendant, the trial court erred in instructing the jury, the trial court erred in enhancing his sentence, and the cumulative effect of the errors at trial prejudiced the verdict. Upon our thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/18
State of Tennessee v. Justus Onyiego
W2017-00217-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Justus Onyiego, of two counts of aggravated rape, a Class A felony. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the convictions and sentenced him to seventeen years in confinement. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court denied his right to due process by failing to dismiss the indictment due to the State’s ten-year preindictment delay, that the trial court erred by failing to strike the testimony of two police officers, that the trial court erred by refusing to admit evidence of the victim’s prior sexual behavior under Tennessee Rule of Evidence 412, and that a prosecutor’s failure to correct false statements during closing arguments violated Napue v. Illinois, 360 U.S. 264 (1959), and constituted prosecutorial misconduct. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we find no reversible error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/18
State of Tennessee v. Terry Lamont Bowden
M2016-02525-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

The Defendant, Terry Lamont Bowden, appeals his jury conviction for possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the search of his vehicle, arguing that the drug-sniffing dog’s “body language changes,” as testified to by the officer handler, were insufficient to establish probable cause. He also argues that his absence at the initial suppression hearing violated Rule 43 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure and his constitutional right to be present at trial. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we conclude that the State failed to establish that the search of Defendant’s vehicle was supported by probable cause and that the case should, therefore, be reversed. Accordingly, the Defendant’s conviction is vacated, and the possession charge is dismissed.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/18
State of Tennessee v. Miguel Gomez
W2017-01457-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

Defendant, Miguel Gomez, was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault. The trial court merged Counts Two and Three into Count One and sentenced Defendant to eleven years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence at trial was insufficient to support his convictions and that his sentence was excessive. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/18
Edward Hood, II v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00934-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The pro se Petitioner, Edward Hood, II, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, arguing that a letter that he received from his daughter, K.P., constitutes newly discovered evidence of his innocence and that the coram nobis court erred in dismissing his petition without the appointment of counsel or an evidentiary hearing. Following our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/18
State of Tennessee v. Michael Shane McCullough
W2017-01219-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

Defendant, Michael Shane McCullough, was indicted in February of 2016 by an Obion County grand jury for disorderly conduct, criminal littering, initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine, and promotion of methamphetamine manufacture. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of criminal littering, initiation of process to manufacture methamphetamine, and promotion of methamphetamine manufacture. Defendant appeals from his convictions, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence for the methamphetamine-related convictions. Because we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/18
State of Tennessee v. Tobias Johnson
W2017-01644-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

The petitioner, Tobias Johnson, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The petitioner contends his sentence for life with parole eligibility at thirty percent is illegal pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated sections 40-35-501(i)(1), (i)(2)(A). The petitioner bargained for and received a life sentence pursuant to his plea agreement. The judgment of conviction contains a clerical error because “standard 30%” rather than “violent 100%” was checked for “release eligibility.” The petitioner’s concurrent sentences for rape and incest have expired. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court summarily dismissing the motion for failure to state a colorable claim, but remand for correction of the clerical error pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/18
State of Tennessee v. Charles Lee Warner
M2016-02075-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

The Defendant, Charles Lee Warner, appeals his jury conviction for first degree murder, for which he was sentenced to life imprisonment. In this direct appeal, the Defendant alleges the following errors: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, challenging the evidence establishing his identity and premeditation, and alleging that his jailhouse confession was not sufficiently corroborated; (2) that the trial court erred by declaring Robert Strange to be an unavailable witness and admitting his preliminary hearing testimony; and (3) relying on the rules of evidentiary relevance, that the trial court erred (a) by permitting a law enforcement officer to testify “regarding the [D]efendant’s propensity to carry weapons in the past”; (b) by allowing a former employer to testify about murderous threats made by the Defendant to the victim over a year prior to the victim’s death; and (c) by prohibiting defense counsel from eliciting testimony “regarding the potentially violent propensities of others known to the witness in the homeless community.” Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/18
Tarrants Yvelt Chandler v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01539-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Petitioner, Tarrants Yvelt Chandler, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he is entitled to post-conviction relief due to (1) numerous instances of ineffective assistance of his trial counsel; and (2) the State’s failure to disclose “exculpatory evidence prior to trial.” Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/18
Deon Lamont Cartmell v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00552-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The Petitioner, Deon Lamont Cartmell, was convicted of second degree murder for the killing of his wife and sentenced to eighteen years. On direct appeal, his conviction and sentence were affirmed. State v. Deon Lamont Cartmell, No. M2012-01925-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 3056164, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 7, 2014), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 20, 2014). He then filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief, followed by three amended petitions, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, prosecutorial misconduct, and cumulative error. Following a bifurcated hearing, the post-conviction court found that the Petitioner’s claims were without merit, and we agree. Accordingly, we affirm the order of the post-conviction court denying relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/18
Terry Lea Bunch v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00246-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Petitioner, Terry Lea Bunch, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief for being filed untimely. Petitioner alleged in his petition that defects in the affidavit of complaint rendered his conviction void. Having reviewed the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/18
State of Tennessee v. James Wolford
M2017-01506-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The defendant, James Wolford, appeals the order of the trial court revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his original four-year sentence in confinement. Following our review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding the defendant violated the terms of his probation and the imposed sentence is proper. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/18
State of Tennessee v. Douglas McArthur Wilson
M2017-00432-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody N. Kane

Defendant, Douglas McArthur Wilson, was indicted for attempted first degree murder in 2012. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of the lesser included offense of attempted second degree murder. The trial court sentenced Defendant to ten years in incarceration. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant presents a multitude of issues on appeal. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Smith County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/07/18
Antonio L. Freeman v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00036-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Petitioner, Antonio L. Freeman, appeals the Sumner County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of possessing contraband in a penal facility and resulting sentence of ten years in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel on direct appeal of his conviction. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/07/18
State of Tennessee v. Patrick Jayson Reeners
M2016-02184-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Defendant, Patrick Jayson Reeners, pleaded guilty to public intoxication and disorderly conduct and received concurrent thirty day sentences. In a separate case, he pleaded guilty to telephone harassment and received a probation sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. After the entry of his guilty pleas and sentencing, the Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty pleas “made under life threatening needed medical attention.” The trial court denied the motion after a hearing. On appeal, the Defendant claims that the trial court erred when it did not find a “fair and just reason” to allow the Defendant to withdraw his pleas. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/07/18
State of Tennessee v. Bryant Williamson
W2016-02434-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant-Appellant, Bryant Williamson was convicted of one count each of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and unlawful employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender to an effective sentence of life plus ten years. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support the Defendant’s convictions. After a thorough review of the record and briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/18
Armard Reeves v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00502-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Petitioner, Armard Reeves, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief, alleging that he was deprived of an impartial jury based on juror misconduct and that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to pursue this issue in a motion for new trial and on direct appeal. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/18
State of Tennessee v. Teddie Elijah Fason
W2017-01349-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Teddie Elijah Fason, entered guilty pleas to burglary, theft of property valued at more than $1,000, vandalism, and evading arrest, and he was sentenced to serve four years on probation. The Defendant appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probation and its judgment ordering him to serve his sentences in confinement. After a thorough review of the record, we discern no abuse of discretion, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/18