Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/22/2018
Format: 04/22/2018
State of Tennessee v. James Mario Starnes
M2016-02274-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Appellant, James Mario Starnes, appeals as of right from the Bedford County Circuit Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Appellant contends that the trial court erred because his motion stated a colorable claim for relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
Thomas Ernest Young v. State of Tennessee
M2016-02333-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The Petitioner, Thomas Ernest Young, appeals as of right from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He claims entitlement to habeas corpus relief, alleging that his guilty-pleaded conviction for Class C felony possession of cocaine is void because the cocaine was obtained following his unlawful arrest, because he was the victim of vindictive prosecution, because he received ineffective assistance of counsel, and because his plea resulted from coercion. Alternatively, he submits that we should treat his petition as one seeking post-conviction relief and that the one-year statute of limitations should be tolled due to his mental incompetence. Following our review, we conclude that the Petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief and, furthermore, that tolling of the one-year limitations period for filing a post-conviction petition is not required. Therefore, we affirm summary dismissal of his petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Beauregard
W2017-00536-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan

The defendant, Douglas Beauregard, appeals his Madison County Criminal Court jury conviction of vandalism of property valued at more than $500 but less than $1,000, alleging an insufficiency of evidence and error in the sentencing and restitution decisions of the trial court. Because the record does not support either the denial of all forms of alternative sentencing or the amount of restitution ordered in this case, we reverse the imposition of a fully incarcerative sentence, vacate the restitution order, and remand the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Quantez Person
W2016-01945-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The defendant, Quantez Person, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of criminal exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (“HIV”), see T.C.A. § 39-13-109(a), arguing that the trial court erred by consolidating the charge of criminal exposure to HIV with a charge of aggravated rape of which the defendant was later acquitted, that the trial court erred by admitting health department records, and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Under the circumstances presented in this case, Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(a) barred the State from bringing the charge of criminal exposure to HIV to trial. In consequence, the defendant’s conviction is vacated, and the charge is dismissed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
State of Tennessee v. James Earnest Smith
W2016-01131-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, James Earnest Smith, was indicted for one count of rape of a child and one count of aggravated sexual battery. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual battery. The trial court merged the convictions and imposed a sentence of twelve years’ confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the sentence was excessive. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Chester County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
Joseph Cordell Brewer, III v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02106-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

Petitioner, Joseph Cordell Brewer, III, appeals from the denial of relief following a hearing on his petition for post-conviction relief. Only Petitioner and his trial counsel testified at the post-conviction hearing. Since Petitioner failed to present evidence of any prejudice to him as a result of trial counsel’s alleged deficient representation, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
Dwayne Wright v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01260-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Petitioner, Dwayne Wright, was convicted of one count of aggravated rape and sentenced to twenty-four years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, this court affirmed his conviction and sentence. State v. Dwayne Wright, No. W2013-00433-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 1168579 (Tenn. Crim. App. March 21, 2014). Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief. Following a hearing on the petition, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to call Eric Hulbert as a witness at trial. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Mario Donte Keene
E2017-00316-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

The Greene County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant, Mario Donte Keene, on four counts of felony murder, one count of especially aggravated robbery, and one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, all in connection with the death of the victim, Donald Gunter. A jury convicted the Defendant as charged, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of life. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient for a rational juror to have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated kidnapping. The Defendant also asserts that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct in its closing arguments, warranting a new trial. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions but remand the case for entry of amended judgments merging counts two, three, and four into count one.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Glen Howell - Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part
M2016-01812-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

I agree with the majority’s conclusions in section II of the opinion, the evidence of a federal lawsuit and section III, impeachment of the victim.  However, I respectfully disagree with the majority’s conclusion in section I that a new trial on the offense of simple assault is barred by the prohibition against double jeopardy.  I am of the opinion that there is no valid and final judgment for the purposes of collateral estoppel via double jeopardy and that a rational jury could have grounded its verdict upon an issue other than that which Defendant seeks to estop.  Therefore, I would remand the case for a new trial on simple assault.  

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/18
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Glen Howell
M2016-01812-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The defendant, Matthew Glen Howell, who was originally charged with aggravated assault, appeals his 2016 Davidson County Criminal Court conviction of simple assault, which was imposed by the trial court after the jury found the defendant guilty of the inapplicable lesser included offense of reckless aggravated assault.  The defendant argues that, because the jury acquitted him of the crime of intentional or knowing aggravated assault and instead found him guilty of reckless aggravated assault, the trial court erred by amending the conviction offense to one that required an intentional or knowing mens rea.  The defendant also challenges several of the trial court’s evidentiary rulings.  Because the jury found the defendant guilty of a crime that did not exist under the facts of the case and because double jeopardy and collateral estoppel principles precluded the trial court from imposing a conviction that required an element of which the defendant had already been acquitted, the defendant’s conviction of simple assault is vacated, and the case is dismissed.  

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/18
Sebastian Valentino v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00448-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Petitioner, Sebastian Valentino, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered because he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/18
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Bernard Scott
W2016-02488-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Kenneth Bernard Scott, was convicted by a Henderson County jury of the sale and delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine, a Class C felony, and two counts of the sale and delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine, a Class B felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a Range II, multiple offender to an effective term of sixteen years in the Department of Correction. The Defendant raises two issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred by allowing laboratory reports into evidence without the testimony of the technician who conducted the testing and prepared the reports; and (2) whether the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18
State of Tennessee v. Andrew Shearin
W2016-02228-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Defendant, Andrew Shearin, pled guilty in the Shelby County Criminal Court to sexual exploitation of a minor involving more than 100 images, a Class B felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a Range I, standard offender to twelve years at 100% in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence by misapplying enhancement factors. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18
Julius Perkins v. Mike Parris, Warden
W2016-02341-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Petitioner, Julius Perkins, appeals the Lake County Circuit Court’s summary denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, seeking relief from his conviction of first degree felony murder and resulting life sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that his conviction is void because of a faulty indictment and that the court erred by dismissing his petition without appointing counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18
Brandon Washington v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01965-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Brandon Washington, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, seeking relief from his convictions of aggravated assault, evading arrest, and various drug offenses. Based upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18
John Valentine v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00161-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

The petitioner, John Valentine, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18
Warren Pratcher v. State of Tennessee-Concurring
W2017-00300-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

I respectfully concur separately in this case to clarify a distinction between, on the one hand, the post-conviction court’s ordering a dismissal of the first petition with prejudice and, on the other hand, the petitioner’s waiver of post-conviction relief upon the voluntary dismissal of the first petition. Although I believe the latter may be effectual, I believe the former is not effectual apart from the petitioner’s waiver.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18
Warren Pratcher v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00300-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Warren Pratcher, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for
post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in dismissing his second petition for post-conviction relief on the basis that his first petition had been withdrawn with prejudice. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the
post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18
State of Tennessee v. James A. Kilgore
M2016-02393-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The Defendant, James A. Kilgore, pled guilty to attempted conspiracy to manufacture more than 300 grams of methamphetamine, a Class B felony, and attempted initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine, a Class C felony, in exchange for respective ten- and five-year sentences, to be served consecutively. The five-year term was to be served on supervised probation; whereas, the manner of service for the ten-year term was to be determined by the trial court. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that the Defendant serve the ten-year sentence in confinement, which, on appeal, the Defendant challenges as error. We affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Wayne Hughes
M2017-00057-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

The defendant, Jeffrey Wayne Hughes, pled guilty to one count of theft over $250,000, one count of theft between $10,000 and $60,000, and six counts of money laundering. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of twenty-seven years in confinement. On appeal, the defendant contends the trial court erred when failing to apply certain mitigating factors, denying probation on the money laundering offenses, and ordering his theft convictions to be served consecutively to his money laundering convictions. Following our review of the record, arguments of the parties, and pertinent authorities, we affirm the sentences imposed by the trial court.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/08/18
Dannie Weaver v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00172-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

Dannie Weaver, the Petitioner, entered a best interest plea to driving under the influence, possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance with prior convictions, possession of a Schedule II drug, possession of drug paraphernalia, and a violation of the seat belt law. The Petitioner received a total effective sentence of four years with thirty-five percent release eligibility, which was suspended to probation following the service of thirty-five days in jail. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief and alleged that trial counsel’s performance was deficient and that, absent the deficient performance, the Petitioner would have proceeded to trial. The Petitioner also alleged that his best interest plea was involuntary and unknowing. The post-conviction court denied relief and the Petitioner appealed. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/05/18
State of Tennessee v. Trevial Moss
W2016-01973-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Trevial Moss, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of aggravated robbery and sentenced to twelve years’ confinement. In this direct appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the verdict is contrary to the law and weight of the evidence; (3) the State withheld discovery material in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87 (1963); and (4) the trial court erred in imposing the maximum sentence. Upon our review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/05/18
State of Tennessee v. Curtis Johnson, Jr.
W2016-02439-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Following a bench trial, the Defendant, Curtis Johnson, Jr., was convicted of three counts of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and was sentenced to twenty-four years’ imprisonment. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court abused its discretion by imposing partially consecutive sentences. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/05/18
Keenan Scott McNeal v. State of Tennessee
E2017-00281-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

The Petitioner, Keenan Scott McNeal, appeals from the Blount County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction for the sale of one-half gram or more of a substance containing cocaine within 1000 feet of a child care facility, for which he is serving an eight-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/05/18
State of Tennessee v. Joseph D. Sexton
M2017-00735-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Defendant, Joseph D. Sexton, entered an open guilty plea to one count of attempted aggravated sexual battery. The trial court held a sentencing hearing and sentenced the Defendant to five years of incarceration. The Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in calculating the length of the sentence based on the enhancing and mitigating factors presented and that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. After a thorough review of the record, we determine that there was no abuse of discretion, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/05/18