Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 12/07/2016
Format: 12/07/2016
Frederick E. Braxton v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00161-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Petitioner, Frederick E. Braxton, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2010 convictions for selling less than 0.5 gram of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school zone, evading arrest, and criminal impersonation and his effective fifteen-year sentence.  The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/16
State of Tennessee v. Rachel Kay Bond
M2015-01433-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

A Lawrence County jury found the Defendant, Rachel Kay Bond, guilty of first degree premeditated murder, and she was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Department of Correction.  The Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient and that the trial court erred when it admitted into evidence incriminating text messages allegedly sent by the Defendant.  After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/16
State of Tennessee v. Jerry Floyd
E2016-00260-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The Defendant, Jerry Floyd, was arrested without a warrant for driving under the influence (DUI), third offense, a Class A misdemeanor, and several other traffic offenses not relevant to this review. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 55-10-401, -402(a)(3)(A). The Defendant consented to a bench trial in Sullivan County General Sessions Court and was found guilty of DUI, third offense. The Defendant then appealed to the Sullivan County Criminal Court. Following a bench trial, the Defendant was again found guilty of DUI, third offense. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months and twenty nine-days with 120 days to be served in confinement. The Defendant now appeals to this court, contending that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction. Following our review, we conclude that the affidavit of complaint filed after the Defendant’s arrest was void and that no valid arrest warrant was issued in this case. Therefore, prosecution was never commenced in this matter within the applicable statute of limitations. Accordingly, we reverse and dismiss the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/16
James W. Clark, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01828-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The pro se petitioner, James W. Clark, Jr., appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, motion to reopen his post-conviction petition, petition for writ of habeas corpus, and Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion for correction of an illegal sentence. We affirm the summary dismissal of the petitions and motions pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/16
Cory O'Brien Johnson alias Deshun Marshay Gibbs v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00087-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The pro se petitioner, Cory O’Brien Johnson, alias Deshun Marshay Gibbs, appeals the habeas corpus court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that the court violated his due process rights by not holding an evidentiary hearing to consider whether he was afforded appropriate pretrial jail credits. Following our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition on the basis that the petitioner failed to state a colorable claim for habeas corpus relief.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/16
Joseph Floyd v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02232-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The petitioner, Joseph Floyd, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his DUI and reckless driving convictions, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in dismissing the petition based on a lack of jurisdiction because his probation had expired. The State concedes that the court erroneously dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction, and we agree. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for an evidentiary hearing on the merits of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Ethan Alexander Self - concurring and dissenting
E2014-02466-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

I dissent from the majority’s conclusion that the trial court did not err in denying the Defendant’s motion for a mistrial after Dr. Brietstein testified that, in his opinion, the shooting was not accidental. As the majority notes, this testimony was elicited by the prosecutor in violation of the court’s earlier ruling which prohibited Dr. Brietstein from testifying to any opinion that the shooting was accidental or intentional.

Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Ethan Alexander Self
E2014-02466-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

The Defendant, Ethan Alexander Self, was found guilty by a Hawkins County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder. See T.C.A. § 39-13-202 (2014). He was sentenced to life in prison. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress, (2) the State improperly exercised a peremptory challenge to a prospective juror for a race-based reason, (3) the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, (4) the court erred in denying the Defendant's motions for a mistrial based upon the State's failure to disclose evidence, (5) the court erred in denying his motions for a mistrial based upon the State's eliciting evidence in violation of the court's pretrial evidentiary rulings, (6) the court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial based upon the State's failure to preserve alarm clocks from the victim's bedroom, (7) the court erred in admitting evidence of the Defendant and the victim's good relationship and lack of abuse, (8) the court erred in the procedure by which the jury inspected the gun used in the victim's homicide, (9) prosecutorial misconduct occurred during the State's rebuttal argument, (10) the court erred in failing to instruct the jury on self-defense, (11) cumulative trial error necessitates a new trial, and (12) the trial court improperly sentenced the Defendant. We conclude that there is no reversible error, and we accordingly affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/29/16
James Daniel Vaughn v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01536-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The petitioner, James Daniel Vaughn, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/26/16
State of Tennessee v. Keith Ward
W2015-00931-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The defendant, Keith Ward, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a child rapist to 32.5 years at 100% in the Department of Correction. The sole issue he raises on appeal is whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/26/16
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Robinson
W2015-02482-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Defendant, Anthony Robinson, filed a motion under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 alleging that he was incorrectly sentenced as a Range II offender when he should have been sentenced as a Range I offender. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion. After review of the record and the briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/26/16
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Curtis
M2015-01372-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The defendant, Douglas Curtis, was convicted of four counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony.  On appeal, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that a portion of the victim’s testimony violated his right to a fair trial.  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lewis County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/26/16
Thomas E. Williams v. Debra Johnson, Warden
M2015-02244-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna Johnson

The petitioner, Thomas E. Williams, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which petition challenged his 1989 conviction of escape.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/26/16
David G. Skipper v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01518-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The Petitioner, David G. Skipper, appeals the Putnam County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his second petition for post-conviction relief from his guilty pleas to two counts of rape of a child and one count of attempted aggravated sexual battery and resulting effective sentence of thirty-one years.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by not treating his petition for post-conviction relief as a petition for writ of error coram nobis.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/26/16
State of Tennessee v. James Ray Bartlett
M2016-00217-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durand, Jr.

The defendant, James Ray Bartlett, appeals the dismissal of his motion, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence. In this appeal, the defendant asserts that the trial court erred by denying his motion on the grounds that his sentence had expired.  Because Rule 36.1 cannot avail the defendant of meaningful relief, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/26/16
State of Tennessee v. Michael Holmes
W2014-02437-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Defendant, Michael Holmes, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of especially aggravated robbery, three counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, and one count each of facilitation of a felony and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Following a trial, the jury convicted Defendant of two counts of aggravated robbery, three counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court sentenced Defendant to ten years for each count of aggravated robbery, to be served concurrently. The trial court merged Defendant's three convictions for first degree murder into one conviction and imposed a sentence of life, to be served consecutively to the sentences in Defendant's other convictions. In addition to the sentence for the aggravated robberies, the trial court sentenced Defendant to fifteen years for attempted first degree murder and six years for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions, and that the trial court erred by not ruling that Devin Herndon was an accomplice whose testimony required independent corroboration. Following a careful review of the record, we find no error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Guary L. Wallace
W2015-00708-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn L. Peeples

Defendant, Guary L. Wallace, was convicted in the Crockett County Circuit Court of attempted first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated robbery, and two counts of especially aggravated assault, all under a theory of criminal responsibility. Following a sentencing hearing, Defendant received the following sentences of incarceration: 40 years for attempted first degree murder; 40 years for especially aggravated robbery; 20 years for each aggravated robbery conviction; and ten years for each especially aggravated assault conviction. His 40-year sentences were ordered to run concurrently, and his remaining sentences were ordered to run consecutively, resulting in a total effective sentence of 100 years. Defendant appeals his convictions and sentences and argues: 1) that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions on a theory of criminal responsibility; 2) that the trial court failed to fulfill its role as thirteenth juror; 3) that the trial court failed to properly instruct the jury on criminal responsibility; 4) that the prosecutor committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument; and 5) that his sentences amount to cruel and unusual punishment. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Crockett County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Obada D. Abujaber
W2015-00590-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The defendant, Obada D. Abujaber, was indicted for two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance, and one count of vandalism of property valued at $500 or more but less than $1000. Following trial, a jury found the defendant not guilty of one count of aggravated assault, guilty of one count of the lesser-included offense of attempted aggravated assault, guilty of two counts of the lesser-included offenses of attempted possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance, and guilty of one count of vandalism of property valued at less than $500. The trial court sentenced the defendant to an effective sentence of four years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Richard Bryant Long
M2015-02093-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

A Lawrence County jury convicted the Defendant, Richard Bryant Long, of rape of a child, and the trial court sentenced him to serve twenty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it allowed a video recording of the victim’s interview to be admitted without satisfying the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 24-7-123.  After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Ray Rust
M2015-02284-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin Lee Russell

The appellant, Brandon Ray Rust, pled guilty in the Bedford County Circuit Court to burglary and was granted judicial diversion with the requirement that he complete three years on probation.  Subsequently, the trial court revoked probation and ordered that the appellant serve the balance of his sentence in confinement.  On appeal, the appellant acknowledges that he violated probation but contends that the trial court should have ordered a sentence that included an alternative to confinement.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Anthony Robey
M2015-00306-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mitchell Keith Siskin

Defendant, Marcus Anthony Robey, was convicted of aggravated robbery by a Rutherford County jury and was sentenced to thirty years.  On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by failing to provide a supplemental jury instruction following a jury question during deliberations and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.  After a thorough review of the record, we determine that Defendant waived his right to appeal this conviction.  Therefore, the appeal is dismissed.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/16
State of Tennessee v. James Moore
W2015-01483-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The defendant, James Moore, was convicted of one count of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and one count of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and sentenced in each case, as a Range II offender, to forty years confinement. The court merged the Class B aggravated sexual battery conviction into the Class A rape of a child conviction. On appeal, the defendant argues, as to each conviction, that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction and the sentence was excessive. Following our review, we conclude that the arguments are without merit as to the conviction for rape of a child and affirm the judgment for that conviction. As for the conviction for aggravated sexual battery, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to sustain the conviction but remand for an amended judgment because the sentence imposed for that offense exceeds the range available for a Range II offender.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/23/16
State of Tennessee v. Ladon Antoine Doak
M2015-01454-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The appellant, Ladon Antoine Doak, was convicted in the Davidson County Criminal Court of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and the trial court sentenced him to concurent sentences of fifteen and eight years, respectively. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/22/16
Joe Billy Russell, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02101-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The petitioner, Joe Billy Russell, Jr., appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for relief. On appeal, the petitioner asserts that his petition is timely because it falls within one year of certain federal opinions which establish a constitutional right requiring retrospective application. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Mervan Eyup Ibrahim
M2016-01360-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Mervan Eyup Ibrahim, was convicted of two counts of aggravated rape, a Class A felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-502. The trial court subsequently sentenced the Defendant to twenty-five years’ incarceration to be served at one hundred percent. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions because the State failed to prove that the victim suffered a bodily injury; (2) that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his interview with the police; (3) that the trial court erred in admitting the audio recording of a 911 call; (4) that the trial court erred in allowing a witness to read, verbatim, portions of a report made during a forensic medical examination of the victim and in admitting that report into evidence; (5) that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial after one of the witnesses stated that the Defendant “had engaged in the illegal sale of marijuana and the illegal acquisition of Xanax pills” on the night of the offenses; and (6) that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its rebuttal closing argument. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/22/16