Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 03/26/2017
Format: 03/26/2017
Darien B. Clay v. State of Tennessee
E2015-02107-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The Petitioner, Darien B. Clay, appeals from the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his guilty plea convictions for aggravated robbery, attempted aggravated robbery, two counts of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, aggravated burglary, burglary of a business, and statutory rape, for which he received an effective thirteen-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim and that the court erred in determining that the Petitioner’s guilty plea was knowingly and voluntarily entered. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/29/16
Roosevelt Bigbee, Jr. v. Cherry Lindamood, Warden
M2016-00440-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The Petitioner, Roosevelt Bigbee, Jr., appeals the dismissal of his habeas corpus petition in which he challenged the legality of his convictions for first degree murder and robbery and his sentences of life for the murder conviction and eleven years for the robbery conviction, to be served consecutively. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the petition was properly dismissed, and we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Willie Lee Hughes, Jr.
M2015-01207-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph Woodruff and Judge Michael Binkley

The defendant, Willie Lee Hughes, Jr., appeals both his Williamson County Circuit Court jury conviction of aggravated robbery and his guilty-pleaded conviction of failure to appear, claiming that the trial court erred by failing to exclude his statements to law enforcement officers on the basis that the statements were made during the course of plea negotiations and that the trial court erred by classifying him as a persistent offender.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/29/16
David Chardwick Wooten v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01141-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, David Chardwick Wooten, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.  More specifically he contends that trial counsel failed to present favorable evidence and witnesses on his behalf at trial.  After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/28/16
Bruce Mendenhall v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02043-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Petitioner, Bruce Mendenhall, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of three counts of solicitation to commit first degree premeditated murder and resulting effective thirty-year sentence.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/28/16
State of Tennessee v. Prentis Lee
W2015-01538-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Defendant, Prentis Lee, appeals his convictions for two counts of rape and his resulting ten-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statement to police officers; (2) the failure to preserve a record of the preliminary hearing mandated dismissal of the charges or a new preliminary hearing; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions; (4) the trial court erred in limiting defense counsel's cross-examination of various witnesses; (5) the trial court erred in admitting victim impact evidence; (6) the trial court erred in allowing the State to present rebuttal witnesses who remained in the courtroom during the trial; (7) the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on assault as a lesser-included offense of rape; (8) his sentence is excessive; and (9) the cumulative effect of the errors requires a new trial. Based upon our review of the record, the parties' briefs, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/16
State of Tennessee v. Deshun Hampton, Matthew Tyler and Devonta Hampton aka Devonta Taylor
W2015-00469-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

This case represents the consolidated appeals of Defendants Deshun Hampton, Matthew Tyler, and Devonta Hampton. The three Defendants, having entered open guilty pleas to various felonies, challenge only the trial court‘s sentencing decisions, including its decision to impose partially consecutive sentences. The trial court sentenced Mr. Tyler to an aggregate sentence of sixty-six years, Mr. Deshun Hampton to an aggregate sentence of fifty-five years, and Mr. Devonta Hampton to an aggregate sentence of thirty-two years. Mr. Deshun Hampton and Mr. Tyler, who were between fifteen and sixteen years old at the time of the crimes, assert that their sentences amount to de facto life sentences and are therefore in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. They also challenge the application of certain enhancement and mitigating factors. All three Defendants challenge the trial court‘s sentencing decisions, asserting that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing partially consecutive sentences. We conclude that the sentences at issue, while lengthy, allow for a meaningful opportunity for release and do not run afoul of the Eighth Amendment, and we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/16
Jessica Marie Myers vs. State of Tennessee
E2015-02037-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

The Petitioner, Jessica Marie Myers, appeals from the Greene County Criminal Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions for first degree murder and reckless endangerment, for which she is serving an effective life sentence. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief on her ineffective assistance of counsel claims. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/16
Benjamin K. Fowler v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00958-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword
The Petitioner, Benjamin K. Fowler, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s
summary denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that the
post-conviction court erred in summarily denying his petition for being untimely filed
because, he alleges that, he delivered a petition to the appropriate prison officials for
mailing to the court clerk within the statute of limitations, but the prison officials failed to
mail the petition. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction
court.
 
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/16
Luis Guillen v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00198-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Luis Guillen, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of one count of aggravated rape and three counts of aggravated kidnapping and resulting effective thirty-five-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Charvasea Rodshun Lancaster
W2015-00936-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, Charvasea Rodshun Lancaster, appeals his sentences in 11 separate convictions under two case numbers. Defendant entered open guilty pleas in case number 14-191 to one count of burglary and five counts of theft of property in various amounts. In case number 14-193, Defendant entered open guilty pleas to two counts of theft, two counts of vehicle burglary, and one count of aggravated burglary. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of ten years in case 14-191 and an effective sentence of 12 years in case 14-193 and ordered the sentences be served consecutively, for a total effective sentence of 22 years. Defendant contends that the trial court erred by imposing partial consecutive sentencing. Having reviewed the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/22/16
Charlie A. Clark v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01484-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

Petitioner, Charles Anderson Clark, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his post-conviction petition for relief. Petitioner alleges that the post-conviction court erred by not considering all of the proof presented in regard to the racial makeup of the jury. Petitioner further contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel due to his trial counsel’s failure to locate certain individuals to serve as witnesses. After review, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to establish that he is entitled to post-conviction relief, and affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/22/16
Daniel Muhammad v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01923-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Petitioner, Daniel Muhammad, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his conviction of facilitation of aggravated arson and his sentence of twelve years in prison. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel. We affirm the post-conviction court‘s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/22/16
Michael Deon Mills v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01544-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee
Michael Deon Mills (“the Petitioner”) was convicted of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of especially aggravated robbery, and one count of aggravated burglary by a Knox County jury. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of twenty-five years with release eligibility after service of 100% of the sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, this court affirmed the Petitioner's convictions. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied. The Petitioner argues on appeal that trial counsel's performance was deficient and that he was prejudiced by the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. On appeal, we affirm the post-conviction court's denial of relief to the Petitioner.
 
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/21/16
State of Tennessee v. Ellis Johnson
W2015-01242-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

The defendant, Ellis Johnson, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and was sentenced to thirteen years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that: (1) the trial court erred in allowing the victim to testify about her injuries; (2) the trial court erred in ruling that the State could introduce five of his prior convictions for impeachment purposes; (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; and (4) he is entitled to relief due to the cumulative effect of the errors. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/16
Brian Garrett Wallace v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02163-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

Petitioner, Brian Garrett Wallace, entered an open guilty plea to five counts of attempted especially aggravated exploitation of a minor and one count of attempted sexual battery.  The trial court imposed an effective eighteen-year sentence to be served at 35 percent as a Range II offender which included consecutive sentencing.  On appeal, this Court upheld the sentence.  State v. Brian Garrett Wallace, No. M2013-01172-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 1883704 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 12, 2014).   Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance and that Petitioner’s guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered.  Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief.  Following a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Michael Ferrell
M2015-01011-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R Dozier

The Defendant, Christopher Michael Ferrell, was convicted by a jury of second degree murder, a Class A felony.  See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210.  The trial court imposed a sentence of twenty 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 conviction, specifically arguing that he should have been acquitted for acting in self-defense or convicted instead of voluntary manslaughter; (2) that the trial court erred in denying his request for a special jury instruction regarding the State’s failure to preserve evidence; (3) that the trial court committed several errors when instructing the jury on self-defense; (4) that the trial court abused its discretion in setting the length of his sentence; and (5) that he is entitled to a new trial based upon cumulative error.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Terry L. Brazzell
M2016-00603-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Wolfe

In this appeal, the defendant, Terry L. Brazzell, challenges the denial of his pre-sentencing motion to withdraw his guilty plea to one count of vehicular homicide and challenges his Range II, 20-year sentence imposed for that conviction.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/17/16
William George Cox v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00012-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Fishburn

The petitioner, William George Cox, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2008 Davidson County Criminal Court guilty-pleaded convictions of aggravated burglary and theft of property, for which he received an effective sentence of 10 years.  In this appeal, the petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court but remand for correction of clerical errors in the judgment forms.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/17/16
Charles Graham aka Charles Stevenson v. Grady Perry, Warden
W2016-00411-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

The Petitioner, Charles Graham a/k/a Charles Stevenson, appeals as of right from the Hardeman County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. In his petition, the Petitioner argued that his conviction for simple possession was improperly enhanced and that his conviction for tampering with evidence was invalid because the evidence was not destroyed. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his conviction for simple possession is void because the trial court unlawfully relied on forty-year-old convictions from other states to enhance his sentence. Also, he argues that the trial court clerk's failure to include the judgment form for his simple possession charge in the record on direct appeal denied the Petitioner consideration of the merits of his direct appeal. Finally, the Petitioner argues that the cumulative effect of these two errors results in structural constitutional error, which invalidates his conviction for tampering with evidence. Following our review, we affirm the dismissal order of the habeas corpus court.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/16/16
Daryl Bobo v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00477-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris B. Craft

The Petitioner, Daryl Bobo, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective (1) in failing to adequately explain to him the terms of a plea offer made by the State; (2) in failing to adequately meet with and prepare him for trial; and (3) for failing to adequately cross-examine the State’s witnesses. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/16/16
State of Tennessee v. David T. Morrow
W2016-00914-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The appellant, David T. Morrow, appeals the summary denial of his Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The appellant's sentences have expired. He argues, however, that he is entitled to relief because he received concurrent sentences instead of statutorily required consecutive sentences, and the trial court erred in summarily denying his motion without a hearing. Following our review, we conclude the appellant does not state a colorable claim for relief, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/16/16
Marvin Davis v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02129-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Marvin Davis, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his rape of a child conviction, for which he is serving a twenty-five-year sentence. He contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that the post-conviction judge erred in denying the Petitioner’s motion to recuse. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/16/16
State of Tennessee v. Grace Ann Blair
M2015-01231-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

The Defendant, Grace Ann Blair, was charged in a two-count indictment with driving under the influence (“DUI”) and DUI per se, Class A misdemeanors.  See T.C.A. § 55-10-401(1), (2). She moved to dismiss the charges after discovering that her blood sample was destroyed a little over one year after her arrest.  The trial court granted the dismissal, finding that the sample contained potentially exculpatory evidence which could have shown that the Defendant’s actions were involuntarily undertaken while she was under the influence of Ambien.  The State appeals.  Because we have determined that the Defendant’s due process rights were not violated by the destruction of the sample, we reverse the dismissal of the charges and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/16/16
Courtney Bishop v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02064-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Petitioner, Courtney Bishop, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of first degree felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery and resulting effective sentence of life plus three years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/15/16