Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/18/2018
Format: 06/18/2018
State of Tennessee v. Sidney B. Ray
E2017-00228-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant, Sidney B. Ray, entered a guilty plea to ten felonies and one misdemeanor and received an effective sentence of fourteen years, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied the Defendant’s request for an alternative sentence and ordered his sentence to be served in confinement. In this appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in determining the manner of service of his sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/18
Terry Lea Bunch v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00670-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Petitioner, Terry Lea Bunch, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his guilty pleaded conviction for third offense driving under the influence (“DUI”). The pro se petition alleged a defect in the charging instrument and was summarily dismissed by the post-conviction court for failure to state a colorable claim. Petitioner argues on appeal that the post-conviction court should have allowed him the opportunity to amend his petition to include an allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/18
State of Tennessee v. William Waylon Hanson
M2016-00502-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

A Marshall County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, William Waylon Hanson, of violating an order declaring him to be a motor vehicle habitual offender, failing to provide evidence of financial responsibility, and passing another vehicle in a no passing zone. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by granting the State’s motion in limine to prohibit the Appellant from collaterally attacking the order declaring him to be a motor vehicle habitual offender, by limiting the defense’s closing argument, and by admitting the Appellant’s driving record into evidence through an employee of the Department of Safety and Homeland Security. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/18
State of Tennessee v. Kimberly Johnson Hart
M2016-02365-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

A Maury County jury convicted the Defendant, Kimberly Johnson Hart, of facilitation of possession with intent to sell one-half ounce or more of marijuana and facilitation of possession with intent to sell less than two pounds of tetrahydrocannabinol, a schedule VI narcotic. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent terms of eleven months and twenty-nine days for each conviction, thirty days to be served in jail, with the remainder to be served on supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions and that the trial court erred when it denied her request for judicial diversion. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/01/18
Cedric Taylor v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01710-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Cedric Taylor, filed a post-conviction petition, seeking relief from his convictions of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. In the petition, the Petitioner alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective by calling an alibi witness whose testimony was not favorable to the Petitioner. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/18
State of Tennessee v. Darlene F. Hottiman
W2016-02077-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

A Hardin County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Darlene F. Hottiman, of operating a motor vehicle after having been declared a motor vehicle habitual offender, a Class E felony, and driving on a revoked license, a Class A misdemeanor, and she received an effective four-year sentence to be served in confinement. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions due to her defense of necessity; that the trial court made improper comments to an alternate juror, made improper comments about the length of jury deliberations, and made improper comments about plea negotiations during the sentencing hearing; and that the trial court improperly enhanced her felony sentence based upon her prior criminal history and should have granted her request for probation. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/18
State of Tennessee v. Randel Lee Burnett, II
W2016-01712-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Appellant, Randel Lee Burnett, II, pled guilty in the Fayette County Circuit Court to vehicular homicide by intoxication, aggravated child neglect, and three counts of vehicular assault. After a sentencing hearing, he received an effective twenty-four-year sentence. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court improperly enhanced his sentences and erred by ordering consecutive sentencing based upon his being a dangerous offender. Upon review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court improperly applied two enhancement factors during sentencing but that the length of the Appellant’s sentences is not excessive. We also conclude that the trial court did not err by ordering consecutive sentencing. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Fayette County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/18
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Teffeteller
E2017-00101-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Reed Duggan

In February 2013, the Defendant, Joshua Teffeteller, pleaded guilty to identity theft, and the trial court granted judicial diversion and ordered him to serve three years on Community Corrections. On September 17, 2015, the Defendant was charged with numerous offenses and, the following day, the Defendant’s Community Corrections officer filed an affidavit, alleging that the Defendant had violated his Community Corrections sentence on multiple grounds. The Defendant pleaded guilty to the charges on March 7, 2016, and received additional Community Corrections sentences. On August 25, 2016, another probation violation warrant was issued and, after a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s Community Corrections sentences and ordered the Defendant to serve the balance of his sentences in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends: (1) that the trial court erred when it ordered him to serve his sentences in confinement rather than reinstating his Community Corrections sentences; and (2) that one of his sentences had expired. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/18
Shawnte L. Shade v. State of Tennessee
E2017-00562-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Scott Green

The Petitioner, Shawnte L. Shade, appeals from the Knox 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 of the ineffective assistance of his trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/18
Bobby Daniel Pettie v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01838-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell

The Petitioner, Bobby Daniel Pettie, appeals from the Bedford County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he is entitled to post-conviction relief due to numerous instances of ineffective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/18
State of Tennessee v. Toby S. Earhart
M2017-00474-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

A Stewart County jury convicted the defendant, Toby Shane Earhart, of two counts of child abuse. On appeal, the defendant contends there was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict; the trial court erred by admitting a videotaped forensic interview of the victim; the trial court erred by excluding the defendant’s expert witness; and the trial court erred when imposing consecutive sentences. Based upon our thorough review of the record, we agree the trial court erred when admitting the forensic interview; however, this error was harmless. Additionally, we conclude the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict, the trial court did not abuse its discretion when excluding the defendant’s expert witness, and the trial court properly ordered consecutive sentences. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Stewart County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/18
State of Tennessee v. Dwayne Scott Franklin
M2017-00180-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

A jury convicted the Defendant, Dwayne Scott Franklin, of three counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony. The trial court imposed sentences of twenty-five, thirty, and thirty-five years in prison for the crimes, and the sentences were ordered to run partially consecutively for an aggregate sentence of sixty years. The Defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the State’s alleged failure to preserve evidence, and sentencing. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/18
State of Tennessee v. Stephen D. Demps
M2017-00641-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

Stephen D. Demps, the Defendant, was convicted of five counts of rape of a child and four counts of aggravated sexual battery. The trial court merged counts six and eight, aggravated sexual battery, into counts two and four, rape of a child. He received a total effective sentence of twenty-five years’ incarceration. On appeal, he argues that: (1) his statement during his December 2013 interview with law enforcement should have been suppressed because he was in custody and was not informed of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966); (2) his statement during his January 2014 interview with law enforcement should have been suppressed because he was coerced into confessing; (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial after individuals spoke to the sequestered victim during trial; and (4) the State failed to properly submit a bill of particulars and he was prejudiced by this failure. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/18
State of Tennessee v. Artt Tanner Horne
M2017-00752-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

After a bench trial, a judge found the Defendant, Artt Tanner Horne, guilty of theft of property valued less than $500 and sentenced him to eleven months and twenty-nine days of unsupervised probation. The trial court also ordered that he stay away from Walmart, where the theft occurred, and continue with his mental health treatment. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/18
Antonio Munford v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02593-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Petitioner, Antonio Munford, filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis relief and a petition for post-conviction relief. Following a hearing on the petitions, the trial court denied relief, finding that the Petitioner’s post-conviction claims were time-barred and that the coram nobis claims were without merit. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he is entitled to due process tolling of the
post-conviction statute of limitations and that the trial court abused its discretion in denying coram nobis relief. Following a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/18
Jeffrey Perry v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00722-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Jeffrey Perry, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and resulting effective sentence of twenty-one years in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he did not enter his guilty pleas voluntarily and that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/18
State of Tennessee v. Martiness Henderson
W2016-00911-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Appellant, Martiness Henderson, was convicted in the Shelby County Criminal Court of first degree felony murder and received an automatic life sentence. On appeal, he contends that he is entitled to a new trial because he was denied proper jury selection and that his life sentence violates the United States and Tennessee Constitutions. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court committed reversible error during jury selection. Therefore, the Appellant’s conviction is vacated, and the case is remanded to the trial court for a new trial.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/18
State of Tennessee v. Barry Leon Ferguson
W2017-00113-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Appellant, Barry Leon Ferguson, pled guilty in the Dyer County Circuit Court to possession of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver, possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver, possession of oxycodone with intent to sell or deliver, and possession of marijuana with intent to sell or deliver and reserved a certified question of law concerning the sufficiency of the affidavit underlying the search warrant issued in this case. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/18
Matthew Perry v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00766-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Petitioner, Matthew Perry, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his convictions for first degree felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by leaving before the close of the trial, which effectively pressured the Petitioner not to testify in his own defense, and by failing to introduce an exculpatory photograph into evidence. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Angela L. Smith
W2017-01036-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

The Defendant, Angela Smith, appeals her conviction for aggravated arson and her resulting sentence of thirty-five years at 100% as a Range II, multiple offender. On appeal, the Defendant raises issues challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the photographic line-up, and her sentence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Carey Goodman
W2017-01104-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Carey Goodman, appeals the trial court’s order requiring him to serve his sentence in confinement after the revocation of his probation. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in accordance with Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Laylon Ward, Jr.
W2017-00736-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Defendant, Laylon Ward, Jr., was convicted by a Dyer County jury of reckless aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges his classification as a Range II offender, arguing that the trial court erred in considering two previous convictions as felonies. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Timothy McKinney - Dissenting
W2016-00834-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

I respectfully dissent. It is clear that the State committed prosecutorial error three times during closing arguments: (1) argument regarding “adequate provocation,” (2) argument regarding a hypothetical of the victim dying, and in so doing misstated the law, and (3) arguments that vouched as to the truth of State witnesses: (a) the victim, (b) Renardo Hibbler, (c) Javier McKissick, and (d) the police officers who worked the case. All of the improper arguments are set forth in the majority opinion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Timothy McKinney
W2016-00834-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The defendant, Timothy McKinney, appeals his convictions for one count of attempted murder in the second degree, one count of employing a firearm during the commission of attempted murder in the second degree, two counts of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, and three counts of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, for which he received an enhanced sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole as a repeat violent offender. On appeal, the defendant contends the trial court abused its discretion when allowing improper impeachment questions during the cross-examination of the defendant; the trial court erred when failing to declare a mistrial; the State tainted the trial with improper statements made during closing arguments; the trial court erred when sentencing the defendant to life in prison as a violent offender; and the cumulative effect of these errors prejudiced the defendant and entitle him to a new trial. Following our consideration of the arguments of the parties, record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/18
Ronald Henry Aho v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00163-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

In 2012, the Warren County Grand Jury indicted Petitioner, Ronald Henry Aho, in case number F-13913 for aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000 but less than $10,000. Petitioner was also indicted in case number F-13974 for two counts each of aggravated burglary and theft of property over $1,000 but less than $10,000. In January 2014, Petitioner entered best interest guilty pleas in case numbers F-13913 and F-13974 to a total of two counts of aggravated burglary and two counts of theft over $1,000 but less than $10,000 in exchange for the dismissal of the remaining charges and the dismissal of charges contained in three additional indictments. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Petitioner was sentenced to serve a total effective sentence of twenty-three years, with the first fifteen years to be served at sixty percent release eligibility and the last eight years to be served at forty-five percent release eligibility. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his pleas were unknowingly and involuntarily entered. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/18