Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 10/25/2014
Format: 10/25/2014
Johnvonta Sain v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00214-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Johnvonta Sain, pleaded nolo contendere to aggravated assault with an agreed upon sentence of four years, suspended upon time served. The Petitioner filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief on the basis that his plea was involuntary and that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner relief. The Petitioner now appeals, maintaining that his guilty plea was involuntary and asserting that the post-conviction court should have recused itself in this matter. After a thorough review of the record, the briefs, and relevant  athorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/14
Carl Randle v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00136-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

A Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Carl Randle, of aggravated assault and attempted voluntary manslaughter. The trial court merged the convictions and ordered the Petitioner to serve six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court. State v. Carl Randle, No. W2011–02374–CCA–R3-CD, 2012 WL 3642730, at *11 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Aug. 27, 2012), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 filed. The Petitioner filed a petition for postconviction relief, in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective. The postconviction court dismissed the petition after a hearing, and the Petitioner appealed that dismissal. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the postconviction court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/14
Vincent Hunt v. State of Tennessee
W2012-01468-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Petitioner, Vincent Hunt, was convicted of first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping in Shelby County. On direct appeal, his convictions and sentences were affirmed. See State v. Vincent Hunt, No. W2009-00165-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 1407236, at *1-5 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Apr. 8, 2010), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Sept. 23, 2012). Petitioner then sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel and that the trial court issued improper jury instructions at trial. The post-conviction court denied relief and Petitioner appeals. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that Petitioner failed to establish that he is entitled to post-conviction relief. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Christopher I. Thrasher
M2013-02495-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

The Defendant, Christopher I. Thrasher, was convicted by an Overton County jury of delivery of oxycodone within 1000 feet of a school zone, and the trial court imposed a sentence of seventeen years for that conviction.  In this direct appeal, the Defendant alleges that the following errors were made at his trial: (1) that his motion to suppress should have been granted because he was under the influence of drugs at the time he waived his rights and gave his statement; (2) that the chain of custody regarding the pills was not sufficiently established; and (3) that enhancement of his sentencing term above the range minimum was improper.  After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Overton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/14
State of Tennessee v. William Avery Crisp
M2013-01339-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert G. Crigler

The defendant, William Avery Crisp, pled guilty to one count of driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”), a Class A misdemeanor; one count of vehicular homicide, a Class C felony; one count of vehicular homicide as a proximate result of intoxication, a Class B felony; one count of vehicular assault as a proximate result of intoxication, a Class D felony, and one count of a violation of the open container law, a Class C misdemeanor.  The defendant’s guilty pleas reserved four certified questions of law having to do with the trial court’s denial of his motions to suppress certain evidence.  He also appeals the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing.  We conclude that the trial court properly determined that there was probable cause to believe the defendant was driving while intoxicated even if he passed the field sobriety tests administered by law enforcement.  The other certified questions are not dispositive of any of the defendant’s convictions, and the trial court did not err in sentencing.  Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/14
Jarvis Payne v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01435-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Petitioner, Jarvis Payne, pled guilty to second degree murder pursuant to a plea agreement and was sentenced to fifteen years as a violent offender. He filed a post-conviction petition in which he alleged that a dying declaration by the victim showed that he lacked the requisite intent for second degree murder. He claimed that his attorney was ineffective because she did not make him aware of the victim’s dying declaration and urged him to plead guilty without explaining the importance of intent in the charged offense. After listening to testimony from Petitioner’s public defender and the prosecuting attorney, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/14
Brandon Alexander Rankin v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01216-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

Petitioner, Brandon Alexander Rankin, pled guilty to second degree murder and accessory after the fact or facilitation to commit first degree murder, to which he was sentenced to concurrent 40-year sentences at 100%. Petitioner subsequently filed a timely motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and trial counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel on the same date. A hearing was conducted on the two motions. The trial court elected to classify petitioner’s motion to withdraw the guilty plea as a post-conviction petition. Trial counsel’s motion to withdraw was sustained. Petitioner’s “Amended Petition for Post-Conviction Relief combined with Rule 36 Motion to Correct Clerical Error in Order” was filed through newly appointed counsel. The post-conviction court dismissed the amended petition as time barred. Petitioner timely appealed. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court erred in construing Petitioner’s motion to withdraw his guilty pleas as a petition for post-conviction relief. As a result, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for consideration of Petitioner’s motion to withdraw his guilty pleas.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
Charlie Lovell Leavy III v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00719-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker III

The Petitioner, Charlie Lovell Leavy, III, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief from his convictions for aggravated burglary, burglary of a building, theft over $1,000, felony evading arrest, and simple assault. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Lamont French
M2013-01270-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Appellant, Kevin Lamont French, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of premeditated murder, felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery.  He received life sentences for the murder convictions, and the trial court sentenced him to a concurrent sentence of twenty-one years for his especially aggravated robbery conviction.  On appeal, he argues that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred by admitting prior bad act testimony; (3) the trial court erred by admitting a letter purportedly written by appellant; (4) the trial court erred by admitting testimony regarding weapons found in appellant’s home; (5) the assistant district attorney general committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments; and (6) the trial court erred by admitting certain autopsy photographs.  Following our review of the record, the arguments of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand the case for the trial court to merge the two murder convictions.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Mark Edward Greene
M2013-02710-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

Appellant, Mark Edward Greene, appeals the denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion to correct a clerical error.  He alleges that the trial court should have granted pretrial jail credits from the time that Williamson County lodged a detainer against him until the date he was sentenced.  Following our review, we affirm the circuit court’s decision.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
Blake Delaney Tallant v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01827-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

The petitioner, Blake Delaney Tallant, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he was denied the effective assistance of trial and appellate counsel due to counsel’s failure to properly educate him on the importance of testifying in his own defense, to press the issue of the bill of particulars in the trial court or to raise it as an issue on direct appeal, and to include the jury questionnaires in the record on direct appeal. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
George A. Wylie v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00976-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, George A. Wylie, appeals the Criminal Court for Shelby County’s denial of his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Wendell Guinn
W2013-01436-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter Jr.

The Defendant, Wendell Guinn, was indicted for aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony; rape, a Class B felony; aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; and domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-111, -13-304, -13-503, -14-403. The State ultimately dismissed the domestic assault charge, and, following a jury trial, the Defendant was acquitted of the aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary charges. The jury convicted the Defendant of rape as charged in the indictment. The trial court imposed a sentence of nine years, with two years to be served in confinement and the remainder on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) that the trial court improperly admitted hearsay evidence; and (3) that the trial court erred in providing a supplemental instruction to the jury in response to a question from the jury during deliberations. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14