Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/29/2016
Format: 06/29/2016
State of Tennessee v. Alex Hardin Huffstutter
M2015-00950-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

In conjunction with the entry of a nolo contendere plea to first offense driving under the influence (“DUI”), Defendant, Alex Hardin Huffstutter, reserved a certified question for appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A) in which he asked this Court to determine whether Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-313 excluded DUI as an offense for which judicial diversion was available.  On appeal, this Court determined that the question was not dispositive and dismissed the appeal.  State v. Alex Hardin Huffstutter, No. M2013-02788-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 4261143, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 28, 2014), no perm. app. filed.  Subsequently, Defendant filed a motion in the trial court seeking reconsideration of his eligibility for judicial diversion.  The trial court considered the motion and issued an order denying relief.  Defendant appeals the denial of the motion to reconsider.  After a review, we determine that the appeal is not properly before this Court.  Consequently, the appeal is dismissed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/02/16
State of Tennessee v. Donte Dewayne Watson
M2015-00108-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

Donte Dewayne Watson, the Defendant, was sentenced to eight years on community corrections under the supervision of the Davidson County Drug Court Program (“DCIV”).  Following the issuance of a warrant alleging violations of the drug court agreement order and an amended warrant alleging as an additional ground an arrest for a criminal offense, the Defendant filed a request that his case be transferred back to the court that sentenced him to drug court.  The criminal court judge, who also presided over DCIV, denied the request.  Following a hearing, the criminal court revoked community corrections, resentenced the Defendant to nine years, and ordered the sentence to be served in the Department of Correction.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court revoking the Defendant’s community corrections.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/01/16
Courtney Wesley v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01476-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, Courtney Wesley, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2013 Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of aggravated burglary and theft of property valued at $1,000 or more, alleging that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Shuan Terrell Marsh
M2015-00848-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The defendant, Shuan Terrell Marsh, appeals his Marshall County Circuit Court jury conviction of third offense possession of a controlled substance, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Antonio M. Crockett
M2015-00566-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

A Davidson County jury found the Defendant, Antonio M. Crockett, guilty of first degree felony murder, for which the Defendant received a life sentence. On appeal from his conviction, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion to sever his case from that of his co-defendant; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; (3) the trial court erred in admitting the statement of the victim under the dying declaration hearsay exception; and (4) the trial court erred in ordering the Defendant’s life sentence to be served consecutively to a prior sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Donquise Tremonte Alexander
M2015-02098-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant, Donquise Tremonte Alexander, pleaded guilty pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement to second degree murder and received a thirty-year sentence. More than three years later, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1 requesting that the trial court correct an illegal sentence because his sentence exceeds the sentencing range for a Range I offender convicted of a Class A felony. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion after determining that the Defendant knowingly and voluntarily pleaded guilty and agreed to a sentence outside the appropriate sentencing range pursuant to Hicks v. State, 945 S.W.2d 706 (Tenn. 1997). On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in dismissing his motion. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/16
Timothy L. Diggs, Sr. v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00503-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Don Ash

The Petitioner, Timothy L. Diggs, Sr., appeals the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for aggravated child abuse and felony murder and his effective life sentence. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by denying relief on his due process and ineffective assistance of counsel claims. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Hill
W2015-01594-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

In 1991, the Defendant, Anthony Hill, pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful possession of more than 26 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, in case numbers 90-09874 and 90-15702, with agreed concurrent sentences of 7.2 years’ incarceration for each of the two convictions. In 2014, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 seeking to correct an illegal sentence, and the trial court held a hearing on the motion. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court held the Defendant’s sentences should have been ordered to run consecutively and thus were illegal. The trial court denied the Defendant’s 36.1 motion, holding that his sentences had expired which rendered the issue moot. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred because he should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea because his illegal sentence was a material component of his plea agreement. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, and in accordance with the Tennessee Supreme Court’s recent holding in State v. Adrian R. Brown, __ S.W.3d __, No. E2014-00673-SC-R11-CD, 2015 WL 7748275, at *7 (Tenn. Dec. 2, 2015), we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/16
Marlon Yarbro v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01195-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

The petitioner, Marlon Yarbro, was convicted of selling .5 grams or more of a Schedule II controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school zone, a Class A felony; simple possession of a controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to twenty-five years at 100% for the Class A felony; two years for the simple possession conviction, and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the drug paraphernalia conviction, with all sentences to be served concurrently. On direct appeal, this court affirmed the convictions and remanded for correction of the judgment for simple possession to reflect the conviction as a Class A misdemeanor and a sentence of eleven months, twenty-nine days. Following his convictions, but while his direct appeal was pending, he filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing, as best we can understand, that he was being illegally detained because his Class A felony conviction should be served at 35%, rather than 100%; the indictment was defective in stating the offenses with which he was charged; the indictment was defective because it failed “to state the facts of the crime scene;” the judgment violates the plain language requirement of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 17; and the judgment is “absent of Counsel,” resulting in the trial court’s losing jurisdiction and voiding the judgment. The trial court dismissed the motion, determining that the petitioner could not simultaneously maintain a direct appeal and a petition for writ of habeas corpus. We agree and affirm the dismissal of the petition, according to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/16
Jay Earl Haynes v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00919-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Moore

The petitioner, Jay Earl Haynes, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his two rape convictions, arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/16
Charles Everett Lowe-Kelley v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00138-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Petitioner, Charles Everett Lowe-Kelley, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel.  He also argues that his consecutive life sentences violate Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455, 2469 (2012).  We conclude that Petitioner has not proven that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his effective sentence does not violate Miller.  Accordingly, the decision of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/16
State of Tennessee v. John W. Smith
M2015-01616-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Defendant, John W. Smith, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion for correction of an illegal sentence under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1.  Because Defendant has failed to state a colorable claim for relief, we affirm the dismissal of the motion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/16
Gary W. Robinson, III v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00038-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams,
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

The petitioner, Gary W. Robinson, III, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. He contends that the post-conviction court erroneously found that his petition was untimely filed. Following our review of the briefs of the parties, the record, and the applicable law, we conclude that the post-conviction court erred by dismissing the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/16
State of Tennessee v. Jeffery Yates
W2015-01075-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The defendant, Jeffery Yates, appeals the summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence under Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, arguing that he stated a colorable claim for relief in that he received concurrent sentences when consecutive sentences were statutorily required. After review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the defendant’s motion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/16
State of Tennessee v. Travis Seiber
W2015-00221-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Aggrieved of his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of three counts of aggravated robbery, the defendant, Travis Seiber, appeals, arguing that he was deprived of the right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury, that the trial court erred by permitting the State to use as a demonstrative aid a gun that had not been entered into evidence, and that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/16
Jurico Readus v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00338-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett

The petitioner, Jurico Readus, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of felony murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/16
Courtney R. Logan v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00725-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The petitioner, Courtney R. Logan, filed a petition for the writ of habeas corpus challenging the legality of his extradition from Tennessee to Mississippi nearly four years after the extradition.  The trial court summarily dismissed the petition, and the petitioner now appeals.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/16
State of Tennessee v. Bobby Joe Campbell
M2015-00704-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Russell

The Defendant, Bobby Joe Campbell, entered guilty pleas to two counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and two counts of failure to appear, a Class E felony, with the manner and service of his sentence to be determined by the trial court.  See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-102, -13-111, -16-609(e).  The trial court merged the aggravated assault convictions and imposed a consecutive term of five years’ incarceration for aggravated assault and one and a half years’ incarceration for each count of failure to appear.  Each count of failure to appear was also ordered to be served consecutively to the other for an effective sentence of eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  The sole issue presented in this appeal is whether the Defendant’s sentence is excessive and contrary to law.  Upon our review, we must remand this matter to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing for the limited purpose of considering the factors outlined in State v. Wilkerson, 905 S.W.2d 933 (Tenn. 1995), and determining the propriety of consecutive sentencing for the failure to appear convictions.  In all other respects, we affirm the sentence imposed by the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/16
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Thomas
W2015-00157-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The defendant, Joseph Thomas, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, claiming that the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss for failure to prosecute and by instructing the jury on criminal responsibility, that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions, and that the trial court erred by classifying the defendant as a career offender. We affirm the convictions and sentences but remand for correction of a clerical error in one of the judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/16
Alicia Williams v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00539-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The petitioner, Alicia Williams, appeals the summary dismissal of her petition for writ of habeas corpus, which petition challenged her 2012 Shelby County Criminal Court guilty-pleaded conviction of second degree murder. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Leslie Kennedy
W2015-00458-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The defendant, Leslie Kennedy, appeals her Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of second offense driving under the influence and reckless driving, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Zachary James Pence
E2015-00476-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Ray Elledge

The Defendant, Zachary James Pence, was found guilty by an Anderson County Circuit Court jury of aggravated rape of a child, a Class A felony, aggravated child abuse, a Class A felony, and child abuse, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-531 (2014), 39-15-402 (2010) (amended 2011, 2012), 39-15-401 (2010) (amended 2011). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent terms of sixty years for the aggravated rape of a child conviction, twenty-five years for the aggravated child abuse conviction, and two years for the child abuse conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the trial court erroneously permitted inadmissible hearsay evidence, (3) the trial court improperly commented on the evidence, (4) the trial court permitted improper opinion testimony, (5) the trial court improperly instructed the jury, (6) his sentence for the aggravated rape of a child conviction is excessive, and (7) the cumulative effect of the errors entitle him to relief. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/16
Donald Wayne McCall v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01171-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

Donald Wayne McCall (“the Petitioner”) filed a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Crockett County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/16
State of Tennessee v. Keith Trammell
W2014-02433-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The defendant, Keith Trammell, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of theft over $1000, a Class D felony; vandalism over $500, a Class E felony; and two counts of coercion of a witness, a Class D felony. The trial court sentenced him as a career offender to twelve years for the theft conviction, six years for the vandalism conviction, and twelve years for each of the coercion convictions. The court ordered the theft and vandalism sentences to be served concurrently to each other and the coercion sentences to be served concurrently to each other but consecutively to the theft and vandalism sentences, for a total effective sentence of twenty-four years at 60% in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred by sentencing him as a career offender and by allowing the State to introduce evidence of uncharged crimes. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/16
Bobby J. Croom v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01000-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The petitioner, Bobby J. Croom, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery convictions. The petitioner argues that he is entitled to relief because: (1) the State failed to make a proper election of offenses at trial; (2) his convictions violate double jeopardy; (3) his conviction for aggravated sexual battery violates due process; and (4) he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/19/16