Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 09/29/2016
Format: 09/29/2016
State of Tennessee v. Robert Merle Coblentz
E2015-01643-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Reed Duggan

Defendant, Robert Merle Coblentz, was charged with one count of sexual exploitation of a minor. This is an interlocutory appeal filed by the State from the trial court's order granting Defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained from his computer pursuant to a search warrant. Upon our review of the record and relevant caselaw, we hold that the search warrant authorized the search of Defendant's computer despite the fact that he was not named in the search warrant or affidavit as an occupant of the residence to be searched or as an owner of the items to be seized. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/16
Essam Eshak v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01154-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Essam Eshak, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief as untimely.  He asserts that the statute of limitations should be tolled in the interest of justice because trial counsel had an actual conflict of interest by simultaneously representing the Petitioner and his co-defendant and should not have assisted the Petitioner in entering a guilty plea.  After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/16
State of Tennessee v. Billy Applegate - concurring opinion
E2015-00809-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

The majority opinion adverts to the possibilities that the defendant's arrest had already become a fait accomplis when the behavior that gave rise to the resisting charges occurred and that two convictions of resisting arrest may have violated principles of double jeopardy. The majority notes that the defendant has raised neither of these issues and has, accordingly, waived our consideration of the same.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/16
State of Tennessee v. Billy Applegate
E2015-00809-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

The Defendant, Billy Applegate, was indicted for one count of driving under the influence (DUI); one count of DUI per se; one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in damage to property adjacent to a highway; one count of driving a motor vehicle with an expired registration; and two counts of resisting arrest. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-16-602, 55-4-104, -10-105, -10-401. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was acquitted of the DUI, DUI per se, and leaving the scene of an accident charges. The jury convicted the Defendant of driving with an expired registration and both resisting arrest charges. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of six months' incarceration to be served at seventy-five percent. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his resisting arrest convictions; and (2) that the trial court erred in denying the Defendant's request for alternative sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/16
State of Tennessee v. Shaun Royal Hill
W2015-00710-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker

A Tipton County jury convicted the Defendant, Shaun Royal Hill, of rape, and the trial court sentenced him to fifteen years in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) the trial court erred when it admitted the Defendant's phone records into evidence; (3) the Defendant was prejudiced by the jury venire and the jury selection process; (4) the trial court erred when it failed to instruct the jury regarding the collection and preservation of evidence; (5) the trial court erred when it allowed the State to impeach a witness through another witness's testimony; (6) the trial court erred when it restricted the Defendant's cross-examination of the victim; (7) the State made improper comments throughout trial; and (8) the trial court erred when it sentenced him. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/16
State of Tennessee v. Dewey Burton, Jr.
E2015-00879-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Defendant, Dewey Burton, Jr., appeals his conviction for aggravated child neglect, raising the following issues: (1) whether the child neglect statute is unconstitutionally vague; (2) whether the jury instructions inadequately explained the mens rea requirement; (3) whether the trial court erred by permitting the medical expert to offer an opinion as to an ultimate issue; and (4) whether the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/16
State of Tennessee v. Marcus O. Hill
M2015-02308-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The Appellant, Marcus O. Hill, appeals as of right from the Maury County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his several motions, wherein he alleged that he was falsely imprisoned due to the improper restructuring of his plea agreement by the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”).  The gravamen of the Appellant’s complaint is with the TDOC’s alignment of his sentences in violation of the terms of his plea agreement.  After a review of the record, we affirm.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/16
State of Tennessee v. Adam Christopher Butler
W2015-01843-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant, Adam Christopher Butler, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of vandalism of property valued at $1000 or more. See T.C.A. § 39-14-408 (2014) (amended 2015). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective four years on community corrections. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and (2) the trial court erred in excluding testimony relative to the victim's accusations against another person. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Ross Pruitt
E2015-01494-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

Ross Pruitt (“the Defendant”) appeals the Blount County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation and imposing the balance of his two-year sentence for aggravated statutory rape. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering him to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement as opposed to split confinement with the added condition that his internet access be monitored and restricted while on probation. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Sergei A. Novikov
M2015-01565-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody Kane

The defendant, Sergei A. Novikov, appeals his Wilson County Criminal Court bench conviction of criminal trespass, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/08/16
Lajeanra E. Polk v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00431-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael R. Jones

The Petitioner, LaJeanra E. Polk, filed a petition in the Montgomery County Circuit Court, seeking post-conviction relief because her counsel was ineffective.  The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Larsheika Hill
M2015-01268-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

The Defendant-Appellant, Larsheika Hill, entered a “best-interest” guilty plea on October 10, 2014, to the delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine.  Prior to sentencing, Hill filed a motion to withdraw her guilty plea, alleging that her attorney coerced her into pleading guilty.  After a hearing, the trial court denied the motion.  On appeal, Hill contends that the trial court erred in denying her motion to withdraw her guilty plea.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Sammie Lee Taylor
W2015-01831-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Defendant, Sammie Lee Taylor, was convicted in 1994 of first degree felony murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated sexual battery and received an effective sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole plus sixty-two years. In 2015, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1 requesting the correction of illegal sentences. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion for failure to state a colorable claim. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by dismissing the motion. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Terry Butler
W2015-00707-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Defendant, Terry Butler, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of tampering with evidence, a Class C felony, three counts of official misconduct, a Class E felony, and two counts of official oppression, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-16-503 (2014) (evidence tampering), 39-16-402 (2014) (official misconduct), 39-16-403 (2014) (official oppression). The trial court merged the three counts of official misconduct and sentenced the Defendant to an effective four years to be served on five years' probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the indictment for Count 3, official misconduct, was defective, and (3) the trial court erred in denying judicial diversion. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Delarris Jones a/k/a Cedrick Jones
W2015-01085-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Defendant, Delarris Jones, also known as Cedrick Jones, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of attempt to commit second degree murder, a Class B felony; aggravated assault, a Class C felony; employing a firearm during commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony; possessing a firearm as a person convicted of a felony involving the use of violence, a Class C felony; and possessing a firearm as a person convicted of a felony drug offense, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-210(a)(1) (2014) (second degree murder); 39-13-102(a)(1)(iii) (Supp. 2011) (amended 2013, 2015) (aggravated assault); 39-17-1324 (2014) (employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony); 39-17-1307(b)(1)(A), (B) (Supp. 2012) (amended 2014) (felon in possession of a firearm); 39-12-101(a) (2014) (criminal attempt). The Defendant received an effective forty-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/16
State of Tennessee v. June Anne Wascher
E2015-00961-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

The Defendant-Appellant, June Ann Wascher, entered a guilty plea to driving under the influence (DUI) in exchange for an eleven-month and twenty-nine day probationary sentence, after service of forty-eight hours in jail. As a condition of her plea, Wascher reserved a certified question of law challenging the denial of her motion to suppress, which was based upon an alleged unconstitutional seizure. Following our review, we reverse and vacate the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the case.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/16
Ralph Byrd Cooper, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01071-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge
An Anderson County jury found the Petitioner, Ralph Byrd Cooper, Jr., guilty of aggravated rape. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner as a violent offender to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Petitioner's conviction was affirmed by this Court and our Supreme Court affirmed his convictions but remanded the case for resentencing. State v. Ralph Byrd Cooper, Jr., 321 S.W.3d 501, 507-08 (Tenn. 2010). On remand, the trial court sentenced the Petitioner as a career offender to sixty years of incarceration, and this Court affirmed his sentence on appeal. State v. Ralph Byrd Cooper, Jr., No. E2012-01023-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 3833412, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App, at Knoxville, July 22, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 14, 2013). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it denied his petition. He asserts that the post-conviction court erred: (1) when it denied his request for a continuance to allow him to locate material witnesses and to allow him to obtain new post-conviction counsel; and (2) when it determined that he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.
 
Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/16
John A. Jones, III v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01491-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra N.C. Donaghy

The Petitioner, John A. Jones, III, appeals the Bradley County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief for the petition's being filed outside the one-year statute of limitations. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/16
State of Tennessee v. Carroll Renee Crews
W2015-01683-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Lee Moore, Jr.

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Carroll Renee Crews, was convicted of selling dihydrocodeinone, a Class D felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-417. The trial court imposed a sentence of twelve years’ incarceration to be served at sixty percent. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain her conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/16
Dennis L. Rose v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00768-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

A Sullivan County jury found the Petitioner, Dennis L. Rose, guilty of one count of first degree premeditated murder and two counts of aggravated assault. On appeal, this Court affirmed the Petitioner's sentences and convictions. State v. Dennis Lee Rose, No. E2010-00734-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 335548, (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Feb. 1, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 21, 2012). The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition and the post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that: (1) the post-conviction court erred when it denied his motion to recuse the District Attorney General's office in light of his post-conviction allegation of prosecutorial misconduct; (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial; and (3) the post-conviction court erred in denying him relief on the basis of prosecutorial misconduct. We affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/16
In re American Bonding Company
M2015-00315-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael W. Binkley

The appellant, American Bonding Company, appeals the Williamson County Circuit Court’s order granting partial exoneration from the final forfeiture of a $200,000 bond and ordering the company to forfeit $75,000 of the bond.  On appeal, the appellant argues that it is entitled to full exoneration of the forfeited bond because law enforcement requested that the company not attempt to apprehend the subject of the bond.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/16
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Levy
W2015-01081-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The defendant, Marcus Levy, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction and that the trial court erred in allowing the State to enter the witness statements of three witnesses into evidence at trial. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/16
Michael Tyrone Gant v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01566-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Petitioner, Michael Tyrone Gant, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  He argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to present evidence on his behalf that would have established both his innocence and the victim’s bias.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/16
State of Tennessee v. Wendi Hope Tunny
E2014-02502-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

The Defendant, Wendi Hope Tunny, appeals as of right from the Sevier County Circuit Court’s denial of her request for judicial diversion and order that she serve her five-year sentence in split confinement following her guilty-pleaded conviction for theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-103; -13-105(a)(4). On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by failing to consider all of the applicable factors for judicial diversion and by failing to conduct a proper weighing of those factors. Following our review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/16
State of Tennessee v. Americus Julian Harris
M2015-01997-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The Defendant, Amerius Julian Harris, pleaded guilty to possession with the intent to sell of .5 grams or more of cocaine and possession of a Schedule VI drug with intent to sell, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of twelve years, suspended to supervised probation except for 180 days.  A violation of probation warrant was issued, and the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered service of the balance of the sentence in confinement.  The Defendant appeals, asserting that the trial court’s decision to fully revoke his probation sentence was “too harsh.”  We affirm the trial court’s judgment and remand for entry of a corrected revocation order in case number 12-0280.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/16