Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 05/26/2017
Format: 05/26/2017
State of Tennessee v. Marcia Latrice Taylor
M2016-00934-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David L. Allen

A Maury County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Marcia Latrice Taylor, for one count of possession of 0.5 grams or more of a Schedule II substance, cocaine, with the intent to sell or deliver and one count of possession of 14.175 grams of a Schedule VI substance, marijuana, with the intent to sell or deliver.  The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence found as a result of a search of an establishment that she owned based upon the credibility and reliability of the confidential informant whose statement police used as a basis for the warrant.  The trial court granted the motion, and the State appeals.  On appeal, the State contends that the trial court erred because the confidential informant’s reliability and knowledge were corroborated by independent police investigation.  After review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/15/17
Horace E. Hollis, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01509-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Burch

This appeal of the denial of post-conviction relief is before this court pursuant to remand by the Tennessee Supreme Court, which vacated this court’s August 2015 opinion upholding the post-conviction court’s denial of post-conviction relief because the transcript of the post-conviction hearing was not included in the appellate record. In August 2001, the Petitioner, Horace E. Hollis, Jr., was charged in an eighty (80) count presentment with forty counts of aggravated sexual battery and forty counts of rape of a child. The sexual abuse was committed against the Petitioner’s two minor granddaughters by marriage and, based on the presentment, occurred every other weekend from October 2000 to July 2001. The counts in the presentment were identical except for the victim’s name and date range. Before trial, the Petitioner’s third appointed counsel agreed to sever the counts of the indictment into separate groups of four, one count of rape of a child and one count of aggravated sexual battery for each of the two victims, theoretically resulting in twenty separate trials. The Petitioner was acquitted at his first trial. At his second trial, the Petitioner was convicted of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery of each victim, for which he received an effective sentence of forty (40) years’ incarceration. Following his second trial, the remaining counts of the presentment were dismissed by the State. Although the Petitioner presents a multitude of issues for our review, we consider his primary issue to be whether third counsel was ineffective in failing to require an election of offenses in his first trial, which resulted in an acquittal. Because there was no election of offenses in his first trial, the Petitioner further contends that third counsel was ineffective in failing to object to his second trial based on double jeopardy principles. Following a thorough review of the record and applicable authority, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/14/17
Alexis Mason v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01644-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Alexis Mason (“the Petitioner”) was convicted of one count of second degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault by a Shelby County jury, for which the Petitioner received an effective sentence of thirty-seven years. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to argue self-defense. The post-conviction court denied relief after finding that trial counsel’s failure to argue self-defense was not deficient and did not prejudice the Petitioner. On appeal, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Richardson
W2016-00340-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Defendant, Antonio Richardson, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202 (2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment. On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and (2) the trial court erred by admitting in evidence a photograph of the victim from the crime scene. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Rodney Lee Scott
E2015-01772-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Scott Green

Defendant, Rodney Lee Scott, was found guilty by a jury of attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless aggravated assault, leaving the scene of the accident, and public intoxication as the result of an incident described as road rage on December 16, 2013. As a result of the convictions, Defendant received an effective sentence of six years. Defendant appeals, challenging: (1) the sufficiency of the evidence; (2) the denial of a motion to sever; (3) the denial of a motion in limine which sought to allow Defendant to cross-examine the victims about their criminal history; (4) his dual convictions for attempted voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault; and (5) the trial court’s denial of a mistrial. After a review of the evidence and authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court with respect to Defendant’s convictions for attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, leaving the scene of the accident, and public intoxication. Because reckless aggravated assault cannot be a lesser included offense of aggravated assault based upon fearing imminent bodily injury, we reverse and dismiss Defendant’s conviction for reckless aggravated assault. On remand, the trial court should enter judgment forms dismissing Counts Four and Seven of the indictment.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/13/17
Tamir Clark v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01079-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

In 2012, the Petitioner, Tamir Clark, pleaded guilty to especially aggravated kidnapping, arson, especially aggravated robbery, and attempted first degree murder.  The Petitioner later filed a post-conviction petition alleging ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was involuntary.  The post-conviction court denied the petition, and this Court affirmed the denial on appeal.  See State v.Tamir Clark, No. M2014-00618-CCA-R3-PC, 2014 WL 7191536, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Dec. 18, 2014), perm. app. denied (Tenn. April 13, 2015).  On February 24, 2016, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis alleging newly discovered evidence.  In March 2016, the trial court issued an order dismissing the petition as time-barred.  We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/13/17
Tornita N. Crenshaw v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01045-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

In 2008, a jury found the Petitioner, Tornita N. Crenshaw, guilty of two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated burglary, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, and one count of coercion of a witness.  The jury also convicted three co-defendants related to these offenses.  On joint direct appeal, this Court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions.  See State v.Lance Sandifer, Stephon Dante Cunningham, Tornita Crenshaw, & Glenard Thorne, No. M2008-02849-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 5343202, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Dec. 21, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 26, 2011).  On April 11, 2016, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis alleging numerous errors.  The trial court issued an order on April 25, 2016, dismissing the petition as time-barred.  We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/13/17
Montez Adams v. Cherry Lindamood, Warden
M2016-01073-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The Appellant, Montez Adams, appeals the trial court's summary dismissal of his petition seeking habeas corpus relief.  The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20.  Said motion is hereby granted.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Victor Sharmell Sparkman
M2016-00444-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

Defendant, Victor Sharmell Sparkman, filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, alleging that he received illegal sentences for his convictions of second degree murder, Range I, 33 years with a release eligibility of “violent 100%” and especially aggravated robbery, Range I, 33 years with a release eligibility of “violent 100%” pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement.  The trial court denied the motion without a hearing, and Defendant has appealed.  After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Travis Pallaria
E2016-00748-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

The Defendant, Travis Pallaria, appeals as of right from the Blount County Circuit Court’s revocation of his community corrections sentence. The Defendant cites evidence excusing his violation and contends that the trial court was unduly harsh and abused its discretion in ordering the Defendant to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. Following our review, we affirm the revocation and confinement order of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Billy Hill
E2015-00811-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, Billy Hill, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of second degree murder, a Class X felony, for the 1986 killing of his mother. See T.C.A. § 39-2-211 (1986) (repealed 1989). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to twenty-four years‘ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred by denying his motions to dismiss based upon lost and destroyed evidence, a due process violation created by the extensive pre-indictment delay, and a violation of his right to a speedy trial, (2) the trial court erred by allowing improper witness testimony, (3) the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial after a witness violated a court order prohibiting testimony about the Defendant‘s alleged violent conduct against the witness, (4) the trial court erred by refusing to provide a jury instruction relative to the State‘s obligation to corroborate his statements, and (5) the prosecutor engaged in misconduct during closing argument. We have also considered whether the statute of limitations for second degree murder had expired before the commencement of the prosecution. Although we affirm the Defendant‘s conviction, we remand for the entry of a corrected judgment reflecting the proper felony classification for second degree murder at the time of the offense.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/09/17
Eddie A. Medlock v. State of Tennessee
M2016-02460-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wooten, Jr.

The Appellant, Eddie A. Medlock, is appealing the trial court’s order denying his petition for a writ of habeas corpus.  The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20.  Said motion is hereby granted.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/08/17
Michael Joseph Lugiai, Sr. v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00369-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

In July 2012, the Petitioner, Michael Joseph Lugiai, Sr., entered a “best interests” guilty plea to four counts of aggravated assault.  He timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his plea was unknowing and involuntary.  Following a hearing on the petition, the post-conviction court denied relief.  After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/08/17
State of Tennessee v. Robreka Jay Quan Sullivan
M2015-01407-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Appellant, Robreka Jay Quan Sullivan, was found guilty by a Davidson County Criminal Court Jury of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary, and she received a total effective sentence of ten years.  On appeal, the Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining her convictions.  Specifically, she contends that the victim’s testimony was not credible and that the State proved, at most, that she was involved in the disposition of stolen property.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/08/17
Herman Sowell, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01037-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

In 2011, the Petitioner, Herman Sowell, Jr., pleaded nolo contendreto attempted aggravated rape, attempted aggravated sexual battery, and incest, and the trial court sentenced him to fifteen years, at 30%.  The trial court ordered a “time served” sentence followed by probation.  In April 2013, after the statute of limitations had expired, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, using a separate case number but challenging as ineffective the representation of his counsel for the November 2011 case.  At some point thereafter, the trial court revoked the Petitioner’s probation.  The Petitioner amended his petition for post-conviction relief to challenge his November 2011 convictions.  The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the post-conviction petition.  We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/07/17
State of Tennessee v. Roxann Lee Cruse
W2016-00119-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Moore

The defendant, Roxann Lee Cruse, appeals the revocation of the probationary sentence imposed for her Dyer County Circuit Court guilty-pleaded convictions of the sale of a Schedule III narcotic. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/06/17
State of Tennessee v. Richard W. Wilburn
M2016-00704-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

The Defendant, Richard W. Wilburn, was sentenced to an effective ten-year sentence for his guilty-pleaded convictions to one count of initiating the methamphetamine manufacturing process and three counts of driving on a revoked license, second offense or more.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by applying enhancement factor 10—the Defendant had no hesitation about committing a crime when the risk to human life was high—to increase his sentence for initiating the manufacturing methamphetamine process because, he asserts, there was no proof that anyone was endangered by his actions.  He also submits that the trial court erred by denying any form of alternative sentencing based upon his need for drug treatment.  Following our review, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s sentencing decision.  Accordingly, the judgments are affirmed.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/06/17
State of Tennessee v. Wesley Howard Luthringer
M2016-00780-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Wesley Howard Luthringer (“the Defendant”) was convicted of two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide by a Bedford County jury.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to twenty-four years for each count to be served consecutively as a Range I standard offender.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient for a rational juror to find him guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide beyond a reasonable doubt and that the trial court erred in ordering his sentences to be served consecutively.  After a thorough review of the record and case law, we affirm.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/06/17
State of Tennessee v. Misty Ann Miller
M2016-01165-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The defendant, Misty Ann Miller, appeals the trial court’s denial of her Rule 35 motion to modify the sentences imposed against her pursuant to a negotiated plea deal.  On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court abused its discretion in finding no new post-sentencing developments exist to justify a modification of her sentences.  After our review, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/06/17
Mahlon Johnson v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00665-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Petitioner, Mahlon Johnson, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief for his convictions for sexual battery and aggravated assault. On appeal, he argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/17
State of Tennessee v. Rocky M. White
W2016-00283-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Pro se Petitioner, Rocky White, appeals from the Madison County Circuit Court‟s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing his motion. Because the sentences in this action have expired, we affirm the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/17
State of Tennessee v. DeKarlos Johnson
W2015-02412-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

A Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Dekarlos Johnson, of aggravated robbery, and the trial court imposed a sentence of nine years with a release eligibility of eighty-five percent. On appeal, Johnson argues: (1) the admission of his redacted statement negatively impacted the jury's verdict; (2) he was denied the opportunity to present evidence in his own defense; (3) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its closing argument; and (4) the cumulative effect of these errors entitles him to relief. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/17
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Deangelo Lee
W2016-00107-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Pro se Petitioner, Marcus Deangelo Lee, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the trial court erred in dismissing his motion. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/17
Ronnie Hughes v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02131-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Petitioner, Ronnie Hughes, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief by the Shelby County Criminal Court. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was involuntary and unknowing. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/17
State of Tennessee v. Eric D. Wallace
W2016-00907-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Eric D. Wallace (“the Defendant”) filed a Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence under Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, alleging that his sentences for first degree felony murder and attempted first degree murder were illegal because the trial court constructively amended the corresponding indictments by instructing the jury on “alternative theories for felony murder.” The trial court summarily denied relief, and this appeal followed. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/17