Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 02/19/2017
Format: 02/19/2017
State of Tennessee v. Brian Adams
W2015-02066-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

A jury found that the Defendant, Brian Adams, was guilty of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced the defendant to an effective sentence of ninety years. The Defendant asserts that his convictions should be overturned on the basis of insufficient evidence. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Alberto Conde-Valentino
M2015-01872-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The defendant, Alberto Conde-Valentino, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, claiming that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion for severance of co-defendants, that the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on accomplice testimony, and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Cuben Lagrone
E2014-02402-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Cuben T. Lagrone, of attempted second degree murder, employing a firearm during the commission of attempted second degree murder, attempted first degree premeditated murder, employing a firearm during the commission of attempted first degree premeditated murder, and reckless endangerment. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II multiple offender to a total effective sentence of sixty-five years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence from a cell phone seized during a traffic stop and weapons seized during a traffic accident investigation; (2) the trial court erred when it allowed the State to play a video recording during its opening statement; (3) the trial court erred when it instructed two witnesses, without first appointing counsel, to testify against the Defendant after the witnesses invoked their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and when it allowed the State to make an inappropriate comment in front of the jury on this matter; (4) the trial court improperly admitted into evidence the first victim’s 911 call, images of the Defendant near or displaying firearms, and the Defendant’s jail call, and improperly declined to admit into evidence the second victim’s letter to the first victim; (5) the evidence is insufficient to sustain any of his convictions; (6) the trial court erred when it failed to grant a new trial based on a witness’s recantation; (7) the trial court erred when it instructed the jury regarding the truthfulness of witnesses and regarding criminal responsibility; (8) the trial court erred when it denied the Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal; (9) the trial court erred when it sentenced the Defendant; and (10) due process requires a reversal of the Defendant’s convictions because of the effect of cumulative error. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the trial courts judgments of convictions in all respects. We vacate the sentences for the two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a felony and remand for resentencing on those two counts.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Terrance Stepheny
W2015-01787-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The defendant, Terrance Stepheny, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a Range II, multiple offender to seventeen years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and argues that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence by not sentencing him at the lower end of his range. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court but remand for entry of a corrected judgment to reflect the defendant’s conviction offense as aggravated robbery, which was omitted.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
Clarence Tyrone Pruitt v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02133-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The petitioner, Clarence Tyrone Pruitt, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and entered an unknowing and involuntary guilty plea. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Darrell Thomas Gooch
W2016-00117-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Defendant, Darrell Thomas Gooch, appeals as of right from the Dyer County Circuit Court's revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his effective ten-year sentence.The Defendant contends (1) that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation because it relied on an additional probation violation introduced at the hearing that was not included in the violation warrant; (2) that the trial court ignored factors that mitigated his presence at the rape victim's apartment complex; and (3) that the four curfew violations, alone, were insufficient to revoke probation. Following our review, we affirm the trial court's revocation of the Defendant's probationary sentence and order of confinement.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
Cameron Brown v. State of Tennessee
M205-01434-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The petitioner, Cameron Brown, appeals from the Sumner County Criminal Court order granting in part and denying in part his petition for writ of error coram nobis, which petition attacked his 2008 guilty-pleaded convictions of four counts of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000; one count of forgery; passing a worthless check in an amount more than $500; and failure to appear as well as his 2011 guilty-pleaded conviction of escape.  Because the writ of error coram nobis is not available to collaterally attack guilty-pleaded convictions, the judgment of the coram nobis court granting the petition for writ of error coram nobis and vacating the petitioner’s conviction of forgery is reversed, and the case is remanded for reinstatement of that conviction and the accompanying four-year sentence.  The judgment of the coram nobis court denying the remaining claims for coram nobis relief is affirmed.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Paul Brent Baxter
M2016-00049-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

Defendant, Paul Brent Baxter, was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault and received concurrent sentences of fifteen years.  On appeal, he argues that his sentences are excessive.  We affirm the judgments, but we conclude, as a matter of plain error, that the judgments must be merged into a single conviction.  Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are remanded.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16
State of Tennessee v. Larenzo Jerome Morgan, Jr.
W2016-00114-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The State appeals the Dyer County Circuit Court’s order granting Larenzo Jerom Morgan, Jr.’s, request for jail credit toward his Dyer County sentence for time he spent serving a sentence in the Missouri Department of Corrections on Missouri convictions. Because we conclude that the trial court was without authority to award jail credit on the Dyer County sentence for time served on the unrelated Missouri convictions, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Michael A. Alderson
M2015-01395-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The defendant, Michael A. Alderson, was convicted by a jury of introducing drugs into a penal institution, a Class C felony, after he was arrested for an unrelated offense and disburdened himself of a small amount of marijuana in the “trap” room leading to the Maury County jail.  The trial court sentenced the defendant as a Range II offender to ten years’ imprisonment.  On appeal, the defendant asserts that he was denied his right to self-representation.  The defendant also argues that the marijuana should have been suppressed because his initial arrest was unlawful, and he asserts error in sentencing.  Because we conclude that the trial court erred in denying the defendant his right to self-representation, we reverse the judgment and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Rosa Emma Honeycutt
E2015-00790-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

A Sullivan County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Rosa Emma Honeycutt, of failing to report suspected child sexual abuse, a Class A misdemeanor, and the trial court sentenced her to eleven months, twenty-nine days to be served on unsupervised probation. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying her request for judicial diversion. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and grant judicial diversion.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/16
Michael Fields v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01850-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Petitioner, Michael Fields, appeals the Sullivan County Criminal Court's denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for reckless homicide, felony murder, two counts of especially aggravated burglary and especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at both the trial and appellate level, and that, in light of these errors, his effective sentence of life plus forty years in incarceration is illegal. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Richard Fredrickson
M2015-01206-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

The defendant, Joseph Richard Fredrickson, was convicted of one count of the sale of marijuana, a Class E felony, one count of delivery of marijuana, a Class E felony, and one count of conspiracy to sell or deliver marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor.  The trial court merged felony convictions and sentenced the defendant as a Range II offender to four years; the defendant received a sentence of  eleven months and twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor conviction.  The trial court ordered the defendant to serve his sentences concurrently for an effective sentence of four years.  On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his felony convictions, that the trial court erred in denying his motion for independent scientific testing of the marijuana, and that the trial court erred in imposing four-year sentences for his felony convictions.  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Williams
W2015-01918-CA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The defendant, Marcus Williams, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of identity theft, theft of property, and forgery, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court erred by instructing the jury on criminal responsibility and by admitting certain evidence at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/16
William S. Mitchell v. Michael Parris, Warden
W2015-01790-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The petitioner, William S. Mitchell, attempts to convert an appeal of the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus into a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 claim regarding the illegality of his plea agreement sentence for aggravated sexual battery. We respectfully decline the petitioner’s request that we consider his timely appeal of the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus as an untimely appeal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/29/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Ladell Grandberry
W2015-01344-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The defendant, Kevin Ladell Grandberry, was indicted for first-degree premeditated murder, murder in the perpetration of a felony, especially aggravated robbery, attempted first degree murder, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, felon in possession of a weapon, and theft between $1000 and $10,000. Following trial, a jury found the defendant guilty of murder in the perpetration of a felony, especially aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, felon in possession of a weapon, and theft between $1000 and $10,000. The trial court sentenced the defendant to an effective sentence of life without the possibility of parole plus 27 years in confinement. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. After review, we affirm the defendant's convictions, but remand to the trial court for entry of amended judgments reflecting, per the sentencing hearing transcripts, that the sentences in Counts 2 and 3 are to be served concurrently.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/16
State of Tennessee v. Travis Brooks
W2015-02433-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Travis Brooks, appeals the dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. He argues that he is entitled to relief because the trial court failed to award him appropriate pretrial jail credits. Following our review, we conclude that the petitioner has not stated a colorable claim for relief, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/16
State of Tennessee v. Leonardo D. Williams
W2016-00168-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The defendant, Leonardo D. Williams, appeals the dismissal of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion for correction of an illegal sentence, arguing that he illegally received concurrent sentences when he should have received consecutive ones. We affirm the summary dismissal of the motion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/16
State of Tennessee v. Philemon Alexander
W2015-02494-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant, Philemon Alexander, was convicted of one count of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-103. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction, arguing that there was no proof of his possession of the stolen vehicle. Following our review, the judgment is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/16
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Thurman Wade
M2014-01418-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

A jury in the Coffee County Circuit Court found the Appellant, Marcus Thurman Wade, guilty of the first degree premeditated murders of Richard Elliott and Timothy Gill, the felony murders in the perpetration of aggravated robbery of Mr. Elliott and Mr. Gill, and the especially aggravated robbery of Mr. Elliott.  The trial court merged the premeditated murder convictions and the felony murder convictions and imposed a total effective sentence of life without the possibility of parole plus thirty-five years.  On appeal, the Appellant challenges (1) the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions, (2) the trial court’s decision to allow testimony regarding a prior bad act of the Appellant, (3) the trial court’s refusal to give the pattern jury instruction on circumstantial evidence that was in place at the time of the offenses, and (4) the trial court’s ruling on the Appellant’s motion to suppress his statement.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/16
State of Tennessee v. Joseph A. Colwell, Sr.
M2016-00130-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

Defendant, Joseph A. Colwell, Sr., appeals after being convicted by a jury of two counts of rape and two counts of incest and receiving an effective sentence of twenty years.  Upon our review, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant to a twenty-year sentence.  Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/16
State of Tennessee v. Jermaine Carpenter
E2016-00450-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The defendant, Jermaine Carpenter, appeals the summary dismissal of his motion, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence imposed for his 2004 Sullivan County Criminal Court jury convictions. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/28/16
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Demotto Linsey
M2015-01851-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The defendant, Christopher Demotto Linsey, was indicted for tampering with evidence, possession of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver, simple possession of marijuana, possession of heroin, and simple possession of alprazolam. After trial, a jury found the defendant guilty of felony tampering with evidence and misdemeanor simple possession of marijuana, for which he received an effective twelve-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support the trial court’s decision to deny his request for a renunciation jury instruction with respect to the tampering with evidence charge. The State concedes the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support the defendant’s tampering with evidence conviction and asserts the jury instruction question has been pretermitted. Upon review, we agree with the State. We affirm the defendant’s conviction for simple possession of marijuana and reverse and vacate the defendant’s conviction for tampering with evidence.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/27/16
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Malcolm Vinson
M2016-00068-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The defendant, Johnny Malcolm Vinson, was convicted of aggravated assault in violation of an active order of protection pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-102(c). On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction arguing that conflicting testimony exists regarding his use of a deadly weapon and that the State failed to prove he acted with intent. After our review, we conclude that the defendant’s arguments are without merit. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/27/16
State of Tennessee v. Michael D. Hernandez - concurring and dissenting
E2015-01365-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge
I agree with the majority's conclusion upholding the Defendant's conviction for rape of a child and his twenty-five-year sentence. Moreover, while I agree with the majority's conclusion that Ms. Powell's notes do not qualify as a “statement” of the victim pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 26.2, I write separately to address the issue of whether Ms. Powell's notes qualify as a “statement” of Ms. Powell as the testifying witness pursuant to Rule 26.2.
 
Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/27/16