Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/27/2015
Format: 08/27/2015
Bobby Glen Crocker v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01082-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

Petitioner, Bobby Glen Crocker, filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which was dismissed by the post-conviction court as being barred by the statute of limitations. He appeals the post-conviction court‟s finding that the statute of limitations should not be tolled due to Petitioner‟s mental incompetency. Following a careful review of the record, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Frederick Thomas
W2013-02762-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Defendant, Fredrick Thomas, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury with first degree murder and employing a firearm during the commission of a felony after the shooting death of his wife and his unsuccessful attempt at suicide. After a jury trial, Defendant was found guilty of first degree murder. The trial court dismissed the remaining count. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and the trial court's refusal to allow expert testimony on premeditation, deliberation, passion, and provocation. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/15
James Todd v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00677-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Petitioner, James Todd, filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by inadequately presenting a motion to suppress to the trial court. Because trial counsel’s performance was not deficient, the post-conviction court’s denial of the petition is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeremy D. Parvin
E2014-01569-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rebecca J. Stern
Jeremy D. Parvin, the Defendant, was convicted of resisting arrest. On appeal, the Defendant contends there is insufficient evidence to support his conviction. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Connie Sue Messick
M2014-00116-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

The appellant, Connie Sue Messick, pled guilty in the Coffee County Circuit Court to vehicular homicide by intoxication, one count of reckless aggravated assault, and four counts of vehicular assault. The trial court sentenced the appellant to a total effective sentence of sixteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the length and manner of service of the sentences. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand for entry of a corrected judgment to reflect that reckless aggravated assault is a Class D felony.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/15
Timothy L. Jefferson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00756-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The petitioner, Timothy L. Jefferson, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for the writ of error coram nobis. He is currently serving a forty-year sentence in the Department of Correction as a result of his 2001 guilty plea to second degree murder. On appeal, the petitioner contends that the coram nobis court’s dismissal was in error for multiple reasons, including that: (1) the court failed to give proper consideration to veracity of the newly discovered evidence; (2) the court reached the wrong conclusion as to whether the newly discovered evidence may have affected the result; (3) the petition was not time-barred because the statute of limitations was waived; and (4) the issue had not been previously litigated. Following review of the record, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Danny Wilkerson
W2014-00324-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

Appellant, Danny Steve Wilkerson, was convicted by a jury of three drug-related offenses and received an effective sentence of ten years as a Range I, standard offender in the Tennessee Department of Correction. He appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions and the nature and length of his sentences. After a careful review of the record and the applicable law, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/15
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Nelson and Tina Nelson
W2014-00494-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

A Lauderdale County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellants, Gregory Nelson and Tina Nelson, of the charged offenses of first degree felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child abuse. Tina Nelson was sentenced to life imprisonment for the first degree felony murder conviction and to fifteen years for the aggravated child abuse conviction, and Gregory Nelson was sentenced to life imprisonment for the first degree murder conviction and to twenty years for the aggravated child abuse conviction. In this consolidated appeal, Gregory and Tina Nelson argue that the evidence is insufficient to sustain their convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/15
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Swift and Marquavious Houston-Concurring In Part, Dissenting In Part
W2013-00842-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

I concur with the results and most of the reasoning in the majority opinion. I respectfully disagree, however, with the majority’s conclusion that the trial court abused its discretion when it failed to grant Defendant Swift’s motion to sever. In my view, neither Rule 8 or Rule 14 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure required the trial court to grant Defendant Swift’s motion to sever. Furthermore, I am satisfied that the trial court gave clear and correct instructions on how the jury was to consider the evidence as to each Defendant. The manner in which the evidence was admitted by the trial court did not so prejudice Defendant Swift as to require severance.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/15
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Swift and Marquavious Houston
W2013-00842-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellants, Christopher Swift and Marquavious Houston, of first degree premeditated murder; attempted first degree premeditated murder, a Class A felony; and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. After a sentencing hearing, they received effective sentences of life plus twenty-six years. On appeal, the appellants contend that (1) the trial court erred by refusing to sever their trials; (2) the trial court erred by allowing the State to display an assault rifle for demonstrative purposes when the rifle was not used to commit the crimes; (3) the trial court erred by allowing the surviving victim to testify after the police destroyed his recorded statement; and (4) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions. In addition, Houston contends that (5) the State’s failure to name the predicate felony in count 3 of the indictment, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, voids the charge and (6) that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive sentencing. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court committed reversible error in Swift’s case by refusing to sever the appellants’ trials and by allowing the State to show the jury an assault rifle that was not used in the crimes. Therefore, his convictions are reversed, and his case is remanded to the trial court for a new trial. Houston’s convictions and sentences, however, are affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/15
State of Tennessee v. Narrell Christopher Pierce
M2014-00120-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant-Appellant, Narrell Christopher Pierce, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of attempted aggravated robbery, attempted second degree murder, employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and unlawful possession of a handgun by a felon.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of 51 years’ confinement.  On appeal, the Defendant-Appellant argues: (1) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motions to suppress (a) the victim’s identification testimony, (b) evidence obtained as a result of the Defendant’s arrest, and (c) evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant; (2) the trial court erred in refusing to allow the Defendant to cross-examine a witness about alleged acts of untruthfulness; (3) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion to dismiss count 3 of the indictment and allowing the State to amend that count of the indictment; (4) the evidence is insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s convictions of attempted second degree murder and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; and (5) the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing the Defendant as a career offender to 51 years’ confinement.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/15
State of Tennessee v. Vermaine M. Burns
M2014-00357-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

Vermaine M. Burns (“the Defendant”) was convicted of several sexual offenses, all stemming from illicit Facebook chats (“chats”) and emails between himself and the victim, K.P. On appeal, the Defendant raises three issues: (1) whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting into evidence the Defendant’s chats with the victim and an emailed photo of a penis; (2) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s finding that the Defendant was the author of the communications; and (3) whether the trial court erred by prohibiting the Defendant from referring to a fake Facebook profile created by the Defendant’s stepdaughter. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/15
Candance Carol Bush v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00824-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mitchell Keith Siskin

The Petitioner, Candance Carol Bush, appeals as of right from the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief.  The Petitioner contends that she received ineffective assistance of counsel based upon trial counsel’s advice that she not testify at trial and counsel’s failure to file a motion to sever the Petitioner’s case from that of her co-defendant.  The Petitioner further contends that the cumulative effect of these errors undermines the confidence in the outcome of her trial such that she is entitled to post-conviction relief.  After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/15
State of Tennessee v. Thomas William Whited - dissenting
E2013-02523-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

I must respectfully disagree with the conclusion reached by the majority. Let me begin by recognizing that surreptitiously recording a minor in the privacy of her bedroom or bathroom while she undresses is reprehensible, abhorrent, and criminal. See Tenn. Code Ann. §39-13-605. However, whether this conduct rises to the level necessary to sustain the convictions for especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor is another question. For this offense, the State was required to show that the minor in the videos was engaged in sexual activity. As applicable here, the statutory definition of sexual activity required the State to prove that the video contained the lascivious depiction of the victim’s breasts, buttocks, and/or genitalia. After applying the guidelines outlined in Dost and given the below reasoning and authority, I am unable to conclude that the images depicted in the video were lascivious. Therefore, I would reverse the convictions of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor in this case. In reaching this conclusion, I would apply the sixth Dost factor, whether the visual depiction is intended or designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer, objectively rather than subjectively, as this court previously held in State v. John Michael Whitlock, No. E2010-00602-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 2184966, at *7 (Tenn. Crim. App. June 6, 2011) (reviewing whether a videotape constituted “lascivious exhibition” of a girl’s pubic area and concluding that the sixth Dost factor must be analyzed objectively rather than subjectively). Finally, because there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that the Defendant attempted to capture lascivious images on the video, I would reduce his convictions to attempted especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and remand this matter to the trial court for re- sentencing.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/15
State of Tennessee v. Thomas William Whited
E2013-02523-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The defendant, Thomas William Whited, was convicted of nine counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class B felony; one count of attempted especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class C felony; thirteen counts of observation without consent, a Class A misdemeanor; and one count of attempted observation without consent, a Class B misdemeanor. The defendant received an effective sentence of twenty-two years. On appeal, the defendant argues that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support a finding that the defendant used a minor in the production of material that included the minor engaging in “sexual activity”; (2) the trial court erred in refusing to provide the jury with his proposed special instructions; (3) the trial court erred in refusing to permit cross-examination of the victims at the sentencing hearing; and (4) the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/15
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Lee Goins
E2014-01543-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The Defendant, Christopher Lee Goins, appeals as of right from the Blount County Circuit Court’s revocation of his community corrections sentences and order of incarceration. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his community corrections sentences and ordering his original sentences into effect. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/15
Kevin Lee Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01575-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell

Petitioner, Kevin Lee Johnson, was convicted of being a habitual motor vehicle offender, driving under the influence, and felony failure to appear, for which he received an effective sentence of nine years, six months to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  He filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging, inter alia, ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to provide him with a copy of the order declaring him to be a habitual motor vehicle offender.  The post-conviction court denied relief, and petitioner presents the same issue on appeal.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/15
Deshaun Jantuan Lewis v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01108-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The petitioner, Deshaun Jantuan Lewis,appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel.  Based upon our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Lee Bray
W2014-01914-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

Defendant, Gregory Lee Bray, was indicted in two separate cases for delivering Schedule IV substances. After pleading guilty in two separate cases to a total of two counts of delivery of a Schedule IV substance, Defendant was sentenced to an effective sentence of twenty years. Defendant appeals, challenging the trial court‟s imposition of consecutive sentences and denial of an alternative sentence. After a review, we determine there is no evidence that the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing Defendant to an effective sentence of twenty years or that the trial court improperly denied alternative sentencing. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/15
Brian Roberson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02319-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

The Petitioner, Brian Roberson, appeals the Williamson County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Petitioner previously entered guilty pleas to two counts of sale of cocaine (counts 1 and 3) and possession of cocaine (count 5). On appeal, he argues that he is entitled to withdraw his guilty pleas because the illegal sentences in counts 1 and 3 were a material, bargained-for element of his plea agreement. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court. However, we remand this matter to the original court of conviction for entry of corrected judgments consistent with this opinion.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Craig Michael Barbee
W2014-00835-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn L. Peeples

The defendant, Craig Michael Barbee, was convicted of attempted second degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated robbery, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and two counts of aggravated assault, which were merged with the aggravated robbery convictions. He received an effective sentence of 106 years. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred by not granting his motion for change of venue and in sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Crockett County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Charles Riley, Jr.
M2014-01652-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Earl Durham

Charles Riley, Jr. (“the Defendant”) appeals as of right from the trial court’s order revoking his probation, arguing the trial court abused its discretion when it determined that he violated probation.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Claudale Renaldo Armstrong
M2014-01041-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin Lee Russell

A Marshall County Circuit Court jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Claudale Renaldo Armstrong, of sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine base; delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine base; sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine; and delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine.  See T.C.A. § 39-17-417 (2011). The trial court merged the four alternative counts into two convictions and sentenced Armstrong as a Range II, multiple offender to a total effective sentence of twenty-six years in the Department of Correction.  The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support the convictions.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/15
State of Tennessee v. Melvin Brown
W2014-00162-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Melvin Brown, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for driving under the influence (“DUI”); DUI with blood alcohol more than .20%; violation of the implied consent law; reckless driving; and driving with a license revoked, suspended, or cancelled. The Defendant refused law enforcement’s request to submit to a blood test to determine his blood alcohol content, and his blood was taken, without a warrant and over his objections, pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406(f)(1) (Supp. 2011). The trial court subsequently granted the Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence of his blood alcohol content. In this interlocutory appeal, the State challenges the trial court’s conclusion that the Code section 55-10-406(f)(1) is unconstitutional and that no exception to the warrant requirement existed to justify the warrantless blood draw. Upon review, we conclude that Code section 55-10-406(f)(1) does not dispense with the warrant requirement and reverse the portion of the trial court’s judgment declaring the statute unconstitutional. Because no exception to the warrant requirement existed, however, we affirm the order of the trial court suppressing the results of the Defendant’s blood alcohol content.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/15
State of Tennessee v. Travontay Tremont Berry
W2014-00808-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

A jury convicted the defendant, Travontay Tremont Berry, of tampering with evidence, a Class C felony, and carrying a firearm with the intent to go armed, a Class A misdemeanor. The defendant appeals the sufficiency of the evidence for his felony conviction, arguing that he did not know that an investigation was pending at the time of the offense. Having reviewed the record, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the convictions, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court. We remand for correction of the judgment form to reflect the correct classification of the tampering with evidence offense and for reconsideration of the sentence in light of the correction.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/15