Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/20/2014
Format: 04/20/2014
Jeffrey D. Miree v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01930-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The petitioner, Jeffrey D. Miree, appeals the summary dismissal of his 2012 petition for post-conviction relief from his 1990 conviction of first degree murder as time barred. Because the petition was filed decades beyond the applicable statute of limitations and because the petitioner failed to either allege or prove a statutory exception to the timely filing or a due process tolling of the statute of limitations, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/06/14
State of Tennessee v. Clinton Travis Simpson
E2013-01678-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The defendant, Clinton Travis Simpson, appeals the revocation of the three-year probationary sentence imposed for his Hamilton County Criminal Court conviction of aggravated burglary. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/06/14
Christopher Lee Pirtle v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00627-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The petitioner, Christopher Lee Pirtle, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he failed to show that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/06/14
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Michael Brown
E2013-00570-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carroll L. Ross

A Monroe County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Jonathan Michael Brown, of facilitation of second degree murder and being an accessory after the fact to second degree murder, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of eight years to be served in confinement. In this appeal, the defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of his pretrial motion to dismiss based upon the loss or destruction of evidence, the sufficiency of the convicting evidence, and the denial of alternative sentencing. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/06/14
Ronald Eugene Brewer, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01537-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

Ronald Eugene Brewer, Jr., (“the Petitioner”) was convicted of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and attempted first degree murder. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for each first degree murder conviction and a concurrent twenty-five-year sentence for the attempted first degree murder conviction. The trial court then merged the felony murder conviction with the premeditated murder conviction. On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions. See State v. Ronald Eugene Brewer, Jr., No. E2010-01147-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 2732566, at *22 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 14, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 21, 2011). The Petitioner subsequently filed for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied following an evidentiary hearing. The Petitioner now appeals, arguing that he was denied due process and the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Upon our thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s decision denying relief.

Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/06/14
Michael W. Belcher v. David Sexton, Warden
E2013-01325-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Cupp

In this appeal as of right, the State challenges the Johnson County Criminal Court’s grant of habeas corpus relief to the petitioner, Michael W. Belcher, in the form of pretrial jail credits. Because the habeas corpus court’s order awarding jail credits is somewhat vague, we vacate that order and remand the case to the habeas corpus court for the entry of an order directing the trial court to amend the petitioner’s judgment in count two to reflect the grant of appropriate pretrial jail credits.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/06/14
State of Tennessee v. Taria Funyette Scott In Re: Danny Blankenship Bonding Company
W2012-02746-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Appellant, Danny Blankenship Bonding Company, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of its motion to alter or amend a final judgment of forfeiture of the Defendant’s bond. On appeal, the Appellant contends that (1) it was relieved from the bond when the Defendant was surrendered into custody and rearrested, (2) it is entitled to return payment of the bond it made under protest, and (3) the trial court erred in entering a final forfeiture judgment against its agent. We affirm the trial court’s judgment of final forfeiture.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/05/14
Willie Lewis v. State of Tennessee
W2012-02003-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Lammey Jr.

Petitioner, Willie Lewis, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of aggravated robbery and sentenced by the trial court as a career offender to thirty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. See State v. Willie Lewis, No. W2008-02636-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL1267070 (Tenn. Crim. App., March 31, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn., Sept. 3, 2010). Petitioner appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post conviction relief, asserting that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to inform him of the applicable sentencing range and failing to investigate his criminal record. Petitioner contends that but for counsel’s errors, he would not have proceeded to trial but would have accepted the State’s plea offer. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/05/14
State of Tennessee v. Michael Scott Knerr
M2012-02486-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Defendant-Appellant, Michael Scott Knerr, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury in counts 1 and 2 for attempted aggravated rape, in counts 3 and 4 for aggravated sexual battery, in count 5 for attempted especially aggravated kidnapping, and in count 6 for attempted aggravated kidnapping. A jury convicted Knerr of the lesser included offenses of attempted sexual battery in count 3, attempted aggravated sexual battery in count 4, and attempted false imprisonment in count 6 and acquitted him of the remaining counts. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court merged count 3 with count 4 and sentenced Knerr to four years with all but sixty days suspended. In addition, the court imposed a concurrent sentence of six months with all but sixty days suspended for Knerr’s conviction for attempted false imprisonment. On appeal, Knerr argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for attempted aggravated sexual battery and attempted sexual battery. Upon review, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed in part and vacated in part, and the case is remanded to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/05/14
Kenneth R. Griffin v. State of Tennessee
E2013-00617-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jerry R. Beck

Kenneth R. Griffin (“the Petitioner”) was convicted of first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery. The Petitioner subsequently filed for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. The Petitioner now appeals. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/05/14
State of Tennessee v. Benjamin Keith Fowler
E2012-02627-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

A Knox County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Benjamin Keith Fowler, of six counts of first degree felony murder, two counts of criminally negligent homicide, two counts of especially aggravated burglary, one count of attempted aggravated robbery, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court merged the homicide verdicts and imposed two convictions of first degree murder. The court also merged the especially aggravated burglary verdicts and imposed a single conviction of that offense. In this appeal, the defendant contends that prosecutorial misconduct and the behavior of a State witness deprived him of the right to a fair trial, that the trial court erred by admitting certain testimony, and that the trial court erred by prohibiting the admission of certain evidence. Although we discern no error with regard to the issues presented by the defendant, we observe plain error with regard to the defendant’s conviction of especially aggravated burglary  Because dual convictions for first degree felony murder and especially aggravated burglary in this case are prohibited by statute, the defendant’s conviction of especially aggravated burglary is modified to a conviction of aggravated burglary and remanded to the trial court for resentencing. The judgments of the trial court are affirmed in all other respects.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/05/14
State of Tennessee v. Xavier Crawford
W2012-01870-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Appellant, Xavier Crawford, stands convicted of aggravated rape and aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of thirty-seven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, appellant submits that the State failed to establish a sufficient chain of custody, that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and that the trial court erred by admitting hearsay evidence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Larry James Jenkins
E2013-01311-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

The appellant, Larry Jenkins, pled guilty to multiple counts of burglary, theft, and vandalism, and the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of eighteen years. On appeal, the appellant challenges the trial court’s refusal to grant alternative sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Jefferson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/04/14