Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/31/2015
Format: 07/31/2015
State of Tennessee v. Bruce Lamont Smith
M2014-02092-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

The defendant, Bruce Lamont Smith, appeals the summary denial of his motion, filed pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Lee Martin
E2014-00308-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington
A Blount Court Circuit Court jury convicted the defendant, Jeffrey Lee Martin, of promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine, and the trial court imposed a Range II sentence of 8 years’ incarceration. In this appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence, argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress, and claims that the trial court erroneously limited his cross-examination of a certain witness. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/15
Willard William Wright v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01498-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Petitioner, Willard William Wright, filed a petition for post-conviction relief attacking his conviction, pursuant to a negotiated guilty plea, for burglary of a motor vehicle in Davidson County Criminal Court case number 2010-C-2534. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition because it was filed after the applicable one year statute of limitations had run. Petitioner appeals, arguing that the statute of limitations should be tolled on due process grounds. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/15
State of Tennessee v. Sanchez Lewan Bradford
M2014-01311-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The petitioner, Sanchez Lewan Bradford, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence, asserting that his sentences were illegal in that he was not sentenced to consecutive terms.  After review, we affirm the summary dismissal.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/15
Alvin Michael Young v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01276-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
The pro se petitioner, Alvin Michael Young, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for aggravated kidnapping and domestic assault. On appeal, he argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.
 
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Natasha Moses Bates
E2014-00725-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy A. Reedy
The defendant, Natasha Moses Bates, was convicted of two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and four counts of facilitation of the initiation of the process of manufacturing methamphetamine. The murder charges resulted from the deaths of her five- and three-year-old sons whose bodies were found in her front yard. She received a life sentence for each of the felony murder convictions, a twenty-year sentence for each of the aggravated child neglect convictions, and a three-year sentence for each of the drug-related convictions. The trial court ordered that the two life sentences be served consecutively and the two twenty-year sentences to be served consecutively as well, with these two sets of sentences to be served concurrently with each other and with the drug sentences. On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions; that the court erred by not severing the drug-related offenses from the felony murder and aggravated child neglect offenses; and that the court erred by ordering certain of the sentences to be served consecutively. Following our review, we conclude that the trial court erred in not severing the drug offenses, Counts 5-8, from Counts 1-4, alleging felony murder and aggravated child neglect. Accordingly, we reverse the convictions for Counts 5-8 and remand for a new trial. We affirm the convictions and sentencing for Counts 1-4.
 
Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Paul Williams aka Paul Williams EL
W2014-00231-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

The defendant, Paul Williams, a/k/a Paul Williams El, was convicted by a Carroll County jury of driving with a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license with a prior offense, a Class A misdemeanor, and failure to show registration, a Class C misdemeanor. He was sentenced by the trial court to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the driving conviction and thirty days for the registration conviction. In this pro se appeal, the defendant appears to challenge the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the trial court‟s jurisdiction over his person. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Dennis Karr
E2014-01245-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

The Defendant, Dennis Karr, appeals as of right from the Sevier County Circuit’s revocation of his community corrections sentence1 and order of incarceration of his five-year-sentence relative to his guilty-pleaded sale of methamphetamine conviction. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in revoking his community corrections sentence based upon his failure to report, which, according to the Defendant, was due to necessity because he was a single father and homeless. He submits that, although he was an absconder from supervision as charged, he had, in his opinion, demonstrated an ability to comply with the conditions of his release by addressing his substance abuse problem, by not obtaining any new charges, and by returning to Tennessee to address this violation. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s revocation of the Defendant’s community corrections sentence.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/15
Charles Steven Shivers v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00455-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The petitioner was convicted by a jury of attempted first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery, both Class A felonies, and sentenced to an aggregate sentence of forty-three years. The petitioner filed a timely post-conviction petition, which was amended by appointed counsel. After conducting a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Post-conviction counsel failed to file a timely notice of appeal. Because we do not conclude that the interest of justice requires us to hear the appeal, we dismiss it as untimely.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/15
Ines Mendez Monreal v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02036-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Ines Mendez Monreal, entered a conditional guilty plea to possession of not less than ten (10) pounds nor more than seventy (70) pounds of marijuana, a Class D felony. He was placed on judicial diversion for a period of four years. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-35-313. Almost nine years after entering the plea, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which was summarily dismissed by the post-conviction court. On appeal, petitioner raises the following issues: (1) whether due process principles require that he be permitted to pursue his petition for post-conviction relief; (2) whether he was denied effective assistance of counsel; and (3) whether his plea was knowingly and voluntarily entered. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Paul Jerome Johnson, Jr.
E2013-02437-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
The defendant, Paul Jerome Johnson, Jr., was convicted of felony murder in perpetration of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child abuse, a Class A felony. He received concurrent sentences of life imprisonment for the felony murder conviction and nineteen years for the aggravated child abuse conviction. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by (1) admitting photographs of the victim from the hospital and the autopsy because the photographs had little probative value and were not relevant to material issues at trial; (2) improperly restricting the cross-examination of a witness; and (3) failing to require the State to make an election of offenses. After reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Ed Loyde
W2014-01055-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The defendant, Ed Loyde, was convicted of one count of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and one count of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. He received an effective sentence of thirty-five years. On appeal, he raises the sole issue of whether the evidence was sufficient to support his convictions. After thoroughly reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Ryan M. Delaby
E2014-00772-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carroll L. Ross
The petitioner, Ryan M. Delaby, appeals from the Bradley County Criminal Court’s order denying his petition to expunge the records of his 2006 conviction of Class E felony vandalism. Because we conclude that the petitioner failed to meet the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-32-101(g), we affirm the trial court’s order.
Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Ray Millard
E2014-01492-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman
The defendant, Marcus Ray Millard, appeals from the revocation of his probation. Discerning no error, we affirm.
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. James Russell Jones, Jr.
M2013-02270-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

The defendant, James Russell Jones, Jr., was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of two counts of aggravated rape, a Class A felony; attempted aggravated rape, a Class B felony; aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony; and simple assault, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced by the trial court as a Range II, multiple offender to thirty years at 100% for each of the aggravated rape convictions, as a Range III, persistent offender to twenty-five years at 45% for the attempted aggravated rape conviction and twenty-five years at 100% for the aggravated sexual battery conviction, and to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor assault conviction. The trial court ordered the sentences for the four felony convictions served consecutively, for an effective sentence of 110 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, to be served consecutively to the defendant’s life sentence for a South Carolina conviction. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his convictions and argues that the trial court erred by denying his request for a mistrial, by ordering consecutive sentences, and by allowing the jury to deliberate on Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment when venue in Davidson County had not been established. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Charzelle Lamontez Swafford
M2014-00421-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

After a shooting at a public housing complex, a jury convicted the defendant, Charzelle Lamontez Swafford, of one count of first degree (premeditated) murder, four counts of attempted first degree murder, each a Class A felony, and one count of employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. The defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence; the denial of a mistrial based on an emotional outburst from a witness; the trial court’s decision to admit a recorded prior inconsistent statement as substantive evidence; and the trial court’s decision to impose partial consecutive sentences at the upper end of the range. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth McCormick
M2013-02189-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The defendant, Kenneth McCormick, was indicted for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (first offense), a Class A misdemeanor. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence against him on the basis that law enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion to effect the seizure of his parked vehicle through the activation of emergency lights. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, and the defendant was convicted after a jury trial. Because we conclude that the activation of the emergency lights was an exercise of the community caretaking function and did not constitute a seizure, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Newton
M2014-00603-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The defendant, Joseph Newton, was convicted of two counts of rape, Class B felonies, which the trial court merged. He received an effective eight-year sentence. On this direct appeal, he raises the sole issue of ineffective assistance of counsel. He argues that trial counsel was ineffective for: (1) failing to pursue a reasonable defense and failing to provide assistance; (2) failing to fulfil a promise made in the opening statement that the defendant would testify; and (3) for statements made during closing arguments. He also contends that the cumulative effect of trial counsel’s errors operated so as to deprive him of his right to receive a fair trial. After thoroughly reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Kevin M. Thompson A.K.A. Kevin M. Albert - dissenting
E2014-01358-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

I respectfully dissent with the conclusions of the majority that Defendant’s late filing of his notice of appeal should be waived and that Defendant has stated a colorable claim for relief, entitling him to the appointment of counsel and a hearing.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Kevin M. Thompson A.K.A. Kevin M. Albert
E2014-01358-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman
Defendant, Kevin M. Thompson a.k.a. Kevin M. Albert, appeals from the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The State concedes that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing Defendant’s motion; however, the State argues that this appeal should be dismissed because Defendant’s notice of appeal was untimely filed. Following our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we waive the timely filing of the notice of appeal. Furthermore, we reverse the trial court’s order dismissing the motion and remand for appointment of counsel if Defendant is indigent and for other proceedings pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1.
 
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/15
Kenneth Deangelo Thomas v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00884-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

In 2003, Kenneth Deangelo Thomas, the Petitioner, was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to life. In 2012, Paul Talley, an accomplice who testified against the Petitioner, executed a sworn statement claiming he lied about the Petitioner’s involvement in the murder. The Petitioner filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis based on the newly discovered evidence. Following a hearing in which Mr. Talley testified, the coram nobis court found Mr. Talley was not credible and dismissed the petition. Following a review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Carl C. Dotson
M2014-00774-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

A Williamson County Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Carl C. Dotson, charging him with theft of property valued over $1,000 but less than $10,000 and driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), third offense. A jury trial was held, and Defendant was convicted of the offenses. The trial court imposed a sentence of two years as a Range One offender for theft to be served in confinement and eleven months, twenty-nine days for DUI to be served concurrently. The judgment for DUI indicates that Defendant is to serve 160 days of his sentence for DUI in confinement and then eleven months and twenty-nine days on supervised probation. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
Thomas Eugene Lester v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01625-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Petitioner, Thomas Eugene Lester, appeals as of right from the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered because he was suffering from an untreated medical condition at the time he entered his plea. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
State of Tennessee v. Dustin Matthew Lucio
E2014-00642-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

A Sevier County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Dustin Matthew Lucio, of aggravated rape, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-three years in confinement to be served at 100%. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by failing to suppress a suggestive pretrial identification of him as the perpetrator, that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to introduce evidence of the victim’s drug use to corroborate his version of the events, and that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
State of Tennessee v. Dustin Matthew Lucio
E2014-00642-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

A Sevier County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Dustin Matthew Lucio, of aggravated rape, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-three years in confinement to be served at 100%. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by failing to suppress a suggestive pretrial identification of him as the perpetrator, that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to introduce evidence of the victim’s drug use to corroborate his version of the events, and that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15