Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/20/2017
Format: 08/20/2017
State of Tennessee v. Terry Trammell
E2016-01267-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Defendant, Terry Trammell, was convicted of two counts of theft after a jury trial. The trial court merged the two counts and sentenced Defendant to a twelve-year sentence. On appeal, Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of a continuance and the sufficiency of the evidence. After a review, we determine Defendant waived the issue with respect to the continuance for failure to raise the issue in a motion for new trial and failure to present an adequate record on appeal. Additionally, we determine the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/17
State of Tennessee v. Jaymes Harrison
M2016-01875-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The Appellant, Jaymes Harrison, is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/17
State of Tennessee v. Wynell Ford
W2016-01515-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Wynell Ford, pled guilty in the Madison County Circuit Court to convicted felon in possession of a firearm with a prior violent felony, a Class C felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a multiple offender to ten years in the Department of Correction at thirty-five percent. On appeal, he challenges the trial court’s denial of his request for alternative sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the sentencing determinations of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Corey Jermaine Hart
W2016-00565-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant, Corey Jermaine Hart, appeals from the trial court’s dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 for failure to assert a colorable claim. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
Michael Clark v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01013-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Michael Clark (“the Petitioner”) was indicted for second degree murder and attempted second degree murder in a single indictment. In his first trial, the Petitioner was convicted of attempted second degree murder, and a mistrial was declared as to the charge of second degree murder. In the second trial, the Petitioner was convicted of the lesser-included offense of voluntary manslaughter. The Petitioner was sentenced to twenty years as a multiple offender for attempted second degree murder and to fifteen years as a persistent offender for voluntary manslaughter to be served consecutively. The Petitioner filed a single petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel in both trials, which the post-conviction court denied following a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel during his first trial are properly before this court, that first and second trial counsel’s representations were deficient, and that he was prejudiced by those deficiencies. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief from the judgment entered in the second trial and dismiss the Petitioner’s appeal related to the judgment entered in the first trial because the petition was not filed within one year of the date our supreme court denied the application for permission to appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Octavius Flynn and Derrick Benson
W2015-01648-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Defendants, Octavius Flynn and Derrick Benson, appeal their convictions for second degree murder and their respective sentences of twenty-five and twenty-four years. On appeal, the Defendants argue, either individually or collectively, that (1) the trial court erred in denying their motions to sever; (2) a witness’s identification of Mr. Flynn in a photographic array was unreliable and should have been suppressed; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions; (4) the trial court erred in denying Mr. Flynn’s motion to dismiss due to spoliation of evidence; (5) the jury failed to follow the trial court’s instructions and improperly compromised on a verdict of second degree murder; and (6) the sentences are excessive. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Robert Grisham
E2015-02446-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Robert Grisham, was convicted of observation without consent, unlawful photography, and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. In this appeal of right, the Defendant challenges the following: (1) the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the deleted files retrieved from his cell phone using highly-sophisticated equipment; (2) the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction for especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, arguing that there was insufficient proof of “sexual activity” by “lascivious exhibition” on the video; and (3) the trial court’s enhancement of his sentencing term for especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor to nine years by utilizing the abuse of private trust enhancement factor. In light of our supreme court’s recent decision in State v. Whited, 506 S.W.3d 416 (Tenn. 2016), we conclude that the proof was insufficient to support the element of sexual activity and are, therefore, required to reverse and vacate the Defendant’s conviction for especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. However, because the proof is sufficient to support the lesser-included offense of attempted especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, which was charged to the jury, we remand this matter to the trial court for entry of an amended judgment reflecting a conviction for attempt and for resentencing on this modified conviction. The Defendant’s convictions for unlawful photography and observation without consent are affirmed. Accordingly, the trial court’s judgments are affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case is remanded for a new sentencing hearing.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
In Re Travis H.
E2016-02250-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dennis Roach, II

Father appeals the termination of his parental rights on grounds of: (1) failure to substantially comply with permanency plans; (2) abandonment by failure to establish a suitable home; (3) persistence of conditions, (4) abandonment by an incarcerated parent for wanton disregard; and (5) abandonment by an incarcerated parent for willful failure to support. We vacate the trial court’s determination regarding the ground of abandonment by an incarcerated parent for willful failure to support, but otherwise affirm the trial court’s determinations regarding the remaining grounds for termination. We likewise affirm the trial court’s determination that termination of Father’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest. Accordingly, we affirm the termination of Father’s parental rights.

Jefferson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Reginold C. Steed
M2016-01405-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Reginold C. Steed, of attempted voluntary manslaughter, especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault. The trial court merged the aggravated assault conviction into the especially aggravated robbery conviction and imposed an effective sentence of twenty-seven years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the jury returned inconsistent verdicts; (2) the trial court erred in declining to merge the attempted voluntary manslaughter conviction into the especially aggravated robbery conviction; and (3) his sentences are excessive. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Carvin L. Thomas
M2016-01813-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Appellant, Carvin L. Thomas, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence in the Davidson County Criminal Court pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion, and the Appellant appeals the ruling. Based upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
Justin Parliment v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00945-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The Petitioner, Justin Parliment, was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in a penal institution and sentenced to eight years to be served consecutively to a previously-imposed twenty-three-year sentence for second degree murder. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, and the post-conviction court denied the petition. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Bobby E. Lee
M2016-02084-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The Defendant, Bobby E. Lee, appeals his sentence of confinement after being convicted of two counts of delivery of Oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days at seventy-five percent release eligibility.  The Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing the maximum sentence and a term of incarceration.  After thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Clay County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Antonio Ricketts
M2016-00816-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The Defendant, Thomas Antonio Ricketts, entered guilty pleas in the Davidson County Criminal Court to two counts of facilitation of aggravated child abuse and one count of facilitation of aggravated child neglect.  The trial court imposed concurrent ten-year sentences for each count, to be served in confinement.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that his sentence was excessive and that the trial court erred in denying an alternative sentence.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Henry Darnell Talley
M2016-01632-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant, Henry Darnell Talley, pleaded guilty to attempted first degree premeditated murder, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, reckless aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, convicted felon in possession of a weapon, and violation of an order of protection. The plea agreement provided sentences for all of the convictions except for the attempted first degree murder conviction which was to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve twenty-three years for the attempted first degree murder conviction. The trial court also ordered partial consecutive sentencing, resulting in a total effective sentence of thirty-three years. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the twenty-three year sentence imposed is excessive. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Johnson
W2016-00346-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles C. McGinley

The Defendant, Christopher Johnson, was convicted by a Hardin County Jury of possession of mushrooms with intent to manufacture, deliver, or sell, possession of mushrooms, possession of drug paraphernalia, and unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. As a Range II, multiple offender, he received an effective sentence of fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant claims: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction of unlawful possession of a weapon by a convicted felon; (2) the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress; (3) the trial court improperly admitted a redacted audio recording of the Defendant’s interview with police at trial; and (4) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by failing to provide discoverable evidence and improperly quoting a witness during closing argument. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand for entry of a corrected judgment form as to count four reflecting that the Defendant was found not guilty of possession of marijuana.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/17
State of Tennessee v. Juan Cerano
W2015-02234-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

The Defendant, Juan Cerano, was convicted of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. The trial court merged the aggravated sexual battery conviction into the rape of a child conviction and sentenced the Defendant to thirty years in prison. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to produce records from the Department of Children’s Services regarding prior allegations of abuse after an in camera inspection. After 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 05/04/17
State of Tennessee v. Michael Dewayne Hall
E2015-02173-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The Defendant, Michael Dewayne Hall, was convicted by a Blount County Jury of sale or delivery of cocaine under 0.5 grams in the drug-free zone of a public park, a Class C felony, and sale or delivery of cocaine over 0.5 grams in the drug-free zone of a public park, a Class B felony. As a career offender, he received an effective sentence of thirty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant claims: (1) the trial court improperly admitted a map into evidence at trial; (2) the trial court improperly denied his motion to dismiss the indictment; (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; and (4) the trial court improperly acted as thirteenth juror to approve the jury’s verdict. We conclude that the trial court properly admitted the map, denied the motion to dismiss, and acted as thirteenth juror, and that the evidence is sufficient to sustain the Defendant’s convictions. However, after a plain error review, the duplicitous nature of the Defendant’s convictions for “sale or delivery” of cocaine constitutes reversible error and violates the Defendant’s fundamental and substantial right to a unanimous jury verdict. Accordingly, we reverse, vacate, and dismiss the Defendant’s convictions.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/17
Henry Epps v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00626-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Henry Epps (“the Petitioner”) entered a best interest plea to six counts of sexual exploitation of a minor; the remaining nine counts of sexual exploitation of a minor were dismissed per the negotiated plea agreement.  The Petitioner received an effective sentence of eight years with release eligibility after service of 100% of the sentence in the Department of Correction.  The Petitioner filed an original and an amended petition for post-conviction relief.  After an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that trial counsel’s performance was deficient in failing to subpoena the Petitioner’s computer forensic expert to testify at trial and in failing to inform the Petitioner until the Friday before his Monday trial that the expert had not been subpoenaed.  Petitioner claims that absent trial counsel’s deficient performance, the Petitioner would have proceeded to trial, and therefore the Petitioner’s best interest plea was entered involuntarily.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we reverse and remand for a new post-conviction hearing.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/17
State of Tennessee v. Dequan Hasani Bertrand
M2016-00920-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Dequan Hasani Bertrand, of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.  The jury acquitted the Defendant of one count of aggravated rape and was unable to reach a verdict as to two other counts of aggravated rape.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to a total effective sentence of twenty-four years.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it admitted the victim’s identification of him; (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; and (3) the trial court erred when it sentenced him to the maximum sentences within his range and ordered his sentences to run consecutively.  After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/17
State of Tennessee v. Jacqueline Allen
M2014-01475-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge George C. Sexton

The Defendant, Jacqueline Allen, was found guilty by a Humphreys County Circuit Court jury of assault, a Class A misdemeanor, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-101 (2010) (amended 2013), 39-17-1307 (2010) (amended 2012, 2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as Range I, standard offender to an effective two years’ probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by failing to inquire about a violation of the sequestration rule pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 615. We conclude that the appeal should be dismissed because the Defendant’s motion for a new trial was untimely.

Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/03/17
State of Tennessee v. Bobby Joe Campbell
E2016-00389-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

The defendant, Bobby Joe Campbell, appeals his Sullivan County Criminal Court jury conviction of second offense driving under the influence (“DUI”), arguing that the trial court committed plain error by failing to declare a mistrial following certain comments from a member of the jury, that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, and that the sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgment of the trial court but remand the case for the entry of a corrected judgment that reflects the 180-day period of confinement ordered by the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/02/17
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Braden
M2015-00991-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The Appellee, Thomas Braden, was indicted for possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, and possession of Alprazolam, all misdemeanors.  He filed a motion to suppress the evidence, arguing that the affidavit in support of the search warrant for the home in which the drugs were found was defective because it failed to establish ongoing criminal activity at the residence, and the Maury County Circuit Court granted the motion.  The State appealed to this court, and we concluded that the trial court properly granted the motion to suppress.   The Tennessee Supreme Court granted the State’s application for permission to appeal and remanded the case to this court for reconsideration in light of the court’s recent opinion in State v. Jerry Lewis Tuttle, ___ S.W.3d ___, M2014-00566-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 5812945 (Tenn. Apr. 5, 2017), which overruled State v. Jacumin, 778 S.W.2d 430 (Tenn. 1989), and adopted a totality-of-the-circumstances analysis for determining whether an affidavit establishes probable cause for issuance of a search warrant.  Upon reconsideration, we again conclude that the trial court properly granted the motion to suppress.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/02/17
State of Tennessee v. David Scott Hall
M2015-02402-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The Appellant, David Scott Hall, was convicted in the Davidson County Criminal Court of attempted especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class C felony, and sentenced to four years to be served as one year in confinement and the remainder on supervised probation.  On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, that the trial court erred by allowing an expert witness to give irrelevant and highly prejudicial testimony, that he is entitled to coram nobis relief, that his right to a speedy trial was violated, that the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce evidence without showing a proper chain of custody, that the trial court erred by allowing the State to play only a portion of a controlled telephone call to the Appellant, that the trial court erred by allowing the victim to testify about habit, that the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce into evidence a letter supposedly written by the Appellant, and that the trial court erred by allowing the State to make improper closing arguments.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction, that the trial court erred by allowing a witnesses to give irrelevant testimony but that the error was harmless, that the Appellant is not entitled to coram nobis relief, and that his right to a speedy trial was not violated.  Finding no plain error as to the remaining issues, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/02/17
State of Tennessee v. John N. Porterfield
W2016-01012-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Defendant, John N. Porterfield, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. Because the challenged sentences are expired, the Defendant is not entitled relief. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/28/17
Raquel Hayes v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01385-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Petitioner, Raquel Hayes, appeals from the dismissal of her petition for postconviction relief. At oral argument, the State acknowledged that the post-conviction court erred, and we agree. As a result, the judgment of the Criminal Court is reversed and the matter is remanded for a full evidentiary hearing.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/28/17