Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/16/2014
Format: 04/16/2014
State of Tennessee v. Henry Bates
W2012-02718-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

Appellant, Henry Bates, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of aggravated robbery, burglary of a building, and vandalism of $1,000 or more. The trial court sentenced Appellant to an effective sentence of forty-two years. On appeal, Appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for aggravated robbery and that the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that both issues are without merit. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Jackie Wayne Miller
M2013-01188-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Crigler

The Defendant, Jackie Wayne Miller, pled guilty to initiation of the process of manufacturing methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia, with the trial court to determine the length and manner of the sentences. The trial court subsequently ordered the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of eight years and three months in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the trial court erred when it denied his request for alternative sentencing. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Downey
M2013-01099-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry Wallace

Jonathan Downey (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of first degree felony murder, criminally negligent homicide, and aggravated burglary. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment for the felony murder and then merged the latter two convictions with the felony murder conviction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was not sufficient to support his conviction of first degree felony murder. The State asks this Court to reverse the trial court’s merger of the aggravated burglary conviction. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the Defendant’s conviction of first degree felony murder. We order the trial court to reinstate the Defendant’s conviction of aggravated burglary and remand this matter for sentencing on that conviction.

Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Shawn Christopher Sales
M2013-01510-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg

The Defendant, Shawn Christopher Sales, pled guilty to robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to 163 days in confinement followed by fifteen years to be served in Community Corrections. In March 2013, the Defendant’s Community Corrections officer filed a second affidavit alleging the Defendant had violated his Community Corrections sentence, and, after a hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends the trial court erred when it revoked his Community Corrections sentence because the State presented insufficient evidence to support the revocation. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court did not err when it revoked the Defendant’s Community Corrections sentence, and we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Troy Lynn Fox
M2013-00579-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David E. Durham

The Defendant, Troy Lynn Fox, was convicted of the first degree premeditated murder of his wife and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) whether the trial court erred by admitting certain photographs into evidence—one, a photograph of the murder victim that was taken while she was alive and, two, multiple photographs of the crime scene and of the victim’s injuries, taken both at the scene and during the autopsy; (3) whether the trial court erred by failing to conduct a jury-out hearing prior to the admission of several photographs of the victim taken at the crime scene and by describing those photographs as “gross” in front of the jury; (4) whether the trial court erred by requiring the Defendant to cross-examine the victim’s mother during the State’s case-in-chief rather than allowing the Defendant to recall her as a defense witness; (5) whether the trial court erred by prohibiting the Defendant from further development of the couple’s social, family, and marital history; (6) whether the trial court committed reversible error in its instruction to the jury on the impeachment of a witness; and (7) whether the trial court demonstrated judicial bias against the Defendant. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/14
Victor Gonzalez, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01341-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The petitioner, Victor Gonzalez, Jr., appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court should have found that due process considerations tolled the statute of limitations for filing his petition. Following our review, we conclude that the post-conviction court properly dismissed the petition on the basis that it was filed outside the one-year statute of limitations and the petitioner failed to show any reason for the statute of limitations to be tolled. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court dismissing the petition.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Donald Lee Reburn
W2013-01281-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker III

Appellee, Donald Lee Reburn, pleaded guilty to theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000. At his guilty plea submission hearing, the trial court sentenced him as a persistent offender to ten years, suspended to probation. The State has appealed and argues that the trial court erred by sentencing appellee without a sentencing hearing and without a presentence report. Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for a sentencing hearing.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Shane Powell
W2012-02657-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

A Madison County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Joseph Shane Powell, charging him with promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged in the indictment. The trial court imposed a sentence of eight years as a Range II multiple offender. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Dexter Deshaun Coleman
W2013-01450-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker III

The Defendant, Dexter Deshun Coleman, pled guilty to three counts of facilitation of especially aggravated kidnapping and one count each of especially aggravated burglary and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery. The plea agreement provided that the Defendant would receive an effective sentence of twelve years as a Range I, standard offender with the trial court to determine the manner of service of the sentence. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied the Defendant’s request for alternative sentencing and ordered that the Defendant serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion for alternative sentencing. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s judgments pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Derrick Braxton
W2013-00493-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter

Defendant, Derrick Braxton, was convicted as charged for one count of aggravated sexual battery and sentenced to ten years’ confinement to be served at 100 percent release eligibility. Defendant appeals his conviction and sentence and asserts the following: 1) the trial court erred by denying his motion for judgment of acquittal and the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; 2) his sentence is excessive; 3) the trial court failed to act as thirteenth juror; and 4) the prosecutor’s comments about Defendant’s credibility during closing argument were improper. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/14
Joseph Lamont Johnson, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2012-02310-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

The petitioner, Joseph Lamont Johnson, was convicted of two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of felony evading arrest. The trial court then reduced one of the aggravated robbery convictions to aggravated assault pursuant to State v. Franklin, 130 S.W.3d 789, 798 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2003) and sentenced the petitioner to an aggregate sentence of fifty-four years. The petitioner’s convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal. State v. Johnson, No. M2007-01644-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 2567729, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 18, 2009). The petitioner brings this post-conviction action alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel in that: (1) trial counsel failed to convey a plea offer or inform the petitioner regarding his potential exposure; (2) trial counsel did not adequately investigate the case; (3) trial counsel performed deficiently by not moving to dismiss one of the aggravated robbery counts; (4) trial counsel performed deficiently by not moving to suppress a witness’s identification of the petitioner; (5) appellate counsel performed deficiently by failing to challenge the petitioner’s sentencing range; and (6) that the cumulative errors above resulted in the deprivation of the right to counsel. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the petitioner has failed to prove one or both prongs of a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel with respect to each claim, and we accordingly affirm the denial of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/14
Auqeith Lashawn Byner v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00486-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

Petitioner, Auqeith Lashawn Byner, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for one count of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school with the intent to sell or deliver and one count of reckless driving. After a jury trial, he was convicted as charged. As a result, he was sentenced to a sixteen-year sentence for the possession of cocaine with intent to sell conviction and six months for reckless driving, to be served concurrently to each other but consecutively to the sentence in another case 2007-D-3157. Petitioner initiated a direct appeal of his convictions but dismissed the appeal voluntarily. Petitioner later sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Petitioner appealed. After a review, we determine Petitioner has failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Yogonda Abdula Corley - Concurring
M2013-00464-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

I agree with the conclusion reached by the majority pertaining to the Defendant’s failure to demonstrate plain error relief on the evidentiary issues in this case. Notwithstanding the Defendant’s waiver of his challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, I write separately because the record provides ample evidence supporting each of the convictions in this case.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/26/14