Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 03/30/2015
Format: 03/30/2015
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Brian Darnell
M2013-02540-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

In this appeal pursuant to Rule 37 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defendant, Christopher Brian Darnell, appeals two certified questions of law that arose from the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence obtained via wiretapping:  (1) whether the State provided the defendant with timely and adequate notice that his cellular telephone communications had been intercepted by law enforcement officers and (2) whether the State failed to show the required necessity in its application to monitor the defendant’s telephone communications.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/14
Shawn Hatcher v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01767-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Shawn Hatcher, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that his trial counsel was ineffective for not putting on expert proof to support his defense theory of diminished capacity and that the post-conviction court erred by relying on Denton v. State and Black v. State to deny his petition on the basis that he failed to present the expert witness’ proposed trial testimony at the evidentiary hearing. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/14
Derrick Garrin v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00052-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Derrick Garrin, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, which petition challenged his 1994 Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of two counts of felony murder and two counts of attempted second degree murder on grounds that his sentence was imposed in contravention of Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/20/14
State of Tennessee v. Silio Hilerio-Alfaro, Pablo Chavez and Isidro Perez
W2013-01819-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bernie Weinman

The Defendant-Appellant, Silio Hilerio-Alfaro, was convicted as charged by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of one count of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell, one count of possession of .5 grams of more of cocaine with the intent to deliver, and one count of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court merged the delivery count with the sale count and imposed an effective sentence of eleven years. On appeal, the Defendant-Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his convictions. Upon review, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and vacate the Defendant-Appellant’s convictions.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/19/14
Demond Hughlett v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02159-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker III

The Petitioner, Demond Hughlett, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that counsel was ineffective in failing to obtain a determination from a medical expert or the court regarding his competency to stand trial and in failing to inform him of his right to file a motion to reduce his sentence or to appeal his sentence. The Petitioner also argues that counsel’s errors rendered his guilty plea involuntary and unknowing. Upon review, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/19/14
State of Tennessee v. Jaleel Jovan Stovall
W2013-02553-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Defendant, Jaleel Jovan Stovall, was convicted by a jury of rape of a child, and the trial court imposed a twenty-five-year sentence at 100% for this conviction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction beyond a reasonable doubt because he was mistaken as to the victim’s age. Deeming the evidence sufficient, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Terry Norris
W2000-00707-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

In this procedurally complex case, a Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Terry Norris, of second degree murder in 1999, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-one years of incarceration. After several proceedings and filings, discussed in detail below, the U.S. Sixth Circuit granted the Defendant habeas corpus relief unless the State allowed the Defendant to reopen his original direct appeal and raise an issue regarding whether his confession should have been suppressed pursuant to County of Riverside v. McLaughlin, 500 U.S. 44 (1991). The State allowed the Defendant to reopen his appeal. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress his confession to police because he gave his confession after being held for more than forty-eight hours without a probable cause hearing. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we conclude that we must address the issue before us for plain error. After conducting our plain error review, we conclude that the Defendant is not entitled to relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
James E. Hurd v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00137-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan Jr.

The Petitioner, James E. Hurd, appeals as of right from the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to obtain certain discovery materials, failing to adequately communicate with him, and failing to interview and call several character witnesses at trial. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
Travis F. Chapman v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02059-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan Jr.

Petitioner, Travis F. Chapman, pled guilty to attempted second degree murder and was sentenced to twelve years in incarceration as a Range I, Standard Offender. Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary. The postconviction court denied relief, finding that Petitioner failed to prove his claims by clear and convincing evidence. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Caronna
W2013-00845-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant-Appellant, Joseph Caronna, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of first degree murder of his wife and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that his right to a speedy trial was violated and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. He also argues that the trial court erred in admitting certain evidence, including prior acts of financial fraud; bad acts relating to the victim’s mother; an extramarital affair; and the victim’s statements concerning the closing on a new house. After a thorough review, we discern no reversible error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
Steve Carl King v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01722-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The Petitioner, Steve Carl King, appeals the Giles County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of attempted first degree premeditated murder and resulting twenty-two-year sentence.  On appeal, the Petitioner raises numerous claims regarding his receiving the ineffective assistance of counsel.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Eric T. Gilbert
M2014-00473-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael R. Jones

The defendant, Eric T. Gilbert, appeals the Robertson County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the balance of his five-year sentence in confinement.  Discerning no error, we affirm

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
Marty Joe Kelley v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02485-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Corlew, III

The Petitioner, Marty Joe Kelley, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for five counts of rape of a child, three counts of aggravated sexual battery, nine counts of rape without consent, eighteen counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, and two counts of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor and resulting effective sentence of thirty-six years to be served at 100%.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Atosha Dominique Moore
M2013-02552-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The appellant, Atosha Dominique Moore, pled guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to two counts of aggravated robbery, and the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, he challenges the length of the sentences imposed by the trial court.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/14
Richard Cleveland Martin v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02480-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Richard Cleveland Martin, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and first degree felony murder committed during the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate a kidnapping.  Following merger, the trial court sentenced him to life in prison.  After an unsuccessful direct appeal, petitioner filed this petition for post-conviction relief alleging the following claims of ineffective assistance of counsel: (1) failure to ensure that petitioner understood the trial process; (2) failure to request a mental health examination; (3) failure to view the crime scene or interview and develop potential witnesses; and (4) failure to analyze or review a supplemental DNA Report.  Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/17/14
Gary Dwayne Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02034-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The petitioner, Gary Dwayne Johnson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  He stands convicted of multiple charges based upon his actions following his escape from custody at a hospital where he was being treated.  He was sentenced, as a career offender, to an effective term of one hundred and forty-one years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, he contends that the post-conviction court erred in its denial because he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel.  Specifically, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to adequately investigate the case and potential exonerating evidence; (2) failing to pursue a motion for severance; (3) failing to include all issues in the motion for new trial; and (4) failing to file mitigating factors and provide adequate representation at the sentencing hearing.  Following review of the record, we conclude that the post-conviction court properly denied relief.  As such, the judgment of the court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
Gary Dwayne Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02034-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The petitioner, Gary Dwayne Johnson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  He stands convicted of multiple charges based upon his actions following his escape from custody at a hospital where he was being treated.  He was sentenced, as a career offender, to an effective term of one hundred and forty-one years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, he contends that the post-conviction court erred in its denial because he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel.  Specifically, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to adequately investigate the case and potential exonerating evidence; (2) failing to pursue a motion for severance; (3) failing to include all issues in the motion for new trial; and (4) failing to file mitigating factors and provide adequate representation at the sentencing hearing.  Following review of the record, we conclude that the post-conviction court properly denied relief.  As such, the judgment of the court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
Nathaniel Carson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00422-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Jude D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth Norman

The Petitioner, Nathaniel Carson, appeals as of right from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call a second alibi witness and failing to request a bill of particulars.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
State of Tennessee v. Charles Godspower
M2013-00721-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg

The appellant, Charles Godspower, pled guilty in the Rutherford County Circuit Court to second degree murder and attempted first degree murder, Class A felonies, and received concurrent 30-year sentences to be served at 100% and 35%, respectively.  On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to reduce his sentences.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/14
State of Tennessee v. Corrin Kathleen Reynolds - separate concurring
E2013-02309-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Sword
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Corrin Kathleen Reynolds
E2013-02309-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter, Sp.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Sword

Defendant, Corrin Kathleen Reynolds, was charged with several criminal offenses, including driving under the influence, after she was involved in a fatal car accident in Knox County. While Defendant was at the hospital being treated for her injuries, a blood sample was taken for law enforcement purposes. Defendant filed motions seeking to suppress the results of the blood analysis. After two hearings, the trial court granted Defendant’s motion. The trial court and this Court granted the State’s request to pursue an interlocutory appeal. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we determine that the record supports the trial court’s conclusion that Defendant did not give actual consent to the contested blood draw. However, the record preponderates against the trial court’s conclusion that Officer Strzelecki lacked probable cause to believe that Defendant had consumed alcohol. Therefore, we determine that the warrantless blood draw was proper under subsection (f)(1) of the implied consent statute because Defendant did not refuse the blood draw. Accordingly, Defendant’s blood test results are not subject to suppression on the grounds argued; we reverse the trial court’s grant of Defendant’s motion to suppress and remand this matter for further proceedings.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Stephen Rene Morris
M2013-01265-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley

The defendant, Stephen Rene Morris, was convicted of Class A misdemeanor assault and sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days, which was suspended to supervised probation.  The defendant now appeals his conviction asserting: (1) that the trial court erred by instructing the jury that misdemeanor assault is a lesser included offense of Class E felony abuse of an adult, the original charge; and (2) that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction.  Following review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did err in instructing the jury, but the resulting error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  Additionally, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction.  As such, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Alajemba
M2013-00968-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg

The defendant, Jonathan Alajemba, appeals his Rutherford County Circuit Court jury convictions of felony murder, second degree murder, attempted first degree murder, attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and facilitation of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated robbery, claiming a violation of his right to a speedy trial; that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the statement he made to police and his motion for transcription of witness statements; that the trial court erred by declaring a witness unavailable for the purpose of admitting prior testimony; that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions of first degree felony murder, facilitation of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated robbery, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary; that the trial court made several erroneous evidentiary rulings; and that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument.  Because the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions of aggravated burglary and felony murder in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate a burglary, those convictions are reversed, and the charges are dismissed.  The felony murder convictions predicated upon robbery and theft remain unaffected.  The trial court’s judgments are affirmed in all other respects.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
Derrick Taylor v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02053-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Wright

The petitioner, Derrick Taylor, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that his guilty pleas were knowing and voluntary. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Deangelo Sevier v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00363-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The petitioner, Deangelo Sevier, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14