Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/17/2018
Format: 06/17/2018
State of Tennessee v. William D. Lennox, Jr.
E2017-00564-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter C. Kurtz

The Defendant, William D. Lennox, Jr., appeals from the Sevier County Circuit Court’s order denying his motion to correct illegal sentences. See Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1. The Defendant’s counsel has filed a motion to withdraw pursuant to Rule 22 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. We conclude that counsel’s motion is welltaken and, in accordance with Rule 22(F), affirm the trial court’s judgments pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/26/18
State of Tennessee v. Michael Eugene Rhodes, Jr.
M2016-02558-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant, Michael Eugene Rhodes, Jr., appeals the trial court’s revocation of his community corrections sentence and resentencing him to ten years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in revoking his community corrections sentence and in increasing his sentence to ten years. Following our review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/26/18
Aaron Westbrook v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00767-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Aaron Westbrook, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel relating to the entry of his guilty plea. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/24/18
Randy Poole v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00475-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Randy Poole, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial and in filing his motion for new trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/24/18
State of Tennessee v. Christopher D. Linsey
M2017-00059-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

In May 2015, the Montgomery County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant, Christopher D. Linsey, for possession of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver, simple possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and resisting arrest. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted as charged, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant, as a Range III persistent offender, to a total effective sentence of twenty-three years. On appeal, he contends that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction for possession of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver, and he challenges his sentence as excessive. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/24/18
State of Tennessee v. Thomas J. Privett
M2017-00539-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The Defendant, Thomas J. Privett, entered a guilty plea to vehicular homicide by intoxication, with an agreed sentence length of ten years and the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. The trial court held a sentencing hearing and determined that the Defendant would serve his sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing and in fully revoking his probation on a prior conviction. After a review of the record, we determine that there was no abuse of discretion, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/24/18
Jeffrey Henry v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01821-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

Petitioner, Jeffrey Henry, was indicted in case number 13-06323 by a Shelby County Grand Jury for rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. Petitioner was also indicted in case number 13-06324 for two counts of rape of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. Petitioner entered best interest guilty pleas in both cases to each count of aggravated sexual battery in exchange for dismissal of the remaining charges. Petitioner agreed to serve an out-of-range sentence of 20 years at 100%. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his pleas were unknowingly and involuntarily entered. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/23/18
Gregory Griggs v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01427-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

Petitioner, Gregory Griggs, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On June 18, 2015, Petitioner pleaded guilty to multiple offenses: attempted first degree murder; employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; attempted aggravated robbery; possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; and evading arrest. Petitioner received an effective sentence of 24 years’ incarceration. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied post-conviction relief, finding that Petitioner failed to establish that his trial counsel’s performance was deficient or that he was prejudiced by any alleged deficiency. After a review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/23/18
Earl D. Crawford v. State of Tennessee
E2017-01336-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew Mark Freiberg

The petitioner, Earl D. Crawford, appeals pro se from the summary dismissal of his 2016 petition for post-conviction relief, which challenged his 1986 convictions of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, and armed robbery. Because the petition was filed nearly three decades beyond the applicable statute of limitations, because this is the petitioner’s second petition for post-conviction relief, 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 for filing a petition for post-conviction relief, and because there is no merit to the petitioner’s claim of sentence illegality, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/22/18
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Jones
E2016-00769-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

Defendant, Christopher Jones, appeals the trial court’s order requiring him to serve in confinement his effective two-year sentence resulting from his guilty pleas to reckless aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), simple possession of buprenophine (a Schedule III drug), and simple possession of marijuana (a Schedule VI drug). Upon reviewing the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Zackary James Childress
M2017-00753-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Zackary James Childress, entered an open guilty plea to two counts of simple possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, one count of simple possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. The trial court held a sentencing hearing and sentenced the Defendant to eleven months and twenty-nine days at seventy-five percent release eligibility on each count. On appeal, the Defendant argues that his sentences are excessive and that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. After a review of the record, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion, and we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
State of Tennessee v. William Lamont Green
M2017-00734-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Appellant, William Lamont Green, 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.          

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Jaquan Gathing and Prince Parker
W2016-02076-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Defendants, Jaquan Gathing and Prince Parker, were convicted of various offenses in connection with the robbery and assault of three victims committed with firearms and a hatchet. Mr. Gathing was convicted of attempted especially aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, facilitation of aggravated assault, facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated robbery, and he received an effective sentence of forty-seven years. Mr. Parker was convicted of facilitation of attempted especially aggravated robbery, facilitation of aggravated assault, facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery, and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery, and he received an effective sentence of twenty-six years. On appeal, Mr. Gathing relies on his brief and oral argument and challenges: (1) the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress; (2) improper comments made by the State during voir dire; (3) the insufficient chain of custody for DNA evidence; (4) improper comments made to the jury regarding the merger of offenses; and (5) the State’s failure to preserve the record for appeal. On appeal, Mr. Parker relies on his brief and challenges: (1) the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions; (2) the admission of a photograph of an alleged victim’s injuries; (3) the trial court’s application of enhancement factors to his sentences; and (4) the trial court’s decision to run his sentences consecutively. After review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand for entry of corrected judgments of Prince Parker to reflect facilitation of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, rather than with serious bodily injury, and to reflect the proper classification of facilitation of especially aggravated robbery as a Class B felony, rather than a Class C felony.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
State of Tennessee v. David Wayne Phillips
W2016-02087-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Defendant, David Wayne Phillips, was convicted by a Tipton County jury of initiating the manufacture of methamphetamine and was sentenced by the trial court to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress statements made to an officer after the Defendant consented to a search of his bedroom. The Defendant also argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
Andre Benson v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02346-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The Petitioner, Andre Benson, was convicted of aggravated robbery after a jury trial and was sentenced to serve fifteen years in prison. The Petitioner filed a timely postconviction petition, and the post-conviction court denied the petition without a hearing for failure to state a colorable claim. The Petitioner then filed a second petition, raising a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court held a hearing on the second petition, which it proceeded to deny. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of his counsel at trial and that, as a result, he is entitled to post-conviction relief. The State counters that the post-conviction court lacked jurisdiction to hear a second post-conviction petition when a prior petition was decided on the merits. Alternatively, the State argues that the petition was without merit and that the denial should be affirmed. We conclude that the post-conviction court was required by statute to dismiss the second or subsequent petition, and we affirm the denial of postconviction relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
Christopher Alan Walls v. Grady Perry, Warden
W2017-00296-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

Christopher Alan Walls, the Petitioner, filed a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, stating as his ground for relief that he was “presently restrained of his liberty by virtue of an illegal, void, and/or expired criminal conviction/sentence[.]” The Petitioner claimed that he was entitled to receive the pretrial jail credit for the time he was incarcerated in Loudon County after a hold was placed on him by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department on October 25, 2010. Therefore his sentence, after applying sentence reduction credits, expired on or about December 29, 2016. The habeas corpus court found that “the petition demonstrates no right to relief” and summarily dismissed the petition. We affirm the dismissal of the petition but remand the cause to the habeas corpus court for transfer to the Circuit Court for Jefferson County for correction of the judgments to provide the pretrial jail credit to which the Petitioner is entitled.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Howard Hinson, III
W2016-02161-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

A Hardin County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Joseph Howard Hinson, III, of selling .5 grams or more of methamphetamine within a drug-free zone, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced the Appellant as a Range II, multiple offender to sixteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Jerald Crowley
M2016-02263-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant, Christopher Jerald Crowley, was convicted by a jury of premeditated first degree murder and sentenced to imprisonment for life. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in excluding the testimony of expert witnesses about the Defendant’s mental health that the Defendant sought to present to establish that the killing was a voluntary manslaughter; (2) that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter; (3) that the trial court erred in admitting testimony from a witness about a statement the Defendant made several months before the killing; and (4) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Christopher Scott
M2016-02362-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Defendant, Brandon Christopher Scott, was sentenced to an effective twenty-five-year sentence for his guilty-pleaded convictions to attempted first degree murder and reckless endangerment. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court failed to provide adequate analysis in support of its decision to enhance his sentence to the maximum within the range for a Class A felony, failed to assign enough weight to the one mitigating factor it found applicable, and failed to apply two additional mitigating factors. Additionally, the Defendant submits that his enhanced sentence does not comport with the purposes and principles of our Sentencing Act. Following our review, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s sentencing decision.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
State of Tennessee v. James Mario Starnes
M2016-02274-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Appellant, James Mario Starnes, appeals as of right from the Bedford County Circuit Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Appellant contends that the trial court erred because his motion stated a colorable claim for relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
Thomas Ernest Young v. State of Tennessee
M2016-02333-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The Petitioner, Thomas Ernest Young, appeals as of right from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He claims entitlement to habeas corpus relief, alleging that his guilty-pleaded conviction for Class C felony possession of cocaine is void because the cocaine was obtained following his unlawful arrest, because he was the victim of vindictive prosecution, because he received ineffective assistance of counsel, and because his plea resulted from coercion. Alternatively, he submits that we should treat his petition as one seeking post-conviction relief and that the one-year statute of limitations should be tolled due to his mental incompetence. Following our review, we conclude that the Petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief and, furthermore, that tolling of the one-year limitations period for filing a post-conviction petition is not required. Therefore, we affirm summary dismissal of his petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Beauregard
W2017-00536-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan

The defendant, Douglas Beauregard, appeals his Madison County Criminal Court jury conviction of vandalism of property valued at more than $500 but less than $1,000, alleging an insufficiency of evidence and error in the sentencing and restitution decisions of the trial court. Because the record does not support either the denial of all forms of alternative sentencing or the amount of restitution ordered in this case, we reverse the imposition of a fully incarcerative sentence, vacate the restitution order, and remand the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Quantez Person
W2016-01945-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The defendant, Quantez Person, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of criminal exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (“HIV”), see T.C.A. § 39-13-109(a), arguing that the trial court erred by consolidating the charge of criminal exposure to HIV with a charge of aggravated rape of which the defendant was later acquitted, that the trial court erred by admitting health department records, and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Under the circumstances presented in this case, Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(a) barred the State from bringing the charge of criminal exposure to HIV to trial. In consequence, the defendant’s conviction is vacated, and the charge is dismissed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
State of Tennessee v. James Earnest Smith
W2016-01131-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, James Earnest Smith, was indicted for one count of rape of a child and one count of aggravated sexual battery. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual battery. The trial court merged the convictions and imposed a sentence of twelve years’ confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the sentence was excessive. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Chester County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
Joseph Cordell Brewer, III v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02106-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

Petitioner, Joseph Cordell Brewer, III, appeals from the denial of relief following a hearing on his petition for post-conviction relief. Only Petitioner and his trial counsel testified at the post-conviction hearing. Since Petitioner failed to present evidence of any prejudice to him as a result of trial counsel’s alleged deficient representation, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18