Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 10/22/2017
Format: 10/22/2017
Rathal Y. Perkins v. State of Tennessee
M2016-02047-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The petitioner, Rathal Y. Perkins, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which challenged his 1995 Haywood County Circuit Court jury conviction of first degree murder. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Robert Guerrero
M2016-00481-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Defendant, Robert Guerrero, appeals from the trial court’s summary denial of his Motion for Correction of Illegal Sentence filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure (Tenn. R. Crim. P.) 36.1.  In his motion and on appeal, Defendant asserts that his nine consecutive fifteen-year sentences for nine convictions of attempted first degree murder are illegal.  He asserts that by imposing consecutive sentencing, the trial court failed to base its ruling on at least one of seven criteria found in Tennessee Code Annotated (T.C.A.) section 40-35-115.  After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/17
Larry Peoples v. State of Tennessee
E2016-02315-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

The Petitioner, Larry Peoples, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, challenging his conviction of violation of sex offender registration and sentence of one year. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he is entitled to post-conviction relief because the underlying sex offense was vacated and he is no longer required to register as a sex offender. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/17
Travarious White v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01773-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The petitioner, Travarious D. White, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/17
Paul Richardson v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02189-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The petitioner, Paul Richardson, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/17
State of Tennessee v. Perry Mitchell Kirkman
M2016-02248-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant, Perry Mitchell Kirkman, pleaded guilty to two counts aggravated sexual battery in 2010 and received a fifteen-year sentence as a Range II offender. Six years later, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1 requesting that the trial court correct an illegal sentence because his sentence exceeds the sentencing range for a Range I offender convicted of a Class B felony. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion after determining that the Defendant knowingly and voluntarily pleaded guilty and agreed to a sentence outside the appropriate sentencing range pursuant to Hicks v. State, 945 S.W.2d 706 (Tenn. 1997).1 On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in dismissing his motion. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/17
State of Tennessee v. Rafael Antonio Bush
M2016-01537-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

The Appellant, Rafael Antonio Bush, appeals as of right from the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The gravamen of the Appellant’s complaint is that the trial court improperly enhanced his sentences based upon judicially determined facts in violation of Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). Following our review, we affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/17
State of Tennessee v. Jerome Antonio McElrath
W2015-01794-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

The State appeals the suppression of evidence by the Obion County Circuit Court. The defendant, Jerome Antonio McElrath, was arrested on two separate occasions for criminal trespass. The searches of the defendant’s person incident to those arrests produced marijuana in the amounts of 10.1 grams and 4.0 grams, respectively. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court granted the defendant’s motion to suppress the evidence seized incident to his arrests and dismissed the charges. The State argues that the arresting officer had probable cause to arrest the defendant and, therefore, the search incident to each arrest was lawful. Furthermore, the State contends that the evidence was legally obtained because the officer acted in good-faith reliance on information provided by dispatch. After review, we affirm the decision of the trial court.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/31/17
State of Tennessee v. John Alfred Waters
M2016-00522-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The Defendant, John Alfred Waters, appeals as of right from his convictions for aggravated assault, violation of an order of protection, and attempted aggravated burglary. The Defendant contends (1) that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions for aggravated assault as charged in counts 6, 7, and 8; (2) that the trial court erred when it admitted evidence of the Defendant’s previous conviction for violating an order of protection; and (3) that the trial court erred in allowing a police officer to testify that one of the victims was the “most terrified” victim he had ever seen because such evidence was irrelevant and unduly prejudicial. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/31/17
Antonio L. Fuller v. Blair Leibach, Warden
M2016-02514-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

The Petitioner, Antonio L. Fuller, appeals as of right from the Trousdale County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Petitioner contends that the petition stated a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/31/17
Davarius Smith v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00345-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

The Petitioner, Davarius Smith, appeals as of right from the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he was entitled to post-conviction relief based on the following alleged violations of his constitutional rights: (1) that the State withheld exculpatory evidence; (2) that, alternatively, he received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel regarding this undisclosed evidence; (3) that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel due to trial counsel’s failure to file a motion to suppress a witness’ prior identification of the Petitioner; and (4) that he received ineffective assistance of appellate counsel due to appellate counsel’s failure to challenge an allegedly impermissible comment by the prosecutor during closing arguments and to properly challenge a special jury instruction provided by the trial court. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/31/17
State of Tennessee v. Ebony Marshall
W2015-01835-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Defendant, Ebony Marshall, was convicted upon his guilty pleas of two counts of robbery, a Class C felony. He was sentenced to terms of twelve and thirteen years as a persistent, Range III offender for the offenses. The sentences were imposed to run consecutively, for an effective sentence of twenty-five years. The Defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, which the trial court denied. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas, (2) the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences, and (3) he was denied his rights to due process and self-representation in the trial court proceedings. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/31/17
Deadrick Garrett v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01519-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Deadrick Garrett (“the Petitioner”) appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his conviction for first-degree premeditated murder and resulting life sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to: (1) communicate with the Petitioner and adequately explain criminal and trial procedure; (2) review discovery with the Petitioner, including witness statements and forensic evidence; (3) have the Petitioner evaluated by a mental health expert and pursue a diminished capacity theory of defense; (4) anticipate that the trial court would deny a self-defense jury instruction and develop a viable alternative defense; and (5) object to the Petitioner’s demonstrating on crossexamination that he could open the knife used in the murder with one hand. The Petitioner further asserts that trial counsel improperly: (6) advised a defense witness to be hostile towards the victim; (7) instructed the Petitioner to “cry on cue”; and (8) fabricated the Petitioner’s trial testimony “so as to create some justification for [the Petitioner’s] stabbing [the victim].” After a thorough review of the appellate record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/31/17
David E. Scott v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01184-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Defendant, Scottie R. Buckles, pled guilty in ten separate cases to a total of sixty-three separate offenses for which he received an effective sentence of fifteen years as a Range II, multiple offender. The trial court denied alternative sentencing after a hearing. Defendant appeals the denial of alternative sentencing on the basis that the trial court failed to consider whether Defendant should be sentenced under the special needs provision of the Community Corrections Act. After a review, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/30/17
State of Tennessee v. Scottie R. Buckles
E2016-01645-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

Defendant, Scottie R. Buckles, pled guilty in ten separate cases to a total of sixty-three separate offenses for which he received an effective sentence of fifteen years as a Range II, multiple offender. The trial court denied alternative sentencing after a hearing. Defendant appeals the denial of alternative sentencing on the basis that the trial court failed to consider whether Defendant should be sentenced under the special needs provision of the Community Corrections Act. After a review, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/30/17
State of Tennessee v. Charlene Trussell
E2016-00003-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The Defendant, Charlene Trussell, was found guilty by a Bledsoe County Circuit Court jury of three counts of delivery of a controlled substance, three counts of the attempted sale of a controlled substance, and felony possession of drug paraphernalia. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417 (Supp. 2013) (amended 2014) (sale and delivery); 39-17-425 (2014) (drug paraphernalia); 39-12-101 (criminal attempt) (2014). The trial court merged the delivery convictions into the attempted sale convictions and sentenced the Defendant to an effective three years’ probation. The court did not impose sentences or enter judgment forms for the delivery convictions. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions and (2) as a matter of plain error, evidence of the confidential informant’s previous statements were inadmissible hearsay, violated the Defendant’s right to confront and cross-examine witnesses, and were inadmissible because the probative value was substantially outweighed by the prejudicial impact. Although we affirm the Defendant’s convictions, we remand the case to the trial court for the imposition of sentences and the entry of judgments for the delivery of a controlled substance convictions, merger of the attempted sale convictions into the delivery convictions, and entry of corrected judgments for the attempted sale convictions.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/30/17
Alejandro Avila Salazar v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01336-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

The Petitioner, Alejandro Avila Salazar, appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Wayne County Circuit Court. The Petitioner previously entered guilty pleas to second degree murder and attempted aggravated rape, for which he received an effective sentence of forty years' confinement. On appeal, he argues that he is entitled to withdraw his guilty plea because his sentence for attempted aggravated rape is illegal and was a material, bargained-for element of his plea agreement. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/30/17
State of Tennessee v. Rafael Moreno, Jr.
M2016-01305-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

Defendant, Rafael Moreno, Jr., pled guilty to one count of aggravated statutory rape. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him to a three-year sentence of incarceration as a Range I, standard offender. Defendant appeals the trial court’s denial of judicial diversion and/or an alternative sentence. Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Perry County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/30/17
Jackie F. Curry v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01893-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Petitioner, Jackie F. Curry, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to reopen post-conviction proceedings. Petitioner argues that the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Lafler v. Cooper, 566 U.S. 156 (2012), established a new rule of constitutional law that should be applied retroactively to his case. Because Petitioner failed to follow the statutory requirements to seek discretionary review of a motion to reopen, this Court does not have jurisdiction, and we dismiss the appeal.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/17
Courtney R. Logan v. Shawn Phillips, Warden
E2016-01535-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey H. Wicks

The Petitioner, Courtney R. Logan, appeals as of right from the Morgan County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Petitioner challenges his long-ago extradition to the state of Mississippi. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/17
Kenneth J. Cradic v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01082-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Petitioner, Kenneth J. Cradic, appeals as of right from the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis relief. The Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred in denying his petition because he presented newly discovered evidence of his actual innocence through a new witness who would discredit the victim’s trial testimony and evidence that the victim recanted her trial testimony on numerous occasions since the trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/17
State of Tennessee v. Nathan Bernard Lalone
E2016-00439-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rebecca J. Stern

Defendant, Nathan Bernard Lalone, was convicted of one count of first degree murder and one count of attempted first degree murder. He raises the following issues on appeal: (1) the trial court erred in denying a motion to suppress his statement to police because he had invoked his right to remain silent; (2) the trial court erred in denying a motion for leave to file an interlocutory appeal of the suppression issue; (3) the trial court erred in denying a motion for judgment of acquittal and motion for new trial because the accomplice testimony was not sufficiently corroborated; (4) the trial court erred in allowing the State to play a videotaped interview of a witness as a prior inconsistent statement; and (5) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. Upon our review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress and that the error was not harmless. Furthermore, we conclude that the trial court committed plain error in admitting a witness’s recorded statement into evidence without following the Rules of Evidence with regard to prior inconsistent statements. For these two reasons, we reverse Defendant’s convictions and remand the case for a new trial.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/25/17
State of Tennessee v. Eric Dwayne Wilson
M2016-00822-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

Defendant, Eric Dwayne Wilson, in a jury trial, was convicted of third offense driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), and of violating the implied consent law following a bench trial. Defendant pleaded nolo contendere to failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to have each required lamp and stoplight in operating condition. Defendant received a sentence of eleven months, twenty-nine days, with three hundred days of confinement in the county jail and the remainder of the sentence on supervised probation. He was also ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, and his license was revoked for six years. Concerning the implied consent violation, the judgment form indicates that Defendant’s driver’s license was revoked for one year “consecutive to any revocation or suspension currently in effect.” Defendant was also sentenced to thirty days each for failure to stop at a stop sign and failure to have each required lamp and stoplight in operating condition to be served concurrently with the DUI charge. On appeal, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for DUI and that there was no proof relating to the implied consent form and the search warrant. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/25/17
Stephen Wayne Shreve v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01743-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

The Petitioner, Stephen Wayne Shreve, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his guilty pleas to two counts of aggravated burglary, one count of attempted aggravated burglary, and two counts of theft and his effective ten-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was given an illegal sentence and that he entered his guilty pleas involuntarily and unknowingly. We affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Gregory T. Phelps
E2016-00918-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The Defendant, Gregory T. Phelps, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s revocation of his probation for his convictions for felony drug possession and unlawful possession of a firearm and order that he serve his effective four-year sentence in confinement. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/17