Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 09/02/2014
Format: 09/02/2014
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Harding
M2013-01637-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The defendant, Kevin Harding, was convicted of one count of facilitation of possession of marijuana, a Schedule VI drug, with the intent to sell, a Class A misdemeanor, one count of possession of cocaine with intent to sell, a Class B felony, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class D felony. The trial court sentenced the defendant to a four-year sentence for facilitation of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell, a seventeen-year sentence for possession of cocaine for resale, a sentence of 11 months and 29 days for possession of drug paraphernalia, and an eight-year sentence for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The court ordered the possession of cocaine for resale and possession of drug paraphernalia sentences to be served concurrently, and the sentence for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony to run consecutively to the sentence for possession of cocaine for resale, for an effective sentence of twenty-five years. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred when it failed to define the charge of simple possession of cocaine for the jury; that the trial court committed plain error in sentencing the defendant to serve four years for facilitation of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell; and that the trial court committed plain error in failing to require the State to elect the felony to serve as the underlying felony for possession of a firearm and failing to define “dangerous felony” for the jury. After reviewing the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court for possession with the intent to sell cocaine, reverse the judgment for facilitation because the sentence was outside the appropriate class range, and reverse the judgment for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The case is remanded for resentencing on the facilitation conviction and for a new trial on the possession of a firearm charge.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/14
James Richard Blue, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02251-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Fishburn

The petitioner, James Richard Blue, Jr., appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner pled guilty to sale of a Schedule II controlled substance over .5 grams and received an agreed-to sentence of twenty years in confinement as a Range III persistent offender. On appeal, he contends that his guilty plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily due to the ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective for allowing him to plead as a Range III offender when, because of a failure to enter corrected judgments following a remand, he was in fact only a Range II offender. Following review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/14
Michael Martez Rhodes v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01168-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The petitioner, Michael Martez Rhodes, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. In a best interest plea agreement, the petitioner pled guilty to two counts of attempted aggravated sexual battery, Class C felonies, and received two four-year sentences. The trial court subsequently ordered that the sentences be served consecutively in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the petitioner contends that his guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered due to the ineffectiveness of trial counsel. Specifically, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective because he “pushed” the petitioner to accept the guilty plea even though the petitioner maintained that he did not commit the acts for sexual gratification, an element of the offense. Following review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Harold D. Doss, Jr. and Jonathan Lamar Hathway
M2012-02201-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

A Davidson County jury convicted Harold D. Doss, Jr., of first degree felony murder, second degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated kidnapping. The jury convicted Johnathan Lamar Hathaway of first degree felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated kidnapping. The trial court merged Defendant Doss’s convictions for first degree felony murder and second degree murder and ordered Defendant Doss to serve an effective sentence of life plus thirty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The trial court ordered Defendant Hathaway to serve an effective sentence of life in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant Doss asserts that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his motion to sever; (2) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (3) the trial court erred when it admitted hearsay evidence; (4) the trial court erred when it permitted the State to amend the indictment during the trial; (5) his dual convictions for especially aggravated kidnapping and especially aggravated robbery violate his right to due process; and (6) the trial court improperly imposed consecutive sentences. Defendant Hathaway asserts that: (1) there is insufficient evidence to support his convictions; (2) the trial court improperly allowed the State to present “unreliable evidence” of cellular telephone tower technology through a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent; (3) the trial court erred when it permitted the State to amend the indictment during the trial; (4) there was juror misconduct; and (5) the trial court applied the incorrect law governing circumstantial evidence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/14
Larry W. Anderson v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02402-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker III

Petitioner, Larry W. Anderson, pled guilty to one count of aggravated burglary and one count of evading arrest in a motor vehicle with a risk of death or injury to others and was sentenced by the Davidson County trial court to serve ten years as a Range III, persistent offender. Subsequently, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus in Lauderdale County, alleging that his sentence was void because of the State’s failure to give notice of intent to seek enhanced punishment and because the original trial court did not enter judgment until more than forty-five days after Petitioner had entered his guilty plea. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition without an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Upon review of the record, we find that the Petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim and affirm the decision of the habeas corpus court dismissing the petition.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/14
Darius Jones v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01004-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter Jr.

Petitioner, Darius Jones, appeals from the trial court’s judgment which denied postconviction relief following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner argues on appeal that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel but only argues one factual allegation of ineffective assistance. Petitioner asserts that he is entitled to post-conviction relief because trial counsel failed to include in his motion for new trial the ground that the trial court erroneously denied the motion to suppress Petitioner’s statement to police. After a thorough review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/14
Jamar Ed-Wae Scott v. State of Tennessee
M2013--1723-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth Norman

The petitioner, Jamar Ed-Wae Scott, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which challenged his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of first degree murder and attempted robbery. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Wendell Todd Duberry
M2013-02121-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

Appellant, Wendell Todd Duberry, was convicted of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000 and criminal trespassing. The trial court sentenced him as a multiple offender to eight years for the theft conviction and to thirty days for the criminal trespassing conviction. On appeal, appellant contends that (1) the trial court erred by allowing the State to present evidence of victims not named in the indictment; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (3) his sentence was excessive; and (4) the trial court erred in its instructions to the jury. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Ronnie Lawrence Corral
M2013-00764-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael R. Jones

Defendant, Ronnie Corral, was indicted in a 16-count indictment for five counts of attempted first degree murder; five counts of aggravated assault; three counts of facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery; one count of aggravated robbery; one count of attempted aggravated robbery; and one count of aggravated burglary. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of five counts of facilitation of attempted first degree murder; four counts of aggravated assault; one count of facilitation of aggravated assault; four counts of facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery; one count of aggravated robbery; and one count of aggravated burglary. Defendant’s four convictions for facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery were merged with three of his aggravated assault convictions and his conviction for facilitation of aggravated assault, and his remaining aggravated assault conviction was merged with his aggravated robbery conviction. For his convictions, Defendant received a total effective sentence of ten years. Defendant appeals his convictions and sentences and asserts: 1) the trial court abused its discretion by declining to grant a mistrial after the trial court allowed inadmissible hearsay to be admitted; 2) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for aggravated robbery and facilitation to commit first degree premeditated murder; and 3) the trial court erred in sentencing Defendant to more than the minimum sentence in the applicable sentencing range. After a thorough review of the record, we find no error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Victoria Wellington
M2013-01271-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

In a bench trial, the Defendant, Victoria Wellington, was convicted of one count of DUI, first offense, and one count of felony evading arrest. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the DUI conviction and to two years for the felony evading arrest conviction. The trial court ordered that the sentences be served concurrently and be suspended after nine months, with the remainder to be served on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied her motion to suppress her statements to police. She further contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain her conviction for felony evading arrest After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Kayla Clark
M2013-02325-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

Appellant, Kayla Clark, was convicted of two counts of sale of a Schedule III controlled substance and was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent sentences of four years each, to be served in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction.  In this appeal, she challenges both the lengths of her sentences and the manner of service. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/14
State of Tennessee v. Larry Mitchell Brooks
M2013-00866-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jim T. Hamilton

Appellee, Larry Mitchell Brooks, was indicted by the Maury County Grand Jury for one count of driving under the influence, one count of violation of the open container law, one count of violation of the registration law, one count of violation of financial responsibility law, and one count of failure to maintain control.  Prior to trial, Appellee filed a motion to suppress the blood sample evidence on the basis that the State was unable to provide proper chain of custody for the sample.  After a hearing, the trial court granted the motion to suppress by written order.  The trial court entered an order of nolle prosequi.  The State filed a notice of appeal on the same day that the order of nolle prosequi was entered.  After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-410 does not require the certificate of the blood draw to include the person who took the blood specimen in order to establish chain of custody and that the evidence at the hearing on the motion to suppress adequately established the chain of custody.  Accordingly, we reverse the grant of the motion to suppress and remand the matter for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. 

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/14
State of Tennessee v. Mark A. Crites
M2013-01681-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

Appellant, Mark A. Crites, was convicted of operating a motor vehicle after being declared a habitual traffic offender, a Class E felony.  See Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-616.  The trial court sentenced him as a career offender to serve six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, appellant argues that the assistant district attorney general committed prosecutorial misconduct in her opening statement and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.   

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/14