Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/22/2014
Format: 08/22/2014
Anthony Boyland v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01226-CCA-MR3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Anthony Boyland, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree felony murder, aggravated assault, and aggravated burglary and his effective life sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/04/14
Mike Settle a/k/a Michael Dewayne Settle v. Jerry Lester, Warden, State of Tennessee
W2013-02609-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

The Petitioner, Mike Settle a/k/a Michael Dewayne Settle, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his petition seeking a writ of habeas corpus. The Petitioner contends that, because his sentence is illegal because it was ordered to run concurrently with a federal sentence he had received in another case rather than consecutively, the habeas corpus court erred when it dismissed his petition. Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the habeas corpus court properly dismissed the petition. Accordingly, the judgment of the habeas corpus court is affirmed.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Tony Demarcus Williams
E2013-00513-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Defendant, Tony Demarcus Williams, was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury for possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine within a school zone with the intent to sell and possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine within a school zone with intent to deliver. A petit jury convicted Defendant as charged, and the trial court merged the two convictions. The trial court sentenced Defendant to 15 years in confinement. Defendant asserts on appeal that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the search warrant; that accomplice testimony was not sufficiently corroborated; and that the trial court erred by not allowing Defendant to make a proffer of evidence at the hearing on the motion for new trial regarding alleged prosecutorial misconduct. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Travis Wilson
E2013-00371-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery

A Sullivan County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Travis Wilson, of driving under the influence (DUI), second offense; unlawful carrying or possession of a weapon; possession of drug paraphernalia; and possession of a handgun while under the influence. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the appellant to eleven months and twenty-nine days for each conviction, with release eligibility after service of seventy-five percent of the sentences. The trial court ordered that the appellant serve the DUI sentence in confinement and the remaining sentences on probation. The court further ordered that the sentences for possession of drug paraphernalia and DUI, second offense, be served concurrently with each other but consecutively to the remainder of the sentences. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by allowing two Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) agents to testify as experts about the effects of drugs on human performance; that the trial court erred by failing to exclude his blood test results; that the trial court erred by failing to require the State to refer to “bath salts” by their chemical name; that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions; and that the trial court erred in sentencing. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Kwaku Aryel Okraku
M2013-01379-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The defendant, Kwaku Aryel Okraku, was convicted of one count of aggravated child neglect where the neglect caused serious bodily injury to the child, a Class A felony, one count of aggravated child neglect where a controlled substance was used to accomplish the neglect, a Class A felony, and one count of reckless homicide, a Class D felony.  He received a sentence of sixty years for each conviction of aggravated child neglect and a twelve-year sentence for reckless homicide, all to be served concurrently, for an effective sentence of sixty years.  On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal because the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; the trial court erred in permitting the jury to hear testimony regarding a prior incident involving drugs; and the trial court erred in permitting testimony about the defendant’s statements about selling cocaine.  After reviewing the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand the case for entry of a corrected judgment sheet that reflects the merger of the aggravated child neglect convictions, with aggravated child neglect through the use of a controlled substance remaining as the sole conviction for aggravated child neglect.      

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/01/14
State of Tennessee v. Coy J. Cotham, Jr., also known as Cory J. Cotham
M2012-01150-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Coy J. Cotham, Jr., also known as Cory J. Cotham, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and especially aggravated robbery and sentenced to life without parole and twenty-five years, to be served consecutively.  On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in:  (1) denying his motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to search warrants; (2)  denying his motion to suppress Wi-Fi evidence; (3) denying his motion to recuse; (4) concluding that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the convictions; (5) allowing evidence of statements to the police by the victim’s husband; (6) allowing evidence of threats made by the defendant; (7) allowing proof as to the affidavit of indigency; (8) instructing the jury regarding parole; and (9) setting the defendant’s sentences and determining that they would be served consecutively.  We have carefully reviewed the record and conclude that the defendant’s assignments of error are without merit.  Accordingly, the judgments are affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Calvin Jones
W2013-00881-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

The Defendant, Calvin Jones, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of aggravated child abuse and first degree felony murder, for which he received concurrent sentences of 20 years and life imprisonment. In this appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. Additionally, he argues that the trial court erred in permitting Dr. Karen Lakin to testify as an expert witness and erred in admitting autopsy photographs of the victim. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/14
Ricardo Davidson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01645-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The petitioner, Ricardo Davidson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  The petitioner was convicted by a jury of possession with intent to sell 300 grams or more of cocaine within a Drug Free School Zone, conspiracy to possess with intent to sell or deliver over 300 grams or more of cocaine within a Drug Free School Zone, possession with intent to sell or deliver ten pounds or more of marijuana within a Drug Free School Zone, conspiracy to possess with intent to sell or deliver over ten pounds of marijuana in a Drug Free School Zone, and possession of unlawful drug paraphernalia.  He was subsequently sentenced to an effective term of fifteen years in the Department of Correction.  Following the denial of his direct appeal, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel.  On appeal, he specifically contends that trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to adequately argue the motion to suppress; (2) failing to argue the issue of the racial makeup of the jury on the Motion for Acquittal or New Trial; and (3) failing to make an argument for and request a jury instruction under the natural and probable consequence rule.  The petitioner further alleges that both trial and appellate counsel were ineffective in failing to adequately communicate with him during their respective representations.  Following review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Kevin R. Beasley
M2013-01424-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

A Davidson County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Kevin R. Beasley, for attempted first degree premeditated murder.  The trial court ordered that the Defendant undergo a forensic evaluation, after which it found the Defendant was competent to stand trial.  The Defendant filed a motion to suppress his statement to police, which the trial court granted.  The case was dismissed, and the State filed a notice of appeal.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion when it granted the Defendant’s motion to suppress.  As such, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand this case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Aliscia Caldwell - RE: Jenkins Bonding Company
M2013-01368-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Jenkins Bonding Company executed as a surety an appearance bond for the Defendant, Aliscia Caldwell, on several cases as detailed below.  The Defendant failed to appear, and the general sessions court forfeited the bond and issued a scire facias and a capias for the Defendant’s arrest.  The bonding company physically surrendered the Defendant to the trial court and rquested that it be relieved as surety.  The trial court denied the surrender and released the Defendant on the same bond.  Subsequently, the Defendant failed to appear at another court hearing.  The trial court entered a final forfeiture judgment against the bonding company.  The bonding company filed a motion to alter or amend the forfeiture judgment against it, saying that it should be exonerated of the bond because it lawfully surrendered the Defendant.  The trial court denied the motion.  On appeal, the bonding company argues that the trial court did not have the authority to deny the surrender and release the Defendant over the surety’s objection.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we reverse the trial court’s judgment, and we remand the case for entry of an order releasing Jenkins Bonding as surety in this case.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/14
Eric Vislosky v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01117-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy A. Reedy

The petitioner, Eric Vislosky, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel and that his guilty plea to Class B sexual exploitation of a minor was therefore unknowing and involuntary. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Christopher A. Howard
W2014-00099-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore

The defendant, Christopher A. Howard, was convicted of attempted possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell and aggravated robbery, for which he was sentenced to six years and twelve years, respectively, to be served concurrently. On appeal, he argues that there was insufficient accomplice testimony corroboration to sustain a conviction on either charge. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/14
Marcus Boales v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02512-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan Jr.

The federally-incarcerated Petitioner, Marcus Boales, filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Henderson County Circuit Court, seeking relief from his two 1996 drug convictions that were used to enhance his federal sentence. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/14
State of Tennessee v. Jessica Kennedy
E2013-00260-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter C. Kurtz

The Defendant, Jessica Kennedy, was convicted by a Monroe County Criminal Court jury of facilitation of felony murder, a Class A felony, facilitation of aggravated robbery, a Class C felony, facilitation of burning personal property, a Class A misdemeanor, and facilitation of abuse of a corpse, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202, 39-13-402, 39-14-303, 13-17-312, 39-11-402, 39-11-403 (2010). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent sentences of twenty-two years for facilitation of felony murder, five years for facilitation of aggravated robbery, eleven months, twenty-nine days for facilitation of burning personal property, and eleven months, twenty-nine days for facilitation of abuse of a corpse. On appeal, she contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions, (2) the trial court erred by denying her motion for a judgment of acquittal, (3) the trial court erred by denying her motion to suppress, (4) the trial court erred by failing to grant a mistrial related to the testimony of Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) Special Agent Barry Brakebill, (5) the trial court erred by permitting the State to call witnesses not listed on the indictment, (6) the trial court erred by making improper statements related to her recorded police interview and by failing to grant a mistrial, (7) the trial court erred by limiting the testimony of a psychologist, (8) the trial court erred by denying her ex parte motion for funds to secure an expert, (9) the trial court erred by overruling her motions to dismiss and to disqualify the prosecutor and the district attorney general’s office, and (10) the trial court erred by misapplying mitigating and enhancement factors during sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/14
Eugene Mark Hogbin v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00085-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Burch

Petitioner, Eugene Mark Hogbin, was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual battery and sentenced to an effective sentence of twenty years.  Petitioner filed the instant petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel.  Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief.  On appeal, petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel told petitioner that she would win his case at trial.  After our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/14
Tiffany Davis v. Brenda Jones, Warden
M2014-00386-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard

The petitioner, Tiffany Davis, appeals the Marshall County Circuit Court’s dismissal of her petition for writ of habeas corpus.  In the petition, she challenged her Marshall County drug convictions, which had resulted in an effective sentence of 30 years in the Department of Correction.  Because we agree with the habeas corpus court that the petitioner’s claims of double jeopardy violations and ineffective assistance of counsel do not render her convictions void, we affirm that court’s dismissal of the petition.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/14
Cyrus Deville Wilson v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01807-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth Norman

The petitioner, Cyrus Deville Wilson, appeals the denial of his petition for the writ of error coram nobis.  The petitioner is currently serving a life sentence following his conviction for first degree murder.  In his petition, the petitioner contended that he was entitled to relief because of recently recanted testimony by an eyewitness to the murder.  The error coram nobis court concluded that the recantation was not credible and denied relief.  On appeal, the petitioner contends that the court erred in denying relief because it improperly assessed the evidence presented and applied an incorrect legal standard.  After a review of the record, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/14
State of Tennessee v. Demontre Chavez Brown
M2013-02091-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Russell

In this appeal, the Defendant, Demontre Chavez Brown, challenges his conviction for aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and subsequent sentence of twelve years’ incarceration. Specifically, he alleges that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction because the witnesses’ testimonies had material inconsistencies and his co-defendant’s testimony was inadequately corroborated; (2) the trial court improperly allowed his co-defendant to testify because the State did not provide him with sufficient notice of such; and (3) the trial court’s imposition of the maximum sentence was excessive because the Defendant’s record contained mostly petty juvenile offenses. Upon consideration of the record and relevant case law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/14
Milton L. Kirk Jr. v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00544-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Don R. Ash

Milton L. Kirk, Jr., (“the Petitioner”) was convicted by a jury of sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine. The Petitioner then pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence and possession with intent to sell or deliver cocaine. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of sixteen years’ incarceration. The Petitioner subsequently filed for postconviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied following an evidentiary hearing. The Petitioner now appeals, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and that his guilty plea was constitutionally invalid. Upon our thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/29/14