Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/14/2018
Format: 08/14/2018
State of Tennessee v. Bradley Mitchell Eckert
E2017-01635-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

The Defendant, Bradley Mitchell Eckert, committed three acts of vandalism and one burglary when he was sixteen years old, and the juvenile court granted a motion to transfer the proceedings to criminal court. The trial court found the Defendant guilty of vandalism of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $2,500; vandalism of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000; vandalism of property valued at $60,000 or more but less than $250,000; and burglary. After a hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve twelve years in prison. The Defendant appeals the juvenile court’s decision to transfer the proceedings, and he appeals his sentence. We conclude that there was no abuse of discretion, and we affirm the judgments.

McMinn County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/18
Richard Kelley v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01157-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Petitioner, Richard Kelley, appeals the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of four counts of rape of a child, three counts of aggravated sexual battery, and one count of misdemeanor assault and resulting effective sentence of thirty years to be served at 100%. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/18
State of Tennessee v. Matthew P. Ladewig
W2017-02100-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Matthew P. Ladewig, appeals as of right from the Madison County Circuit Court’s judgment of conviction of theft over $500. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for mistrial after a witness for the prosecution, while testifying, referred to the Defendant’s possible involvement in a similar investigation. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/18
State of Tennessee v. Alina Sherlin
E2017-01225-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

Defendant, Alina Frankie Sherlin, was indicted for first degree murder. After a jury trial, she was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to fifteen years in incarceration. The trial court denied the motion for new trial, and Defendant appealed to this Court. On appeal, Defendant raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred by admitting a videotape from the ambulance ride depicting Defendant’s actions after the incident; (2) whether the trial court erred by admitting the preliminary hearing testimony of a witness that the trial court deemed unavailable; (3) whether the trial court erred by permitting the State to call a surprise witness; (4) whether the trial court erred by excluding testimony about the victim’s motorcycle gang membership; (5) whether the trial court erred by prohibiting Defendant from introducing nude photographs and sexual videos of a witness for impeachment purposes; (6) whether the trial court properly excluded testimony regarding a threat made by the victim toward Defendant; (7) whether the trial court erred by excluding Defendant’s medical records; (8) whether the trial court erred by refusing to allow defense counsel to point out specific areas of photographs that were discussed during the videotaped deposition of the unavailable witness; (9) whether the trial court erred by refusing to grant Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the State’s proof; (10) whether the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during opening and closing statements (11) whether the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction ; and (12) whether cumulative error by the trial court necessitates a reversal of Defendant’s conviction. For the following reasons, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/18
In re: Cumberland Bail Bonding, et al
M2017-01171-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge:

A bondsman for Appellant Cumberland Bail Bonding (“Cumberland”) was arrested after law enforcement determined that he was trading bonds for sex. A panel of circuit court judges entered a sua sponte order suspending Cumberland’s authority as a bonding company in Marion County and a subsequent order suspending the authority of A Bail Bonding Company (“A Bail Bonding”) and A+ Bail Bonding, whose proprietor was also the owner of Cumberland. After a hearing, the trial court determined that the bondsman engaged in professional misconduct, that Cumberland did not explicitly prohibit the misconduct in its employee manual, and that Cumberland failed to notify the court of the bondsman’s arrest. The bonding privileges of all three Appellants were suspended for a period of six months. The Appellants challenge the suspension, asserting that they were denied their due process rights and that the trial court erred in suspending their bail bonding authority. The State responds that the appeal is moot but that there was in any event no error. We have addressed the underlying issues and have determined that the trial court’s actions were in error. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is vacated.

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/18
Bashan Murchison v. State of Tennessee
E2017-02143-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

A Sullivan County jury convicted the Petitioner, Bashan Murchison, of nine counts of felony drug offenses. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of fifty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, this court affirmed the judgments and sentence. See State v. Bashan Murchison, No. E2014-01250-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 659844 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Feb. 12, 2016), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 18, 2016). The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition claiming that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel, and the post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that his counsel was ineffective. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Tyrail Jermaine Cooke
E2017-00781-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Scott Green

Aggrieved of his convictions of reckless homicide and aggravated child abuse, the defendant, Tyrail Jermaine Cooke, appeals. In this appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred by refusing to suppress the entirety of his pretrial statement to the police; that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence the video recording of his pretrial statement; that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence photographs, testimony, and other evidence relating to bruising in the victim’s genital area and a hole in the wall in the closet of the defendant’s residence; that the trial court erred by refusing to grant the defendant’s request for a special jury instruction regarding the right of parents to use corporal punishment to discipline their children; that the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial based upon the prosecutor’s improper comment on the defendant’s right to remain silent during his closing argument; that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; that the 29-year effective sentence is excessive; and that the cumulative effect of the errors deprived him of the constitutional right to a fair trial. Because we discern no reversible error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Larry Allen Stumbo
E2017-01405-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R.Jerry Beck

A Sullivan County jury convicted the Defendant, Larry Allen Stumbo, of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated rape, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, evading arrest, and possession of a handgun by a convicted felon. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sixty-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his motion for substitution of counsel; (2) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (3) the trial court erred when it sentenced him; and (4) no hearing was held as required by T.C.A. § 39-17-1324 to determine the existence of a prior qualifying felony conviction to sustain the Defendant’s conviction for possession of a handgun by a convicted felon. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgments of conviction. We affirm the Defendant’s sentences for all the convictions except employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. For reasons contained herein, we vacate the sentence for the employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony conviction and remand the case to the trial court for resentencing on that count.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Bryant Eugene Page, Jr.
E2017-01344-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The Defendant, Bryant Eugene Page, Jr., pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, a Class C felony, as a Range III offender, with an agreed sentence of twelve years, but with a Range II release eligibility of 35% rather than a Range III release eligibility of 45%. More than a year later, the Defendant filed a motion to reduce his sentence, asking the trial court for a sentence of six years, at 35%, arguing that his sentence was not in range. The trial court summarily dismissed his motion. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when the trial court did not reduce his sentence because: (1) his motion was timely but the court clerk refused to file his motion; (2) his sentence is illegal because it is out of range. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Melvin Dwayne Dunn, Jr.
E2017-00911-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The Defendant, Melvin Dwayne Dunn, Jr., was convicted by a jury of nine counts of burglary; one count of attempted theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000; one count of evading arrest; and one count of possession of burglary tools. He was sentenced as a career offender and received an effective sentence of thirty-six years’ imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his attempted theft conviction. He also argues that the trial court erred in admitting statements made by the Defendant during bond negotiations. After thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/18
Michael White v. State of Tennessee
M2017-02039-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Russell

The defendant, Michael White, appeals the denial of his motion, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence imposed for his 2005 Marshall County Circuit Court jury convictions of rape. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of relief.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Mardoche Olivier
M2017-01618-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Defendant, Mardoche Olivier, was convicted by a jury of one count of evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle, a Class E felony. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction, arguing that there was insufficient evidence that he “received any signal” from law enforcement “while operating a motor vehicle” to bring that vehicle to a stop or that he “intentionally fle[d] or attempt[ed] to elude” either officer. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Rebecca Michelle Spears, Alias
E2017-01836-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

Defendant, Rebecca Michelle Spears, appeals after the trial court granted the State’s motion to disqualify trial counsel on the basis that trial counsel was a necessary witness. Because we determine that trial counsel was a necessary witness and any testimony given by trial counsel would be related to contested issues, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/18
John R. Jackson v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00787-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

A Montgomery County jury convicted the Petitioner, John R. Jackson, of two counts of facilitation of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated burglary, one count of facilitation of theft of property valued over $500, and one count of aggravated sexual battery. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, this court affirmed the judgments and sentence. See State v. John R. Jackson, No. M2013-00696-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 2039761 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, May 16, 2014), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 22, 2014). The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition, and the post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, his convictions are based on illegal evidence presented at trial, and the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during opening and closing statements. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Michael Lee Hogan
M2017-01115-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Wolfe

A Dickson County jury convicted the Defendant, Michael Lee Hogan, of two counts of the sale of cocaine, one count of the sale of less than .5 grams of cocaine and one count of the sale of more than .5 grams of cocaine. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Career Offender to an effective sentence of forty-five years of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant contends: (1) the trial court erred when it failed to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of casual exchange; and (2) the trial court erred when it sentenced him. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Curtis Lashun Wren
W2017-01978-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Defendant, Curtis Lashun Wren, appeals from the denial of relief from his “Ex Parte Injunction and/or Show Cause Order,” which the trial court treated as a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Because the pleading, even if treated as a petition for writ of habeas corpus, does not meet the procedural requirements set forth in Tennessee Code Annotated sections 29-21-105, -106, and/or -107, we affirm the judgment of the trial court, albeit for different reasons.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Samantha Gadzo
M2017-00646-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Defendant, Samantha Gadzo, was indicted for driving under the influence of an intoxicant, driving under the influence per se, reckless driving, violation of the Due Care law, and failure to maintain her lane of travel. See T.C.A. §§ 55-10-401,-401(a)(2),-205; 55-8-136, -123. She filed a motion to suppress the evidence seized during the traffic stop, arguing that it was not supported by reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the Defendant’s motion, which is the subject of this State appeal. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Phillip Daniel Morton
M2017-01083-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Defendant-Appellant, Phillip Daniel Morton, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of first degree murder, for which he received a life sentence. See T.C.A. § 39-13- 202. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his (1) petition for writ of error coram nobis and (2) request for a jury charge of voluntary intoxication. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Patrick Cosby, AKA Patrick A. Britton, AKA Patrick T. Britton
M2017-00379-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Defendant, Patrick Cosby, plead guilty to attempted aggravated robbery with an agreed sentence of six years with the trial court to determine the manner of service. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered Defendant to serve his six-year sentence in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying alternative sentencing. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Tre Desean Bell
M2017-00843-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant-Appellant, Tre Desean Bell, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of voluntary manslaughter, see T.C.A. § 39-13-211, for which he received a sentence of six years in continuous confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in (1) denying his request for judicial diversion; (2) imposing the maximum sentence permissible; and (3) imposing a sentence of continuous confinement. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Ian Kolb
E2017-02208-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex H. Ogle

The Defendant-Appellant, Ian Kolb, appeals from the revocation of his supervised probation sentence by the Sevier County Circuit Court. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering him to serve the remainder of his sentence. Upon review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18
State of Tennessee vs. Michael Anthony Skettini
E2017-02468-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The Defendant-Appellant, Michael Anthony Skettini, appeals from the revocation of supervised probation by the Blount County Circuit Court. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in ordering him to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. Upon review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18
Juan A. Hill v. Randy Lee, Warden
E2018-00749-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everette Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

In 1997, the Petitioner was convicted of rape of a child and was sentenced to thirty-five years to be served consecutively to his sentence for a prior conviction. This court affirmed the Petitioner’s conviction and sentence on direct appeal. See State v. Juan Alfonso Hill, No. 03C01-9710-CR-00441, 1999 WL 222370, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 8, 1999), perm app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 20, 1999). The Petitioner subsequently sought post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied. This court affirmed the denial of relief on appeal. See Juan Alfonzo Hill v. State, No. E2004-02915-CCA-R3-PC, 2005 WL 2276422, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 19, 2005).

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18
State of Tennessee v. Patrick Tyler Harris
M2017-01670-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The Defendant, Patrick Tyler Harris, pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI) per se. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-401(2). Pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A), the Defendant reserved a certified question of law challenging whether there existed sufficient reasonable suspicion to justify a traffic stop of the Defendant’s vehicle. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sequatchie County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18
State of Tennessee v. Gavino Torres, Jr.
E2017-01690-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

The Defendant, Gavino Torres, Jr., pled guilty to attempted possession of a Schedule I drug with intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; possession of a Schedule II drug with intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; and two counts of possession of a Schedule IV drug with intent to sell or deliver, Class D felonies, in exchange for an effective sentence of ten years with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of confinement, which the Defendant now challenges. After review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18