Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/26/2020
Format: 01/26/2020
State of Tennessee v. William Kevin Kennedy
E2019-00403-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William K. Rogers

The defendant, William Kevin Kennedy, appeals the revocation of the sentence of probation imposed for his 2016 Sullivan County Criminal Court convictions of solicitation of a minor and attempted aggravated sexual battery, claiming that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel at the revocation hearing. Because the interests of justice do not require the waiver of the timely filing of the notice of appeal in this case, the appeal is dismissed as untimely.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Reginald Bernard Wilson
E2018-01684-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Reginald Bernard Wilson, of resisting arrest, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to ninety days of unsupervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it denied his request for a jury instruction on self-defense and that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for resisting arrest. After review, we conclude that the trial court erred when it failed to instruct the jury as to self-defense. We, therefore, reverse the judgment of conviction and remand for a new trial.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Robbie Joe Kilgore
M2019-00281-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The defendant, Robbie Joe Kilgore, appeals the order of the trial court revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his original three-year sentence in confinement. Upon review of the record, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding the defendant violated the terms of his probation, and the imposed sentence is proper. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/20/19
Tommy Dale Adams v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00470-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don R. Ash
The Petitioner, Tommy Dale Adams, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his jury convictions for first-degree felony murder, second-degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges the following grounds of ineffective assistance of trial counsel: (1) failure to present a cohesive defense theory, investigate, interview the Petitioner and witnesses, and explain the sufficiency of the evidence; (2) failure to object to the trial court’s ex parte communication with the jury during deliberations; and (3) failure to advise the Petitioner of his right to testify. He also alleges ineffective assistance of appellate counsel and cumulative error stemming from trial counsel’s alleged deficiencies. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/20/19
Voltaire Younger v. State of Tennessee
E2018-02168-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everette Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

 

The Petitioner, Voltaire Younger, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his guilty pleas to the possession of heroin with the intent to deliver and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.  The Petitioner received an effective sentence of fifteen years.  On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were not voluntarily entered.  After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court. 

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/19/19
Justin C. Howell v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02050-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

The Petitioner, Justin C. Howell, appeals the Williamson County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/19/19
Billy Anglin v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00083-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The Petitioner, Billy Anglin, appeals from the Williamson County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment, for which he is serving an effective sentence of life plus twenty-five years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief on his ineffective assistance of counsel and due process claims. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/19/19
Lonnie Lee Angel, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01551-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The Petitioner, Lonnie Lee Angel, Jr., appeals the Bledsoe County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2011 conviction for second degree murder and his twenty-three-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that (1) he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel and (2) the post-conviction court erred by prohibiting him from compelling the attendance of witnesses by subpoenas at the evidentiary hearing. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/18/19
State of Tennessee v. Robert Beham
W2018-01974-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Robert Beham, as charged of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of forty years at one hundred percent. On appeal, the Defendant argues (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal and the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions, and (2) the trial court abused its discretion in applying the enhancement factor regarding his history of criminal behavior. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/18/19
Frederick R. Ross, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2019-01117-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Petitioner, Frederick R. Ross, Jr., appeals from the summary denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging his guilty-pleaded conviction for selling hydrocodone, a Schedule II drug. Because Petitioner failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/17/19
State of Tennessee v. Michael Wayne Robinson, Jr.
W2019-00216-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A Madison County jury convicted the defendant, Michael Wayne Robinson, Jr., of three counts of aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of eighteen years in confinement. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions and the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentencing. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/16/19
Bryon C. Stephens v. State of Tennessee
W2018-00895-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Bryon C. Stephens, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that he is entitled to relief because his guilty pleas were unknowingly entered, and he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm dismissal of the petition as time-barred.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/16/19
Porscha J. Medaries v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01656-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Porscha J. Medaries, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief in which she challenged her conviction for attempted first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that she received ineffective assistance of counsel and that her guilty plea was not knowingly entered. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/16/19
State of Tennessee v. Buford Trammell
E2018-00382-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Buford Trammell, of six counts of rape, three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, one count of solicitation of a minor, one count of casual exchange of a controlled substance, and one count of sexual battery by an authority figure. After merging the appropriate convictions, the trial court ordered an effective sentence of twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the jury’s verdict and that the trial court erred when it imposed consecutive sentences. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/13/19
State of Tennessee v. Cory Lamont Batey
M2017-02440-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Cory Lamont Batey, of one count of aggravated rape, a Class A felony; two counts of attempted aggravated rape, a Class B felony; one count of facilitation of aggravated rape, a Class B felony; and three counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. After a sentencing hearing, he received a fifteen-year sentence to be served at one hundred percent for the aggravated rape conviction and concurrent eight-year sentences for the remaining convictions for a total effective sentence of fifteen years. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court improperly instructed the jury on the mens rea for the offenses and erred by instructing the jury that voluntary intoxication was not a defense to aggravated rape; that the trial court erred by failing to dismiss the superseding indictment because it violated double jeopardy; that the trial court improperly admitted hearsay evidence regarding a codefendant’s statements and conduct; and that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions. The State argues that the trial court erred during sentencing by considering ex parte letters and emails written on the Appellant’s behalf and requests that this court remand the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing. We conclude that the State should not have issued a superseding indictment charging the Appellant with aggravated rape in count four but that plain error does not require a retrial on that count. Accordingly, finding no reversible error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/13/19
State of Tennessee v. Kelley Hufford
M2018-01823-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

A jury convicted the Defendant, Kelley Hufford, of conspiracy to commit first degree murder, first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, three counts of aggravated kidnapping, and tampering with evidence for the abduction and homicide of her boyfriend. On appeal, the Defendant raises only a challenge to the territorial jurisdiction of the court, alleging that the evidence did not establish that the crimes occurred in Tennessee. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the evidence established that the trial court had territorial jurisdiction, and we affirm the convictions, remanding for merger of the kidnapping offenses.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/12/19
State of Tennessee v. Brijesh Mukesh Desai
M2018-01810-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

After a trial, a Davidson County jury found Defendant, Brijesh Mukesh Desai, guilty of theft of services valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a Range I standard offender to four years in the Tennessee Department of Correction with a release eligibility of thirty percent. On appeal, Defendant argues that his conviction violates his constitutional right not to be imprisoned for a civil debt, that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, that the indictment was fatally flawed, and that the trial court improperly admitted evidence at trial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Blake Hart
W2018-02123-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

A Henderson County jury convicted the Defendant, Jonathan Blake Hart, of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery, and the trial court sentenced him to fifty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it: (1) barred his father from testifying; (2) denied his motion to exclude the medical expert’s conclusion that child sexual abuse had occurred; (3) admitted drawings from the forensic interview; and (4) limited his cross-examination of an investigator. The Defendant also contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that his motion for new trial should have been granted on these same grounds. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/06/19
State of Tennessee v. Becky Jo Burlison
M2019-00148-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

In June 2015, a Davidson County Criminal Court jury convicted the Defendant, Becky Jo Burlison, of two counts of aggravated rape of a child, one count of aggravated child abuse, and one count of aggravated child neglect. Later, the trial court granted the Defendant’s motion for new trial on grounds that she had been deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Prior to the new trial, the Defendant provided notice that she intended to offer expert testimony of her diminished capacity at the time of the offenses. The State moved to exclude the testimony, arguing that the testimony was not admissible because it did not satisfy the requirements established in State v. Hall, 958 S.W.2d 679 (Tenn. 1997). Following a hearing, the trial court denied the State’s motion and deemed the testimony admissible. The trial court and this court granted the State’s application for permission to appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9. In this interlocutory appeal, the State challenges the trial court’s denial of its motion to exclude expert testimony regarding the Defendant’s mental state at the time of the alleged offenses, reiterating the claim that the evidence does not satisfy the requirements for admission. Because we agree that the proffered evidence does not satisfy the requirements for admission established by Hall and its progeny, we reverse the ruling of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/06/19
Roy Anthony Haley v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00976-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell

The Petitioner, Roy Anthony Haley, was convicted of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, and he was sentenced as a Range III, persistent offender to fifteen years in confinement. Subsequently, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied the petition. The Petitioner appeals, contending that he was denied due process at his post-conviction hearing because he was not afforded the opportunity to call critical witnesses and because the post-conviction court was so biased and prejudiced toward him as to render the hearing unfair. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/06/19
State of Tennessee v. Kayla Danielle Skillern
M2018-01718-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The Defendant, Kayla Danielle Skillern, was convicted by a Wayne County Circuit Court jury of the sale of 0.5 gram or more of methamphetamine. See T.C.A. § 39-17-434 (2018). She received a sentence of ten and one-half years’ confinement. On appeal, she contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support her conviction, (2) the trial court erred in denying her motions for a judgment of acquittal, and (3) the trial court erred in admitting video evidence depicting the Defendant arguing with her codefendant in front of a child. We affirm the Defendant’s conviction but remand the case to the trial court for the entry of a corrected judgment.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/05/19
Tommy Leroy Bryant v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02151-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Wyatt Burk

The Petitioner, Tommy Leroy Bryant, appeals from the Marshall County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his three rape of a child convictions, for which he is serving a twenty-five-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Adarion C. Morris
M2018-02034-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

The defendant, Adarion C. Morris, appeals the 48-year sentence imposed following the revocation of his community corrections placement, arguing that the trial court was without jurisdiction to impose the new sentence and that the sentence is excessive. Discerning no error, we affirm the revocation of the defendant’s community corrections placement and the sentences imposed following the resentencing.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Joan Odell
W2018-01341-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Defendant, Joan Odell, appeals from her felony conviction for failure to appear, which resulted in a sentence of two years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support her conviction and challenges the jury instructions. She also contends that the State engaged in purposeful discrimination in striking a prospective juror in violation of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). We conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction and that there was no reversible error in the instructions. However, the trial court failed to comply with the procedure set forth in Batson by denying the Defendant’s Batson claim based upon the Defendant’s race, and we remand for a hearing on the issue.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/03/19
Danny Santarone v. State of Tennessee
E2018-01312-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

Petitioner, Danny Santarone, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner argues (1) that he was wrongfully convicted based on the fruits of an unconstitutional search and (2) that he was denied effective assistance of counsel. Following a review of the briefs and the record, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 12/02/19