Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/21/2014
Format: 04/21/2014
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Spencer
W2012-02720-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

A Shelby County jury convicted Appellant, Kenneth Spencer, of first degree premeditated murder. The trial court sentenced Appellant to life imprisonment. Appellant appeals his conviction arguing that the evidence was insufficient to prove premeditation and that the trial court erroneously allowed the introduction of weapons and ammunition. On appeal, the State concedes that the trial court erred, however, the error was harmless. After a review of the record on appeal, we conclude that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury’s finding that premeditation existed and that the introduction of the evidence in question was error, but it was harmless error. Therefore, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/14
Kelvin Reed v. State of Tennessee
W2012-02533-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

The Petitioner, Kelvin Reed, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective (1) for failing to obtain an expert witness to testify regarding a 911 recording; and (2) for failing to “effectively address the issue of the lack of blood on the Petitioner’s person and possessions.” Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/14
Brian Hervery v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01189-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

The petitioner, Brian Hervery, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for attempted second degree murder, three counts of aggravated assault, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. He argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his constitutional rights were violated by his being placed on a forty-eight-hour hold. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/14
James Garrett v. State of Tennessee
W2012-01994-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The petitioner, James Garrett, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his carjacking and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony convictions. He argues that he is entitled to relief because he received ineffective assistance of counsel, rendering his guilty pleas unknowing and involuntary, and his conviction for employing a firearm during a dangerous felony violates the terms of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324(c) and the prohibitions against double jeopardy. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/14
Bernard Frazier v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00187-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter Jr.

The petitioner, Bernard Frazier, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered. After review, we conclude that the petitioner received effective assistance of counsel but that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered. As such, we reverse the judgment and remand to the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/14
Elijah Truitt v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01848-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth Norman

Petitioner, Elijah Truitt, pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of greater than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell in Davidson County. The trial court sentenced Petitioner to eleven years for possession of cocaine and two years for possession of a firearm to be served consecutively. Petitioner was placed on community corrections. Petitioner’s community corrections sentence was eventually revoked and he was ordered to serve his original sentence as imposed. The trial court filed an amended judgment reflecting the revocation and imposition of the sentence. Petitioner filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus arguing that his sentence was illegal. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner’s arguments are meritless. Therefore, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/14
Lakeisha Margaret Watkins v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01381-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

Petitioner, Lakeisha Margaret Watkins, was convicted by a jury of four counts of aggravated child abuse, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and one count of attempted child neglect. The trial court sentenced her to an effective sentence of forty years. On appeal, this court reversed and dismissed one of the aggravated child neglect convictions based on insufficient evidence. State v. Lakeisha Margaret Watkins, No. M2009-02607-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 2682173, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 8, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. 2011). Petitioner’s sentence was unaffected by this court’s decision. In her post-conviction petition, petitioner alleged that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied her petition, and she now appeals from that denial. Specifically, petitioner argues that trial counsel should have moved to suppress petitioner’s statements to police, that he did not ensure she understood the significance of her decision not to testify at trial despite being aware that she had a learning disability, and that he should have called a witness at trial or at the sentencing hearing to testify about her learning disability. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/14
Sedrick Williams v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02401-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker III

The Petitioner, Sedrick Williams, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief from his conviction of first degree premeditated murder and resulting life sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his judgment of conviction is facially void because it fails to reflect that he is to serve 100% of the sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/14
Bryan Williams v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00541-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Bryan Williams, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2009 Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of second degree murder, attempted second degree murder, and reckless endangerment, claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/14
Shadeed Rasta aka Robert Williams v. Michael Donahue, Warden
W2013-02100-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph Walker III

The petitioner, Shadeed Rasta, also known as Robert Williams, appeals from the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which challenged his 2009 conviction of felony murder. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/14
Richard Herrera v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02064-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William B. Acree Jr.

The petitioner, Richard Herrera, appeals from the second summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that the post-conviction court erred by summarily dismissing the petition after this court remanded the case for an evidentiary hearing. Because the post-conviction court erred by summarily dismissing the petition, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand the case to the post-conviction court for the appointment of counsel and an evidentiary hearing on the petitioner’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/14
Christopher H. Martin v. State of Tennessee
E2013-02343-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

Petitioner, Christopher H. Martin, pleaded guilty to two counts of rape of a child on May 21, 1997. He filed a petition for post- conviction relief on July 25, 2013. He now appeals from the summary dismissal of his post-conviction petition. On appeal, he contends that the State breached a condition of his plea agreement, that the breach occurred outside of the statute of limitations for post-conviction proceedings, and that due process should preclude the strict application of the statute of limitations in his case. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Kristopher Blake Kincer
E2013-01740-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Defendant, Kristopher Blake Kincer, pleaded guilty as a Range I offender to theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. § 39-14-103 (Supp. 2013) (theft of property); 39-14-105(a)(3) (2010) (amended 2012) (grading of theft). The plea agreement called for a two-year sentence, and the trial court ordered that the sentence be served in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for the Defendant to be sentenced to community corrections.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/14