Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/16/2017
Format: 08/16/2017
State of Tennessee v. Susan Lynette Baker
M2016-00434-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Buddy D. Perry

The defendant, Susan Lynette Baker, appeals her Sequatchie County Circuit Court jury convictions of felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and setting fire to personal property, claiming that the trial court erred by refusing to suppress the pretrial statement she provided to the police, the evidence of her theft of property from the victim’s residence, and the surveillance video from a motel; that the trial court erred by denying her motion to sever the arson charge from the remaining charges; that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions of felony murder and especially aggravated robbery; and that “the very nature” of the felony murder statute violates principles of due process. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Sequatchie County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/17
Fred Chad Clark, II v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00484-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMulllen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The pro se Petitioner, Fred Chad Clark, II, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in dismissing his petition as untimely, and the State concedes the issue. Upon review, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/17
State of Tennessee v. Deann Anelia Walls
M2016-01121-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

Defendant, Deann Anelia Walls, appeals the trial court’s order requiring her to serve in confinement her effective ten-year sentence resulting from her guilty plea to nineteen counts of prescription medication fraud and thirty-six counts of identity theft. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/17
Joseph Miles v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00556-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Petitioner, Joseph Miles, filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, asserting that newly discovered evidence entitled him to relief. The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/17
State of Tennessee v. Karloss Thirkill and Rico Huey
W2016-00335-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

After a jury trial, the defendants, Karloss Thirkill and Rico Huey, were convicted of aggravated robbery, and this joint appeal followed. On appeal, Huey challenges the trial court’s partial denial of his motion to suppress. Thirkill challenges the trial court’s denial of his request to impeach a fact witness and accomplice under Rules 404 and 608 of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence and the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Arnekio Jackson
W2015-02236-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury found the Appellant, Arnekio Jackson, guilty of aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced the Appellant as a Range II, multiple offender to sixteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by intentionally introducing evidence that the trial court had ruled was inadmissible and that without the evidence, the proof was insufficient to establish the Appellant’s identity and sustain his conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/17
Antonio Dockery v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01239-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Petitioner, Antonio Dockery, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of aggravated assault and stalking and resulting effective sentence of fourteen years in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner raises various claims of ineffective assistance of counsel and prosecutorial misconduct. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Antwain Deshun Coleman, AKA Antwain Mackey
M2016-02334-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Defendant, Antwain Deshun Coleman, also known as Antwain Mackey, was indicted for aggravated robbery. He later entered a negotiated guilty plea to facilitation of aggravated robbery in exchange for a sentence of six years as a Range I, standard offender. The trial court determined that Defendant should serve the sentence in confinement. Defendant appeals his sentence, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by denying an alternative sentence. After a review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Charles Edward Day
E2016-00632-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge

The defendant, Charles Edward Day, appeals his Anderson County Circuit Court jury conviction of reckless aggravated assault, claiming that the trial court erred by admitting certain evidence at trial, that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument, that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the sentence imposed was excessive, and that the cumulative effect of these errors prevented him from receiving a fair trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Cyrus Randy Whitson
M2016-01420-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Defendant, Cyrus Randy Whitson, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his motion for arrest of judgment. On appeal, Defendant argues that because the judgment form for his murder conviction is lacking the “file-stamp” date, his motion is timely and should have been granted. Because Defendant does not have a right to appeal the trial court’s dismissal pursuant to Rule 3 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, we dismiss the appeal.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Erick Tenaz
M2016-02442-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The defendant, Erick Tenaz, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court guilty-pleaded conviction of conspiracy to commit second degree murder, claiming only that the trial court erred by ordering that he serve his entire nine-year sentence in confinement. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/27/17
Marquis D. Hendricks v. State of Tennessee
E2016-02123-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Petitioner, Marquis D. Hendricks, was convicted of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, and simple possession of marijuana. The Petitioner received an effective sentence of life in prison for the convictions. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to argue and request jury instructions on the statutory defenses of duress and necessity. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court found that there was no deficient performance by trial counsel because the facts did not support either statutory defense and denied the petition. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/26/17
Stanley Abernathy James v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01909-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Stanley Abernathy James (“the Petitioner”) was found guilty of second degree murder by a Knox County jury, for which the Petitioner received a sentence of twenty-five years. This court affirmed the Petitioner’s conviction and sentence, and our supreme court denied further review. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, which the post-conviction court denied. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance because trial counsel: (1) failed to fully pursue a defense theory of voluntary manslaughter instead of self-defense; (2) requested a jury instruction that misstated Tennessee law; (3) failed to fully research and investigate potential witnesses; and (4) failed to fully research and investigate the Petitioner’s medical history. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/26/17
Michael Goodrum v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00684-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The petitioner, Michael Goodrum, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2012 Maury County Circuit Court jury convictions of possession with intent to sell .5 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a park and possession with intent to sell .5 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, for which he received a sentence of 15 years. In this appeal, the petitioner contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel and that the cumulative effect of his counsel’s errors prevented him from receiving a fair trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/17
David Delgado Echeveria v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01247-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody N. Kane

Petitioner, David Delgado Echeveria, pled guilty to the possession of 300 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver. Over five years later, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that his attorney had failed to advise him of the potential immigration consequences of his plea. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition for failure to file within the statutory limitations period, and Petitioner appeals. We conclude that the petition was filed outside the limitations period and that Petitioner has not shown he is entitled to due process tolling. The judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/17
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Pleas Watts
M2016-02551-CA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Juge Royce Taylor

The Defendant, Thomas Pleas Watts, pleaded guilty in the Rutherford County Circuit Court to possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-418 (2010) (amended 2014, 2016) (misdemeanor possession of marijuana), 39-17-425 (2014) (misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia). Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court granted the Defendant judicial diversion for eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the Defendant presents certified questions of law regarding the trial court’s denying his motion to suppress. We dismiss the appeal.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/17
State of Tennessee v. Claude David Powers
M2016-02019-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Defendant, Claude David Powers, pleaded guilty in the Montgomery County Circuit Court to aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-102 (2014) (amended 2015). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to four years, with one year to serve in confinement and the remainder to serve on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) his four-year sentence is excessive and (2) the trial court erred in denying his request for full probation. Because the trial court failed to place the appropriate findings of fact and determinations on the record as required by our sentencing laws, we remand the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Mario Cogshell
M2016-01658-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Defendant, Mario Cogshell, entered guilty pleas in the Robertson County Circuit Court to three counts of possessing less than 0.5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of ten years to be served in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that his sentence is excessive. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand the case for entry of proper judgment forms for the charges that were dismissed as a result of the guilty plea.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/17
James Hoover v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01695-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker

The Petitioner, James Hoover, pleaded no contest to vehicular homicide and vehicular assault. The trial court entered the sentence agreed to by the parties: twelve years. The Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that his counsel had been ineffective, rendering his plea unknowingly and involuntarily entered. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner relief, and after review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/17
Kenneth Hayes v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01522-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Kenneth Hayes, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his convictions for reckless aggravated assault, two counts of aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit the intentional killing of an animal worth over $1000, theft of property over $1000, and evading arrest and his effective sentence of forty years, eleven months and twenty-nine days in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to raise sufficiency of the evidence in the motion for a new trial, trial counsel failed to object to the application of enhancement factors during the sentencing hearing, and trial counsel failed to object to the trial court’s determination that the Petitioner was a Range II offender. After review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/17
James Mellon v. State of Tennessee
E2016-02040-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert R. McGee

The Petitioner, James Mellon, appeals as of right from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to present a viable defense. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/17
State of Tennessee Christopher Lynn Taylor
E2016-01720-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge

The Defendant, Christopher Lynn Taylor, appeals as of right from the trial court’s order of total incarceration after his second violation of his six-year probationary sentence. The Defendant contends that the trial court erred in determining that he was a danger to society and by denying his request for drug treatment in the Community Corrections Program. Following our review, we discern no error. Thus, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/17
State of Tennessee v. Lester Arnold Clouse
M2016-00707-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

A White County jury convicted Defendant, Lester Arnold Clouse, of aggravated assault, assault, and resisting arrest. The trial court merged the resisting arrest conviction into the aggravated assault conviction and sentenced Defendant to an effective fifteen-year sentence as a Range III, persistent offender, to be served consecutively to other outstanding sentences. On direct appeal, this court affirmed Defendant’s convictions but reversed his sentence and remanded the case for a new sentencing hearing. See State v. Lester Arnold Clouse, No. M2013-02633-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 7332181, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 23, 2014). Following a sentencing hearing on remand, the trial court imposed an effective fourteen-year sentence as a Range III, persistent offender to be served consecutively to his sentences for other convictions. On appeal, Defendant challenges the trial court’s finding that he qualified as a persistent offender, the length of his sentence, and the imposition of partial consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm Defendant’s sentences for aggravated assault and assault, and we reduce Defendant’s sentence for resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor, to six months. We remand the case to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment on the resisting arrest conviction to reflect that the conviction is merged into Defendant’s aggravated assault conviction in accordance with the trial court’s prior findings.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/17
State of Tennessee v. Demarcus Lashawn Blackman
M2016-01098-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell
The Defendant, Demarcus Lashawn Blackman, was indicted by a Marshall County grand jury for the sale and delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated sections 39-17-417(a)(2) and (3) (2010). He was later convicted by a jury as charged. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the convictions and imposed twelve years’ incarceration. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing its sentence. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/17
State of Tennessee v. Jennifer Hodges
M2016-01057-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Defendant, Jennifer Hodges, pleaded nolo contendere to six counts of statutory rape, a Class D felony, and one count of solicitation of a minor, a Class E felony. Defendant was sentenced to four years for each count of aggravated statutory rape and two years for solicitation. All sentences were ordered to run concurrently for an effective four-year sentence. The effective sentence was suspended, and she was placed on probation for four years. On appeal, Defendant contends that the trial court erred by not granting her request for judicial diversion and that the trial court erred by sentencing her to the maximum sentences for her convictions.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/17