Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/27/2015
Format: 04/27/2015
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Ray Millard
E2014-01492-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman
The defendant, Marcus Ray Millard, appeals from the revocation of his probation. Discerning no error, we affirm.
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. James Russell Jones, Jr.
M2013-02270-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

The defendant, James Russell Jones, Jr., was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of two counts of aggravated rape, a Class A felony; attempted aggravated rape, a Class B felony; aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony; and simple assault, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced by the trial court as a Range II, multiple offender to thirty years at 100% for each of the aggravated rape convictions, as a Range III, persistent offender to twenty-five years at 45% for the attempted aggravated rape conviction and twenty-five years at 100% for the aggravated sexual battery conviction, and to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor assault conviction. The trial court ordered the sentences for the four felony convictions served consecutively, for an effective sentence of 110 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, to be served consecutively to the defendant’s life sentence for a South Carolina conviction. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his convictions and argues that the trial court erred by denying his request for a mistrial, by ordering consecutive sentences, and by allowing the jury to deliberate on Counts 1 and 2 of the indictment when venue in Davidson County had not been established. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Charzelle Lamontez Swafford
M2014-00421-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

After a shooting at a public housing complex, a jury convicted the defendant, Charzelle Lamontez Swafford, of one count of first degree (premeditated) murder, four counts of attempted first degree murder, each a Class A felony, and one count of employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. The defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence; the denial of a mistrial based on an emotional outburst from a witness; the trial court’s decision to admit a recorded prior inconsistent statement as substantive evidence; and the trial court’s decision to impose partial consecutive sentences at the upper end of the range. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth McCormick
M2013-02189-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The defendant, Kenneth McCormick, was indicted for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (first offense), a Class A misdemeanor. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence against him on the basis that law enforcement lacked reasonable suspicion to effect the seizure of his parked vehicle through the activation of emergency lights. The trial court denied the motion to suppress, and the defendant was convicted after a jury trial. Because we conclude that the activation of the emergency lights was an exercise of the community caretaking function and did not constitute a seizure, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Newton
M2014-00603-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The defendant, Joseph Newton, was convicted of two counts of rape, Class B felonies, which the trial court merged. He received an effective eight-year sentence. On this direct appeal, he raises the sole issue of ineffective assistance of counsel. He argues that trial counsel was ineffective for: (1) failing to pursue a reasonable defense and failing to provide assistance; (2) failing to fulfil a promise made in the opening statement that the defendant would testify; and (3) for statements made during closing arguments. He also contends that the cumulative effect of trial counsel’s errors operated so as to deprive him of his right to receive a fair trial. After thoroughly reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Kevin M. Thompson A.K.A. Kevin M. Albert - dissenting
E2014-01358-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

I respectfully dissent with the conclusions of the majority that Defendant’s late filing of his notice of appeal should be waived and that Defendant has stated a colorable claim for relief, entitling him to the appointment of counsel and a hearing.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Kevin M. Thompson A.K.A. Kevin M. Albert
E2014-01358-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman
Defendant, Kevin M. Thompson a.k.a. Kevin M. Albert, appeals from the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The State concedes that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing Defendant’s motion; however, the State argues that this appeal should be dismissed because Defendant’s notice of appeal was untimely filed. Following our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we waive the timely filing of the notice of appeal. Furthermore, we reverse the trial court’s order dismissing the motion and remand for appointment of counsel if Defendant is indigent and for other proceedings pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1.
 
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/15
Kenneth Deangelo Thomas v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00884-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

In 2003, Kenneth Deangelo Thomas, the Petitioner, was convicted of felony murder and sentenced to life. In 2012, Paul Talley, an accomplice who testified against the Petitioner, executed a sworn statement claiming he lied about the Petitioner’s involvement in the murder. The Petitioner filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis based on the newly discovered evidence. Following a hearing in which Mr. Talley testified, the coram nobis court found Mr. Talley was not credible and dismissed the petition. Following a review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Carl C. Dotson
M2014-00774-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

A Williamson County Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Carl C. Dotson, charging him with theft of property valued over $1,000 but less than $10,000 and driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), third offense. A jury trial was held, and Defendant was convicted of the offenses. The trial court imposed a sentence of two years as a Range One offender for theft to be served in confinement and eleven months, twenty-nine days for DUI to be served concurrently. The judgment for DUI indicates that Defendant is to serve 160 days of his sentence for DUI in confinement and then eleven months and twenty-nine days on supervised probation. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
Thomas Eugene Lester v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01625-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Petitioner, Thomas Eugene Lester, appeals as of right from the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered because he was suffering from an untreated medical condition at the time he entered his plea. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
State of Tennessee v. Dustin Matthew Lucio
E2014-00642-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

A Sevier County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Dustin Matthew Lucio, of aggravated rape, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-three years in confinement to be served at 100%. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by failing to suppress a suggestive pretrial identification of him as the perpetrator, that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to introduce evidence of the victim’s drug use to corroborate his version of the events, and that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
State of Tennessee v. Dustin Matthew Lucio
E2014-00642-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

A Sevier County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Dustin Matthew Lucio, of aggravated rape, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-three years in confinement to be served at 100%. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by failing to suppress a suggestive pretrial identification of him as the perpetrator, that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to introduce evidence of the victim’s drug use to corroborate his version of the events, and that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
Jamie Lou Haneline v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01713-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

The petitioner, Jamie Lou Haneline, appeals the dismissal of his petition for the writ of error coram nobis. He was convicted of rape of a child in 2001 and received a sentence of thirty-eight years. In the petition for relief, which was filed in 2013, the petitioner alleged a newly discovered witness with information not previously known at trial. After a hearing, the court dismissed the petition as untimely and, further, found that the witness’s testimony would not have changed the verdict in the petitioner’s case. The petitioner contends that the error coram nobis court erroneously reached those conclusions. Following review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the court.

Decatur County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
Jerry McGaha v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01538-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ben W. Hooper, II

The pro se appellant, Jerry McGaha, appeals as of right from the Cocke County Circuit Court’s order denying his petition for post-conviction relief challenging his guilty-pleaded convictions of nine counts of rape of a child. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion to affirm by memorandum opinion is well-taken and affirm the judgment of the Cocke County Circuit Court.

Cocke County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
Troy D. Bartley v. Brenda Jones, Warden
W2014-01464-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Petitioner, Troy D. Bartley, appeals the Circuit Court for Lauderdale County’s denial of his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
State of Tennessee v. James Murray Washington
M2013-00831-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

I join in the majority opinion except that portion which concerns the appellant’s challenge that his constitutional right to confront a witness was denied by admission into evidence of the autopsy report prepared by Dr. Ann L. Bucholtz, M.D. The appellant was entitled to cross-examine Dr. Bucholtz prior to admission of the autopsy report. Therefore, I conclude it was error to admit the autopsy report itself into evidence as an exhibit. However, my conclusion does not extend to bar the use of Dr. Bucholtz’s autopsy report by the testifying physician to form his own expert opinion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
State of Tennessee v. James Murray Washington
M2013-00831-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The appellant, James Murray Washington, was convicted by a jury in the Davidson County Criminal Court of first degree murder. The trial court sentenced the appellant to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence was not sufficient to sustain his conviction, that the trial court erred by denying a motion to suppress his statement to the police, and that the trial court violated his constitutional right to confrontation by allowing a doctor who did not perform the victim’s autopsy to testify regarding the autopsy and by admitting the autopsy report into evidence. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
State of Tennessee v. Andrew Lee Davis
M2014-00563-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The appellant, Andrew Lee Davis, was convicted of domestic assault.  He was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days in the county jail, with all but thirty days of the sentence suspended.  On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his conviction.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
Laquan Napoleon Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00976-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

Laquan Napoleon Johnson (“the Petitioner”) appeals from the denial of his Petition for Writ of Error Coram Nobis (“the petition”). The coram nobis court interpreted the petition to allege an error coram nobis claim as well as a post-conviction claim. It summarily denied the error coram nobis claim and dismissed the post-conviction claim as time-barred. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
State of Tennessee v. Mario D. Taylor - concurring in part, dissenting in part
M2013-02667-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

I agree with the majority’s conclusions in all aspects relative to the issues raised by the Appellant. I write separately to address the Appellant’s dual convictions for aggravated robbery and aggravated assault because I conclude as a matter of plain error that the dual convictions violate double jeopardy principles.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
State of Tennessee v. Mario D. Taylor
M2013-02667-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Appellant, Mario D. Taylor, was convicted of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and three counts of aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of twelve years. On appeal, appellant argues that: (1) there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions; (2) his conviction for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony violates his double jeopardy rights; (3) the trial court erred by refusing to allow a lay witness to testify regarding appellant’s mental and physical health; and (4) the trial court erred by refusing to allow appellant to introduce the entirety of his videotaped interrogation. Following our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/15
Mark Allen Hill v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01011-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

The Petitioner, Mark Allen Hill, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his “open” guilty plea to second degree murder. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, leading to an involuntary plea, because trial counsel failed to inform him of the factors involved in enhancing his sentencing term. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court. 

Grainger County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/30/15
State of Tennessee v. Eddie Joe Whitaker
E2014-01066-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Defendant, Eddie Joe Whitaker, was convicted by a Campbell County jury of retaliation for past action and failure to appear. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-16-510, -16-609. On appeal, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. Following our review, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the Defendant’s conviction for retaliation for past action but that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the conviction for failure to appear. Therefore, the conviction for retaliation for past action is affirmed, and the conviction for failure to appear is reversed and that charge is dismissed.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
State of Tennessee v. John D. Bailey
W2014-00705-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Lee Moore, Jr.

Appellant, John D. Bailey, was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by failing to suppress his statement to the police and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15
Frederick Moore v. Mike Parris, Warden
W2014-02128-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Petitioner, Frederick Moore, appeals the Lake County Circuit Court's denial of his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. On appeal, he asserts that his indictment is void and illegal and deprives the trial court of jurisdiction because the State illegally amended it and improperly obtained a superseding indictment. He further asserts that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because he was denied due process when he was not afforded a second preliminary hearing. Upon review, we affirm the the trial court's denial of the petition.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/15