Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 09/18/2018
Format: 09/18/2018
James William Taylor, a/k/a Lutfi Shafq Talal v. State of Tennessee
M2012-01549-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robbie T. Beal

The Appellant, James William Taylor, appeals the Williamson County Circuit Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion for correction of clerical errors on the face of his first degree murder judgment. On appeal, the Appellant argues that the trial court erred in denying his Rule 36 motion. Upon review, we reverse the Appellant’s first degree murder judgment in case number 188-108 and remand the case to the Williamson County Circuit Court for entry of a corrected judgment showing that the Appellant was convicted of first degree murder and his conviction offense was a Class X felony pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-2-202 (Supp. 1987), that he was sentenced to a life sentence with release eligibility on that life sentence after service of thirty years pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-501(f) (Supp. 1987), and that the trial court imposed consecutive sentencing for the first degree murder, burglary, and robbery convictions.
 

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/13
James E. Williams v. State of Tennessee
M2012-02151-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa A. Jackson

In 1987, the Petitioner, James E. Williams, was convicted of armed robbery, assault with intent to commit first degree murder, and aggravated kidnapping. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of life plus seventy-five years. This Court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions and sentence on appeal. State v. James E. Williams, No. 88-172-III, 1988 WL 138843, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Dec. 30, 1988), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Apr. 3, 1989). During the next sixteen years, the Petitioner filed two petitions for post-conviction relief and a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, all of which were denied by the post-conviction court. The Petitioner appealed each denial separately, and this Court affirmed the trial court each time. In 2012, the Petitioner filed a second petition for a writ of error coram nobis in which he presented multiple allegations. The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that the coram nobis court erred when it dismissed his petition without a hearing, contending that he presented in his petition newly discovered evidence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the coram nobis court’s judgment.
 

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/13
Clayton Bezuidenhout v. State of Tennessee
M2012-01114-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The Petitioner, Clayton Bezuidenhout, appeals from the Williamson County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2009 guilty plea to theft of property valued at more than $500 but less than $1000. He contends that the trial court erred by concluding that the petition was untimely and that the one-year statute of limitations was not tolled. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/13
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Lewis
W2011-02219-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, Kenneth Lewis, was indicted by a Shelby County Grand Jury for second degree murder, a Class A felony, and was convicted as charged. See T.C.A. § 39-13-210 (2006). The trial court sentenced Lewis as a Range II, multiple offender to a sentence of thirty-five years at one hundred percent release eligibility. On appeal, Lewis argues: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his request to question a witness about the witness’s failure to appear at two prior court proceedings in his case; and (3) his sentence is excessive. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/13
Gregory Justice v. State of Tennessee
M2012-00183-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Petitioner, Gregory Justice, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his jury convictions for possession with the intent to sell or deliver one-half gram or more of a controlled substance, facilitation of the sale of less than one-half gram of a controlled substance, and felonious possession of marijuana, and his concurrent sentences of fourteen years, five years, and three years, respectively. The Petitioner contends that the convictions should be set aside and that he should be granted a new trial because (1) the count charging possession with the intent to sell or deliver more than one-half gram of a controlled substance was duplicitous, (2) he was denied his constitutional right to a trial by a jury and jury unanimity, and (3) trial counsel provided the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/13
State of Tennessee v. Timothy P. Guilfoy
M2012-00600-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Timothy P. Guilfoy (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of two counts of rape of a child, four counts of aggravated sexual battery, and one count of assault. After a hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to twenty years for each of the rapes, ten years for each of the aggravated sexual batteries, and six months for the assault. The trial court ordered partial consecutive service, resulting in an effective sentence of seventy years to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends as follows: (1) the trial court erred in allowing the State to ask leading questions of one of the victims; (2) the trial court erred in admitting two expert opinions; (3) the trial court erred in admitting recordings of phone calls between the Defendant and the victims’ mother; (4) the trial court erred in admitting the videotaped forensic interviews of the victims as substantive evidence; (5) the State’s election of offenses was ineffective; (6) the evidence is not sufficient to support his convictions; (7) cumulative errors entitle him to a new trial; and (8) his sentence is excessive. Upon our thorough review of the record and applicable law, we merge the Defendant’s two convictions of aggravated sexual battery entered on Counts One and Two into a single conviction of aggravated sexual battery. We also merge the Defendant’s two convictions of rape of a child into a single conviction of rape of a child. Finally, we merge the Defendant’s conviction of assault into his conviction of aggravated sexual battery entered on Count Three. In light of our holdings, we remand this matter for a new sentencing hearing. The Defendant’s convictions are otherwise affirmed.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/13
State of Tennessee v. Samuel L. Giddens
M2012-00858-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Appellant, Samuel L. Giddens, seeks relief from the trial court’s order denying Appellant’s “Motion Nunc Pro Tunc,” which sought amendment of a judgment to increase his pretrial jail credits. The trial court denied relief without having a hearing. We conclude that Appellant’s appeal must be dismissed because there is no appeal as of right from the denial of the motion filed by Appellant.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/13
State of Tennessee v. Demeko Gerard Duckworth
M2012-01234-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The defendant, Demeko Gerard Duckworth, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of two counts of first degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, and one count of employing a firearm during a dangerous offense, claiming that the trial court erred by denying his motion to sever offenses, that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and that the trial court erred by imposing partially consecutive sentences. Because we discern no reversible error, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed in all other respects.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/13
Jonathan Fortener v. State of Tennessee
E2011-02575-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy Reedy

The petitioner, Jonathan Fortener, appeals the Monroe County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner was convicted of one count of second degree murder and sentenced to a term of twenty-five years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying the petition because trial counsel was ineffective in that he had reason to know of mitigating factors, failed to investigate those mitigating factors, and failed to hire an expert to present evidence of the mitigating factors at the sentencing hearing. The petitioner also faults the post-conviction court for failing to allow testimony at the post-conviction hearing regarding traumatic brain injuries. Following our review of the record, we affirm the denial of relief.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/13
State of Tennessee v. Deangelo M. Moody and Martez D. Matthews
M2011-01930-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

A jury convicted appellants, Deangelo M. Moody and Martez D. Matthews, of first degree murder. The trial court imposed life sentences. On appeal, both appellants challenge the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. In addition, appellant Matthews argues that the trial court erred in the following rulings: (1) admitting a hearsay statement pertaining to motive that was attributed to a severed co-defendant; (2) allowing certain statements, including “gang lingo”; (3) permitting testimony regarding witnesses’ gang involvement for impeachment purposes; (4) admitting evidence of the personal history between two witnesses; (5) allowing the State to introduce a crime scene photograph that depicted a pool of blood; and (6) permitting the State to introduce proof of his conviction for possession of a handgun. After reviewing the record, the parties’ briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand this cause for entry of judgment forms reflecting dismissal of appellant Matthews’s indictment for employing a firearm during commission of a dangerous felony and appellant Moody’s acquittal of the same charge.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/13
State of Tennessee v. Terrance Megel Jordan
M2011-00741-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant, Terrance Megel Jordan, was found guilty by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of aggravated rape, a Class A felony; rape, a Class B felony; aggravated statutory rape, a Class D felony; and evading arrest, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-502 (2010) (aggravated rape), 39-13-503 (2010) (rape), 39-13-506 (2010) (amended 2012) (aggravated statutory rape), 39-16-603 (2010) (evading arrest). The rape and aggravated statutory rape convictions were merged with the aggravated rape conviction, although the trial court later vacated the aggravated statutory rape count. For aggravated rape, he was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to thirty-five years, to be served at 100%. For evading arrest, he was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days. The sentences were imposed concurrrently. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions of aggravated rape and rape; (2) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the victim’s statements to a social worker; and (3) the assistant district attorney committed prosecutorial misconduct during the opening statement. We affirm the Defendant’s convictions, but we vacate the rape and aggravated rape judgments and remand the case for entry of a single judgment reflecting the merger of these convictions

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/13
Mario Ramirez Rodriguez v. State of Tennessee
M2012-00958-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Jones

The Petitioner, Mario Ramirez Rodriguez, appeals from the Wayne County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for the writ of habeas corpus relief. On appeal, the Petitioner claims his allegations regarding the age of the victim, his incorrect release eligibility noted on the judgment form for Count 2, and the failure of the trial court to impose the required statutory fines, could be proven upon an evidentiary hearing and should not have been deemed merely clerical errors. We conclude that there is no reversible error in the judgment of the habeas corpus court and affirm.
 

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/13
State of Tennessee v. James William Axford, II
M2012-01530-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

In this delayed appeal, the defendant, James William Axford, II, contends that the trial court erred by revoking his probation and ordering that he serve in confinement the originally imposed sentence of three years for his convictions of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance, evading arrest, identity theft, and aggravated assault. Discerning no error, we affirm.
 

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/13