Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 02/28/2015
Format: 02/28/2015
Christopher Jones v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00447-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

Petitioner, Christopher Jones, was convicted of one count of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. State v. Christopher Alexander Jones, No. W2011-01990-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 4049175 (Tenn. Crim. App., Sept. 14, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn., Feb. 19, 2013). A panel of this court affirmed Petitioner’s conviction on appeal. Id. Petitioner filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief, alleging that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Following an evidentiary hearing, the postconviction court denied relief. Having carefully reviewed the record before us, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
Willie Price v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00186-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

Petitioner, Willie Price, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner was convicted of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated burglary, and robbery. He received an effective sentence of 60 years in confinement. Petitioner challenged his convictions and sentences on appeal, and a panel of this court affirmed the judgments of the trial court. State v. Willie Price, No. W2009-00083-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 376625 (Tenn. Crim. App., Feb. 3, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn., June 17, 2010). On appeal, Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to properly investigate Petitioner’s case, failing to call witnesses at trial, and by not seeking to suppress DNA evidence. He also asserts that his appellate counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel, but Petitioner submitted no argument as to this issue in his brief. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
Markhayle Jackson v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02027-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Petitioner, Markhayle Jackson, entered a best interest plea to first degree premeditated murder and received a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Petitioner now appeals the trial court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that his guilty plea was not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered. Having reviewed the record before us, we affirm the judgment of trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
State of Tennessee v. Clebron Glade Mealer, Jr.
M2014-01110-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, Clebron Glade Mealer, Jr., was indicted by a Marshall County Grand Jury for two counts of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000.  See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103(a), -105(a)(4).  Count one was dismissed, and Mealer entered a guilty plea to the theft charge in count two, with the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of his sentence at a later hearing.  When Mealer failed to appear at the sentencing hearing for his theft conviction, he was indicted for failure to appear, and a capias warrant was issued for his arrest.  Some time later, Mealer was arrested and entered a guilty plea to the failure to appear charge.  The trial court subsequently sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender to consecutive sentences of nine years for the theft conviction and four years for the failure to appear conviction.  On appeal, Mealer argues that his sentence is excessive and contrary to the law.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
State of Tennessee v. Leon Booker
M2014-00840-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The defendant, Leon Booker, pled guilty to theft over $500, a Class E felony, and theft under $500, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced as a Range III offender to six years for the felony conviction and to eleven months and twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor conviction, to be served consecutively.  On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in sentencing him as a Range III offender.  After review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
State of Tennessee v. Tyrone R. Teasley
M2014-00507-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

The Defendant, Tyrone R. Teasley, pleaded guilty before the Circuit Court for Williamson  County in case number II-CR087471 to first offense driving under the influence (DUI), a Class A misdemeanor, driving on a revoked, suspended, or cancelled license, a Class A misdemeanor, and reckless driving, a Class B misdemeanor.  See T.C.A. §§ 55-10-401 (Supp. 2014), 55-50-504 (2012), 55-10-205 (Supp. 2014).  The Defendant also pleaded guilty in case number II-CR017000 to first offense per se DUI, a Class A misdemeanor, resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor, and failure to report an accident, a Class C misdemeanor.   See id. §§ 55-10-401 (Supp. 2014), 39-16-602 (2014), 55-10-106 (2012).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to two consecutive terms of eleven months, twenty-nine days for the DUI convictions to be served on probation after 180 days’ concurrent confinement.  The Defendant also received concurrent sentences of six months for the resisting arrest and the reckless driving convictions to be served on probation after thirty days’ concurrent confinement, of eleven months, twenty-nine days for the driving on a revoked license conviction to be served on probation after 180 days’ concurrent confinement, and of thirty days’ concurrent confinement for failure to report an accident, for an effective sentence of twenty-three months and twenty-eight days with all but 180 days to be served on probation.  The trial court also ordered as a condition of probation that the Defendant “lose” his license for five years.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by ordering a five-year license suspension.  We reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand for entry of modified judgments reflecting the loss of the Defendant’s driving privilege for two years in compliance with Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-404(a)(1)(A) (Supp. 2014).

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
State of Tennessee v. Chase Nathaniel Martin
E2014-00738-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy F. Reedy

Defendant, Chase Nathaniel Martin, was indicted by the Monroe County Grand Jury for burglary in August of 2012. Subsequently, he entered a best interest plea of guilty and was sentenced to eight years as a Range II, multiple offender on December 10, 2013. The trial court specified that Defendant could apply for Community Corrections. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider sentencing on January 16, 2014. After the denial of the motion to reconsider and denial of a request for placement in Community Corrections, Defendant appealed. We waive the untimely filing of the notice of appeal and review the challenge to the sentence. After a review, we affirm the sentence.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/15
William Charles Angel, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02659-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The Petitioner, William Charles Angel, Jr., appeals the Giles County Circuit Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his guilty plea to three counts of first degree premeditated murder (counts 1, 2, and 3), three counts of first degree felony murder (counts 4, 5, and 6), one count of aggravated arson, one count of setting fire to personal property, one count of aggravated burglary, one count of theft under $500, and one count of aggravated cruelty to an animal, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment without parole.  He argues that his convictions were based upon a coerced confession to law enforcement and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, which rendered his guilty plea involuntary.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment denying post-conviction relief.  However, because the judgments of conviction in this case fail to reflect the merger of the first degree premeditated convictions with the surviving first degree felony murder convictions, we vacate the judgments in counts 1 through 6 and remand the case for entry of three judgments of conviction showing that count 1 was merged with count 4, count 2 was merged with count 5, and count 3 was merged with count 6.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/29/15
State of Tennessee v. David Wortman
E2014-00913-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

Defendant, David Wortman, pled guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in exchange for an effective sentence of four years and six months, with the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court at a sentencing hearing. After the sentencing hearing, the trial court denied alternative sentencing, ordering Defendant to serve his sentence in incarceration. Defendant appeals the denial of alternative sentencing. Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying alternative sentencing, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/29/15
State of Tennessee v. Elke Babette Paster
W2014-00606-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Defendant, Elke Babette Paster, was charged with multiple Tennessee Code Annotated traffic offenses. These charges were initially set for adjudication in Somerville City Court but were later transferred to Fayette County General Sessions Court, where that court found the Defendant guilty of speeding. Upon her appeal to the Fayette County Circuit Court from the General Sessions Court’s judgment, the Circuit Court granted the Defendant’s motion to dismiss, declaring the General Sessions Court order void and reinstating the City Court’s adjudication of her charges. She now appeals challenging the jurisdiction of the City Court, the authority of that court to transfer the case to the General Sessions Court, and the Circuit Court’s reinstatement of the City Court’s adjudication. Following our review, we reverse the order of the Circuit Court dismissing the case and remand to that court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Fayette County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/28/15
State of Tennessee v. William Jernigan
W2013-01011-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

Defendant, William Jernigan, entered into a negotiated plea agreement and pled guilty as charged in a two-count criminal information to the Class D felony offense of possession with intent to sell Alprazolam and to the Class E felony offense of possession with intent to sell one-half ounce or more of marijuana. The agreed sentences were thirty months for the Class D felony and two years for the Class E felony, to be served concurrently. Reserved for determination by the trial court was what amount, if any, of the effective sentence of thirty months would be served on probation. At the sentencing hearing, Defendant sought full probation. The State requested that Defendant be incarcerated “at least for a time” because Defendant was “not worthy of complete probation.” From the bench at the conclusion of the sentencing hearing the trial court ordered the sentence to be served by split confinement as follows: sixty days’ incarceration in the Shelby County workhouse followed by thirty months’ probation. Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court should have granted full probation. We affirm the judgments of conviction and sentence of the trial court but reverse the trial court’s order of stay of incarceration which was filed after the notice of appeal conferred jurisdiction with this Court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/28/15
Dale Wayne Wilbanks v. State of Tennessee
E2013-00229-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger

The Petitioner, Dale Wayne Wilbanks, entered a best interest plea with an agreed upon sentence of twenty years for second degree murder and a concurrent twenty-five years for attempted first degree murder. The Petitioner filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and a petition seeking post-conviction relief. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner relief. The Petitioner now appeals, maintaining that his guilty plea was involuntary and that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the postconviction court’s judgments.

Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/28/15
State of Tennessee v. Richard Barefoot
M2014-01028-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

In 2014 the Defendant, Richard Barefoot, pleaded guilty to identity theft, fraudulent use of a credit card, and theft of property.  The trial court sentenced him to fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  The Defendant reserved a certified question of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) about whether the trial court improperly denied his motion to dismiss by holding that the time limitation for prisoner transfer as proscribed by the Interstate Compact on Detainers was not applicable.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/28/15
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Roy Bozza
M2013-02537-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Defendant, Timothy Roy Bozza, was convicted of first degree murder by a Davidson County Criminal Court Jury.  See T.C.A. § 39-13-202 (2014). He was sentenced to life in prison.  On appeal, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred in denying him counsel of his choice.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/28/15
State of Tennessee v. Bobby Daniel Pettie
M2014-00113-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Russell

The Defendant, Bobby Daniel Pettie, was found guilty by a Bedford County Circuit Court jury of initiating the manufacture of methamphetamine, a Class B felony, promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, a Class D felony, possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class D felony, and possession of methamphetamine, a Class A misdemeanor.  See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-435 (2014), 39-17-433 (2014), 39-17-1324 (2014), 39-17-418 (2014).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to sixteen years for initiating the manufacture of methamphetamine, six years for promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, six years for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and eleven months, twenty-nine days for possession of methamphetamine.  The court ordered the initiating the manufacture of methamphetamine and the promotion of methamphetamine manufacture sentences be served concurrently with each other and consecutively to the possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and to the possession of methamphetamine sentences, for an effective sentence of twenty-two years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress, and (3) his sentence is excessive.  We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/28/15
State of Tennessee v. Richard Alan Hatchel
W2014-00486-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker III

Defendant, Richard Alan Hatchel, was indicted by the Tipton County Grand Jury for first degree premeditated murder and felony reckless endangerment under T.C.A. § 39-13- 103(b)(3). Defendant was convicted as charged by a jury. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment for his first degree murder conviction and three years for his reckless endangerment conviction, with the sentences to be served concurrently. In this appeal as of right, Defendant asserts and the State concedes that the evidence is insufficient to support Defendant’s conviction for reckless endangerment because the proof at trial showed that Defendant was inside the house, and an element of the offense for which Defendant was charged is that he discharged a firearm from outside of the house. Defendant also asserts that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for first degree premeditated murder. After a careful review of the record before us, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction for first degree premeditated murder, but the evidence was insufficient to support Defendant’s conviction for felony reckless endangerment as charged. Accordingly, the judgment of conviction for first degree murder is affirmed. The judgment of conviction for felony reckless endangerment is reversed and the charge of felony reckless endangerment is dismissed with prejudice.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Benjamin Lepard aka Benjamine Lepard
W2014-00170-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

Defendant, Benjamin Lepard, a/k/a Benjamine Lepard, appeals from the trial court’s order revoking his probation as to all four convictions he received in 2010 as a result of negotiated guilty pleas entered on July 27, 2010. He received sentences of three years in each of three of the convictions and a sentence of eight years in the fourth conviction. The three-year sentences were ordered to be served concurrently with each other but consecutively to the eight-year sentence, for an effective sentence of eleven years. The order of probation reflects that Defendant would stay in custody for an additional eight months and be released to probation “for a period of 11 years.” Defendant was also ordered to “go to inpatient rehab on release” on March 25, 2011. A violation of probation warrant was filed on November 15, 2013. After a hearing, the trial court revoked probation on all convictions and ordered Defendant to serve the entire effective sentence of eleven years by incarceration. After a thorough review of the appellate record and the arguments of the parties, we affirm the trial court’s judgment insofar as it rules that Defendant violated a condition of probation and that the suspended sentence should be revoked. However, under the particular circumstances of this case, we reverse the trial court’s judgment insofar as it ordered the entire effective sentence of eleven years to be served. Under rather peculiar and disturbing circumstances, the judgments were altered without the trial court’s direction, and we are unable to conclude whether the effective three-year sentence was to be served prior to the eight-year sentence. Accordingly, we remand for the trial court to enter amended judgments setting forth the details of the manner of service of the effective eleven-year sentence, specifically whether the three-year sentence was to be served prior to the eight-year sentence.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Michael Baker aka Michael Simmons
W2013-02184-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Michael Baker a/k/a Michael Simmons (“the Defendant”) was charged with first degree murder in the attempt to commit robbery, criminal attempt: especially aggravated robbery, and criminal attempt: aggravated robbery. The jury convicted the Defendant as charged, and the trial court sentenced him to life plus ten years. On appeal, the Defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Marquez Williams
W2013-02764-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Marquez Williams, was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced to 11 years in the Department of Correction. In this direct appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence as it relates to his identification as the perpetrator of the offense. The Defendant also challenges the length of his sentence. Following a thorough review of the record and applicable authority, we affirm the judgment of trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/27/15
David Lee Leggs v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00866-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, David Lee Leggs, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He claims that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during trial and on appeal. After thorough review, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.

 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Don Arturo Hyler
M2014-00221-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The defendant, Don Arturo Hyler, was convicted of the sale of 26 grams or more of cocaine and possession of 300 grams or more of cocaine with intent to sell in a drug-free school zone and received a total effective sentence of fifteen years at 100%.  On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; that the court should have instructed the jury as to the lesser-included offense of facilitation; that the State made an improper reference in the opening statement regarding prior bad acts of the defendant; and for failing to grant a severance of charges for trial.  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Nicholas Kieth Phillips
M2013-02705-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Keith Siskin

A Rutherford County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Nicholas Keith Phillips, of two counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and two counts of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony.  After a sentencing hearing, he received an effective forty-year sentence to be served at 100%.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions and that his dual convictions for the offenses violate principles of double jeopardy.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the appellant’s convictions of aggravated sexual battery but conclude that his dual convictions of rape of a child violate double jeopardy principles and must be merged. Moreover, because the trial court improperly sentenced the appellant, the case is remanded to the trial court for resentencing.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Nico Farmer
W2013-02736-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The defendant, Nico Farmer, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of felony murder and attempted aggravated assault, a Class D felony, and was sentenced to consecutive terms of life and eight years. He raises four issues on appeal: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) whether the trial court erred in ruling that his prior aggravated robbery convictions could be used to impeach his testimony; (3) whether the trial court erred by not charging the jury on self-defense; and (4) whether the trial court imposed an excessive sentence by enhancing his sentence for attempted aggravated assault and ordering that the sentences be served consecutively. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/23/15
State of Tennessee v. Larry Futrell and Terrell Smith
W2013-01192-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Following a jury trial, the Defendants, Larry Futrell and Terrell Smith, were convicted of aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Defendants contend that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support their convictions. Mr. Smith also contends that the trial court erred in sentencing him to 26 years in the Department of Correction. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/23/15
State of Tennessee v. Michael J. Inman
E2013-01227-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge David A. Patterson
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Reed Duggan

The defendant, Michael Jerome Inman a/k/a Michael Jerome Bivens, entered guilty pleas to six offenses: five counts of theft, which were three Class D felonies, a Class E felony, and a Class A misdemeanor, as well as one count of criminal impersonation, a Class B misdemeanor. He eceived an effective fourteen-year sentence to be served on community corrections. A warrant was issued for violation of the terms of his community corrections sentence. After a hearing, the trial court found that the defendant had violated the terms of his community corrections sentence and ordered him to serve his sentence in the penitentiary. The defendant now appeals, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the defendant to serve his sentence in confinement; and, whether the defendant had a right to be present in court when his letter to the clerk requesting jail credit was discussed. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/23/15