Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/06/2015
Format: 07/06/2015
State of Tennessee v. John Edward Lewis
M2014-01912-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

The Defendant, John Edward Lewis, was convicted of vandalism of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony.  On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence as to the value of the damaged property for the purposes of the grade of the offense and restitution.  Upon review, we find that the evidence was insufficient to establish the value of the property damaged.  Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and modify the Defendant’s conviction to vandalism of property valued at less than $500, a Class A misdemeanor.  The case is remanded for a hearing to determine the sentence and the amount of restitution.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/15
State of Tennessee v. Deaundra Donnell Smith
M2013-02247-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Deaundra Donnell Smith, of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) the trial court erred when it denied his motion for mistrial based upon the State’s alleged failure to disclose exculpatory evidence; and (3) the trial court erred when it failed to admit into evidence a text message sent from one of his co-defendants to the other co-defendant. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/15
Jason Christopher Underwood v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00159-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert G. Crigler

The Petitioner, Jason Christopher Underwood, appeals as of right from the Bedford County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on initial counsel’s failure to “provide adequate protections” for the Petitioner during his February 25, 2005 interview with the assistant district attorney general, pre-trial counsel’s failure to pursue a motion to suppress statements from the aforementioned interview, and trial counsel’s failure to object to admission of the February 25 statements at trial. The Petitioner also requests that we revisit our holding on direct appeal that the trial court’s denial of his request for a deoxyribonucleic acid (“DNA”) expert was not error.  Following our review, we conclude that the Petitioner’s first issue is without merit, and his second and third issues have been waived because he raises them for the first time in this appeal.  Also, we decline to revisit our earlier holding that the trial court did not err when it denied the Petitioner’s motion requesting additional funds for a DNA expert.  Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/15
State of Tennessee v. Jason Lyles
M2013-02618-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

Appellant, Jason Lyles, was convicted by a Maury County jury of two counts of facilitation of sale of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, in an amount of 0.5 grams or more in a drug-free zone, a Class C felony; one count of sale of cocaine in an amount of 0.5 grams or more in a drug-free zone, a Class B felony; and one count of sale of cocaine in an amount of 0.5 grams or more, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced him to concurrent terms of three years, three years, and eight years (at 100% release eligibility) and a consecutive sentence of ten years, suspended to probation, respectively. In his motion for new trial and in this appeal, appellant presents one issue: whether the trial court erred in declining to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of simple causal exchange. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/15
State of Tennessee v. Michael Wise
E2014-00712-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Defendant, Michael Wise, pleaded guilty to sexual battery by an authority figure, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-527 (2014). The trial court sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender to three years' confinement in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the court abused its discretion by denying him alternative sentencing and that a presumption of reasonableness should not apply to its findings. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/15
State of Tennessee v. Billy Stewart
W2013-02562-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The Defendant, Billy Stewart, was found guilty by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of four counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, Class E felonies, and one count of cruelty to animals, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-212, 39-14-202 (2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to two years for each felony conviction and to eleven months, twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor conviction. The court ordered partial consecutive sentences, for an effective four years in confinement. On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his aggravated cruelty to animals convictions, (2) the trial court erroneously admitted evidence at the trial, (3) the State improperly withheld exculpatory evidence, and (4) the trial court erred during sentencing. Although we affirm the Defendant’s convictions, the judgment form for Count 5 erroneously reflects that aggravated cruelty to animals is a Class D felony rather than a Class E felony, and we remand for entry of a corrected judgment for that count.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/04/15
State of Tennessee v. Mark A. Crites
M2014-00383-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The defendant, Mark A. Crites, was convicted of aggravated robbery, a Class C felony.  On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction, that he was denied his right to a speedy trial, and that the trial court erred in restricting cross-examination of the victim.  After reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/04/15
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Alton King
M2014-01280-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

Matthew Alton King (“the Defendant”) entered guilty pleas in case number CR087458 and CR087459 with the length of sentence and manner of service to be determined by the trial court.  After the sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sixteen years’ incarceration.  On appeal, the Defendant challenges both the length of his sentences and the denial of alternative sentencing.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/04/15
State of Tennessee v. Samuel L. Giddens
M2014-01484-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

The appellant, Samuel L. Giddens, filed in the Williamson County Circuit Court a motion to correct his sentences pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, alleging that his sentences were illegal because he had not received mandatory pretrial jail credits.  The motion was summarily denied, and the appellant appeals this ruling.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/15
State of Tennessee v. Mark Deven Dover
E2014-01558-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Mark Deven Dover (“the Defendant”) was indicted for vandalism over $1,000. He pleaded guilty to vandalism over $500, a Class E felony. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied the Defendant’s request for judicial diversion and sentenced him to two years’ supervised probation pursuant to the plea agreement. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of judicial diversion. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/15
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Kantrell Norris
M2014-00857-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

Defendant, Joseph K. Norris, was indicted by the Williamson County Grand Jury in an 11-count indictment for one count of attempted second degree murder, three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of especially aggravated burglary, one count of aggravated burglary, one count of aggravated assault, three counts of aggravated robbery, and one count of reckless endangerment. Defendant entered open guilty pleas to one count of attempted second degree murder, three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of especially aggravated burglary, one count of aggravated burglary, three counts of aggravated robbery, and one count of reckless endangerment. Defendant agreed he would be sentenced as a Range II offender. The trial court sentenced Defendant to serve 20 years for his attempted second degree murder conviction; 40 years at 100 percent for each of his three especially aggravated kidnapping convictions; 20 years for his especially aggravated burglary conviction; ten years for his aggravated burglary conviction; 20 years at 85 percent for each of his three aggravated robbery convictions; and four years for his reckless endangerment conviction. The trial court ordered that Defendant’s sentences for attempted second degree murder, especially aggravated burglary, and aggravated robbery run concurrently with each other but consecutively to his sentences for three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, which the trial court ordered to be served consecutively, for a total effective sentence of 140 years. Defendant’s sentences for aggravated burglary and reckless endangerment were ordered to be served concurrently with all other counts. Defendant appeals as of right, arguing that his sentence is excessive. After a careful review of the record on appeal and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/15
Antwon Cook v. State of Tennessee
E2014-02229-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

The petitioner, Antwon Cook, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court found that the appeal was filed beyond the one-year statute of limitations and that due process did not necessitate an equitable tolling of the statute of limitations. On appeal, the petitioner contends that equitable tolling is warranted because his plea agreement that allowed for concurrent service of a state and federal sentence is not being honored. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court. 

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Dewayne Henson
M2013-01285-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Defendant-Appellant, Christopher Dewayne Henson, was convicted by a Maury County jury of reckless endangerment.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to 11 months and 29 days and ordered that he serve 45 days in confinement, with the remainder of his sentence to be served on supervised probation.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) the trial court erred in admitting color photographs of the victim’s injuries; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing the Defendant.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Donald Ray Williams
M2014-00877-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

A Putnam County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Donald Ray Williams, of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony; especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony; and especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to ten years at thirty percent release eligibility for the attempted second degree murder conviction, twenty years at one hundred percent release eligibility for the especially aggravated robbery conviction, and twenty years at one hundred percent release eligibility for the especially aggravated kidnapping conviction.  The trial court ordered the twenty-year sentences to be served consecutively to one another and concurrently with the ten-year sentence, for an effective forty-year sentence in the Department of Correction.  The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court erred in sentencing the Defendant.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/15
Jackie D. Seymore v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00895-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

The Petitioner, Jackie D. Seymore, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief from his convictions for rape of a child.  On appeal, he argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Phillip W. Kelley
M2014-01230-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The Petitioner, Phillip Wayne Kelley, appeals the denial of his motion to vacate his convictions by the Circuit Court for Maury County.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to vacate his convictions because the trial court did not have jurisdiction to convict and sentence him.  Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/15
State of Tennessee v. Anthen Lee Parker
W2014-01221-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan

Pursuant to Rule 37(b) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defendant, Anthen Lee Parker, who entered pleas of guilty in two separate cases to driving after having been declared a motor vehicle habitual offender, appeals a certified question of law related to the validity of an earlier judgment declaring him a motor vehicle habitual offender. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Torrie D. Carter
W2014-02081-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Parish

The defendant, Torrie D. Carter, appeals the summary dismissal of his motion filed pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure to correct an illegal sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the summary dismissal of his motion.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Cordell Brewer, III
W2014-01347-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge William B. Acree

The defendant, Joseph Cordell Brewer, III, was convicted of theft of property of $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, a Class C felony; evading arrest, a Class D felony; and evading arrest, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced the defendant as a Range III, persistent offender to serve twelve years for the theft of property conviction, twelve years as a Range IV, career offender for the felony evading arrest conviction, and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor evading arrest conviction. The trial court ordered the sentences to be served concurrently to each other but consecutively to a prior sentence because the offenses were committed while the defendant was on parole. On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for theft of property and Class D felony evading arrest. He also argues that the trial court improperly classified him as a persistent and career offender. After our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to sustain the defendant's conviction for theft of property but that his conviction for Class D felony evading arrest should be reduced to Class E felony evading arrest. Further, we conclude that the trial court properly sentenced the defendant as a persistent and career offender, but we remand the case for resentencing on the Class E felony.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Patricia Smith
W2014-02106-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Appellant, Patricia Smith, was convicted of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and the trial court sentenced her to three years, suspended to probation after forty-five days in confinement. On appeal, appellant argues that there was insufficient evidence to support her conviction. Following our review of the parties' briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/15
David Edward Niles v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00147-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert G. Crigler

Petitioner, David Edward Niles, was indicted for, and ultimately convicted of, first degree murder in Bedford County.  State v. David Edward Niles, No. M2011-01412-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 1965438, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Jun. 1, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2012).  His direct appeal was unsuccessful.  Id.  He subsequently sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel.  After a hearing, the petition was dismissed.  On appeal, Petitioner insists that the post-conviction court improperly dismissed the petition for relief and that he received ineffective assistance of post-conviction counsel.  After a review, we determine that Petitioner failed to establish that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.  Further, we determine that Petitioner is not entitled to challenge the effectiveness of post-conviction counsel.  Consequently, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/15
Sylvia Laird v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02020-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

Petitioner, Sylvia Laird, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief.  She claims that she received ineffective assistance of counsel when she was erroneously informed that she could not file a motion to withdraw her guilty plea before sentencing.  Consequently, Petitioner argues that a subsequent guilty plea agreement that determined her sentence was unconstitutional because it was entered unknowingly, involuntarily, and unintelligently.  After a careful review of the record, the parties’ briefs, and the applicable law, we conclude that Petitioner has proven that she is entitled to post-conviction relief and, therefore, reverse the decision of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/15
Gene Earl Stanley v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01659-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The petitioner, Gene Earl Stanley, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his Sumner County Criminal Court jury convictions of one count of burglary, two counts of theft of property, felony evading arrest, reckless endangerment, driving under the influence of an intoxicant, and driving on a suspended license, claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel.  Because the petitioner failed to establish by clear and convincing evidence facts that would support a conclusion that he was prejudiced by his counsel’s deficient performance, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/15
Harry Joseph Chase v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01375-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

The Petitioner, Harry Joseph Chase, appeals as of right from the Greene County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. In this appeal, the Petitioner asserts that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because lead trial counsel was not present when he pled guilty, did not review the Petitioner’s discovery with him, and did not fully discuss a possible self-defense claim with the Petitioner. Following our review, we conclude that the record supports the post-conviction court’s conclusion that the Petitioner received the effective assistance of counsel, and we therefore affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/29/15
State of Tennessee v. Deborah B. Bowes
E2014-01462-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck
The appellant, Deborah B. Bowes, pled guilty in the Sullivan County Criminal Court to one count of filing a false report, for which she received a sentence of eight years. On appeal, the appellant challenges the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/29/15