Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/29/2016
Format: 06/29/2016
State of Tennessee v. Jose Reyes
M2015-00504-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The defendant, Jose Reyes, was convicted of one count of rape of a child and sentenced to thirty-two years at 100%. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the verdict and that the trial court erred in several of its rulings. Specifically, he asserts that the trial court erred in: denying his motion in limine to prevent the Child Advocacy Center facility dog from being present with the victim as he was testifying; denying his motion to suppress his written statement and his motion in limine that the statement be excluded at trial; denying his motion to dismiss the superseding indictment; denying his motion for a continuance to locate a witness; denying his motion in limine to exclude testimony regarding his having sexual relations or watching pornography in the presence of the victim; denying his motion for judgment of acquittal; imposing an excessive sentence; and considering the victim impact statement, which included references to HIV, herpes, and gonorrhea. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

DeKalb County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/16
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Wayne Moore
M2015-01229-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, Jeffrey Wayne Moore, entered a guilty plea to driving under the influence (DUI) in exchange for a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days to be served on probation after the service of forty-eight hours in jail. As a condition of his plea, Moore reserved a certified question of law challenging the denial of his motion to suppress, which was based upon an alleged unconstitutional seizure. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/16
State of Tennessee v. Micah England
W2015-01804-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Micah England, pleaded guilty in the Madison County Circuit Court pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement to carrying a weapon on school property, a Class E felony, with the length and the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court. See T.C.A. § 39-17-1309 (2014) (amended 2015). The court sentenced the Defendant to two years' probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his request for judicial diversion. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/23/16
State of Tennessee v. Mary Drew Gentry
E2015-01738-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

Mary Drew Gentry (“the Defendant”) appeals the Blount County Circuit Court’s order revoking her probation and imposing her three-year sentence for burglary. On appeal, the Defendant acknowledges that she violated probation but argues that the trial court should have imposed split confinement and community corrections rather than ordering her to serve her sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/23/16
State of Tennessee v. William Scott Deadrick
E2015-01650-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The appellant, William Scott Deadrick, pled guilty in the Sullivan County Criminal Court to multiple counts of selling and delivering less than one-half gram of a Schedule II controlled substance within a school zone. The trial court merged some of the convictions and sentenced the appellant to an effective eight-year sentence to be served at 100%. Subsequently, the appellant filed a motion for reduction of sentence, which the trial court summarily denied. On appeal, the appellant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion. Based upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/23/16
State of Tennessee v. James Frederick Hegel
E2015-00953-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The appellant, James Frederick Hegel, appeals the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s denial of his motion to suspend the costs the court ordered he pay for his 2009 convictions of rape of a child and incest. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we dismiss the appeal.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/23/16
Connie Arnold v. Doug Cook, Warden
E2015-02214-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The Petitioner, Connie Arnold, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, in which he challenged the legality of his judgments of conviction for rape of a child and aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. The Petitioner asserts that his indictment and judgments of conviction are illegal and void on their face because the offense date listed in the documents is incorrect. Further, the Petitioner asserts that his judgment for rape of a child contains an illegal sentence, entitling him to habeas corpus relief. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/16
State of Tennessee v. Helkie Nathan Carter
M2015-00280-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Helkie Nathan Carter (“the Defendant”) was indicted for the following counts: (1) driving under the influence (“DUI”)—third offense; (2) driving with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of .08 or more (“DUI per se”)—third offense; (3) violation of the habitual motor vehicle offender statute; and (4) driving on a revoked license.  The Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained during a mandatory blood draw was granted by the trial court.  The State sought and was granted permission to appeal, arguing that the Defendant gave both actual and implied consent to the blood draw and that, if the good-faith exception is adopted in Tennessee, it should apply to this case.  Upon review, we conclude that the Defendant’s actual consent was not freely and voluntarily given; Tennessee’s implied consent law does not, by itself, operate as an exception to the warrant requirement; and no exception to the warrant requirement justified the blood draw.  We decline to adopt a good-faith exception.  The judgment of the trial court suppressing the results of the warrantless blood draw is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/16
State of Tennessee v. Robert Henry Jackson
M2014-02039-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

The Williamson County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant-Appellant, Robert Henry Jackson, for two counts of aggravated stalking, one count of coercion of a witness, and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  During trial, the State dismissed the coercion of a witness count.  The jury acquitted the Defendant-Appellant of the aggravated stalking counts but found him guilty of the count charging him with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a Class A misdemeanor.  See T.C.A. § 37-1-156.  Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days, with the Defendant-Appellant to serve ninety days’ confinement before serving the remainder of his sentence on supervised probation.  On appeal, the Defendant-Appellant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction and that his sentence is excessive.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
Joseph Gilbert Williams, Jr. vs. State of Tennessee
M2015-02063-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Fishburn

In 2013, a Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Joseph Gilbert Williams, Jr., of violation of the sex offender registry, third offense.  The Petitioner appealed, and this Court dismissed the appeal for failure to file a brief as ordered.  State v. Joseph Gilbert Williams, Jr., No. M2014-00019-CCA-R3-CD, (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, July 10, 2014).  In 2015, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, contending that the State failed to disclose favorable evidence to him and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel.  The trial court summarily dismissed the petition as untimely filed.  The Petitioner then untimely filed his notice of appeal.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it summarily dismissed his petition.  Finding that the post-conviction petition was not timely filed, we dismiss the appeal.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
Justin L. Horstead v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01070-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

In 2013, the Petitioner, Justin L. Horstead, entered a best interest plea to aggravated robbery.  The trial court sentenced him in accordance with the plea agreement to ten years, to be served concurrently with a previous probationary sentence of six years.  The Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that, but for counsel’s errors, he would have insisted on taking his case to trial.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it denied his petition.  We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Maurice Blocker
W2015-00053-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Maurice Blocker, as charged of one count of first degree premeditated murder and one count of theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10,000. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202(a)(1); 39-14-103, -105(3) (Supp. 2011). Blocker was sentenced to consecutive sentences of life imprisonment and eight years, respectively. His sole argument on appeal is that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Jasper Clayton
W2015-00785-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The defendant, Jasper Clayton, was convicted of three counts of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, a Class C felony. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Epperson
E2015-00478-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Defendant-Appellant, Kenneth Epperson, was charged by affidavit of complaint on November 28, 2012, for driving under the influence (DUI) second offense, violation of the open container law, violation of the implied consent law, driving on a revoked license, and improper display of a license plate. See T.C.A. §§ 55-4-110, 55-10-401, -406, -416, 55-50-504. Epperson entered guilty pleas to improper display of a license plate and violating the open container law and was convicted by a jury as to the remaining charges. On appeal, Epperson contends that the affidavit of complaint made against him was void and that the State therefore failed to initiate a prosecution against him within the statutory period. He contends that this error requires vacating his convictions. He also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his DUI conviction. Upon our review, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support Epperson's conviction for DUI. However, we agree with Epperson that the State failed to initiate a prosecution against him within the statutory period. Accordingly, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and vacate Epperson's convictions.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
Craig Abston v. State of Tennessee
W2014-02513-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Petitioner, Craig Abston, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, he raises the same lone issue that he raised in his petition and at the evidentiary hearing: that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress a statement given to police following his arrest. The State first challenges our jurisdiction to hear this appeal, and, alternatively, contends that the Petitioner has failed to prove that the post-conviction court erred in denying him relief. In reply, the Petitioner disagrees with the State’s jurisdictional argument and asks that we proceed to consider the issue on its merits. Upon careful review, we reject the State’s jurisdictional challenge. After considering the merits of the Petitioner’s claim, we conclude that he is not entitled to relief. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/16
State of Tennessee v. Pamela Moses
W2014-01986-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Defendant, Pamela Moses, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for theft under $500. Defendant was convicted by a jury as charged. The trial court imposed a $350 fine. Defendant appeals and raises the following issues for our review: 1) the trial court improperly allowed a witness for the State, who was an inmate, to wear “street” clothing when she testified; 2) the trial court erred by limiting cross-examination of a State's witness; and 3) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument. Having reviewed the record on appeal, we conclude that the judgment of the trial court should be affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/16
State of Tennessee v. Larry Michael Berkley
W2015-00831-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Defendant-Appellant, Larry Michael Berkley, was convicted by a Lauderdale County jury of two counts of rape, four counts of aggravated statutory rape, four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, and four counts of statutory rape by an authority figure. On appeal, Berkley argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred in admitting cumulative and unduly prejudicial testimony; and (3) the trial court erred in allowing a witness to testify about a news report regarding Berkley in violation of Rule 404(b) of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/16
State of Tennessee v. Paul Brent Baxter
M2015-00939-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Paul Brent Baxter, appeals as of right from his jury convictions for aggravated assault and aggravated kidnapping.  Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed consecutive terms of fifteen years and twenty years, respectively.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that his effective thirty-five-year sentence is excessive.   After a review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/16
Jennifer Hannah v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01766-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

The Petitioner, Jennifer Hannah, appeals as of right from the post-conviction court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief, wherein she challenged her convictions for four counts of child neglect, one count of first degree felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect, and two counts of delivering a controlled substance to a minor.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to call a “material” witness for the defense.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/16/16
State of Tennessee v. James Allen Perry
E2015-01227-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa D. Rice

The Defendant, James Allen Perry, pled guilty to fifty-nine counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class B felony; three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, a Class C felony; and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class D felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-532, -17-1003, -17-1005. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of 106 years. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in imposing partially consecutive sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Carter County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/16
Doris A. Whaley v. State of Tennessee
E2014-02378-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Cupp

The Petitioner, Doris A. Whaley, appeals the Washington County Criminal Court's denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her conviction of first degree premeditated murder and resulting life sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to present medical evidence that would have shown she was physically incapable of killing the victim. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/16
State of Tennessee v. Amy Denise Franklin
E2015-01619-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

Amy Denise Franklin’s (“the Defendant”) probation officer filed an affidavit alleging that she had violated five rules of probation and had absconded. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked her probation and ordered her to serve the balance of her sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering her to serve her sentence in confinement without considering alternatives to incarceration. After a review of the record and applicable law, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/16
Marcus Anthony Pearson v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01159-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Marcus Anthony Pearson (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging several claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief.  On appeal, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/16
State of Tennessee v. Donald Keith Watts a/k/a "Duck"
M2014-02540-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge George Sexton

The defendant, Donald Keith Watts, a/k/a “Duck,” was convicted of rape and sentenced to eight years at 100%.  On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial because of an allegedly improper argument by the State and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the verdict.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/16
State of Tennessee v. Paul Clifford Moore, Jr.
E2015-00585-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Paul Clifford Moore, Jr., of three counts of second degree murder. See T.C.A. § 39-13-210(a)(1). The trial court imposed three fifteen-year sentences and ordered two of the three sentences served consecutively for an effective sentence of thirty years in confinement. On appeal, Moore argues (1) the trial court erred in instructing the jury that state of passion produced by adequate provocation is an essential element of the offense of voluntary manslaughter that must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the trial court erred in instructing the jury that it must determine whether the State had proven the element of state of passion beyond a reasonable doubt; (3) the sequential jury instructions prevented the jury from ever returning a verdict of voluntary manslaughter in his case; (4) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting eyewitness testimony that Moore threatened to kill victim Amber Snellings; (5) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (6) the trial court abused its discretion in imposing partially consecutive sentences; and (7) the cumulative effect of these errors violated his due process rights. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/16