Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/14/2018
Format: 08/14/2018
State of Tennessee v. Ziberia Marico Carero, Alias
E2017-01095-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Defendant, Ziberia Marico Carero, Alias, was indicted for possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to deliver, and a criminal gang offense enhancement pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-121. A Knox County Criminal Court jury convicted him of simple possession, a Class A misdemeanor, and possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to deliver, a Class B felony. The trial court merged the conviction for simple possession into the conviction for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver. After a bifurcated hearing, the Defendant’s conviction offense was enhanced to a Class A felony pursuant to the criminal gang offense enhancement statute. The trial court imposed a sentence of fifteen years as a Range I offender with 30% release eligibility for the Class A felony conviction, to be served consecutively to a twenty-three-year sentence the Defendant was already serving. The Defendant was later granted a new sentencing hearing when the criminal gang offense enhancement statute was deemed unconstitutional. In this appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s imposition of a fifteen year sentence as a Range II offender with 35% release eligibility for his now Class B felony conviction, as well as the court’s order that it be served consecutively to the twenty-three-year sentence he was already serving. After review, we affirm the sentence imposed by the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/18
Morris Rucker v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01964-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The pro se Defendant, Morris Rucker, appeals the trial court’s denial of his Tenn. Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 60.02 motion to set aside his judgments and/or for injunctive relief, arguing that the judgments are invalid because they do not bear the required file-date stamps. Following our review, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/18
Timothy P. Guilfoy v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01454-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

The Petitioner, Timothy P. Guilfoy, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred in denying his petition because he presented newly discovered evidence in the form of an affidavit from the jury foreperson stating that the jury viewed videotaped forensic interviews of the victims during its deliberations. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/18
Kerry V. Covington v. State of Tennessee
M2017-02175-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

The Petitioner, Kerry V. Covington, appeals from the Cheatham County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his nolo contendere pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered because he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel due to trial counsel’s having a conflict of interest. However, the Petitioner failed to timely file his notice of appeal. Because we conclude that the interest of justice does not require waiver of this requirement, we dismiss the appeal.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Lamont Booker
M2017-01467-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Antonio Lamont Booker, Defendant, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to alter or amend the judgment revoking his probation and placing his sentence into effect. We conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the motion. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/18
Steven Skinner v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01797-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Petitioner, Steven Skinner, appeals the trial court’s denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis without a hearing on his “newly discovered” evidence. After careful consideration, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Jeremy Lynden Myrick
E2017-00588-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas Graham

The Defendant, Jeremy Lynden Myrick, appeals his jury convictions for voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, for which he received an effective sentence of five and one-half years’ imprisonment. In this direct appeal, the Defendant alleges the following errors: (1) that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress his statement because the stop of his vehicle was not supported by reasonable suspicion; (2) that the evidence was insufficient to support his voluntary manslaughter conviction, challenging the evidence establishing cause of death; (3) that admission of a photograph of the victim’s injuries was more prejudicial than probative; and (4) that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by referring to the amended death certificate which was testimonial in nature. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Tyrone Sisson
E2017-01721-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The Defendant, Matthew Tyrone Sisson, entered a guilty plea to two counts of aggravated assault. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to ten years and eight years for the two convictions and ordered the sentences to run consecutively, for an effective sentence of eighteen years. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in admitting hearsay during the hearing, giving too much weight to enhancement factors, failing to apply additional mitigating factors, and running the sentences consecutively. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Lorenzo Wade
W2017-00933-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

The Defendant, Johnny Lorenzo Wade, was convicted by a jury of one count of first degree premeditated murder; two counts of first degree felony murder; two counts of especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony; one count of attempted first degree murder, a Class A felony; and one count of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-12-101, -13-102, -13-202, -13-403. The trial court merged one of the first degree felony murder convictions into the first degree premeditated murder conviction and the aggravated assault conviction into the attempted first degree murder conviction. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of life imprisonment plus forty years. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1)that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) that the trial court erred in denying his suppression motion alleging that the seizure of his cell phone was illegal; (3) that the trial court erred by admitting a video taken from his cell phone because it was not relevant and its probative value was substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice; (4) that the trial court erred in admitting the statement of a co-defendant under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule; (5) that the trial court erred by allowing a witness to identify an item of evidence without personal knowledge of the item; (6) that the trial court erred in allowing an employee of the Defendant’s cell phone provider to testify as an expert witness on the operation of the provider’s cellular network; (7) that the trial court erred in allowing a police investigator to testify as a lay witness about “the plotting and pinging of the Defendant’s cellular telephone records”; and (8) that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing partial consecutive sentences because such sentences “were excessive.” Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/18
State of Tennessee v. James Allen Gooch, Jr.
M2017-01885-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

A Sumner County jury convicted James Allen Gooch, Jr., Defendant, of sale of 0.5 ounces or more of marijuana within one thousand feet of a Drug-Free Zone and the attempt to sell 0.5 grams or more of cocaine. The trial court sentenced Defendant, as a Range III persistent offender, to an effective sentence of twenty-seven years. After Defendant filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion, the trial court determined that Defendant’s sentence was void and ordered a new sentencing hearing. The trial court then sentenced Defendant, as a Range II multiple offender, to a total effective sentence of sixteen years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the State waived the ability to seek a Range II sentence when it filed a notice of intent to seek a Range III sentence. He further argues that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to convict or sentence him because the State did not have an arrest warrant charging him with the present offenses. Lastly, he asserts in his reply brief that the State “committed a fraud upon the court” because his resentencing was based upon a presentence report that was erroneously admitted without personal knowledge. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/18
State of Tennessee v. Ronald Lee Freels, Jr.
E2017-00051-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex H. Ogle

A Sevier County jury convicted Ronald Lee Freels, Jr., Defendant, of two counts of aggravated sexual battery. The trial court sentenced Defendant to consecutive terms of twenty-five years as a persistent offender with 100% service. On appeal, Defendant claims that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that his sentence was excessive. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/18
Robert Townsend v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01667-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Robert Townsend, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in dismissing his petition as untimely. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Maegan Davis
W2017-02145-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

Maegan Davis, the Defendant, pled guilty to one count of driving under the influence and one count of driving under the influence per se and reserved a certified question. In her appellate brief, the Defendant states the following questions for appeal: “(1) Was the initial stop of the [D]efendant supported by probable cause that the [D]efendant had committed an offense?”; “(2) When the [D]efendant was detained, was that detention supported by probable cause that the [D]efendant had committed the offense of driving under the influence of an intoxicant?”; and “(3) Should the blood taken from the [D]efendant be suppressed as the fruit of an illegal seizure pursuant to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 7 of the Tennessee Constitution where the [D]efendant was detained for more than ninety (90) minutes without being given a field sobriety test?” After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we dismiss the Defendant’s appeal because she failed to properly certify her questions of law in accordance with Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) and State v. Preston, 759 S.W.2d 647 (Tenn. 1988).

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Jamarcus Jackson
E2017--01182-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The Defendant, Jamarcus Jackson, was convicted by a Washington County Criminal Court jury of second degree murder, misdemeanor assault, and misdemeanor reckless endangerment, for which he is serving an effective forty years, consecutively to an eightyear sentence in an unrelated case. See T.C.A. §§ 39-10-210 (2014) (second degree murder), 39-13-101 (Supp. 2013) (amended 2016) (assault), 39-13-103 (2014) (reckless endangerment). On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his second degree murder conviction, (2) the trial court erred in its method of conducting jury selection, depriving him of a peremptory challenge, (3) the court erred in ruling that his prior failure to appear and robbery convictions were admissible impeachment evidence if he testified, (4) he is entitled to a new trial due to cumulative trial error, and (5) his sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/18
Sean Patrick Goble v. State of Tennessee
E2017-01749-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The Petitioner, Sean Patrick Goble, appeals the dismissal of his petition for postconviction DNA analysis as time-barred. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts, and the State agrees, that the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act does not have a statute of limitations. After review, we reverse the judgment and remand for the post-conviction court to determine whether the petition should be granted or denied on the merits.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Darrin Paul Deckard
E2017-02467-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The Defendant, Darin Paul Deckard, appeals the trial court’s order requiring him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement after the revocation of his probation. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in accordance with Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/18
Stephanie Ann Cole v. State of Tennessee
E2017-02036-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Petitioner, Stephanie Ann Cole, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner pled guilty to first degree premeditated murder and received a life sentence. The Petitioner sought post-conviction relief on multiple claims, and the postconviction court denied relief following a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to provide his professional advice regarding the Petitioner’s decision to enter a guilty plea. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Roy Lee Branner
E2017-02482-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

The Defendant, Roy Lee Branner, entered an open guilty plea to two counts of violating the habitual motor vehicle offender (HMVO) statute; two counts of driving under the influence (DUI); two counts of violating the implied consent statute; two counts of leaving the scene of an accident; one count of possession of drug paraphernalia; one count of evading arrest; one count of resisting arrest; one count of domestic assault; one count of false imprisonment; one count of failing to appear; and nineteen counts of passing worthless checks. Following a sentencing hearing, the Defendant received an effective sentence of fifteen years, with five years to be served in confinement, followed by ten years of supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing for the first five years of his sentence. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Jefferson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/12/18
Raphael Love v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01515-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

Petitioner, Raphael Love, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After a review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we determine Petitioner has failed to establish that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/11/18
Rachris R. Thomas v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00912-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Rachris R. Thomas, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court denying the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/11/18
Raymond Thomas Sweatt v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01803-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Petitioner, Raymond Thomas Sweatt, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of robbery and carjacking and resulting effective twenty-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel, which resulted in his guilty pleas being unknowing and involuntary. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/11/18
State of Tennessee v. Freeman York
M2017-01914-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

Freeman York, Petitioner, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his petition to restore his driving privileges. Petitioner asserts that the revocation period of his license has expired and that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his petition. Petitioner also argues that the trial court failed to properly set out its factual findings and legal conclusions in its order. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we conclude that the trial court set out sufficient factual findings and conclusions of law in its written order. We also conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by denying the petition for reinstatement of driver’s license. Thus, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Overton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/11/18
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Lee Stewart
E2018-00262-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

The Defendant, Christopher Lee Stewart, appeals the Jefferson County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his sentence in confinement. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s order pursuant to Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the order of the trial court.

Jefferson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/18
State of Tennessee v. Gary Ray Weldon
E2017-01474-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

Defendant, Gary Ray Weldon,1 was convicted by a Campbell County jury of one count of solicitation of a minor to engage in aggravated statutory rape, and he was sentenced to one year in confinement. He appeals, arguing that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/18
Edgar Ray Bettis v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01845-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

A jury convicted the Petitioner, Edgar Ray Bettis, of first degree murder, second degree murder, and unauthorized use of a vehicle, and he received an effective life sentence. After his convictions and sentences were affirmed on appeal, the Petitioner sought postconviction relief on the grounds that trial counsel was ineffective in: (1) failing to evaluate the Petitioner’s competency; (2) failing to file a motion to suppress the Petitioner’s statement; (3) allowing a substitute medical examiner to testify; (4) failing to object to photographs entered into evidence; and (5) failing to secure a forensic pathologist to counter the State’s expert. After a thorough review of the record and law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/18