Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/24/2016
Format: 08/24/2016
Danny Ray Lacy v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02345-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

In 1996, a Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Danny Ray Lacy, of first degree felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, and the trial court sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the Petitioner's conviction and sentence. State v. Lacy, 983 S.W.2d 686 (Tenn. Crim. App. 1997). The Petitioner filed an unsuccessful petition for habeas corpus relief. Danny Ray Lacy v. Cherry Lindamon, Warden, No. M2009-00072-CCA-R3-CO, 2009 WL 3029619, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Sept. 22, 2009), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. The Petitioner then filed this petition for writ of error coram nobis, alleging that the Jackson Police Department possessed exculpatory evidence. The coram nobis court dismissed the petition, and, after review, we affirm that judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Ardell Allen
E2015-00825-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

Based on a tip from a confidential informant, police stopped the Defendant and ultimately discovered cocaine in his pocket. He was charged with possession of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a daycare, a Class B felony. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence, which the trial court granted. The State appeals, arguing that the confidential informant's credibility and basis of knowledge were sufficiently established, giving officers reasonable suspicion to seize the Defendant. Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
Edward Bruce Coleman v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01747-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

The petitioner, Edward Bruce Coleman, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2010 Davidson County Criminal Court jury conviction of aggravated assault, for which he received a sentence of 12 years. In this appeal, the petitioner contends that the order denying post-conviction relief was inadequate and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Wells
E2015-00561-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

A Sullivan County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Kevin Wells, of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; two counts of possession of a Schedule III controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, a Class D felony; and driving on a revoked license, a Class B misdemeanor, and he received an effective thirteen-year sentence as a Range III, persistent offender. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence, by allowing the State to introduce text messages from a codefendant's cellular telephone into evidence, and by admitting his statement into evidence. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Freddie Ali Bell
M2015-01999-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

In conjunction with the entry of a nolo contendere plea to driving under the influence (“DUI”), Defendant, Freddie Ali Bell, reserved a certified question for appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A) in which he asked this Court to determine whether the record supports the finding of probable cause or reasonable suspicion to legally permit a seizure of Defendant and his vehicle.  After a review, we determine that the evidence supports a finding of probable cause for the stop.  Consequently, the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress is affirmed.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/25/16
David Reed v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01441-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The petitioner seeks habeas corpus relief, alleging that he is imprisoned despite the fact that his sentence has expired. The crux of the petitioner's argument is that his two-and-one-half-year sentence for burglary was to be served prior to his two-year sentence for vandalism and that the burglary sentence therefore expired prior to the time he violated his probation. He also disputes the award of sentencing credits. Because the face of the record shows that the petitioner's sentence for burglary was to be served after his sentence for vandalism and that the probationary period had not expired at the time of revocation, we conclude that the habeas corpus court properly dismissed the petition, and we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Demetrius J. Pirtle and Cordarius R. Maxwell
W2014-02222-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The defendants, Demetrius J. Pirtle and Cordarius R. Maxwell, were each convicted by a jury of one count of robbery, a Class C felony; one count of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; six counts of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony; six counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony; one count of vandalism of property worth $1,000 or more, a Class D felony; and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. After merging the aggravated assault convictions into the attempted second degree murder convictions, the trial court sentenced both defendants to an effective thirty-year sentence. On appeal, Mr. Pirtle challenges only the sufficiency of the evidence, asserting that his identity was insufficiently proven on all counts save the vandalism conviction and that the elements of robbery were not established. Mr. Maxwell raises the same issues as Mr. Pirtle, and he also challenges the conviction on the weapons offense as inconsistent with the other parts of the jury's verdict and contests the imposition of consecutive sentences. The appeals were consolidated. Following our review, we affirm the defendants' sentences and convictions.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
Arthur Ray Turner v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01572-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

The petitioner, Arthur Ray Turner, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2012 Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated rape, and attempted aggravated rape, for which he received a sentence of 70 years.  In this appeal, the petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Mack C. Stone
M2016-00273-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The defendant, Mack C. Stone, appeals the summary dismissal of his motion, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence imposed for his 1992 Davidson County Criminal Court guilty-pleaded convictions of the sale of cocaine.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. John A. Bailey
W2015-02330-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

On October 26, 2007, the defendant, John A. Bailey, pled guilty to aggravated robbery and evading arrest and received an eight-year sentence for aggravated robbery, two-year sentence for evading arrest, and almost five years of pretrial jail credit. The trial court then imposed alternative sentences of unsupervised state probation for both convictions. The sentences were to be served concurrent with one another and a prior federal sentence, for which the defendant was already incarcerated. The defendant’s state sentences expired on December 21, 2010, yet he filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence on July 6, 2015, asserting in part that he illegally received probation for the aggravated robbery conviction. The trial court summarily denied the motion without a hearing and without appointing counsel for the defendant. The defendant now appeals, maintaining that his sentence was illegal. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the defendant’s untimely motion to correct his sentence.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Aaron Reinsburg
W2014-02436-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Defendant, Aaron Reinsberg, was convicted by a Shelby County Jury of two counts of rape (Counts 1 and 2), one count of assault (Count 3), and two counts of official misconduct (Counts 4 and 5). At the sentencing hearing, the trial court merged Counts 2 and 3 into Count 1, and Count 5 was merged into Count 4. The trial court imposed a sentence of eleven years for rape in Count 1 and one year for official misconduct in Count 4 to be served concurrently for an effective sentence of eleven years. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was not sufficient to support his rape convictions and that the trial court erred in sentencing him to eleven years. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Kevin E. Trent
E2015-00753-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John McAfee

The defendant, Kevin E. Trent, appeals the trial court's denial of his request for alternative sentencing. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the defendant pled guilty to vehicular homicide by intoxication, a Class B felony. The agreement specified an eight-year sentence with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the court ordered that the sentence be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that the decision was error because the trial court incorrectly concluded that confinement was necessary to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offense. Following review of the record and the evidence before us, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion in requiring full confinement and reverse the sentence consistent with this opinion.

Claiborne County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16
State of Tennessee v. Jason Gonzalez
E2015-01107-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

In this appeal as of right by the State, the State challenges the ruling of the trial court dismissing the case. Because no document in the record qualifies as a valid arrest warrant and no other event occurred to timely commence the prosecution in this case, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16
James Thomas v. Randy Lee, Warden
E2015-02427-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The Petitioner, James Thomas, filed a petition in the Johnson County Criminal Court seeking habeas corpus relief from his aggravated assault conviction, alleging that his conviction was void because the affidavit of complaint attached to his arrest warrant was not signed. The habeas corpus court denied relief without a hearing, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16
State of Tennessee v. David Leo Pipes
W2015-02073-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

The defendant, David Leo Pipes, was indicted for theft of property valued over $1000 but less than $10,000. After trial, a jury found the defendant guilty. The trial court subsequently held a sentencing hearing and imposed a six year sentence with a thirty-five percent release classification to be served as a Range II, multiple offender. After the denial of his motion for a new trial, the defendant filed this timely appeal. On appeal, the defendant argues there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction, and the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16
Curtis Stanton v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01479-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, Curtis Stanton, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16
State of Tennessee v. Patrick Wayne Evans
M2015-00897-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

The Defendant, Patrick Wayne Evans, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide by impairment, a Class B felony, with an agreed sentence length of eight years.  After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that the Defendant serve his eight year sentence in confinement.  The Defendant appeals, asserting that the trial court: (1) erroneously relied upon enhancement factors that are not applicable to the Defendant’s offense; (2) erroneously admitted improper evidence at the sentencing hearing; (3) failed to properly consider mitigating factors; (4) erroneously found the Defendant had no potential for rehabilitation; and (5) failed to comply with the purposes and principles of sentencing when it denied a sentence of “split confinement.”  After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we reverse and remand to the trial court for re-sentencing.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16
State of Tennessee v. Carmelo Gonzalez-Fonesca
M2015-01322-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

This is Defendant’s, Carmelo Gonzalez-Fonesca’s, direct appeal from his convictions by a jury of one count of possession of 150 grams or more of heroin with the intent to sell or distribute and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia with the intent to prepare and package a controlled substance.  As a result, he was sentenced to an effective sentence of fifteen years in incarceration as a Range I, standard offender.  Defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the expert testimony of Sergeant Gene Donegan, and the chain of custody with respect to the evidence.  After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/16
Brent Richardson v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01533-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

A Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Brent Richardson, of first degree felony murder, second degree murder, carjacking, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, and aggravated kidnapping. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to serve an effective life sentence plus forty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, this Court affirmed the judgments. State v. Brent Richardson, W2009-00778-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 2473299 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, June 17, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 10, 2010). The Petitioner filed an untimely petition seeking post-conviction relief on June 19, 2012, alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing regarding whether the Petitioner’s petition was untimely filed, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition as time-barred. We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/16
State of Tennessee v. Preston J. Chapman
E2015-01232-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The appellant, Preston J. Chapman, pled guilty in the Sullivan County Criminal Court to felony possession of marijuana, third offense, and felony possession of a Schedule II controlled substance and received an effective two-year sentence. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking probation for his failure to pay fines and costs when the evidence shows that he had no ability to pay and for his committing domestic assault. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/16
State of Tennessee v. Ronnie Ingram
W2015-01527-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The defendant, Ronnie Ingram, appeals his sentencing by the Shelby County Criminal Court to twelve years as a career offender for attempted criminal exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (“HIV”), which was imposed upon remand after this court reduced his original conviction of criminal exposure to HIV, a Class C felony, to attempted criminal exposure to HIV, a Class D felony. The defendant argues that the trial court erred by relying on facts from the original sentencing hearing in determining that he was a career offender. Following our review, we affirm the sentencing imposed by the trial court and remand for entry of a corrected judgment to reflect the defendant's conviction offense, which was omitted.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/16
State of Tennessee v. Sharris Nicole Thompson
M2015-02014-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The appellant, Sharris Nicole Thompson, pled guilty in the Lawrence County Circuit Court to theft of property valued $1,000 or more but less than $10,000; misappropriation of rental property valued $1,000 or more but less than $10,000; three counts of theft of property valued $500 or less; and one count of misappropriation of rental property valued $500 or less and ultimately received an effective four-year sentence to be served on probation.  Subsequently, the trial court revoked probation and ordered that the appellant serve her effective sentence in confinement.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by denying her request for alternative sentencing.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/16
Darrell Johnson v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02339-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn I. Wright

A Shelby County jury found the Petitioner, Darrell Johnson, guilty of three counts of facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery and two counts of facilitation of aggravated burglary. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner as a Career Offender and imposed a total effective sentence of twenty-four years of incarceration. This Court affirmed the Petitioner's convictions and sentence. State v. Darrell Johnson, No. W2012-01467-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 5522220, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Oct. 3, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Feb. 12, 2014). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it denied his petition. He contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/19/16
State of Tennessee v. Charles Bradley Mims
W2015-02072-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A Chester County jury convicted the Defendant of theft of property valued over $500, and the trial court sentenced him as a Career Offender to six years of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence presented at trial is insufficient to sustain his conviction and that the trial court erred when it sentenced him. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Chester County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/19/16
State of Tennessee v. David Alan Corbitt
W2015-01834-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

A Benton County jury convicted the Defendant of one count of rape of a child and one count of aggravated sexual battery as a lesser-included offense of a second count of rape of a child. The trial court sentenced him to thirty-five years, to be served at 100%, for the rape of a child conviction and to a concurrent sentence of ten years for the aggravated sexual battery conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) the trial court erred when it instructed the jury that aggravated sexual battery was a lesser-included offense of rape of a child; and (3) the trial court erred when it sentenced him. After review, we conclude that aggravated sexual battery is not a lesser-included offense of rape of a child. State v. John J. Ortega, Jr., No. M2014-01042-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 1870095, at *10 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Apr. 23, 2015), no perm. app. filed. As such, the trial court erred when it instructed the jury. The Defendant's conviction for aggravated sexual battery is vacated. His conviction and sentence for rape of a child is affirmed.

Benton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/19/16