Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 05/19/2018
Format: 05/19/2018
DeVaughn Edwards v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02203-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Devaughn Edwards, filed for post-conviction relief from his convictions of facilitation of kidnapping, facilitation of robbery, and facilitation of aggravated burglary, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/18
State of Tennessee v. Gerald Carter
W2017-01555-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Appellant, Gerald Carter, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/18
Malik Jones-Smith v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01041-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Malik Jones-Smith, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered due to the ineffective assistance of his trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court. However, we remand the case to the post-conviction court for entry of a corrected judgment form with respect to one of the Petitioner’s convictions.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/18
John Armstrong v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01825-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett

The Petitioner, John Armstrong, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends (1) that the post-conviction court erred in dismissing his petition for being untimely filed; and (2) that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered due to the ineffective assistance of his trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/18
Michael Presson v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01237-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Michael Presson, appeals from the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends (1) that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present an “economic motive” defense and failing to call witnesses at trial to support that defense; (2) that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to request a severance for charges that involved two separate victims; (3) that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to challenge certain jurors during voir dire; (4) that trial counsel was ineffective by failing “to call” the Petitioner as a witness at trial; (5) that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the State’s references to the term “pedophile” and to pornography during its closing argument; (6) that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on certain lesser-included offenses and that trial counsel was ineffective in failing to request such instructions; (7) that trial counsel “was ineffective for failing to request that the trial court require the State to make an election of offenses” and “by failing to object to the trial court judge’s election of offenses”; and (8) that post-conviction relief is warranted due to cumulative error. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/18
Eric Bledsoe v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01399-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Petitioner, Eric Bledsoe, appeals as of right from the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he requested DNA analysis pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-303. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in dismissing his petition for post-conviction DNA analysis because the evidence was already tested. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/18
State of Tennessee v. Robert Landon Webster
E2016-02127-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa Rice

A Carter County Criminal Court Jury found the Appellant, Robert Landon Webster, guilty of three counts of selling .5 grams or more of cocaine, one of which was within a school zone. The trial court sentenced the Appellant to a total effective sentence of fifteen years. On appeal, the Appellant contends that his right to confrontation was violated because the State failed to call a confidential informant as a witness at trial and that the evidence was not sufficient to sustain his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Carter County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/25/18
State of Tennessee v. Julie Christine Ottmer
E2017-01309-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The Defendant, Julie Christine Ottmer, pled nolo contendere to simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor, and received an agreed upon sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days to be served on probation. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-418. Thereafter, the Defendant filed a motion to withdraw her nolo contendere plea. The trial court denied the motion, finding that there was no manifest injustice to support withdrawal of the plea. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in denying her motion because she “misunderstood the terms of her plea.” Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Unicoi County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/18
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Joel Hartwell
E2017-00633-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy Harrington

The Defendant, Christopher Joel Hartwell, pleaded guilty in the Blount County Circuit Court pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement in case number C22683 to conspiracy to commit money laundering, a Class C felony, maintaining a dwelling where controlled substances are used, a Class D felony, two counts of possession with the intent to deliver a controlled substance in a drug-free zone, a Class D felony, two counts of possession with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance in a drug-free zone, a Class D felony, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a non-dangerous felony, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-903 (Supp. 2013) (amended 2014), 53-11-401 (2008) (amended 2010), 39-17-417 (Supp. 2013) (amended 2014), 39-17-1307 (Supp. 2013) (amended 2014). The Defendant also pleaded guilty in case number C22684 to the sale or delivery of a controlled substance in a drug-free zone, a Class D felony. See id. § 39-17-417 (Supp. 2013) (amended 2014). The Defendant pleaded guilty in case number C22685 to the sale or delivery of a controlled substance in a drug-free zone, a Class D felony. See id. § 39-17-417 (Supp. 2013) (amended 2014). Finally, the Defendant pleaded guilty in case number C23659 to two counts of the delivery of a controlled substance in a drug-free school zone, a Class C felony. See id. § 39-17-417 (Supp. 2013) (amended 2014). After the appropriate merger of the offenses, the trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to an effective five-year sentence of which three years were to be served at 100%. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by (1) denying judicial diversion, (2) allowing confidential informants to testify at the sentencing hearing, and (3) not requiring the State to produce discovery materials related to the confidential informants. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/24/18
James Robert Oliphant v. State of Tennessee
E2017-02147-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa N. Rice

The petitioner, James Robert Oliphant, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, which challenged his 1983 Washington County Criminal Court conviction of assault with intent to commit second degree murder. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Mack Mandrell Loyde, AKA Mandrel Loyde, AKA Michael Loyde
M2017-01002-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The defendant, Mack Mandrell Loyde, was convicted of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court sentenced the defendant as a career offender for the aggravated burglary and employing a firearm convictions, and imposed fifteen-year sentences for each. For the aggravated robbery conviction, the trial court sentenced the defendant as a repeat violent offender to life without parole. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. The defendant also challenges the trial court’s sentencing as to his status as a repeat violent offender and resulting life sentence without the possibility of parole. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s application of the repeat violent offender statute to the defendant’s aggravated robbery conviction and the trial court’s determination as to the sufficiency of the evidence for the three convictions, but remand the case to the trial court for a hearing on the matter of sentencing as to Counts 1 and 3.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/23/18
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Penny
M2017-01151-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The defendant, Anthony Penny, pled guilty to three counts of aggravated sexual battery. The plea agreement provided for the defendant to be sentenced by the trial court with an agreement his sentences would be served concurrently. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of ten years for each count to be served in confinement. On appeal, the defendant contends the trial court abused its discretion by failing to properly consider the purposes and principles of sentencing, by applying enhancement factor four, and by failing to properly consider certain mitigating factors under the “catch-all” provision of the statute. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/23/18
Roy Len Rogers v. State of Tennessee
E2017-00445-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The petitioner, Roy Len Rogers, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2010 Rhea County Criminal Court jury convictions of first degree premeditated murder, second degree murder, and reckless endangerment, for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment. In this appeal, the petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/23/18
Jamie N. Grimes v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00319-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The Petitioner, Jamie N. Grimes, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of selling twenty-six grams or more of cocaine within one thousand feet of a school and resulting twenty-five-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that the State violated the mandatory joinder rule. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/18
George A. Stanhope v. State of Tennessee - Concurring
M2017-00599-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael W. Binkley

I concur in the affirmance of the post-conviction court’s judgment, but write separately to state my conclusion that trial counsels rendered deficient performance by failing to object to the prosecutor’s inappropriate questioning during voir dire. The inappropriate questioning is set forth in the majority opinion and does not need to be repeated here. Obviously, it is impossible to determine some things from the record reflected only in the transcript. For instance, the appellate court is unable to ascertain the volume, inflection, and body language of the prosecutor during this rather unorthodox voir dire. Was the prosecutor waiving arms in order to instruct the entire venire to answer aloud at the same time? When the prosecutor informed the venire that the first two answers (by individual members of the venire) were wrong, what was the emphasis on the word “wrong?” What was utilized to successfully have the entire venire adopt the State’s theory in an apparent rhythmic cadence during voir dire? Appellate judges cannot know the answers to these questions from a cold record. However, the answers are not necessary to conclude that the pertinent line of questioning was outside the bounds of proper voir dire. Pertinent to the legal issues involved in this post-conviction appeal is the fact that the prosecutor’s questions had absolutely nothing to do with whether the potential jurors could perform their duty without regard to bias or prejudice. The questioning was a blatant closing argument with the added ability to interact by conversations with the potential jurors.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/18
George A. Stanhope v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00599-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert R. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael W. Binkley

George A. Stanhope, the Petitioner, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of first degree felony murder, theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, and aggravated burglary. The Petitioner received a total effective sentence of life without parole plus ten years. His petition for post-conviction relief was denied by the post-conviction court following a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that: (1) the State’s voir dire and trial counsel’s concession to second degree murder during closing argument violated the Petitioner’s right to a jury trial and constituted a structural constitutional error; and (2) the Petitioner received ineffective assistance of counsel during voir dire and closing argument. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/18
State of Tennessee v. James Kevin Woods
M2017-00800-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

James Kevin Woods, the Defendant, was convicted by a Wilson County jury of three counts of sale of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine and received a total effective sentence of forty years as a Range II multiple offender. On direct appeal, he argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient for a rational juror to have found him guilty of sale of cocaine beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the trial court improperly limited the Defendant’s crossexamination of State witnesses; (3) the professional criminal and extensive criminal history factors in Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-115(b) are unconstitutionally vague; and (4) the trial court abused its discretion by ordering a partially consecutive sentence. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Joey Boswell
M2017-01127-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The Defendant, Joey Boswell, pleaded guilty to theft of property valued between $2,500 and $10,000. The trial court sentenced him to serve eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it sentenced him because it improperly enhanced his sentence based on enhancement factor (2), that “The defendant was a leader in the commission of an offense involving two (2) or more criminal actors[.]” T.C.A. § 40-35-114(2) (2014). He also contends that his sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/18
Julie Bauer v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00120-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

In 2013, the Petitioner, Julie Bauer, pleaded guilty to attempted murder with an agreed sentence of twenty-nine years of incarceration. Subsequently, 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 her petition because she received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Walter Collins
W2016-01819-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The Shelby County Grand Jury charged the Defendant-Appellant, Walter Collins, and two codefendants with first degree felony murder. Following a jury trial, Collins, who was seventeen years old at the time of the offense, was convicted as charged and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, Collins argues: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his statement to police; (2) the trial court erred in admitting certain evidence at trial; (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; and (4) his sentence of life imprisonment violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment in the United States and Tennessee Constitutions, and the trial court abused its discretion in failing to dismiss his indictment on that basis) We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/18/18
State of Tennessee v. Jaselyn Grant
W2017-00936-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant, Jaselyn Grant, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of second degree murder, reckless endangerment, and aggravated assault and was sentenced to an effective twenty-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant argues: (1) the trial court erred in admitting a photograph of the minor victim; (2) the trial court erred in allowing a witness to testify about statements the minor victim made to her; (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain her convictions; and (4) the trial court erred in including a “defense of another” instruction in the jury charge. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/18/18
State of Tennessee v. Dale Vinson Merritt
E2017-01199-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, Dale Merritt, was convicted by a Knox County jury of one count of delivery of less than fifteen grams of a Schedule I controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a park and one count of delivery of less than fifteen grams of a Schedule I controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a child care agency. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced the Defendant to seventeen years’ imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. After review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/18/18
State of Tennessee v. Cameron Buchanan
W2017-01795-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

“The Movant,” Cameron Buchanan, filed a “Motion to Vacate, Correct Clerical Error, and/or, otherwise Set Aside an Illegal Sentence” (“the motion”). The gist of the Movant’s claim is that his fifteen-year sentence for especially aggravated kidnapping in case 98-09641 was ordered to be served concurrently, not consecutively, with his fifteenyear sentence for especially aggravated kidnapping in case 98-09629, and therefore, his effective sentence was twenty-five years, not thirty years. The trial court treated the motion as a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion to correct clerical mistakes in the judgments and summarily dismissed the motion finding “that there [we]re no clerical errors as alleged by [the Movant].” We determine that there are clerical errors in the judgments for cases 98-09635 through 98-09639 and case 98-09641. The errors in the judgments also correspond with the language of the “Negotiated Plea Agreement” forms for cases 98-09635 through 98-09639 and case 98-09641. Additionally, the trial court did not address the Movant’s Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 claim that his sentence was illegal. The judgment summarily dismissing the motion is reversed, and the case remanded for correction of the clerical errors, which may require appointment of counsel and a hearing, and for determination as to whether or not the motion stated a colorable claim under Rule 36.1.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Andrew De Bose-Maben
W2017-00969-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Andrew De Bose-Maben (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a Shelby County jury of aggravated robbery, for which the trial court imposed a sentence of nine years to serve in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the State to question the victim about his interaction with the Defendant during a recess at trial. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/18
Charles McClain v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00306-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Petitioner, Charles McClain, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for first degree premeditated murder and especially aggravated kidnapping, for which he received concurrent sentences of life imprisonment and twenty-five years, respectively. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied effective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to object to the introduction of evidence that had been ruled inadmissible. We affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/18