Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 09/01/2015
Format: 09/01/2015
State of Tennessee v. Daniel H. Jones
E2014-02463-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

Defendant, Daniel H. Jones, is currently serving an effective sentence of thirty-one years for a multitude of convictions. In October 2014, Defendant filed a motion under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, alleging that his aggregate sentence is illegal because it exceeds the maximum sentence for a Range I offender convicted of a Class B felony. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion, finding that Defendant had failed to state a colorable claim. Upon our thorough review of the record, we determine that Defendant has not presented a colorable claim for relief. Therefore, we affirm the decision of the trial court in full.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/15
State of Tennessee v. John Wesley Couch
M2014-01372-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin Lee Russell

The Defendant, John Wesley Couch, was found guilty by a Bedford County Circuit Court jury of promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, a Class D felony.  See T.C.A. § 39-17-433 (2014).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to four years’ confinement, to be served consecutively to a Coffee County sentence and any other existing sentences.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and (2) his sentence is excessive and contrary to law.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/24/15
Robert Guerrero v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00348-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The petitioner, Robert Guerrero, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2008 Maury County Circuit Court jury convictions of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and aggravated assault, claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel and that the post-conviction court erred by excluding witness testimony and by exhibiting bias. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/15
State of Tennessee v. James Thomas, Jr.
M2014-00972-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Defendant, James Thomas, Jr., was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for aggravated rape and domestic assault. A jury convicted Defendant as charged. The trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of 16 years and 6 months. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that: 1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for aggravated rape because Defendant was not “armed with” a weapon; 2) the trial court erred by overruling defense counsel’s objection to a detective’s testimony regarding the victim’s credibility; and 3) the prosecutor improperly commented on the victim’s credibility. Having reviewed the briefs of the parties and the entire record in this case, we conclude that although the evidence is legally sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions, the trial court should not have allowed the detective to testify regarding the victim’s credibility, and the prosecutor’s comments during closing argument constitute plain error. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is reversed and this case is remanded for a new trial.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/23/15
State of Tennessee v. Corey Euene Huddleston
M2014-02543-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne Lockert-Mash

The Defendant, Corey Eugene Huddleston, pleaded guilty to escape, a Class E felony, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to four years, suspended to supervised probation.  This conviction was ordered to run consecutively to the sentence the Defendant was serving at the time of his escape from the Dickson County Jail.  A violation of probation warrant was issued for the Defendant’s arrest based upon multiple violations of probation rules.  After a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation sentence and ordered service of the balance of the sentence in confinement.  The Defendant appeals, contending that the trial court’s decision to fully revoke his probation sentence was arbitrary.  After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Russell Lee Maze
M2014-02338-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Appellant, Russell Lee Maze, is appealing the order of the trial court denying his “Motion for Order Correcting Error in Judgment.”  The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20.  Said motion is hereby granted.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Marika Lyn Foster
M2014-01923-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

The defendant, Marika Lyn Foster, appeals the trial court’s order requiring her to serve the balance of her sentence in confinement after the revocation of her probation.  She argues that the trial court abused its discretion by not extending the length and modifying the conditions of her probation.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Anthony James Zonneville
M2014-00749-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The Defendant claims the evidence was not sufficient for the jury to convict him of possession of .5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine with intent to sell or deliver within 1,000 feet of a school.  He also claims the trial court as the thirteenth juror erred in not granting his motion for new trial.  After a thorough review of the record, we conclude the evidence was sufficient and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Shon Q. Blanks
E2014-01897-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amy Armstrong Reedy

The appellant, Shon Q. Blanks, appeals the Bradley County Criminal Court’s revocation of his probation and the court’s imposition of incarceration instead of granting another alternative sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/15
State of Tennessee v. Tony Samuel
W2014-02085-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The petitioner, Tony Samuel, filed an untimely notice of appeal of the trial court's denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. Following our review, we conclude that the interest of justice does not warrant a waiver of the notice requirement because the petitioner failed to state a colorable claim for relief. Therefore, we dismiss this appeal as untimely.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/15
State of Tennessee v. Rafael Grissom
M2014-02560-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

Defendant, Rafael Grissom, pled guilty to burglary, aggravated burglary, and robbery.  He was sentenced to two years for the burglary conviction, fifteen years for the aggravated burglary conviction, and fifteen years for the robbery conviction.  The trial court ordered Defendant to serve the two-year sentence in incarceration, while the fifteen-year sentences were ordered to be served on Community Corrections consecutively to the sentence for the burglary conviction but concurrently with each other.  Defendant received determinate release after serving a portion of his two-year sentence.  A violation of probation warrant and a violation of Community Corrections warrant were filed against Defendant.  After a hearing, the trial court ordered Defendant to serve the sentences as initially imposed.  Defendant has appealed this decision.  After our review, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.  As a result, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/15
State of Tennessee v. David Hugh Crumley
E2013-02373-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Defendant, David Hugh Crumley, pled nolo contendere to two counts of vehicular homicide and received an effective eight-year sentence under the terms of the agreement. Thereafter, the trial court denied any form of alternative sentencing based upon the nature and circumstances of the offenses combined with the Defendant's lack of remorse and his past criminal history involving alcohol and drugs. The Defendant appeals, arguing that he is a suitable candidate for alternative sentencing pursuant to the statutory considerations outlined in Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-103(1)(A)-(C). Following our review, we discern no abuse of discretion in the trial court's alternative sentencing decision. Accordingly, the judgments are affirmed.

Claiborne County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/20/15
Paul Stackhouse v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01328-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

A Hamblen County jury convicted the Petitioner, Paul Stackhouse, of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony, and the trial court sentenced him to nine years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the conviction. State v. Paul M. Stackhouse, No. E2010-01972-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 5620925, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Nov. 18, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. March 7, 2012). Thereafter, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, and, after a hearing, the post-conviction court issued an order denying the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and relevant law, we affirm the post-conviction court‘s judgment.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
State of Tennessee v. Damascus Willingham
W2014-01539-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Nathan Pride

The appellant, Damascus Willingham, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his motion to review and modify his sentences. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we dismiss the appeal.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
State of Tennessee v. Kathy L. Bartlett
M2014-01530-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael W. Binkley

A Williamson County grand jury indicted appellee, Kathy L. Bartlett, for driving under the influence of an intoxicant.  The charge was dismissed pretrial after the trial court granted appellee’s motion to dismiss.  The State appeals the trial court’s granting of the motion and argues that the trial court misapplied the law relating to lost or destroyed evidence. Following a thorough review of the record, we reverse the ruling of the trial court, reinstate the indictment, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
State of Tennessee v. Darryl L. Bryant
E2014-01323-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.

The Defendant, Darryl L. Bryant, was indicted for one count of possession of oxycodone with intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; and one count of simple possession of marijuana. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-417, -418. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of the lesser-included offense of facilitation of possession of oxycodone with intent to sell, a Class D felony; and acquitted of the simple possession charge. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-11-403, -17-417. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to six years as a Range II, multiple offender. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in denying the Defendant's motion to suppress the evidence against him; (2) that the trial court erred in denying the Defendant's request for a hearing pursuant to Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (1978); (3) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for facilitation of possession of oxycodone with intent to sell; (4) that the trial court erred in instructing the jury; and (5) that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct.1 Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
Michael Eugene Wallace v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02148-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Petitioner, Michael Eugene Wallace, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief claiming ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Because Petitioner knew of the statute of limitations when he entered his plea and made a strategic decision not to rely on its protection, he did not receive ineffective assistance. Accordingly, the decision of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
State of Tennessee v. Eric James Miller
M2014-02163-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III
Defendant, Eric James Miller, appeals his six-year sentence of confinement for theft of property valued over $1,000, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in denying alternative sentencing. Because the sentencing judge properly considered all sentencing factors and the purposes and principles of the sentencing statutes, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/15
Erica Harris v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01893-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Petitioner, Erica Harris, filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief from her conviction for the sale and delivery of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine. Petitioner alleges that she received ineffective assistance of counsel. Specifically, she alleges that trial counsel failed to communicate to her a plea offer that had been formally made to prior counsel and that he dissuaded her from testifying on her own behalf at trial. After a hearing, the post-conviction court dismissed her petition. Upon thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/15
State of Tennessee v. Frederick Keith
E2014-00448-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The appellant, Frederick Keith, was convicted in the Knox County Criminal Court of first degree felony murder, and the trial court sentenced him to life. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, that the trial court erred by failing to grant his motion to sever his case from that of his co-defendant, and that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments by vouching for the credibility of State witnesses. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties‟ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/15
State of Tennessee v. Angela Ayers
W2014-00781-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Defendant, Angela Ayers, was found guilty by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of voluntary manslaughter, false report, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, Class C felonies. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-211 (2014), 39-16-502 (2014), 39-17-1324 (2010) (amended 2012). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to six years for the manslaughter conviction, which was to be suspended to probation after two years’ confinement, to four years for the false report conviction, which was to be suspended to probation after two years’ confinement, and to six years’ confinement at 100% service for the firearm conviction. The court ordered the six-year sentence for the firearm conviction to be served consecutively to the other sentences, for an effective twelveyear sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support her convictions for voluntary manslaughter and false report, (2) the indictment relative to the firearm conviction is insufficient, (3) the trial court erred by excluding proof of the victim’s abusing the Defendant and her son, (4) the trial court erred relative to expert medical testimony, and (5) the trial court erred by refusing to provide the jury with a selfdefense instruction. We affirm the judgments of the trial court relative to the voluntary manslaughter and false report convictions, but we reverse the judgment, vacate the conviction, and dismiss the charge for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/15
Deeric McAfee v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01829-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

The petitioner, Deeric McAfee, filed in the Knox County Criminal Court a petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of second degree murder and reckless endangerment. The petitioner alleged 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 post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/15
Douglas M. Mathis v. Wayne Carpenter, Warden
M2014-01552-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda McCendon

The petitioner, Douglas M. Mathis, appeals the summary dismissal of his second petition for writ of habeas corpus.  In it, he repeats the claim of his first such petition, that the trial court was without jurisdiction to conduct his trial.  Because the petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/15
State of Tennessee v. Randy Shawn Moore
E2014-01790-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The Defendant-Appellant, Randy Shawn Moore, entered guilty pleas to two counts of aggravated assault and received an effective sentence of 8 years with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. On appeal, the Defendant-Appellant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his application for judicial diversion. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/15
State of Tennessee v. Ramone Hunter
W2014-01389-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The defendant, Ramone Hunter, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary, claiming that the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/15