Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/16/2018
Format: 08/16/2018
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
State of Tennessee v. Grady Dewayne Carroll
W2017-01952-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Appellant, Grady Dewayne Carroll, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, and the Madison County Circuit Court summarily denied the motion. On appeal, the Appellant contends that his effective four-year sentences for his reckless endangerment and felony evading arrest convictions are illegal because the trial court used a prior juvenile adjudication for aggravated robbery to sentence him as a Range II, multiple offender. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of the motion.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/06/18
Corey Gray v. State of Tennessee
W2017-02267-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Corey Gray, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his untimely petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of four counts of attempted first degree premediated murder, four counts of aggravated assault, four counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and one count of felony evading arrest and resulting effective sentence of 104 years in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by determining that due process did not require tolling the statute of limitations. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/06/18
State of Tennessee v. Damarkus Lowe
E2017-00435-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, Damarkus Lowe, appeals his jury conviction for first degree murder, for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment. In this direct appeal, the Defendant alleges the following errors: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, challenging the evidence establishing premeditation and criminal responsibility, and alleging that the accomplice testimony was not sufficiently corroborated; (2) that admission of a packet of letters sent to the police anonymously, which contained a note from the anonymous source and three letters allegedly authored by the Defendant that he mailed from jail to his associates, was improper because the letters were not properly authenticated, contained inadmissible hearsay, violated his confrontation rights, and were more prejudicial than probative; (3) that recorded jail calls containing inadmissible hearsay were erroneously admitted in violation of his confrontation rights; (4) that testimony regarding his “street name” of “D-Ru” was irrelevant and more prejudicial than probative; (5) that the trial court acted in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87 (1963), when it failed to compel the State to disclose the name of a jailhouse informant who claimed to have information related to the victim’s murder; and (6) that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its closing argument by improperly vouching for several witnesses’ credibility requiring plain error relief. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/06/18
State of Tennessee v. Josh Andrew Danoff
M2017-00506-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Defendant, Josh A. Danoff, was indicted by the Montgomery County Grand Jury for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, aggravated statutory rape, and three counts of rape based upon alternative theories of the same offense. Upon motion of the State, the trial court dismissed one count of rape prior to trial. Defendant was convicted by a jury of the remaining counts as charged. The trial court sentenced Defendant to serve three years for his aggravated statutory rape conviction, eight years for each rape conviction, and 11 months and 29 days for his contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The trial court merged the rape convictions and aggravated statutory rape conviction into one conviction of rape and ordered Defendant’s sentences to be served concurrently, for a total effective sentence of eight years. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; that the trial court committed plain error by allowing hearsay testimony; and that the trial court erred by failing to grant probation or split confinement. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we find no error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/06/18
State of Tennessee v. James B. Cobb
E2017-01746-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, James B. Cobb, was convicted of driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor. He received a sentence of eleven months and twentynine days, suspended after forty-eight hours of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the trial court erred in excluding a defense expert’s curriculum vitae from evidence; (3) the State made improper closing argument; and (4) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s oral request for a jury instruction on character witnesses. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/06/18
Brett A. Patterson v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00978-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Ayers

The Petitioner, Brett A. Patterson, appeals from the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis from his 1988 convictions for two counts of first degree murder, first degree burglary, and aggravated rape and his effective sentence of life imprisonment plus forty years. The Petitioner contends that the court erred by denying relief. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court relative to the video recording allegations, but we remand for further consideration of the Petitioner’s motion to continue relative to the laboratory bench notes allegations.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/05/18
Johnny Coffey v. State of Tennessee
E2017-02206-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

The pro se Appellant, Johnny Coffey, appeals as of right from the Johnson County Criminal Court’s order summarily dismissing his motion to correct an illegal sentence. Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the order of the trial court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/05/18
Jennifer Marie Lopez v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00841-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

A Davidson County jury convicted Petitioner, Jennifer Marie Lopez, of the Class A felony offense of aggravated child neglect. She was sentenced to serve seventeen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The judgment was affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Jennifer Lopez and Sergio H. Gonzalez, No. M2014-01701-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 6083216 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 16, 2015), perm. app. denied (Tenn. March 24, 2016). Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. Petitioner has appealed, asserting that she is entitled to relief based upon her trial counsel’s ineffective assistance of counsel. Following a review of the briefs of the parties and the entire record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/05/18
Jimmy Heard v. Randy Lee, Warden
E2018-00325-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The Petitioner, Jimmy Heard, appeals the Johnson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus from his 2007 convictions for attempted second degree murder, conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, and evading arrest and his effective forty-four-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that the habeas corpus court erred by dismissing his petition. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/03/18