Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/26/2017
Format: 04/26/2017
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Douglas Smith-Dissenting
W2015-01826-CCA-R10-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

I must respectfully dissent from the majority in this case. This court granted the State’s request for extraordinary review pursuant to Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. In this Rule 10 appeal, we permitted review of the following certified question: “Did the trial court abuse its discretion in excluding the evidence seized from the defendant after a warrantless arrest that was supported by probable cause?” In reversing the trial court, the majority relies on information from the confidential informant contained in the search warrant in support of the Defendant’s warrantless arrest. In my view, the majority has recast the certified question to whether the confidential informant’s tip provided sufficient probable cause to arrest the Defendant, which was not addressed by the trial court.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Douglas Smith
W2015-01826-CCA-R10-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

After the trial court denied an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, the State sought an extraordinary appeal pursuant to Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. This Court granted the State's application. On appeal, the State argues that the trial court erred in excluding the evidence seized from Defendant because the arresting officer had probable cause to arrest him for a felony drug offense and search him incident to that arrest. Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/14/17
Odell Wisdom v. Randy Lee, Warden, et al.
E2016-01737-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa N. Rice

The Petitioner, Odell Wisdom, appeals as of right from the Johnson County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. He claims entitlement to habeas corpus relief, alleging that his separate convictions for contempt and failure to appear violate double jeopardy principles. Following our review, we conclude that the Petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for relief and, therefore, affirm the summary dismissal of his petition.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Tommy Tyrell Johnson
M2016-01243-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg

The Defendant, Tommy Tyrell Johnson, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation for his theft conviction and ordering him to serve his four-year sentence in confinement.  The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Shanerick Abraham
W2016-01497-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

A Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Shanerick Abraham, of aggravated robbery. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support his aggravated robbery conviction because the victim voluntarily gave the defendant money, and the alleged taking was temporally remote to the subsequent act of violence. The defendant additionally alleges ineffective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Louis Grieco
E2015-01110-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

Defendant, Louis Grieco, was arrested on August 24, 2013, without a warrant for driving under the influence (DUI). On the date of the arrest, the arresting officer summarized the facts underlying the offense in an affidavit of complaint, which he signed under oath before a notary public. Two days later, a general sessions judge found probable cause that the offense was committed based on the officer's affidavit of complaint. Over one year later, on October 6, 2014, Defendant waived his right to a preliminary hearing in General Sessions Court and agreed to have the case bound over to the Sullivan County Grand Jury. The grand jury indicted Defendant for DUI on January 21, 2015. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment as time barred, arguing that the affidavit of complaint was void because the officer did not make it on oath in the presence of an authorized official capable of making a probable cause determination. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. The State appeals. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/10/17
State of Tennessee v. Janice Darlene Helbert
E2015-02017-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

Defendant, Janice Darlene Helbert, was issued a Uniform Citation of Complaint for the offenses of driving under the influence and following too closely. The citation included the officer's narrative of the facts underlying the offenses. The officer also prepared an affidavit of complaint, which he signed under oath before a notary public. Three days later, the affidavit of complaint was signed by a deputy clerk. Over one year later, Defendant waived her right to a preliminary hearing and agreed to have her case bound over to the grand jury. The grand jury subsequently returned a presentment against Defendant for the misdemeanor offenses above, as well as one count of felony reckless endangerment. Subsequent to the presentment, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the two misdemeanor counts as time barred, arguing that the affidavit of complaint was void because the officer did not make the oath in the presence of an authorized official capable of making a probable cause determination. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss the misdemeanor charges. The State sought and was granted an interlocutory appeal of the trial court's decision. On appeal, the State contends that the fact that the affidavit of complaint was sworn before a notary public rather than a qualified judicial officer was a “technical defect” that should not render it void. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/10/17
State of Tennessee v. John Smith
W2016-00720-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, John Smith, appeals his conviction of official oppression and his two year sentence in the county workhouse. He argues that his acquittal of a charge of rape and conviction of official oppression represent inconsistent verdicts and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction of official oppression. Following review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/10/17
Robert Lindiment v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01927-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

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

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/10/17
State of Tennessee v. Bobby Jay Fuqua
M2016-00426-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, Defendant, Bobby Jay Fuqua, pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), fourth offense. He properly reserved a certified question of law regarding whether the police officer had reasonable suspicion to seize the Defendant. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we conclude that the evidence supports the trial court’s finding that the police officer had reasonable suspicion to seize Defendant. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/10/17
State of Tennessee v. Yusuf Rahman
W2016-00906-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

A jury convicted the Defendant, Yusuf Rahman, of one count of attempted second degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of domestic assault. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to thirty years for attempted second degree murder, fifteen years for each aggravated assault conviction, and eleven months and twenty-nine days for domestic assault. The trial court ran the sentences concurrently and merged the aggravated assault convictions. The Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support the attempted second degree murder conviction and that the trial court should have instructed the jury on self-defense. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Sarita Alston
W2016-00355-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The defendant, Sarita Alston, was sentenced to an effective sentence of twenty-five years in confinement by the trial court for the merged convictions of reckless endangerment, aggravated child neglect, and aggravated child endangerment. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court improperly enhanced her aggravated child neglect sentence to the maximum within-range sentence of twenty-five years in violation of the purposes and principles of the Tennessee Criminal Sentencing Reform Act. Following our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the twenty-five year sentence.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Thompson
W2016-00077-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The defendant, Anthony Thompson, was convicted of the first degree premeditated murder of Barris Jones and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in allowing testimony regarding a hearsay statement of the victim as a dying declaration, in limiting the cross-examination of a co-defendant, and in allowing autopsy and crime scene photographs into evidence. Additionally, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the verdict. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/09/17
Timothy Allen Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01462-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The petitioner, Timothy Allen Johnson, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2013 Davidson County Criminal Court jury conviction of tampering with evidence, for which he received a sentence of 12 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 03/09/17
Henry Lee Burrell v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02115-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Henry Lee Burrell (“the Petitioner”) pled guilty to six counts of first degree murder and was sentenced to four concurrent and two consecutive life sentences under the terms of a plea agreement. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. The Petitioner now appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, contending: (1) that the post-conviction court erred in denying his request for a psychological examination at the post-conviction hearing; (2) that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary; and (3) that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Jabari Reynolds
E2015-00499-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Appellant, Jabari Reynolds, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court Jury of first degree premeditated murder, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred (1) by allowing a police officer to testify regarding recordings of telephone calls the Appellant made while in jail instead of requiring a telephone company employee to authenticate the calls, (2) by refusing to instruct the jury on voluntary intoxication, (3) by refusing to give a special instruction that the lesser-included offense of second degree murder was “homicide in the 'heat of passion' without adequate provocation,” and (4) by accepting the jury's verdict as thirteenth juror. The Appellant also contends that he is entitled to relief due to cumulative error. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Dondre Johnson
W2015-02401-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant, Dondre Johnson, was convicted by a Shelby County Jury of first degree murder committed during the perpetration of an attempted robbery and received a sentence of life imprisonment. In his sole issue on appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/08/17
Sonia Gonzales v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02496-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter

The petitioner, Sonia Gonzales, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the court erred in finding that she received effective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/08/17
James Hardin v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00536-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Petitioner, James Hardin, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of aggravated burglary and resulting effective sentence of twenty-two years in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/08/17
Joe Turner v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00849-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Petitioner, Joe Turner, filed a petition in the Knox County Criminal Court seeking post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of aggravated rape, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated assault, and the accompanying effective sentence of one hundred years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner alleged that his appellate counsel was ineffective by failing to appeal the trial court‟s refusal to admit potentially exculpatory DNA evidence. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/08/17
State of Tennessee v. Justin Daniel Adams
M2015-00835-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Russell Parkes

The Defendant, Justin Daniel Adams, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, agreeing to an out-of-range sentence of eight years.  The parties agreed to allow the trial court to determine the manner of service of his sentence.  After a hearing, the trial court ordered that the Defendant serve his sentence in confinement.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied him an alternative sentence and that his judgment form should be amended to reflect applicable pretrial jail credit. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.  We remand the case to the trial court for the entry of an amended judgment that reflects the Defendant’s applicable pretrial jail credit.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/08/17
Quanya Revell Prewitt v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02090-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Quanya Revell Prewitt, filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging various claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.  The post-conviction court denied relief, and the Petitioner appeals.  Upon review, we conclude that because of the post-conviction court’s failure to comply with the mandates of section 9(D)(1)(b)(i) of Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 28, we are compelled to reverse the denial of post-conviction relief and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/08/17
Gerome Smith v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01064-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe Thompson

The Petitioner, Gerome Smith, appeals from the Sumner County Criminal Court’s denial of his pro se motion to vacate the post-conviction court’s judgment.  On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in dismissing his motion.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/07/17
State of Tennessee v. Ioka Kimbuke Kyles
M2016-00796-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The Defendant, Ioka Kimbuke Kyles, entered guilty pleas in the Davidson County Criminal Court to two counts of facilitation of aggravated child abuse and one count of facilitation of aggravated child neglect.  The trial court imposed concurrent eight-year sentences for each count, to be served in confinement.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/07/17
Donnie Davenport v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00760-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Petitioner, Donnie Davenport, appeals from the Cumberland County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his jury trial conviction of promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine, for which he is serving a twelve-year, Range III sentence. He contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying his claim, which is premised upon ineffective assistance of counsel allegations. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/06/17