Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/16/2014
Format: 04/16/2014
State of Tennessee v. Devin Torquin Watkins
E2013-00420-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

Appellant, Marquis Dashawn Hendricks, was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine while employing a deadly weapon, possession of more than .5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, and possession of more than one-half ounce but not more than ten pounds of marijuana with intent to sell. After a jury trial, Appellant was convicted of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, and simple possession of marijuana. Appellant received an effective sentence of life in prison for the convictions. On appeal, Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, expert testimony about the trajectory of the bullet that was fired into the victim’s vehicle, and the trial court’s refusal to grant a mistrial on the basis of a Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), violation. After a review of the evidence and applicable authorities, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction for first degree murder; the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting expert testimony where the challenge to the testimony was related to the credibility of the expert’s opinion; and the State did not commit a Brady violation so the trial court properly denied a mistrial. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Melvin Powell
W2013-00844-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Melvin Powell, was found guilty of rape of a child, a Class A felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-522 (2010) (amended 2011). The trial court sentenced him as a Range I offender to twenty-five years at 100% service. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the State failed to make a proper election of the offense, and (3) the trial court erred in admitting paternity testing results based on the laboratory’s accreditation. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/03/14
James Buck v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01736-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker III

The Petitioner, James Buck, pled guilty to failure to appear, with the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of his sentence. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner as a Career Offender to serve six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner timely filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief on the basis that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. The Petitioner now appeals, maintaining that he is entitled to relief based upon his attorney’s deficient representation. After a thorough review of the record, the briefs, and relevant authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/03/14
Erik E. Guerrero v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01181-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway

A Maury County jury convicted the Petitioner, Erik E. Guerrero, of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of first degree felony murder, and nine counts of attempted first degree murder, and the trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of life in the Tennessee Department of Correction. This Court affirmed the judgments and sentence on appeal. State v. Erik E. Guerrero, No. M2010-00851-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 3107722, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Dec. 21, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 17, 2011). The Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court dismissed after a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it dismissed his petition because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial because his trial counsel failed to: (1) request a jury instruction on the natural and probable consequences rule; (2) adequately advise him of all of the considerations of not testifying in his own defense; and (3) to challenge the admissibility of his statements. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the post-conviction court did not err when it dismissed the petition. The post-conviction court’s judgment is, therefore, affirmed.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/14
State of Tennessee v. Daniel A. Rogers
E2013-01356-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

Daniel A. Rogers (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of driving under the influence, simple possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance, and driving on a suspended driver’s license. The Defendant also was convicted by the trial court of violating the implied consent law, resulting in the suspension of his driver’s license for one year. Following a sentencing hearing on his remaining convictions, the Defendant received a total effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days suspended to supervised probation after the service of sixty days. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that he was denied a fair trial when the trial court declined to provide a jury instruction regarding the State’s duty to preserve evidence, and he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/14
Michael Morris v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01652-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Petitioner, Michael Morris, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury in July of 2004 for possession of less than .5 grams of cocaine with the intent to sell. Petitioner pled guilty to the charge in September of 2004 in exchange for a suspended four-year sentence and drug treatment. In September of 2012, Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition as time-barred. Petitioner appeals. After a review of the record, we determine that the post-conviction court properly dismissed the petition for post-conviction relief as time-barred by the statute of limitations. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/14
Robert D. Mendenhall v. State of Tennessee
M2012-01890-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

Petitioner, Robert D. Mendenhall, was indicted in case number 2006-A-231 for two counts of solicitation to commit first degree murder and in case number 2006-C-2134 for two counts of theft of property valued at over $60,000, and four counts of violations of the Tennessee Securities Laws. Subsequently, Petitioner pled guilty to two counts of solicitation to commit first degree murder in case number 2006-A-231. He also pled guilty to two counts of theft of property over $60,000, one count of securities fraud by a device, scheme, or artifice, and securities fraud by sale of an unregistered security in case number 2006-C-2134. As a result of the guilty pleas, Petitioner received an effective sentence of forty years. He was represented by separate counsel in each case. Petitioner filed a timely pro se petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, among other things. After a hearing on the petition, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, Petitioner challenges the denial of post-conviction relief. Upon review, we determine that Petitioner has failed to show clear and convincing evidence that he received ineffective assistance of counsel or that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/14
Anthony Washington v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01494-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

The Petitioner, Anthony Washington, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. The Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred by summarily dismissing his petition as having been untimely filed and failing to state a cognizable claim. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Terry Johnson
W2012-01510-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge John T. Fowlkes Jr.

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Terry Johnson, of one count of second degree murder, three counts of attempted second degree murder, and one count of possession of a firearm during a dangerous felony. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty-six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions and the trial court’s refusal to allow the appellant to introduce evidence of the deceased victim’s involvement in an unrelated murder. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Michael Anthony Foster
W2013-00558-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, Michael Anthony Foster, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of reckless endangerment and aggravated assault. The trial court merged the reckless endangerment conviction with the aggravated assault conviction and sentenced Foster to eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Foster argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for aggravated assault and that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court but remand for entry of a corrected judgment showing that Foster was charged with and convicted of aggravated assault pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-102(a)(1)(A)(iii), which is a Class C felony.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/14
Steven Anderson v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00975-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Petitioner, Steven Anderson, filed what he designated was his fourth petition for habeas corpus relief attacking his 1994 convictions for aggravated robbery, especially aggravated robbery, and second degree murder. The convictions were the result of guilty pleas pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement resulting in an effective sentence of 50 years’ incarceration. The State filed a motion for summary dismissal because the claims had been brought three previous times, and no colorable claim was alleged. The habeas corpus trial court granted the motion and dismissed the petition for habeas corpus, and also a petition for writ of error coram nobis. The coram nobis petition is not in the appellate record. Petitioner appeals, and after a thorough review, we affirm pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Robert Dwight Davis, Alias
E2013-01797-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jeffrey S. Bivins
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

Robert Dwight Davis, alias (“the Defendant”), pleaded guilty to one count each of possession with intent to sell cocaine with priors, aggravated burglary, attempted aggravated robbery, and criminal impersonation. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant was sentenced to an effective sentence of sixteen years, to be suspended on “enhanced probation.” Upon the filing of a probation revocation warrant, the Defendant was taken into custody, and a revocation hearing was held. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve his original sentence in confinement. The Defendant timely appealed the trial court’s ruling. Upon a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/14
Dominque Simons v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01663-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael R. Jones

The Appellant appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The ruling of the trial court is affirmed.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/14