Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 11/28/2014
Format: 11/28/2014
State of Tennessee v. Randy Ray Ramsey
E2013-01951-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ben W. Hooper, II

A Cocke County Jury convicted Defendant, Randy Ray Ramsey, of second-degree murder. He received a sentence of twenty-five years to be served concurrently with a federal sentence for drug-related convictions. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for second degree murder and that the trial court improperly sentenced him. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Cocke County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14
Michael J. Shipp v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00065-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

Petitioner, Michael J. Shipp, stands convicted of first degree premeditated murder and aggravated robbery and is serving an effective life sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  In his post-conviction petition, petitioner claimed that he did not receive effective assistance of counsel at trial because his attorney failed to seek suppression of his statement to the police.  The post-conviction court denied relief.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14
Nelson V. Plana v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00359-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Senior Judge Paul Summers

The petitioner, Nelson V. Plana, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged the petitioner’s 2004 Montgomery County Circuit Court jury convictions of two counts of first degree murder.  In this appeal, the petitioner claims entitlement to post-conviction relief based upon the allegedly ineffective assistance of his trial counsel.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14
State of Tennessee v. Robert A. Bass
M2013-02717-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Defendant, Robert A. Bass, was convicted by a Maury County Circuit Court jury of assault, a Class A misdemeanor.  See T.C.A. § 39-13-101(a)(2) (2014).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days on probation.   On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury regarding self-defense.  We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for a new trial.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/29/14
State of Tennessee v. Dana Keith Woods
W2010-02409-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Petitioner, Dana Keith Woods, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief from his convictions for first degree premeditated murder, felony murder, aggravated burglary, especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault, and attempted first degree murder. The trial court merged the convictions for first degree premeditated murder and felony murder and also merged the convictions for attempted first degree murder and aggravated assault. For his convictions, the Petitioner received an effective sentence of life without the possibility of parole plus fifty years. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Dannaer Beard
W2013-00502-CCA-MR3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

A Shelby County jury found Appellant Dannaer Beard guilty of criminal attempt: second degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced him to an effective term of twelve years' imprisonment. Appellant now challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his conviction for criminal attempt: second degree murder. Appellant also argues that the trial judge erred in not merging the two aggravated assault convictions. Because a jury could find that Appellant’s stabbing of the victim was a substantial step in a knowing attempt to kill Mr. Moore, we affirm the criminal attempt conviction. Additionally, we find that the two aggravated assault charges arose from a single incident, and we remand the case for entry of a single judgment noting merger of the two offenses in counts 2 and 3.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/28/14
State of Tennessee v. Racris Thomas
W2013-00851-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Racris Thomas, of two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated robbery, one count of attempted aggravated robbery, and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a handgun. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of seventy years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is not sufficient to sustain his convictions and that the trial court erred by refusing to declare a mistrial after the jury instructions revealed that the felony underlying the charge for being a felon in possession of a handgun was a prior aggravated robbery. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/27/14
Michael Bo Heath v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00590-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Petitioner, Michael Bo Heath, appeals the Sullivan County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for second degree murder and three counts of tampering with or fabricating evidence and his effective twenty-seven-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Lee Ann Lynch
E2014-00246-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

The Defendant, Lee Ann Lynch, appeals the Blount County Circuit Court’s order revoking her community corrections sentence for her conviction for promotion of methamphetamine manufacture and ordering her four-year sentence into execution. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking her community corrections sentence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Corey M. Willis
M2014-00252-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The defendant, Corey M. Willis, was charged with various driving under the influence (DUI) offenses.  He filed a motion to suppress, alleging that the police lacked reasonable suspicion to perform the traffic stop.  The trial court granted the motion, and the State appeals.  Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s ruling.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/27/14
John J. Kratochvil v. James M. Holloway, Warden
M2014-00600-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The petitioner, John J. Kratochvil, filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, seeking relief from his conviction of second degree murder.  The habeas corpus court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/27/14
State of Tennessee v. Omar Robinson
E2014-00393-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carroll L. Ross

Appellant, Omar Robinson, pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of cocaine with intent to sell and two counts of simple possession of marijuana. Appellant later filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, which the trial court summarily dismissed, holding that appellant’s sentence had expired. On appeal, appellant argues that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing his motion because an illegal sentence may be challenged at any time pursuant to Rule 36.1. The State concedes that this case should be remanded to the trial court. Following our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Loudon County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/22/14
State of Tennessee v. Caleb Lawrence Mullins
W2013-02691-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Caleb Lawrence Mullins, pleaded guilty to second degree murder, theft of property, and tampering with evidence. The trial court sentenced him to serve an effective sentence of thirty-seven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court misapplied one enhancement factor and two consecutive sentencing factors. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/22/14
O'Neal Johnson v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02313-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, O’Neal Johnson, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/21/14
State of Tennessee v. John Brent
W2013-01252-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The defendant, John Brent, was convicted of aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary, for which he was sentenced, respectively, to thirty years at 100% and fifteen years at 45%, the sentences to be served concurrently. On appeal, he argues that he is entitled to a new trial because the court erred in allowing into evidence a photograph of a pair of scissors which were similar to those in the victim’s home; that the evidence was insufficient to support either of his convictions; and that his sentence is excessive. Following our review, we conclude that the defendant’s claims are without merit and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/21/14
State of Tennessee v. Delquan Bolton
W2013-00539-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The defendant, Delquan Bolton, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. He was sentenced to terms of twenty-five years and ten years, respectively, to be served concurrently in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in admitting character evidence and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/21/14
State of Tennessee v. Cynthia Gail Harvey
M2013-02391-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge George C. Sexton

The Defendant, Cynthia Gail Harvey, appeals from her Humphreys County jury conviction for felony theft, (1) challenging the trial court’s denial of her motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial and (2) contending that she received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Upon considering the relevant authorities and the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/21/14
State of Tennessee v. Ibrahim Talafhah
M2013-01556-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Earl Durham

The Defendant, Ibrahim Talafhah, was convicted after a bench trial in the Wilson County Criminal Court of harassment, a Class A misdemeanor.  See T.C.A. § 39-17-308(a)(2) (2014).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve ten days in jail with the balance of his eleven-month, twenty-nine-day sentence to be served on probation.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying him his constitutional right to a jury trial.  We conclude that the Defendant was denied his right to a jury trial, and we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for a new trial.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/21/14
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Lamont Freeman
M2013-01813-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The defendant, Antonio Lamont Freeman, was convicted of one count of possession of contraband in a penal facility, a Class C felony. On appeal, the defendant argues: (1) the trial court abused its discretion in removing the defendant from the courtroom during his trial; (2) the trial court abused its discretion by introducing evidence into the record during the motion for new trial; (3) the trial judge’s alleged continued acts of prejudice warrant a new trial; (4) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct when it assumed facts not in evidence; (5) the trial court abused its discretion by denying the motion for new trial based upon newly discovered evidence; and (6) numerous grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel.  After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Daryll Shane Stanley
E2013-01739-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Defendant, Daryll Shane Stanley, was charged by presentment with four counts of aggravated rape, one count of attempted first degree murder, two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, and one count of especially aggravated robbery. Defendant was tried in a bench trial. Defendant appeals from his convictions as charged on all counts except one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, in which he was acquitted. Defendant was sentenced to 25 years for each of his 7 convictions, and his sentences were ordered to be served consecutively for a total effective sentence of 175 years. In this appeal as of right, Defendant raises the following issues for our review: 1) whether the 16-year delay between the presentment of charges and Defendant’s trial violated his right to a speedy trial; 2) whether he was denied due process by the State’s failure to preserve evidence; 3) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain Defendant’s convictions for four counts of aggravated rape; and 4) whether the trial court’s comments at the conclusion of the bench trial indicated that the trial court found Defendant guilty of the lesser-included offense of theft of property in count 8 charging especially aggravated robbery. Having carefully reviewed the record before us, we affirm the judgments of the trial court in counts one through six, but we conclude that Defendant’s conviction for especially aggravated robbery in count eight should be modified to a conviction for Class A misdemeanor theft and remand this case to the trial court for entry of a modified judgment.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Jameson Delgizzi a/k/a Decharme
M2013-02864-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

The defendant, Jameson Delgizzi, also known as Decharme, pled no-contest to attempted aggravated sexual battery, a Class C felony, and agreed to be sentenced outside his range, as a Range III offender, with the sentence and manner of service to be determined by the trial court.  Following a sentencing hearing, the defendant received a sentence of eleven years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, he argues that an eleven-year term is excessive and that he should have been granted probation or split confinement.  After review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/14
In RE: A-Action Bonding Company
M2013-01526-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones, Jude Stella L. Hargrove, Judge Jim T. Hamilton, Judge Robert L. Holloway

This is an appeal by A-Action Bonding Company of Columbia (“A-Action”) of an order of the Maury County Circuit Court, sitting en banc, which suspended the bonding authority of the company, its principal, and one of its agents based on its finding that the agent solicited an inmate at the county jail, in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-11-126(6).  The appellant argues that the court improperly considered as evidence a cell phone recording of a videotaped conversation between the agent and the inmate when the original jail videotape had been destroyed and the cell phone recording was made by a competitor and contained an altered version of the original.  We agree.  We also agree that, without the improperly admitted recording, there was insufficient evidence that the agent solicited business in violation of the statute.  Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the motion to suspend the bonding authority of A-Action, its principal, and its agent.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/14
State of Tennessee v. John Robert Quinton Jackson
M2013-02172-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael R. Jones

The record in this matter is very sparse.  Much of our understanding of its history comes from the decision of this court in the defendant’s direct appeal, State v. John Robert Q. Jackson, No. M2012-00511-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 791621 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 4, 2013).  As best we can understand, the defendant, John Robert Quinton Jackson, pled guilty in February 2009 to five counts of aggravated burglary, two counts of automobile burglary, one count of theft over $10,000, and one count of theft over $1000, receiving an effective sentence of six years in community corrections.  In September 2009, he was served with a violation warrant and subsequently pled guilty to an additional count of aggravated burglary, receiving a four-year sentence in community corrections, to be served concurrently with the six-year community corrections sentence reinstated by the court.  Later, he was served with another violation warrant, based upon his participation in a home invasion and aggravated robbery.  Pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure  36.1, he filed a motion for correction of an illegal sentence, which the trial court dismissed.  He appeals that dismissal.  Based upon our review, we affirm the trial court’s dismissal of his motion.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Cary Arnaz Harbin, III
M2013-02742-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Defendant, Cary Arnaz Harbin, III, was charged with violating the sexual offender registration act by establishing his primary residence within one thousand feet of a licensed day care facility.  See Tenn. Code Ann. § 40-39-211(a).  The trial court dismissed the charge, finding that the Defendant, convicted in Michigan in 2008 of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree, did not meet the statutory definition of “sexual offender.”  The State appeals the order of dismissal, arguing that the record was insufficient for the trial court to make this determination.  Following our review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the Defendant, an out-of-state sexual offender required to register in Michigan, is subject to the requirements of Tennessee sexual offender registration act upon sufficient contact with this State.  Therefore, we reverse the order of the trial court dismissing the indicted charge and remand the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Brian Oneal Elliott
M2014-00083-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Jude Cheryl A. Blackburn

The appellant, Brian Oneal Elliott, challenges the length of the twenty-five-year maximum sentence the trial court imposed for his conviction of second degree murder.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/14