Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/16/2017
Format: 08/16/2017
Gary Hawkins v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00723-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Petitioner, Gary Hawkins, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief by the Shelby County Criminal Court. On appeal, he argues that trial counsel was ineffective for (1) failing to object to testimony regarding an alleged prior bad act by the Petitioner and (2) failing to object to improper statements made during the State’s closing argument. Additionally, he asserts that the cumulative errors made by trial counsel entitle him to relief. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/30/17
State of Tennessee v. Demarco Cortez Taylor
M2016-01436-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Defendant, Demarco Cortez Taylor, was convicted by a jury of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. He received an effective sentence of ten years for the convictions. On appeal, Defendant challenges: (1) the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress; (2) the State’s use of improper leading questions; (3) the exclusion of the victim’s recorded interview; (4) the omission of a jury instruction on intoxication; (5) the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the convictions for aggravated robbery and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; (6) the denial of a new trial on the basis of jury bias; (7) an excessive sentence; and (8) cumulative error. After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/30/17
State of Tennessee v. Brian Garwood
M2016-01653-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The Appellant, Brian Garwood, pled guilty in the Grundy County Circuit Court to three counts of forgery and received a total effective sentence of six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant challenges the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing, specifically drug court. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/30/17
Jeffrey Yates v. Randy Lee, Warden
E2017-00201-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The pro se Petitioner, Jeffrey Yates, appeals as of right from the Johnson County Criminal Court’s order denying his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s denial of relief 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 judgment of the Johnson County Criminal Court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/30/17
State of Tennessee v. Roy D. Moore
E2016-00206-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The Defendant, Roy D. Moore, through counsel, appeals as of right from the Blount 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.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/17
John Joseph Kratochvil v. Randy Lee, Warden
E2016-02056-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa Rice

The pro se petitioner, John Joseph Kratochvil, appeals as of right from the Johnson County Criminal Court’s order summarily dismissing his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The State has filed a motion to affirm the habeas corpus court’s order 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.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/17
Antonio Sykes v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01352-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

A Shelby County jury convicted Antonio Sykes (“the Petitioner”) of first degree premeditated murder, especially aggravated robbery, and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping. He received an effective sentence of life without parole plus seventy-five years. The Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, arguing that the State had withheld exculpatory evidence that one of the State’s witnesses received a plea deal in exchange for favorable testimony, in violation of Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and that the exculpatory evidence constituted “newly discovered evidence” within the meaning of the coram nobis statute. The State filed a response and motion to dismiss, arguing that the Petitioner “fail[ed] to allege any new evidence relating to the matters litigated at trial[]” and that the petition was barred by the statute of limitations. The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition and found that the Petitioner failed to present actual evidence of a plea deal between the witness and the State. On appeal, the Petitioner concedes that his petition was untimely filed but argues that this court should toll the statute of limitations and address the merits of his petition. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/17
State of Tennessee v. Wilson J.B. Jones
W2016-01550-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

Wilson J. B. Jones, the Defendant, filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion for relief from an allegedly illegal sentence. The trial court found that the motion failed to state a colorable claim because the Defendant’s sentence had expired and dismissed the motion. The Defendant “concedes that his sentences have expired” and acknowledges that our supreme court in State v. Brown, 479 S.W. 3d 200 (Tenn. 2015), “held that Rule 36.1 does not authorize the correction of expired illegal sentences.” The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/17
State of Tennessee v. Bobby W. Ogg
M2016-00312-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

Defendant, Bobby W. Ogg, pled guilty to theft of property over $500 in case no. 74CC3-2014-CR-87 and theft of property over $1,000 in case no. 74CC3-2014-CR-94 and received an effective two-year sentence on community corrections. Defendant violated the terms of community corrections “by failing to report and new charges in Robertson and Sumner County,” and he was ordered to serve the remainder of his sentence. On February 23, 2015, Defendant was released on Determinate Release probation. A probation violation warrant was issued on November 13, 2015, charging that Defendant had violated his probation, and, after a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. Defendant now appeals, contending that the trial court erred by ordering him to serve the remainder of his original sentence in confinement. After thoroughly reviewing the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/17
In re: Stoney's Bail Bonding, Inc.
M2016-01246-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge David L. Allen, Judge Stella Hargrove, Judge Robert L. Jones, and Judge J. Russell Parks

This is an appeal by Stoney’s Bail Bonding, Inc., (“Stoney’s”) of an order of the Maury County Circuit Court, sitting en banc, which denied Stoney’s Renewed Motion for Relief from Bond. Stoney’s argues the single issue that the trial court erred in its application of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-11-201(c) because the State failed to commence extradition proceedings, as previously ordered by the en banc panel. Following our review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/17
Robert Webb v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01820-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Petitioner, Robert Webb, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief as untimely upon its conclusion that the Petitioner’s mental incompetence did not toll the statute of limitations. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/17
State of Tennessee v. Deangelo Norton
W2016-02069-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

A Shelby County Grand Jury returned a two-count indictment charging the Defendant, Deangelo Norton, with rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. Pursuant to Rule 412 of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence, prior to trial the Defendant filed a notice of his intent to introduce evidence at trial of the child victim’s knowledge of sexual matters. The trial court held a pretrial evidentiary hearing on the subject and denied the request, finding the proposed testimony to be irrelevant. A jury trial followed, and the Defendant was convicted of both counts. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced the Defendant to twenty-five years at 100%. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying his request to introduce evidence and that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/17
State of Tennessee v. Fred Beal
W2016-00905-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Defendant, Fred Beal, was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder, felony murder, attempted first degree murder, two counts of attempted especially aggravated robbery, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. He appeals, arguing that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions. As part of our review of the record, we note that there is no judgment form for Count 1 in the record. On remand, the trial court should enter a judgment form for Count 1, first degree felony murder. In all other respects, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/17
State of Tennessee v. Darin Woods
W2016-01486-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The defendant, Darin Woods, was indicted for attempted first degree murder (Count 1), aggravated robbery (Count 2), attempted aggravated robbery (Count 3), and employing a firearm during a dangerous felony (Count 4). A jury convicted the defendant of the crimes as charged in Counts 2-4, but found him guilty of the lesser-included offense of attempted second degree murder in Count 1. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his attempted second degree murder conviction, arguing the State failed to prove he acted “knowingly” in shooting his victims. The defendant also challenges the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentencing. The State contends sufficient evidence exists to show the defendant “knowingly” shot his victims, and argues consecutive sentencing was warranted in this case. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/17
State of Tennessee v. Lavelle Moore
W2016-00094-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant, Lavelle Moore, of six counts of theft of property over $500 but less than $1000. The trial court merged the convictions into two counts and imposed an effective sentence of twelve years. On appeal, the defendant contends the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; the trial court abused its discretion by ruling the defendant could be impeached with his prior theft conviction; the theft convictions violate double jeopardy; the trial court erred by ordering the defendant, during deliberations, to stand before the jury and display his eyes; the trial court abused its discretion by telling the jury to keep working after it reached an impasse; and the trial court abused its discretion when imposing consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude the evidence was sufficient; the trial court properly allowed the defendant to be impeached with his prior theft conviction; and the convictions did not violate principles of double jeopardy. However, we also conclude the trial court erred when allowing the jury to view the defendant’s eyes in close proximity for the first time after the case had been submitted to the jury. This error was not harmless. Accordingly, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand for a new trial. Because we have remanded this matter for a new trial, the defendant’s final issues concerning the trial court directing the jury to continue deliberations and sentencing are pretermitted.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/29/17
State of Tennessee v. Arthur Graham and Michelle Graham
W2015-02410-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Wright

The Defendants, Arthur and Michelle Graham, were indicted on August 31, 2010, for theft of property valued at $60,000 or more from the State of Tennessee based on their fraudulent medical billing practices at the children’s therapy facility they owned and operated, which resulted in overpayments in excess of $200,000. According to the indictment, the thefts occurred between March 6, 2002, and October 31, 2003. The delay in indicting the matter resulted from the fact that the United States Attorney’s Office had first investigated the thefts and did not release the matter to the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office until the applicable federal statute of limitations had run. The Defendants each filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, claiming their rights to a speedy trial had been violated by the pre-indictment delay. The trial court denied the motions. Subsequently, the Defendants filed a joint motion to reopen proof on their earlier motions to dismiss. The court entered an order granting in part and denying in part the motion. While the court held that the Defendants had failed to present proof of actual prejudice between the last alleged criminal act and the return of the indictment, it found that the eight-year statute of limitations had run as to the thefts alleged to have occurred prior to August 31, 2002. As a result, the State could proceed only as to those thefts occurring between August 31, 2002, and October 31, 2003. The Defendants then filed a joint motion, asking that the court reconsider its earlier order, again asserting the pre-indictment delay violated their rights to a speedy trial. After hearing the testimony of witnesses, the trial court reversed its previous order, this time finding that the Defendants had been prejudiced by the pre-indictment delay, and dismissed the indictment. The State appeals this order. As we will explain, we reverse this order of the trial court and reinstate the indictment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/28/17
Andrew Hayes v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00280-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The Petitioner, Andrew Hayes, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his first degree felony murder and aggravated robbery convictions, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/28/17
Stephen Lynn Hugueley v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01428-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Stephen Lynn Hugueley, was sentenced to death for the 2002 first degree premeditated murder of a prison counselor, Delbert Steed, while the Petitioner was housed at the Hardeman County Correctional Facility, following two prior first degree murder convictions for the shotgun slaying of his mother and the later killing of another inmate. See State v. Hugueley, 185 S.W.3d 356, 364 (Tenn. 2006). He filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, alleging that his 2013 MRI, which showed that he had congenital brain defects, was “newly discovered evidence” that he was incompetent at the time of his 2003 capital trial, as well as in 2008 when he withdrew his petition for postconviction relief. The coram nobis court concluded that the Petitioner had made an insufficient showing for the granting of relief. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the court erred in this determination, asserting that, had his incompetency been known at the time of trial, no judgment of conviction would have been entered and that, as well, he had not been competent to waive the presentation of mitigating evidence at trial or to waive his right to utilize post-conviction procedures. Further, he argues that a relative may pursue, in his behalf, his petition for writ of error coram nobis. Following our review, we conclude that the Petitioner’s claim of incompetency before and after his trial does not constitute “newly discovered evidence” and, further, that this claim was untimely. Accordingly, we affirm the order of the coram nobis court denying relief.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Jarvis D. Cohen
W2016-01320-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

The Defendant, Jarvis D. Cohen, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. After review, we affirm the denial of the Defendant’s Rule 36.1 motion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Lenardo Dewayne Spencer, Reginald Tyrone Baxter, Jr., and Deandre Jajuan Dean
M2016-01219-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

After a jury trial, the defendants, Lenardo Dewayne Spencer, Reginald Tyrone Baxter, Jr., and Deandre Jajuan Dean, were convicted of robbery and theft of property over $1000. On appeal, the defendants assert the evidence was insufficient to support their robbery convictions, arguing the alleged taking was not accomplished by the use of violence or fear. The defendants also claim prosecutorial misconduct in the State’s closing argument and challenge the State’s expert witness testimony. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/28/17
Jeffrey King v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01646-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

The Petitioner, Jeffrey King, pleaded guilty to multiple drug and money laundering crimes, and the trial court sentenced him to forty years of incarceration to be served at 100%. The Petitioner attempted to reserve certified questions of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) about whether wiretaps used in the investigation of the crime were lawful. This court determined that the Petitioner was not entitled to relief on the basis of the certified questions and affirmed the judgments on appeal. State v. King, 437 S.W.3d 856, 889 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2013). In 2015, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and, after a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/28/17
Jeffrey King v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01224-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Petitioner, Jeffrey King, pleaded guilty to multiple drug and money laundering crimes, and the trial court sentenced him to forty years of incarceration to be served at 100%. The Petitioner attempted to reserve certified questions of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) about whether wiretaps used in the investigation of the crime were lawful. This court determined that the Petitioner was not entitled to relief on the basis of the certified questions and affirmed the judgments on appeal. State v. King, 437 S.W.3d 856, 889 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2013). In 2015, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and, after a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/28/17
State of Tennessee v. Jesus Baltazar Diaz Ramos, AKA Enrique Ruano Diaz
M2016-02187-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

Defendant appeals from the denial of his motion pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure in which he sought to correct his allegedly illegal sentence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/28/17
Teddy Robbins, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01531-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Petitioner, Teddy Robbins, Jr., was convicted after a jury trial of domestic assault, aggravated assault, especially aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated rape for crimes committed against his wife, and he was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of fifty years’ imprisonment. The Petitioner filed a timely post-conviction petition, asserting that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel when his trial counsel failed to adequately prepare for trial and failed to present certain defense witnesses. After a hearing, the trial court found that counsel prepared adequately for trial, that a defense witness presented at the post-conviction hearing was not credible, and that the Petitioner failed to demonstrate any prejudice. The Petitioner appeals, contending that trial counsel’s testimony at the hearing demonstrated inadequate preparation and that as a result, his strategic decision not to call a witness was not entitled to deference. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Scott County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Austin Randall Britt
E2016-01991-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

The defendant, Austin Randall Britt, through counsel, appeals as of right from the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s order revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his sentence in the custody of the Department of Correction. 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 judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/27/17