Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 12/07/2016
Format: 12/07/2016
State of Tennessee v. Roger Dale Stewart
E2015-00820-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

The defendant, Roger Dale Stewart, was convicted of one count of criminally negligent homicide, a Class E felony, and two counts of reckless endangerment, Class E felonies. On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; that the trial court erred when it refused to provide a requested jury instruction; that his convictions violate the principles of double jeopardy and the Due Process Clause; and that the trial court erred by imposing a two-year sentence to be served in confinement. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/16
Timothy Richard Singleton v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02319-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Timothy R. Singleton, appeals as of right from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged the validity of his guilty plea to aggravated robbery.  See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-402.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he did not enter into his guilty plea knowingly and voluntarily because he did not understand the agreement due to his mental illness.  Additionally, he claims his attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to adequately investigate the Petitioner’s mental health history and using such information to arrange a better plea deal with the State.  Finally, the Petitioner claims he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to file a motion to suppress his confession.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/16
State of Tennessee v. Leonardo Williams
W2015-02434-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Leonardo Williams (“the Defendant”) appeals the summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Defendant claims the trial court erred in revoking his probation on a three-year sentence because the sentence had expired. The trial court found the motion failed to state a colorable claim because the Defendant’s sentences imposed by the court were legal and proper. We affirm the summary dismissal pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/16
State of Tennessee v. Raymond B. Thomas
W2016-00486-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

Raymond B. Thomas (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to one count of felony failure to appear and was sentenced to two years' incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court's denial of his request for an alternative sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/16
David Lynn Jordan v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00698-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don R. Ash

The petitioner, David Lynn Jordan, appeals the post-conviction court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his convictions of three counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident and his sentences of death. On appeal, the petitioner contends that (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel during both the guilt and penalty phases of the trial; (2) the venue of the trial in Madison County, Tennessee, violated his rights to a fair trial and due process; (3) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by suppressing evidence; (4) the selection and impaneling of the grand jury was unconstitutional; (5) the post-conviction court erred in denying his motion to continue the evidentiary hearing; (6) the post-conviction court erred in allowing trial counsel to assist the State during the evidentiary hearing; (7) the post-conviction court erred in excluding an expert witness; (8) Tennessee's death penalty scheme is unconstitutional; (9) his death sentence is disproportionate; and (10) cumulative error warrants a new trial. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/16
Martin Dean Gibbs v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00218-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Petitioner, Martin Dean Gibbs, appeals as of right from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his convictions for multiple counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child less than thirteen years of age and rape of a child more than three years of age but less than thirteen years of age.  See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-504; -522.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to provide appropriate accommodations for the Petitioner’s hearing difficulties during his trial.  The Petitioner claims that, because of this failure, he was unable to meaningfully participate in his own defense at trial.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/16
State of Tennessee v. Laurie Lynn Welch and Roland John Welch
M2015-00361-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Defendants, Laurie Lynn Welch (“Mrs. Welch) and Roland John Welch (Mr. Welch”), were convicted of promotion of methamphetamine manufacturing, initiation of methamphetamine manufacture process, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Mrs. Welch was sentenced to four years for the promotion charge, eight years for the initiation charge, and eleven months, twenty-nine days for possession of drug paraphernalia to be served concurrently for an effective eight-year sentence to be served in the Department of Correction as a Range I offender.  Mr. Welch was sentenced to eight years for the promotion charge, eighteen years for the initiation charge, and eleven-months, twenty-nine days for possession of drug paraphernalia to be served concurrently for an effective eighteen-year sentence to be served in the Department of Correction as a Range II offender.  On appeal, both Defendants argue that: (1) the affidavit in support of the search warrant did not contain probable cause; (2) the trial court erred by failing to suppress evidence discovered as a result of a warrantless search and seizure; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support both Defendants’ convictions for promotion of methamphetamine manufacture and initiation of methamphetamine manufacturing process and Mr. Welch’s conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia; and (4) Mr. Welch’s sentence was excessive.  After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.   

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/16
Billy Joe Russell, Jr., AKA Joe Billy Russell, Jr., AKA Craig C. Scott v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02318-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The petitioner, Billy Joe Russell, Jr., a.k.a. Joe Billy Russell, Jr., a.k.a. Craig C. Scott, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for relief. On appeal, the petitioner asserts that his petition is timely because it falls within one year of certain federal opinions which establish a constitutional right requiring retroactive application. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the dismissal of the petition in accordance with Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/16
State of Tennessee v. Travis Lindsey
M2015-01954-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The Defendant, Travis Lindsey, was convicted by a Maury County Circuit Court jury of the sale of 0.5 gram or more of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school, a Class A felony, and sale of 0.5 gram or more of cocaine, a Class B felony.  See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-432 (2014) (school zone), 39-17-417(A)(3)(C)(1) (2010) (amended 2012, 2014) (sale of cocaine).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent sentences of twenty years for the sale of cocaine in a drug-free zone conviction and ten years for the sale of cocaine conviction.  The court also ordered concurrent service with an unrelated sentence in federal court.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for sale of cocaine in a drug-free zone, (2) the court erred by allowing testimony relative to the Defendant’s prior bad acts, and (3) the court erred by admitting into evidence recorded statements in violation of the Confrontation Clause.   We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Brannon Harrison Shockley
E2016-00261-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword
The Defendant, Brannon Harrison Shockley, pleaded guilty in the Knox County Criminal Court to aggravated assault, a Class C felony, with an agreed sentence of four years with the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court. See T.C.A. § 39-13-102(a)(1)(A)(iv) (2014) (amended 2015) (aggravated assault by strangulation). The court denied alternative sentencing. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by denying him alternative sentencing. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/16
State of Tennessee v. James Ronald Rollins
E2016-00186-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The appellant, James Ronald Rollins, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence in the Hamilton County Criminal Court pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion, and the appellant appeals the ruling. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/16
Kimberly Mangrum v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00383-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

The Petitioner, Kimberly Mangrum, appeals the Dickson County Circuit Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions for first degree felony murder, attempted first degree premeditated murder, aggravated burglary, and especially aggravated kidnapping and her effective life sentence.  The Petitioner contends that (1) she received the ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal and (2) counsel’s ineffective assistance deprived her of due process of law.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/16
State of Tennessee v. Austin Dean
E2015-01217-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword
The Defendant, Austin Dean, pleaded guilty to eleven counts of aggravated robbery, Class B felonies. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-402 (2014). Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court merged Counts 2 and 3 into Count 1, merged Counts 5, 6, and 7 into Count 4, and merged Counts 9, 10, and 11 into Count 8, and the court would determine the length and manner of service of the sentences. The trial court imposed three eight-year sentences and ordered partial consecutive service, for an effective sixteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive service. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/07/16
State of Tennessee v. John Freitas
W2015-02492-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The defendant, John Freitas, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of assault and domestic assault, both Class A misdemeanors, and sentenced to consecutive terms of eleven months and twenty-nine days in the county workhouse. On appeal, he argues that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) his convictions for assault and domestic assault violate double jeopardy; and (3) the trial court abused its discretion by imposing consecutive sentences. After review, we conclude that it violates double jeopardy for the defendant to receive punishments for assault and domestic assault. Therefore, we order that the defendant's convictions stand but that amended judgments be entered showing that the simple assault conviction merges into the domestic assault conviction for imposition of one sentence.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/07/16
Adam C. Braseel v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00057-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

Petitioner, Adam Clyde Braseel, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder, felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, attempted first degree murder, aggravated assault, and assault and sentenced to an effective sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.  State v. Adam Clyde Braseel, No. M2009-00839-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 3609247, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 17, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Feb. 17, 2011).  On direct appeal, this Court merged the aggravated assault and attempted first degree murder convictions and corrected several clerical errors in the judgments.  In all other respects, the convictions and sentences were affirmed.  Petitioner subsequently sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, arguing, among other things that trial counsel should have filed a motion to suppress the pre-trial identification of Petitioner as the perpetrator, should have challenged the eyewitness identification of Petitioner at trial, and should have requested a jury instruction on eyewitness identification.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court granted relief.  The State appealed.  After a thorough review, we reverse and remand the judgment of the post-conviction court.  All of Petitioner’s covictions are reinstated and his petition for post-conviction relief is dismissed.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Ashley Kelso
M2015-00661-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

The trial court revoked Ashley Kelso’s (“the Defendant”)probation and ordered her to serve the balance of her sentence.  After a review of the record and applicable law, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the Defendant violated her probation or by ordering that she serve her sentence in incarceration.  The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Tina Lynn Szabo
W2015-02264-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

This is an appeal by permission, pursuant to Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. A Henry County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Tina Lynn Szabo, for various charges arising out of a traffic stop based upon the Defendant's erratic driving and the subsequent blood test results obtained by a search warrant for a blood draw. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the blood test results obtained as a result of a search warrant, and the trial court suppressed the blood test results, ruling that an error within the warrant and an untimely return rendered the search warrant invalid. The State filed a motion for an interlocutory appeal, which was granted by the trial court. We granted the Rule 9 appeal, and the State asserts that the trial court erred when it granted the Defendant's Motion to Suppress. After review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Henry County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/16
Kenneth Sherron v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00515-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Kenneth Sherron, pleaded guilty to facilitation of kidnapping. Thereafter, the Petitioner filed an untimely petition for post-conviction relief, and the post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition as time-barred. The Petitioner appeals, asserting that the post-conviction court erred when it summarily dismissed the petition. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Tonya Lavette Christopher - concurring
E2015-02038-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole
I join in the majority's disposition of this case. I write separately only to highlight an apparent precedential conflict that came to light upon pondering footnote three in the majority opinion.
 
Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Tonya Lavette Christopher
E2015-02038-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Defendant, Tonya Lavette Christopher, pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI), first offense. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-10-401. The Defendant's plea agreement preserved a certified question of law regarding the legality of the police encounter which preceded her arrest. Following our review, we conclude that the police officer's detention of the Defendant was justified upon reasonable suspicion of obstructing a roadway in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-307. Accordingly, the DUI judgment is affirmed.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Khalid M. Mohssin
M2015-02125-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Khalid M. Mohssin, entered an open guilty plea to conspiracy to sell and deliver more than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-12-103; -17-417. At the subsequent sentencing hearing, the trial court determined the Defendant would receive a five-year sentence, as a Range I, standard offender, and denied alternative sentencing. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by enhancing his sentence to five years and by denying his request for a suspended sentence. Following our review, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s sentencing decision. Accordingly, the judgment is affirmed.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Marty V. Bell
W2015-02525-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Defendant pled guilty to aggravated rape and received a sentence of twenty-five years as a multiple rapist. The Defendant now challenges his sentence as illegal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, asserting that the trial court erred by failing to make a factual finding of his previous rape conviction and that a disparity exists between the length of his sentence and other shorter sentences for more serious convictions. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court's dismissal of the Defendant's motion to correct his sentence.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Brian Adams
W2015-02066-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

A jury found that the Defendant, Brian Adams, was guilty of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced the defendant to an effective sentence of ninety years. The Defendant asserts that his convictions should be overturned on the basis of insufficient evidence. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Alberto Conde-Valentino
M2015-01872-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The defendant, Alberto Conde-Valentino, appeals his Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of felony murder and especially aggravated robbery, claiming that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his motion for severance of co-defendants, that the trial court erred by refusing to instruct the jury on accomplice testimony, and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Cuben Lagrone
E2014-02402-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Cuben T. Lagrone, of attempted second degree murder, employing a firearm during the commission of attempted second degree murder, attempted first degree premeditated murder, employing a firearm during the commission of attempted first degree premeditated murder, and reckless endangerment. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II multiple offender to a total effective sentence of sixty-five years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress evidence from a cell phone seized during a traffic stop and weapons seized during a traffic accident investigation; (2) the trial court erred when it allowed the State to play a video recording during its opening statement; (3) the trial court erred when it instructed two witnesses, without first appointing counsel, to testify against the Defendant after the witnesses invoked their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and when it allowed the State to make an inappropriate comment in front of the jury on this matter; (4) the trial court improperly admitted into evidence the first victim’s 911 call, images of the Defendant near or displaying firearms, and the Defendant’s jail call, and improperly declined to admit into evidence the second victim’s letter to the first victim; (5) the evidence is insufficient to sustain any of his convictions; (6) the trial court erred when it failed to grant a new trial based on a witness’s recantation; (7) the trial court erred when it instructed the jury regarding the truthfulness of witnesses and regarding criminal responsibility; (8) the trial court erred when it denied the Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal; (9) the trial court erred when it sentenced the Defendant; and (10) due process requires a reversal of the Defendant’s convictions because of the effect of cumulative error. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the trial courts judgments of convictions in all respects. We vacate the sentences for the two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a felony and remand for resentencing on those two counts.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/16