Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/23/2017
Format: 06/23/2017
State of Tennessee v. Blake Austin Weaver
E2016-01774-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Ray Elledge

The Defendant, Blake Austin Weaver, appeals the revocation of his community corrections sentence. Pursuant to a guilty plea, he was convicted of one count of theft of property valued more than $60,000 and eleven counts of forgery of a check in an amount greater than $1,000 and less than $10,000. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of fifteen years to be served on community corrections. The trial court revoked the Defendant’s community corrections sentence after finding that the Defendant failed a drug screen, failed to pay restitution, and did not comply with orders to attend intensive outpatient therapy and enter a halfway house. After revocation, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve the remainder of his sentence in prison. He argues that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his community corrections sentence, contending that the trial court erroneously failed to consider his ability to pay restitution, relied on grounds outside the notice of violation, and acted too harshly in requiring him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment revoking the Defendant’s community corrections sentence.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/17
Walter Lee Hicks v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01050-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Petitioner, Walter Lee Hicks, was indicted for aggravated assault, evading arrest, reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, driving on a revoked driver’s license, speeding, and making a false report. Following a jury trial, Petitioner was convicted of the lesserincluded offense of assault, evading arrest, reckless endangerment, driving on a revoked driver’s license, speeding, and making a false report. The trial court imposed a 17-year sentence. A panel of this court affirmed Petitioner’s convictions and sentence on direct appeal, but the panel remanded the case for entry of corrected judgments to reflect that the conviction for misdemeanor assault merged into the conviction for felony reckless endangerment. State v. Walter Lee Hicks, Jr., No. M2013-01410-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 2902277, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., June 26, 2014), perm. app. denied (Tenn., Oct. 22, 2014). Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief. Following a hearing on the petition, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, Petitioner alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel omitted portions of a state trooper’s dash camera video when presenting that evidence at trial. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/17
Robert E. Lequire, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01950-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Petitioner, Robert E. Lequire, Jr., appeals from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief, in which he alleged that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered. Having reviewed the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/17
Felton Jackson v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00490-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody Kane

The Petitioner, Felton Jackson, filed a petition in the Wilson County Criminal Court, seeking post-conviction relief from his conviction of especially aggravated robbery.  The Petitioner alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to call alibi witnesses, coercing the Petitioner not to testify, and failing to investigate or present proof regarding the Petitioner’s “social, medical and mental health.”  The post-conviction court denied relief, and the Petitioner appealed.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Larsheika Hill
M2016-00526-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

The Appellant, Larsheika Hill, appeals the Marshall County Circuit Court’s revocation of her community corrections sentence for selling or delivering cocaine and order that she serve ten years in confinement. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Mario D. Frederick
M2016-00737-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

The Defendant, Mario Frederick, was convicted of two counts of solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class E felony, two counts of solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor less than thirteen years of age, a Class C felony, and three counts of indecent exposure, a Class B misdemeanor. He received an effective sentence of five years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to sever the counts of the indictment and his motion for arrest of judgment. He also contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Kalandra Lacy
W2016-00837-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett

The defendant, Kalandra Lacy, appeals her Shelby County Criminal Court guilty-pleaded conviction of abuse of a corpse, arguing that the trial court erred by denying her bid for judicial diversion. Following a de novo review occasioned by the trial court’s failure to consider on the record all the factors relevant to the denial of judicial diversion as well as the trial court’s consideration of irrelevant factors, we conclude that the defendant is entitled to judicial diversion. We remand the case for entry of an order placing the defendant on judicial diversion under the same terms and conditions of her previously imposed sentence of probation.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/17
State of Tennessee v. Shawn P. Bradley
W2015-02228-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

The Defendant, Shawn P. Bradley, appeals from the Carroll County Circuit Court’s order declaring him to be a Motor Vehicle Habitual Offender (MVHO). On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in declaring him to be a MVHO because the judgment forms for the qualifying offenses were facially invalid. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/17
State of Tennessee v. William Langston
W2015-02359-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camile R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, William Langston, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of the second degree murder of his wife and received a twenty-year sentence. On appeal, Langston argues: (1) the trial court erred by denying his request to enter a guilty plea to a pending indictment charging him with voluntary manslaughter; (2) the trial court abused its discretion when it accepted a police officer as an expert in the field of blood spatter analysis at trial; (3) the instructions in his case precluded the jury from considering the offense of voluntary manslaughter; (4) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; and (5) his sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgment of the trial court but remand the case for entry of a corrected judgment reflecting the date that the second degree murder conviction was entered following sentencing.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/17
State of Tennessee v. Ronald Levon Cosper
E2016-00212-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The Defendant, Ronald Levon Cosper, was convicted of first degree felony murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202(a)(2) (2014) (felony murder), 39-13-403 (2014) (especially aggravated robbery), 39-12-101 (2014) (criminal attempt). He received concurrent sentences of life for the felony murder conviction and ten years for the attempted especially aggravated robbery conviction. On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions and (2) he was deprived of due process because the State introduced unreliable identification evidence of him as the perpetrator of the offenses. We affirm the first degree felony murder judgment of the trial court. We affirm the attempted especially aggravated robbery conviction but vacate the judgment and remand for entry of a corrected judgment.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/17
State of Tennessee v. Travis Smith
W2015-02360-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

A jury convicted the Defendant, Travis Smith, of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and he was sentenced to serve twenty-five years in prison. The Defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the trial court’s decisions regarding the admission of testimony, the sufficiency of the bill of particulars, the timing of the State’s election, the jury instructions regarding the election, the introduction into evidence of a videotape of the victim’s forensic interview, and the State’s alleged failure to turn over exculpatory evidence. The Defendant also asserts he is entitled to relief for cumulative error. Discerning no error, we affirm the Defendant’s conviction.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Randall Keith Reed
E2015-01638-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rebecca J. Stern

Defendant, Randall Kenneth Reed, was convicted by a Hamilton County Jury of four counts of the fraudulent use of a debit card, first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and theft of property less than $500.00. The trial court merged the premeditated murder conviction with the felony murder conviction and imposed a life sentence to be served concurrently with 25 years for especially aggravated robbery and 11 months, 29 days each for theft of property less than $500 and four counts of the fraudulent use of a debit card. The trial court further ordered the sentence to be served consecutively to a probation violation in an unrelated case. On appeal, Defendant argues as follows: (1) that the trial court erred by allowing Milo Geiger to testify that he agreed to take a lie detector test and that Defendant refused to take one; (2) that the trial court improperly admitted photographs of the victim; (3) that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of voluntary manslaughter; and (4) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery. After a thorough review of the record, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand for a new trial.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Scott Long
E2015-01287-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

Defendant, Jeffrey Scott Long, was indicted by the Blount County Grand Jury for first degree murder, felony murder during the perpetration of a burglary, aggravated burglary, and aggravated assault. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged, and the trial court merged the two murder convictions. The trial court imposed a life sentence for the murder conviction and concurrent six-year sentences for the remaining two convictions. In this appeal as of right, Defendant raises the following issues for our review: 1) Defendant’s statement to police should have been suppressed because he made an unequivocal request for counsel, and he did not knowingly and voluntarily waive his Miranda rights; 2) the trial court erred by admitting into evidence an order of protection granted to the victim against Defendant; 3) the trial court erred by admitting into evidence autopsy photos; 4) the trial court should have suppressed evidence seized as a result of a warrantless search of Defendant’s apartment; 5) the trial court erred by allowing expert testimony outside the scope of the forensic pathologist’s expertise; 6) the trial court erred by denying Defendant’s request for a special jury instruction; 7) the trial court erred by allowing evidence that was not properly authenticated; 8) Defendant was denied a fair trial because a portion of trial testimony was not transcribed; 9) the evidence was insufficient to sustain Defendant’s convictions; 10) the State exceeded the scope of its closing argument on rebuttal; and 11) the cumulative effect of the errors requires reversal of Defendant’s convictions. Having carefully reviewed the entire record and briefs of the parties, we conclude that the there is no error. Accordingly, we affirm Defendant’s convictions.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Scarlet I. Martin
M2016-00615-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

Defendant, Scarlet I. Martin, was convicted of driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”) and driving under the influence of an intoxicant with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) greater than .08 (“DUI per se”). She appeals, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions and that the trial court erred by denying her motion to suppress the results of a warrantless blood draw. After carefully reviewing the record, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient and that the blood draw was justified by exigent circumstances. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Desmond Eugene Davis
E2016-01608-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The Defendant, Desmond Eugene Davis, pled guilty to aggravated assault and was sentenced to eight years on probation. A violation of probation warrant was issued against the Defendant. Following a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve his sentence in prison. The Defendant appeals. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Paula Jean Lacommare
M2016-01794-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Defendant, Paula Jean Lacommare, pled guilty to initiation of the manufacturing process of methamphetamine and was sentenced to eight years on probation.  A violation of probation warrant was issued against the Defendant for testing positive for methamphetamine.  Following a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered her to serve her sentence in prison.  The Defendant appeals.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/17
State of Tennessee v. Jacob Pearman
M2015-02271-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

The Defendant-Appellant, Jacob Pearman, was convicted as charged by a Rutherford County Circuit Court jury of first degree premeditated murder, aggravated assault, and child abuse, and he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus five years. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202(a)(1), -102(a)(1), -15-401(a). On appeal, Pearman argues: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a change of venue; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in declining to strike a juror for cause; (3) the evidence is insufficient to show that he premeditated the victim’s killing; (4) the trial court erred in admitting the victim’s statements pursuant to the state of mind hearsay objection; (5) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its rebuttal closing argument; and (6) the trial court failed to properly exercise its role as the thirteenth juror.1 We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/17
Jeffrey Walton v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01395-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Jeffrey Walton (“the Petitioner”) was convicted of vandalism over the value of $10,000 and burglary of a building and received an effective sentence of twenty-seven years. He filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that second and third trial counsel’s performance was deficient because they (1) failed to prepare a trial strategy; (2) failed to investigate the background of Barrow-Agee Laboratories and discover a fatal variance in the indictment; (3) failed to properly cross-examine witnesses; and (4) failed to request jury instructions on the defenses of duress and necessity. The Petitioner asserts that he was prejudiced because absent these deficiencies, he would have likely been convicted of a lesserincluded offense or acquitted of the offenses. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/10/17
Gwendolyn Hagerman v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01555-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

Petitioner, Gwendolyn Hagerman, was convicted of five counts of rape of a child and sentenced to an effective sentence of sixty years. Subsequently, she sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied relief and dismissed the petition. Petitioner appealed. After a review, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/17
Christopher Lee Richardson v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00793-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell

A Bedford County jury convicted the Petitioner, Christopher Lee Richardson, of attempted theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, disorderly conduct, possession of a schedule IV controlled substance for sale or delivery, resisting arrest, possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance, and promotion of methamphetamine manufacture. The trial court ordered an effective sentence of twelve years. On appeal, this Court affirmed the convictions and sentence. See State v. Christopher Lee Richardson, No. M2013-01178-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 12651041, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, June 12, 2014), no perm. app. filed. The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition, and following a hearing the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Heath Bell
W2016-00136-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Defendant, Heath Bell, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder and first degree felony murder. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment. The Defendant raises the following five issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress tainted eyewitness identification testimony; (2) whether his due process rights were violated by the State’s withholding of exculpatory evidence of a possible third party perpetrator; (3) whether the trial court erred by not granting his request for a new trial based on the newly discovered exculpatory evidence; (4) whether the evidence was sufficient to establish his identity as one of the perpetrators; and (5) whether the trial court erred by limiting his closing argument. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/17
Wayne Sellers v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01776-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Wayne Sellers (“the Petitioner”) appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2013 Shelby County Criminal Court conviction for aggravated rape, for which he received a sentence of twenty-three years’ incarceration. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to explain the defense strategy to the Petitioner and object to the victim’s in-court identification of the Petitioner. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of postconviction relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/17
Darryl Lee Davis v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02193-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

Darryl Lee Davis, the Petitioner, filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus claiming that his twenty-five year sentence had expired and that he was being illegally restrained of his liberty. The habeas corpus court found that the Petitioner’s sentence had not expired and summarily dismissed the Petition. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Hill-Williams
W2015-01743-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant of first degree premeditated murder, and the trial court sentenced him to life. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction, that the trial court erred by ruling that evidence of the victim’s gang affiliation was irrelevant to the Appellant’s claim of self-defense, that the trial court erred by admitting hearsay text messages into evidence, and that the trial court erred by giving a flight instruction to the jury. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/17
David E. Breezee v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02251-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

The Petitioner, David E. Breezee, appeals the Benton County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of rape of a child, rape, and two counts of incest and resulting effective thirty-four-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel, that the post-conviction court erred by denying his petition for a writ of error coram nobis, and that he is entitled to a second post-conviction evidentiary hearing due to post-conviction counsel’s deficient performance. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Benton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/17