Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/20/2017
Format: 01/20/2017
State of Tennessee v. Ytockie Fuller aka Yteikie Washington
W2015-00965-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The defendant, Ytockie Fuller aka Yteikie Washington, was convicted of first degree murder, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202, and possession of a firearm after a felony conviction, Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1307(b)(1)(A). On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the first degree murder conviction arguing that the State failed to prove premeditation. Additionally, the defendant contends that statements made by the victim in a recorded telephone call prior to his death were inadmissible hearsay and that the State's multiple playing of the recording served to inflame the jury. After our review, we conclude that the defendant's arguments are without merit. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/15/16
State of Tennessee v. Alphonso Bowen
W2015-01316-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Defendant, Alphonso Bowen, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for one count of aggravated robbery. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered Defendant to serve 12 years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. In this appeal as of right, Defendant raises the following issues for our review: 1) whether the trial court erred by allowing testimony regarding the hearsay contents of an anonymous note; 2) whether the trial court erred by allowing the State to impeach Defendant with evidence of a prior conviction; 3) whether the trial court erred by allowing testimony in violation of its ruling on a motion in limine precluding discussion of Defendant's arrest; 4) whether the trial court erred by asking questions of the State's expert witness; 5) whether it was plain error for the trial court to allow a lay witness to give an expert opinion regarding Defendant's fingerprints; 6) whether the trial court erred by excluding testimony by Defendant regarding a photograph; 7) whether the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant's conviction; and 8) whether the cumulative effect of the trial court's errors require a reversal of Defendant's conviction. Having reviewed the entire record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/15/16
Darren Brown v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00719-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Petitioner, Darren Brown, appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis after the coram nobis court determined that the petition was untimely. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/15/16
Calvin E. Bartlett v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00616-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

Petitioner, Calvin E. Bartlett, received an effective ten-year sentence as the result of a January 2015 plea agreement that disposed of two felonies and six misdemeanors in two different cases in the Madison County Criminal Court. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were made unintelligently. The post-conviction court denied relief, and Petitioner timely appealed. Because Petitioner failed to prove that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, the decision of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/15/16
State of Tennessee v. Jeremy L. Saxton
M2015-01380-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Defendant, Jeremy L. Saxton, was convicted of one count of assault and one count of resisting arrest.  As a result of the convictions, Defendant received judicial diversion with probation for eleven months and twenty-nine days.  After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant filed a timely notice of appeal.  Upon our review we determine that Defendant was not entitled to an evidentiary hearing on the motion to suppress because there was no evidence to suppress.  Further, we conclude that the record on appeal is incomplete, precluding our review of the sufficiency of the evidence.  Consequently, the judgments of the criminal court are affirmed and the matter is remanded for correction of a clerical error.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/15/16
State of Tennessee v. Antonio J. Beasley, Sr.
E2016-00852-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz

The defendant, Antonio J. Beasley, Sr., appeals the summary denial of his motion, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36, to correct perceived clerical errors in the challenged judgments. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/16
Christopher D. Neighbours v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01904-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Christopher D. Neighbours (“the Petitioner”) appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  The Petitioner contends that: (1)his due process rights were violated when the State failed to disclose a “potential plea deal” between the State and a cooperating co-defendant, who testified against the Petitioner at trial; (2) he received ineffective assistance of counsel based upon trial counsel’s failure to object to the prosecutor’s vouching for a witness during closing argument; (3) appellate counsel was ineffective based upon counsel’s failure to appeal the imposition of consecutive sentencing; and (4) appellate counsel had an actual conflict of interest when he represented the Petitioner on direct appeal.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/16
State of Tennessee v. Amilcar Crabeal Butler
M2016-00789-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Petitioner, Amilcar Crabeal Butler, appeals the trial court’s dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence.  On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that the trial court’s dismissal was improper because the trial court relied on State v. Brown, 479 S.W.3d 200 (Tenn. 2015), which the Petitioner argues was wrongly decided.  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 11/14/16
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Terrell Pewitte - Concurring Opinion
M2015-02103-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

I join the majority in affirming Defendant’s conviction of child neglect.  However, I write separately because I conclude that the trial court erred by allowing Ms. Donnell to testify about statements made to her by the victim and the victim’s mother.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/16
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Terrell Pewitte
M2015-02103-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Defendant, Antonio Terrell Pewitte, was convicted of aggravated child neglect and received a sentence of twenty years.  Defendant raises the following issues in his direct appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred by failing to require the State to make an election of offenses; (2) whether the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction; (3) whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting multiple photographs of the victim’s injuries; (4) whether the trial court erred by admitting hearsay testimony; (5) whether the trial court abused its discretion by not granting a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument; and (6) whether the trial court abused its discretion during sentencing.  Following a careful review of the record, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/16
Jeffery W. Dean v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01581-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Petitioner, Jeffery W. Dean, filed for post-conviction relief from his convictions of aggravated kidnapping and carjacking, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to explain the State’s evidence against the Petitioner and counsel’s trial strategy and by failing to prepare the Petitioner to testify at trial.  The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/16
Shane Seth Ghorley v. Brandi Lynn Ghorley
E2015-02051-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri S. Bryant

This appeal, which stems from a divorce action, involves issues of child support and an award of attorney’s fees. The father asserts error in the trial court’s decision to award to the mother attorney’s fees in the amount of $25,000 as alimony in solido. The father also argues that his co-parenting time with the children was not properly calculated when setting his child support obligation. Following our thorough review of the evidence in light of the statutory factors, we conclude that the trial court properly awarded $25,000 for attorney’s fees to the mother as alimony in solido. We also determine, however, that the permanent parenting plan order entered by the trial court contains an internal inconsistency. We therefore vacate the permanent parenting plan order and remand to the trial court for entry of an appropriate and internally consistent permanent parenting plan order.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/16
William James Watt v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02411-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The petitioner, William James Watt, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which challenged his 2012 Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of three counts of rape of a child and three counts of aggravated sexual battery, claiming that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal.  Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/16
State of Tennessee v. Sherry Dewitt
M2015-00816-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Sherry Dewitt, was acquitted of aggravated child abuse but convicted of aggravated child neglect.  She now appeals as of right from that conviction, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the requisite mental state for that crime and that the child suffered an adverse effect to her health and welfare from the Defendant’s alleged neglect as statutorily required.  Following our review, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support a knowing mens rea, but we reverse the Defendant’s conviction because there was insufficient proof that the Defendant’s delay in informing the parents about the child’s injuries or in seeking medical help had an actual, deleterious effect on the child’s health and welfare.  Therefore, the judgment is vacated, and the charge is dismissed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/16
State of Tennessee v. James Allen Gooch
M2016-00359-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Appellant, James Allen Gooch, is appealing the trial court’s order dismissing his motion to correct an illegal sentence filed pursuant to Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1  The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20.  Said motion is hereby granted.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/09/16
State of Tennessee v. Franklin Dale Grayson, Jr.
E2016-00803-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

On November 14, 2014, the Johnson County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging the defendant, Franklin Dale Grayson, Jr., with four drug-related offenses including, initiating a process to manufacture methamphetamine (Count 1), possession of a Schedule II controlled substance (methamphetamine) with intent to sell or deliver (Count 2), maintaining a dwelling for using or selling controlled substances (Count 3), and possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia (Count 4). Following trial, a jury found the defendant guilty as charged in Counts 1 and 4. They found the defendant guilty of the lesser-included offense of simple possession of a Schedule II controlled substance in Count 2 and not guilty of maintaining a dwelling for using or selling controlled substances in Count 3. The trial court imposed an effective thirteen-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for initiating a process to manufacture methamphetamine and that the prosecutor made two improper statements in his closing argument that constitute reversible error. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Kelly Lynn Chandler
M2016-00053-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The defendant, Kelly Lynn Chandler, appeals the order of the trial court revoking her probation and imposing her original sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days in confinement. Upon review of the record, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the defendant violated the terms of her probation. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Randall T. Beaty - Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part
M2014-00130-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

I respectfully dissent from that portion of the majority=s opinion which modifies a judgment to impose a conviction for a lesser included offense even though there is legally sufficient evidence to sustain the conviction for the greater offense.  I concur in all other aspects of the majority’s opinion.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Randall T. Beaty
M2014-00130-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Defendant, Randall T. Beaty, was indicted for first degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse.  After a jury trial, he was convicted of reckless homicide and aggravated assault, which were charged to the jury as lesser[-]included offenses.  He received consecutive sentences of four years for Class D felony reckless homicide and six years for Class C felony aggravated assault, for an effective ten-year sentence to be served in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, Defendant argued: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) that the trial court erred by allowing Detective Bachman to testify in violation of the rule of sequestration; (3) that the trial court erred by excluding a proffer by Amber Peveler; (4) that the trial court erred in failing to merge his convictions on double jeopardy grounds; and (5) that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive sentencing.  As to the alleged violation of the rule of sequestration, we held, pursuant to State v. Jordan, 325 S.W.3d 1, 40 (Tenn. 2010), that the State had the rightunder Tennessee Rule of Evidence 615 to designate an investigating officer as exempt from sequestration and the designated investigating officer can remain in the courtroom during the testimony of other witnesses.  We further recognized, as a matter of plain error, that the jury’s verdict for aggravated assault failed to specify the mens rea with which the Defendant acted, and a majority of the panel concluded that the Defendant’s judgment of conviction for knowing aggravated assault, a Class C felony, should be modified to reflect a conviction for reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony.  We, therefore, modified the conviction in Count 2 to a Class D felony reckless aggravated assault and modified Defendant’s sentence in Count 2 to four years’ incarceration to be served consecutively to the four year sentence for reckless homicide. Finally, we concluded that the conviction for reckless aggravated assault did not merge with the conviction for reckless homicide and affirmed all other aspects of Defendant’s convictions.  On October 19, 2016, the Tennessee Supreme Court granted Defendant’s application for permission to appeal and remanded the case to this court for reconsideration in light of the supreme court’s recent opinion in State v. Howard, No. E2014-01510-SC-R11-CD, __ S.W.3d __, 2016 WL 5933430 (Tenn. Oct. 12, 2016).  Upon reconsideration in light of Howard, we conclude that Defendant’s conviction for reckless aggravated assault must merge with his conviction for reckless homicide.  The judgments of the trial court are affirmed as modified, and the case is remanded for entry of amended judgments of conviction.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
Dennis Cedric Woodard, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02002-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forrest Durard, Jr.

The Petitioner, Dennis Cedric Woodard, Jr., appeals the Bedford County Circuit Court’s denial of his petitions for post-conviction relief and for a writ of error coram nobis from his first degree premeditated murder conviction and his resulting life sentence. The Petitioner contends that the court erred by denying (1) post-conviction relief and (2) coram nobis relief. We affirm the judgments of the post-conviction and coram nobis court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Amanda L. Irwin
M2016-00219-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

Amanda L. Irwin (“the Defendant”) pled guilty to driving under the influence and possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage, reserving two certified questions of law challenging the trial court’s denial of a motion to suppress.  On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the law enforcement officer lacked reasonable suspicion to ask her to step out of her car and perform field sobriety tests.  After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Maurice Brown Sr.
W2015-00466-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant, Maurice Brown, Sr., appeals from his convictions for two counts of felony murder, aggravated child abuse of a child under eight years old, aggravated child neglect of a child under eight years old, and resisting official detention, for which he received an effective sentence of life plus eighteen years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
Anthony L. Woods v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00188-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Anthony L. Woods, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner pled guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of driving on a revoked license and received an effective six-year sentence to be served on probation. The Petitioner sought post-conviction relief, asserting that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, which rendered his pleas unknowing and involuntary. The post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Wilkerson
W2016-00078-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

A Shelby County jury found the Defendant, Johnny Wilkerson, guilty of two counts of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to consecutive sentences of twenty years for each conviction. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
Demariceo Chalmers v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02235-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn I. Wright

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Demarico Chalmers, of attempted aggravated robbery and first-degree felony murder, and the trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of life plus five years. This Court affirmed the Petitioner's convictions. State v. Demarico Chalmers, No. W2011-01274-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 3601626, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Aug. 22, 2012), Tenn. R. App. P. 11 app. denied (Tenn. Jan. 9, 2013). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to obtain gunshot residue testing. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner's petition. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16