Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/22/2014
Format: 08/22/2014
Jarvis Payne v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01435-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Petitioner, Jarvis Payne, pled guilty to second degree murder pursuant to a plea agreement and was sentenced to fifteen years as a violent offender. He filed a post-conviction petition in which he alleged that a dying declaration by the victim showed that he lacked the requisite intent for second degree murder. He claimed that his attorney was ineffective because she did not make him aware of the victim’s dying declaration and urged him to plead guilty without explaining the importance of intent in the charged offense. After listening to testimony from Petitioner’s public defender and the prosecuting attorney, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/14
Brandon Alexander Rankin v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01216-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

Petitioner, Brandon Alexander Rankin, pled guilty to second degree murder and accessory after the fact or facilitation to commit first degree murder, to which he was sentenced to concurrent 40-year sentences at 100%. Petitioner subsequently filed a timely motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and trial counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel on the same date. A hearing was conducted on the two motions. The trial court elected to classify petitioner’s motion to withdraw the guilty plea as a post-conviction petition. Trial counsel’s motion to withdraw was sustained. Petitioner’s “Amended Petition for Post-Conviction Relief combined with Rule 36 Motion to Correct Clerical Error in Order” was filed through newly appointed counsel. The post-conviction court dismissed the amended petition as time barred. Petitioner timely appealed. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court erred in construing Petitioner’s motion to withdraw his guilty pleas as a petition for post-conviction relief. As a result, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for consideration of Petitioner’s motion to withdraw his guilty pleas.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
Charlie Lovell Leavy III v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00719-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker III

The Petitioner, Charlie Lovell Leavy, III, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief from his convictions for aggravated burglary, burglary of a building, theft over $1,000, felony evading arrest, and simple assault. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Lamont French
M2013-01270-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Appellant, Kevin Lamont French, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of premeditated murder, felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery.  He received life sentences for the murder convictions, and the trial court sentenced him to a concurrent sentence of twenty-one years for his especially aggravated robbery conviction.  On appeal, he argues that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred by admitting prior bad act testimony; (3) the trial court erred by admitting a letter purportedly written by appellant; (4) the trial court erred by admitting testimony regarding weapons found in appellant’s home; (5) the assistant district attorney general committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments; and (6) the trial court erred by admitting certain autopsy photographs.  Following our review of the record, the arguments of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand the case for the trial court to merge the two murder convictions.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Mark Edward Greene
M2013-02710-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

Appellant, Mark Edward Greene, appeals the denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion to correct a clerical error.  He alleges that the trial court should have granted pretrial jail credits from the time that Williamson County lodged a detainer against him until the date he was sentenced.  Following our review, we affirm the circuit court’s decision.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
Blake Delaney Tallant v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01827-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

The petitioner, Blake Delaney Tallant, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he was denied the effective assistance of trial and appellate counsel due to counsel’s failure to properly educate him on the importance of testifying in his own defense, to press the issue of the bill of particulars in the trial court or to raise it as an issue on direct appeal, and to include the jury questionnaires in the record on direct appeal. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
George A. Wylie v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00976-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, George A. Wylie, appeals the Criminal Court for Shelby County’s denial of his pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State’s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Wendell Guinn
W2013-01436-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter Jr.

The Defendant, Wendell Guinn, was indicted for aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony; rape, a Class B felony; aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; and domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-111, -13-304, -13-503, -14-403. The State ultimately dismissed the domestic assault charge, and, following a jury trial, the Defendant was acquitted of the aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary charges. The jury convicted the Defendant of rape as charged in the indictment. The trial court imposed a sentence of nine years, with two years to be served in confinement and the remainder on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) that the trial court improperly admitted hearsay evidence; and (3) that the trial court erred in providing a supplemental instruction to the jury in response to a question from the jury during deliberations. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Dwight James
M2013-02030-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

After a jury trial, appellant, Dwight James, was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender.  The trial court sentenced appellant to two years in confinement, suspended to probation after 150 days of incarceration.  On appeal, appellant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to vacate his prior guilty plea to two counts of sexual battery in 1989 and that the requirement that he register as a sex offender violates the Ex Post Facto Clause and his procedural due process rights.  Following our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Curtis W. Hammock
M2013-01382-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Burch

Appellant, Curtis W. Hammock was indicted for initiating a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine, being a felon in possession of a handgun, and child neglect.  He pleaded guilty to the first two counts and received a sentence of ten years on the drug charge to be served in community corrections and a concurrent sentence of two years in community corrections for the handgun charge.  The State dismissed the child neglect charge.  As a condition of his guilty plea, appellant, with agreement from the State and the trial court, reserved a certified question of law for our consideration:  “Whether the trial court correctly ruled[,] following a suppression hearing[,] that the Defendant did voluntarily consent to a search of his residence subsequent to the unlawful entry of law enforcement on June 12, 2012?”  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Keith Collins
W2013-01119-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Keith Collins, of conspiracy to possess with intent to sell more than 300 grams of cocaine, a Class A felony, and attempt to possess more than 300 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, a Class B felony. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender to consecutive sentences of forty and twenty years, respectively. On appeal, the appellant contends that (1) the trial court should have given an accomplice instruction with regard to one of the State’s witnesses; (2) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions; (3) the trial court improperly allowed a State witness to testify about a bad act pursuant to 404(b), Tennessee Rules of Evidence; (4) he is entitled to a new trial based on a witness’s false testimony; and (5) consecutive sentencing was improper. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/14
State of Tennessee v. Everett Russ
W2012-00461-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Joseph M. Tipton
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Tennessee Supreme Court has remanded this case for reconsideration in light of State v. James Allen Pollard, — S.W.3d —, No. M2011-00332-SC-R11-CD (Tenn. Dec. 20, 2013). See State v. Everett Russ, No. M2012-00461-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 9, 2013), perm. app. granted, case remanded (Tenn. May 15, 2014). Relevant to the current remand, this court concluded in the previous appeal that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences when only one of the statutory aggravating factors applied to the Defendant’s two offenses involving the sexual abuse of a minor. See T.C.A. § 40-35-115(b)(5) (2010). Upon further review, we conclude that the aggravating factors were sufficient to support the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentences. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/14
State of Tennessee v. Christina Lee Jones Thomas
E2013-01531-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Cupp

The Defendant, Christina Lee Jones Thomas, was convicted by a Washington County jury of especially aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed concurrent terms of eighteen years at 100% for these convictions. On appeal, the Defendant claims that she had not abandoned her residence as the trial court determined and that, therefore, it was error to deny her motion to suppress the evidence found inside her home obtained without a search warrant. The Defendant also contends that the evidence adduced at trial is insufficient to support her convictions and that the trial court abused its discretion in enhancing the length of her sentences. After reviewing the record, we conclude that trial court did not err in denying the Defendant’s motion to suppress because the Defendant had abandoned the property, that the evidence produced at trial was sufficient to support the Defendant’s convictions, and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in setting the length of the Defendant’s sentences. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/14