Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/26/2017
Format: 06/26/2017
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
State of Tennessee v. Jarvis Sherrod and Antonio Dodson
W2015-02022-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendants, Jarvis Sherrod and Antonio Dodson, were each convicted by a Shelby County Jury of three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of aggravated rape, one count of aggravated burglary, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Sherrod was also convicted of one count of aggravated sexual battery and was sentenced to seventy-three years’ incarceration; Antonio Dodson was sentenced to forty-four years’ incarceration. In Jarvis Sherrod’s appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by: (1) denying his motion to sever his case from that of his co-defendant; (2) denying his right to a speedy trial; (3) improperly admitting a gun into evidence at trial; (4) allowing the victims’ prior consistent statements at trial; and (5) improperly exercising its duty as thirteenth juror. In Antonio Dodson’s appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by: (1) denying his motion to sever his case from that of his co-defendant; (2) finding that the evidence was sufficient to support two of his especially aggravated kidnapping convictions; (3) allowing improper closing argument by the State; (4) allowing the victims’ prior consistent statements at trial; (5) allowing improper expert witness testimony; and (6) denying his motion to dismiss count ten of the indictment for failure to provide sufficient notice of the charge. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/17
Raymond Buford v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00514-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The Petitioner, Raymond Burford, was convicted of premeditated first degree murder and received a life sentence. He appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief arguing that trial counsel was ineffective by (1) recalling a witness knowing that she would offer evidence of the Petitioner’s prior bad acts that had not been introduced in the State’s case in chief and (2) failing to adequately research diminished capacity as a defense. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Terry Trammell
E2016-01267-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Defendant, Terry Trammell, was convicted of two counts of theft after a jury trial. The trial court merged the two counts and sentenced Defendant to a twelve-year sentence. On appeal, Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of a continuance and the sufficiency of the evidence. After a review, we determine Defendant waived the issue with respect to the continuance for failure to raise the issue in a motion for new trial and failure to present an adequate record on appeal. Additionally, we determine the evidence was sufficient to support the conviction. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/17
State of Tennessee v. Jaymes Harrison
M2016-01875-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The Appellant, Jaymes Harrison, is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/17
State of Tennessee v. Wynell Ford
W2016-01515-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Wynell Ford, pled guilty in the Madison County Circuit Court to convicted felon in possession of a firearm with a prior violent felony, a Class C felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a multiple offender to ten years in the Department of Correction at thirty-five percent. On appeal, he challenges the trial court’s denial of his request for alternative sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the sentencing determinations of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Corey Jermaine Hart
W2016-00565-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant, Corey Jermaine Hart, appeals from the trial court’s dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 for failure to assert a colorable claim. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
Michael Clark v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01013-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Michael Clark (“the Petitioner”) was indicted for second degree murder and attempted second degree murder in a single indictment. In his first trial, the Petitioner was convicted of attempted second degree murder, and a mistrial was declared as to the charge of second degree murder. In the second trial, the Petitioner was convicted of the lesser-included offense of voluntary manslaughter. The Petitioner was sentenced to twenty years as a multiple offender for attempted second degree murder and to fifteen years as a persistent offender for voluntary manslaughter to be served consecutively. The Petitioner filed a single petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel in both trials, which the post-conviction court denied following a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that his claims of ineffective assistance of counsel during his first trial are properly before this court, that first and second trial counsel’s representations were deficient, and that he was prejudiced by those deficiencies. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief from the judgment entered in the second trial and dismiss the Petitioner’s appeal related to the judgment entered in the first trial because the petition was not filed within one year of the date our supreme court denied the application for permission to appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Octavius Flynn and Derrick Benson
W2015-01648-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Defendants, Octavius Flynn and Derrick Benson, appeal their convictions for second degree murder and their respective sentences of twenty-five and twenty-four years. On appeal, the Defendants argue, either individually or collectively, that (1) the trial court erred in denying their motions to sever; (2) a witness’s identification of Mr. Flynn in a photographic array was unreliable and should have been suppressed; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions; (4) the trial court erred in denying Mr. Flynn’s motion to dismiss due to spoliation of evidence; (5) the jury failed to follow the trial court’s instructions and improperly compromised on a verdict of second degree murder; and (6) the sentences are excessive. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Robert Grisham
E2015-02446-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Robert Grisham, was convicted of observation without consent, unlawful photography, and especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. In this appeal of right, the Defendant challenges the following: (1) the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the deleted files retrieved from his cell phone using highly-sophisticated equipment; (2) the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction for especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, arguing that there was insufficient proof of “sexual activity” by “lascivious exhibition” on the video; and (3) the trial court’s enhancement of his sentencing term for especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor to nine years by utilizing the abuse of private trust enhancement factor. In light of our supreme court’s recent decision in State v. Whited, 506 S.W.3d 416 (Tenn. 2016), we conclude that the proof was insufficient to support the element of sexual activity and are, therefore, required to reverse and vacate the Defendant’s conviction for especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. However, because the proof is sufficient to support the lesser-included offense of attempted especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, which was charged to the jury, we remand this matter to the trial court for entry of an amended judgment reflecting a conviction for attempt and for resentencing on this modified conviction. The Defendant’s convictions for unlawful photography and observation without consent are affirmed. Accordingly, the trial court’s judgments are affirmed in part and reversed in part, and the case is remanded for a new sentencing hearing.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
In Re Travis H.
E2016-02250-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Steven Stafford
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dennis Roach, II

Father appeals the termination of his parental rights on grounds of: (1) failure to substantially comply with permanency plans; (2) abandonment by failure to establish a suitable home; (3) persistence of conditions, (4) abandonment by an incarcerated parent for wanton disregard; and (5) abandonment by an incarcerated parent for willful failure to support. We vacate the trial court’s determination regarding the ground of abandonment by an incarcerated parent for willful failure to support, but otherwise affirm the trial court’s determinations regarding the remaining grounds for termination. We likewise affirm the trial court’s determination that termination of Father’s parental rights is in the child’s best interest. Accordingly, we affirm the termination of Father’s parental rights.

Jefferson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Reginold C. Steed
M2016-01405-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

A Davidson County jury convicted the Defendant, Reginold C. Steed, of attempted voluntary manslaughter, especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault. The trial court merged the aggravated assault conviction into the especially aggravated robbery conviction and imposed an effective sentence of twenty-seven years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the jury returned inconsistent verdicts; (2) the trial court erred in declining to merge the attempted voluntary manslaughter conviction into the especially aggravated robbery conviction; and (3) his sentences are excessive. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Carvin L. Thomas
M2016-01813-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Appellant, Carvin L. Thomas, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence in the Davidson 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 our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
Justin Parliment v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00945-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The Petitioner, Justin Parliment, was convicted of possession of a controlled substance in a penal institution and sentenced to eight years to be served consecutively to a previously-imposed twenty-three-year sentence for second degree murder. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, and the post-conviction court denied the petition. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Bobby E. Lee
M2016-02084-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The Defendant, Bobby E. Lee, appeals his sentence of confinement after being convicted of two counts of delivery of Oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance.  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days at seventy-five percent release eligibility.  The Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing the maximum sentence and a term of incarceration.  After thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Clay County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Antonio Ricketts
M2016-00816-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The Defendant, Thomas Antonio Ricketts, entered guilty pleas in the Davidson County Criminal Court to two counts of facilitation of aggravated child abuse and one count of facilitation of aggravated child neglect.  The trial court imposed concurrent ten-year sentences for each count, to be served in confinement.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that his sentence was excessive and that the trial court erred in denying an alternative sentence.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17
State of Tennessee v. Henry Darnell Talley
M2016-01632-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant, Henry Darnell Talley, pleaded guilty to attempted first degree premeditated murder, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, reckless aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, convicted felon in possession of a weapon, and violation of an order of protection. The plea agreement provided sentences for all of the convictions except for the attempted first degree murder conviction which was to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve twenty-three years for the attempted first degree murder conviction. The trial court also ordered partial consecutive sentencing, resulting in a total effective sentence of thirty-three years. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the twenty-three year sentence imposed is excessive. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/17