Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 12/27/2014
Format: 12/27/2014
Cyntoia Denise Brown v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00825-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The Petitioner, Cyntoia Denise Brown, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery and resulting concurrent sentences of life and eight years.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel, that she is “entitled to relief under error coram nobis,” that her mandatory life sentence is unconstitutional, and that she was denied due process.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/06/14
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Todd Ghormley
E2013-01932-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don R. Ash

In an opinion filed on January 20, 2012, this court determined that the trial court erred by failing to hold a competency hearing and remanded the case to the trial court to conduct a retrospective competency hearing. See State v. Anthony Todd Ghormley, No. E2010-00634-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Knoxville, Jan. 20, 2012) (Ghormley I). Following the hearing on remand, the trial court concluded that the defendant was competent to stand trial. The defendant now appeals that decision. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
Doris Williams v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00033-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Doris Williams, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and received an out-of-range sentence of thirty-five years to be served at 100%.  In her post-conviction petition, she claimed that she received ineffective assistance of counsel and that her guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary.  The post-conviction court denied relief.  On appeal, petitioner argues that she was heavily medicated during trial counsel’s representation of her and during her plea hearing, that trial counsel did not advise her in a manner she could comprehend due to said medication, and that she entered her guilty plea without a full understanding of the consequences.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
State of Tennessee v. Roy Anthony Haley
M2013-02756-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Russell

The defendant, Roy Anthony Haley, appeals his Bedford County Circuit Court jury conviction of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, contending that the sentence imposed by the trial court was excessive.  We affirm the conviction and sentence but remand for correction of a clerical error in the judgment.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
Ivan Charles Graves v. State of Tennessee
E2013-02445-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

Petitioner, Ivan Charles Graves, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Petitioner was convicted by a Knox County jury of first degree premeditated murder and felony murder in the perpetration of a kidnapping. The trial court merged Petitioner’s convictions and sentenced Petitioner to life in prison. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After a careful review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to establish that he is entitled to post-conviction relief. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/04/14
Ronnie Lee Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01198-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Appellant, Ronnie Lee Johnson, appeals the trial court’s summary denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis.  The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Ernest H. Pyle
E2013-01977-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

Defendant, Ernest H. Pyle, was charged by presentment with two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, and one count of resisting arrest. The trial court dismissed at the request of the State the two counts of aggravated kidnapping. A petit jury convicted Defendant of the remaining counts. The trial court properly merged Defendant’s two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and sentenced Defendant to 25 years’ incarceration. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, and that trial court erred by not granting a mistrial after allowing evidence of a prior bad act. Having carefully reviewed the record before us and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Carl Miller Jr.
W2014-00054-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

A Shelby County grand jury indicted Defendant, Carl Miller, Jr., for aggravated sexual battery, sexual battery by an authority figure, and rape. Defendant was tried before a jury. Over the objection of Defendant, the trial judge declared a mistrial based on manifest necessity. Thereafter, Defendant moved to dismiss the indictment based on double jeopardy. The trial court denied the motion. Defendant entered a plea of guilty to rape, reserving a certified question related to the trial court’s denial of the motion. Following our review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to dismiss the indictment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Michael Kizer
W2013-02559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

Michael Kizer (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of attempted aggravated robbery. Following a sentencing hearing, the Defendant received a total effective sentence of forty-five years’ incarceration. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court improperly severed his case from that of his co-defendant and that the trial court erred in allowing the State to reopen its proof in order to introduce the testimony of his co-defendant. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Laquita Monique Hogan
M2013-02340-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

This direct appeal presents a certified question of law pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(A) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure.  After the trial court denied her motion to suppress, Defendant, Laquite Monique Hogan, entered a guilty plea in the Maury County Circuit Court to facilitation of possession of a schedule II drug for sale and was sentenced to three years to be suspended and served on probation.  Defendant properly reserved the following certified question of law: “whether there was a sufficient nexus that continued to persist at the time the search warrant was executed due to the fact that the location of the alleged sales was away from the residence and the affidavit does not include facts that Jason Coleman was seen coming and returning to his home from the sale which was to have occurred 96 hours ago; whether the alleged facts that Mr. Coleman was monitored leaving from his home and returning within 30 days of the execution of the warrant was stale information and whether the record supports the finding that both prongs of Aguil[]ar-Spinelli have been satisfied.” After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that Defendant is not entitled to relief in this appeal.  Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress, and we affirm Defendant’s judgment of conviction.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/14
Kevin Womack v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02288-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

On July 26, 2012, this court affirmed judgments regarding the petitioner, Kevin Womack, for possession of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of a firearm with intent to employ in the commission of a dangerous felony, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft of property over $500, and tampering with evidence, reducing the theft conviction from a Class E felony to a Class A misdemeanor. State v. Kevin Womack, No. W2011-01827-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 3055773, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 26, 2012). No application for permission to appeal was filed. On August 8, 2013, he filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that he did not file a Rule 11 application because his trial counsel had filed a motion to withdraw, “informing the petitioner his application [for permission to appeal] must [be] filed by September 24, 2012.” He argued that his post-conviction petition was timely because it was filed within one year of this date. The State responded that the petition was untimely, and the post-conviction court agreed, dismissing the petition for this reason. On October 15, 2013, the petitioner filed his notice of appeal regarding that dismissal. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court’s dismissal of the petition.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Charles Hall v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01438-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Charles Hall, was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced, as a repeat violent offender, to life imprisonment without parole. This court affirmed the judgment of the trial court on direct appeal, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied his application for permission to appeal. State v. Charles Hall, No. W2009-02569-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 5271082, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 10, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Apr. 12, 2011). Subsequently, he filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that trial counsel was deficient in pursuing pretrial motions and making erroneous trial decisions. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court determined both that the petitioner had failed to establish that trial counsel had been ineffective or that he had been prejudiced by counsel’s alleged misdeeds. Following our review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Lance Thomas Sandifer v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00723-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Petitioner, Lance Thomas Sandifer, was convicted of aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, especially aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated rape.  He was sentenced to an effective sentence of one-hundred and eight years in confinement.   Petitioner appealed his convictions and sentence, and this court affirmed the judgments of the trial court.  State v. Lance Sandifer, et al., No. M2008-02849-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Dec. 21, 2010) perm. app. denied (Tenn., May 26, 2011).  A detailed summary of the facts underlying Petitioner’s convictions can be found in that opinion.  Petitioner now appeals the trial court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective.  Having reviewed the record before us, we affirm the judgment of trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Terry D. Sanders v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00236-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge George Sexton

The Petitioner, Terry D. Sanders, appeals the Houston County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for two counts of the sale of less than 0.5 gram of cocaine and his effective thirty-year sentence.  The Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in denying a mistrial when the State’s confidential informant testified that the Petitioner was on community corrections, that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, and that he was denied a fair trial due to cumulative errors in the conviction proceedings.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Houston County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
William L. Green v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02840-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Petitioner, William L. Green, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2010 conviction for second degree murder and his twenty-three-year sentence.  The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that the post-conviction court erred by denying him relief.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Reginald Maurice Adkins v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02481-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Petitioner, Reginald Maurice Adkins, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2010 convictions for first degree murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery and his life-plus-twelve-years sentence.  The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that the post-conviction court erred by denying him relief.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Conley R. Fair v. State of Tennessee
E2014-00406-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The Petitioner, Conley R. Fair, appeals the Unicoi County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 1997 convictions for first degree murder and attempted first degree murder and his life-plus-thirty-five-years sentence. The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by (1) denying him relief because he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and (2) failing to make findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding his claim that he was denied his right to confront witnesses. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Unicoi County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Jermaine Carlton Jordan v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02497-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Petitioner, Jermaine Carlton Jordan, pled guilty to one count of attempted first degree murder and one count of especially aggravated kidnapping in April 2007.  Six years later, he filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, claiming that he should be granted a new trial based on newly discovered evidence.  The coram nobis court summarily dismissed his petition as time-barred.  Petitioner appealed, arguing that due process considerations require tolling the statute of limitations.  Upon thorough review of the record, we determine that Petitioner has neither alleged the nature of the evidence nor when it was discovered sufficiently for us to determine whether it qualifies as a later-arising ground for relief.  Therefore, we hold that due process does not require tolling the statute of limitations.  We affirm the decision of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Calvin Reid Quarles
M2013-00117-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald P. Harris

Calvin Reid Quarles, Defendant, was convicted by a Williamson County Jury for theft of property valued over $500.  After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant perfected this appeal.  The following issues are presented for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred in giving the jury charge partially before and partially after closing arguments; and (2) whether the trial court erred by issuing a supplemental jury instruction.  After a review of the applicable authorities and the record, we conclude that Defendant waived any challenge to the trial court’s completing the jury instructions after closing argument by acquiescing and by failing to raise the issue in a motion for new trial.  Further, we conclude that the trial court did not commit error in answering a question posed by the jury during deliberations.  Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Dandarius Woods
M2014-00194-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Defendant, Dandarius Woods, was charged with one count of aggravated rape and one count of rape.  He filed a motion to suppress a statement that he made to police, alleging that his statements were coerced by implied promises of leniency.  After a hearing, the trial court granted the motion, finding that Defendant’s statements were not voluntary.  The State sought an interlocutory appeal.  Upon thorough review of the record, we find that the detective did not imply that Defendant would be released or that Defendant would receive treatment in lieu of a jail sentence if he confessed to rape.  Therefore, we reverse the decision of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
State of Tennessee v. Robert Allen Lester, Jr.
M2014-00225-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

Defendant, Robert Allen Lester, Jr., was indicted by the Dekalb County Grand Jury in fourteen separate cases for thirteen counts of burglary of a motor vehicle, one count of aggravated burglary, four counts of burglary, eleven counts of theft of property valued under $500, one count of theft of property valued over $500, and six counts of theft of property valued over $1,000.  Subsequently, Defendant entered into negotiated guilty pleas to eleven counts of burglary of a motor vehicle, one count of aggravated burglary, and two counts of burglary.  The plea agreement called for an effective sentence of eight years, the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court at a sentencing hearing.  At the hearing, the trial court denied alternative sentencing and ordered Defendant to serve the sentence in incarceration.  He appeals, challenging the denial of an alternative sentence.  After our review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that the judgment form in Case Number 2013-CR-127 should be corrected to reflect a conviction and sentence for burglary rather than auto burglary.  Further, the matter is remanded to the trial court to resolve inconsistencies between the plea provisions and the corresponding judgments in order to yield an effective eight-year sentence and to correct any other clerical errors which may exist.  We determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying an alternative sentence to Defendant due to his extensive criminal history, because measures less restrictive had been applied to Defendant in the past, and in order to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offenses.  Accordingly, the matter is affirmed in part and remanded in part.

DeKalb County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Jason Garner v. State of Tennessee
W2012-01997-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Otis Higgs Jr.

The petitioner, Jason Garner, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that counsel was ineffective for failing to properly investigate a defense of diminished capacity, asserting that his capacity was diminished due to his ingestion of an antibiotic medication. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14
Pervis Tyrone Payne v. State of Tennessee-Concurring In Part, Dissenting In Part
W2013-01248-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter

For the reasons that follow, I would remand this matter for an evidentiary hearing in order to determine whether the Petitioner is intellectually disabled. To the extent the majority differs from this conclusion, I respectfully disagree.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14
Pervis Tyrone Payne v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01248-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter

The Petitioner, Pervis Tyrone Payne, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his death sentence resulting from his 1988 convictions for first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he is entitled to coram nobis relief because he is intellectually disabled and, therefore, ineligible for the death penalty. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14
State of Tennessee v. Dana Crumley
M2013-02502-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Defendant, Dana Crumley, appeals the Maury County Circuit Court’s order denying her motion for a reduced sentence.  The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/30/14