Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/26/2016
Format: 07/26/2016
State of Tennessee v. Kenderick Michael Tucker
M2015-01155-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

Defendant, Kenderick Michael Tucker, appeals from the trial court’s revocation of probation. Defendant contends that the trial court denied him due process by relying upon evidence that was not alleged in the probation violation warrant. Defendant also contends that he was denied due process because the warrant provided insufficient notice and because the trial court made insufficient findings of fact. The State argues that Defendant admitted his probation violation, and therefore, the evidence supports the trial court’s order of revocation. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/27/16
State of Tennessee v. Brian E. Dodson
E2016-00037-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

The defendant, Brian E. Dodson, appeals the denial of his motion, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence. Because the defendant has failed to state a colorable claim for relief under Rule 36.1, the interests of justice do not require that we waive the timely filing of the notice of appeal in this case. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/16
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Blount
W2015-00747-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

Defendant, Brandon Blount, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated burglary acting in concert with two or more other persons, a Class B felony, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class D felony. He was sentenced by the trial court as a Range I offender to consecutive terms of eight years at 30% for the aggravated burglary conviction and three years at 100% for the firearms conviction. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; that the trial court erred by denying Defendant's motion to suppress his statement to police; by failing to instruct the jury that unlawful possession of a weapon is a lesser included offense of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; and that the trial court committed plain error by not declaring a mistrial because of the prosecutor's improper comments during closing argument. After a thorough review of the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/16
State of Tennesse v. Antonio Howard
W2014-02488-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Defendant, Antonio Howard, along with four co-defendants, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for six counts of aggravated rape, one count of especially aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated robbery, and three counts of aggravated assault. Following a jury trial, he was convicted as charged following a jury trial. The trial court merged counts 4-6 of aggravated rape with counts 1-3 of aggravated rape and sentenced Defendant to consecutive sentences of 25 years on each count. The trial court merged Defendant's convictions for aggravated assault with his convictions for especially aggravated robbery and aggravated robbery and sentenced Defendant to consecutive sentences of 25 years for especially aggravated robbery and 12 years for each count of aggravated robbery. The total effective sentence imposed was 124 years. In this appeal as of right, Defendant raises the following issues for our review: 1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, and the trial court erred by denying Defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal; 2) the trial court erred by imposing the maximum sentence within the applicable range and imposing consecutive sentencing; and 3) the trial court erred by allowing a co-defendant to testify wearing “street clothing,” by allowing a victim to testify to “prejudicial, irrelevant and inflammatory information,” and by not permitting Defendant to cross-examine a State's witness about the substance of her report. Following a careful review of the record, we conclude that Defendant is not entitled to relief. Accordingly, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/16
Russell Dean Long v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01903-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa D. Rice

The Petitioner, Russell Dean Long, appeals as of right from the Washington County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel (1) because a recording of a 911 call was not entered into evidence during the trial; and (2) because lead counsel told the jury during the opening statement that they would hear the recording. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/16
State of Tennessee v. Austin Drummond
W2014-02553-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

Defendant, Austin Drummond, was indicted by the Madison County Grand Jury with one count of aggravated robbery. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of the offense. The trial court sentenced Defendant to serve ten years in the Department of Correction. In this appeal as of right, Defendant asserts that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that his sentence is excessive. Having carefully reviewed the record before us and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/25/16
Stacy Ramsey v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01019-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles C. McGinley

Petitioner, Stacy Ramsey, appeals from the Carroll County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his second petition for post-conviction relief, which the trial court treated as a motion to reopen his post-conviction proceeding. We dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the Petitioner failed to comply with the statutory requirements governing an appeal from the denial of a motion to reopen post-conviction proceedings. If treated as a second post-conviction petition as styled by Petitioner, through counsel, then it was subject to summary dismissal because only one petition for post-conviction relief is permitted, T.C.A. § 40-30-102(c), and because the petition was barred by the applicable one-year statute of limitations, T.C.A. § 40-30-102(a).

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/25/16
Brandon Sutton v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01729-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

The petitioner, Brandon Sutton, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2010 Jefferson County Criminal Court jury conviction of first degree murder, for which he received a sentence of life without parole. In this appeal, the petitioner contends only that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Jefferson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Kavonda Renee Waters
M2015-00324-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

Defendant, Kavonda Renee Waters, pleaded guilty to a Class A misdemeanor failure to appear in case number II-CR017036 and a Class E felony failure to appear offense in case number II-CR058059. The trial court imposed sentences of eleven months, twenty-nine days for failure to appear in case number II-CR017036 and two years for felony failure to appear in case number II-CR058059. On appeal, Defendant argues that her sentence is excessive and that the trial court erred by ordering her to serve her sentence in confinement. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/25/16
State of Tennessee v. Jose Reyes
M2015-00504-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The defendant, Jose Reyes, was convicted of one count of rape of a child and sentenced to thirty-two years at 100%. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the verdict and that the trial court erred in several of its rulings. Specifically, he asserts that the trial court erred in: denying his motion in limine to prevent the Child Advocacy Center facility dog from being present with the victim as he was testifying; denying his motion to suppress his written statement and his motion in limine that the statement be excluded at trial; denying his motion to dismiss the superseding indictment; denying his motion for a continuance to locate a witness; denying his motion in limine to exclude testimony regarding his having sexual relations or watching pornography in the presence of the victim; denying his motion for judgment of acquittal; imposing an excessive sentence; and considering the victim impact statement, which included references to HIV, herpes, and gonorrhea. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

DeKalb County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/16
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Wayne Moore
M2015-01229-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, Jeffrey Wayne Moore, entered a guilty plea to driving under the influence (DUI) in exchange for a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days to be served on probation after the service of forty-eight hours in jail. As a condition of his plea, Moore reserved a certified question of law challenging the denial of his motion to suppress, which was based upon an alleged unconstitutional seizure. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/16
State of Tennessee v. Micah England
W2015-01804-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Micah England, pleaded guilty in the Madison County Circuit Court pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement to carrying a weapon on school property, a Class E felony, with the length and the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court. See T.C.A. § 39-17-1309 (2014) (amended 2015). The court sentenced the Defendant to two years' probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his request for judicial diversion. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/23/16
State of Tennessee v. Mary Drew Gentry
E2015-01738-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

Mary Drew Gentry (“the Defendant”) appeals the Blount County Circuit Court’s order revoking her probation and imposing her three-year sentence for burglary. On appeal, the Defendant acknowledges that she violated probation but argues that the trial court should have imposed split confinement and community corrections rather than ordering her to serve her sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/23/16
State of Tennessee v. William Scott Deadrick
E2015-01650-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The appellant, William Scott Deadrick, pled guilty in the Sullivan County Criminal Court to multiple counts of selling and delivering less than one-half gram of a Schedule II controlled substance within a school zone. The trial court merged some of the convictions and sentenced the appellant to an effective eight-year sentence to be served at 100%. Subsequently, the appellant filed a motion for reduction of sentence, which the trial court summarily denied. On appeal, the appellant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion. Based upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/23/16
State of Tennessee v. James Frederick Hegel
E2015-00953-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The appellant, James Frederick Hegel, appeals the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s denial of his motion to suspend the costs the court ordered he pay for his 2009 convictions of rape of a child and incest. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we dismiss the appeal.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/23/16
Connie Arnold v. Doug Cook, Warden
E2015-02214-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The Petitioner, Connie Arnold, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, in which he challenged the legality of his judgments of conviction for rape of a child and aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. The Petitioner asserts that his indictment and judgments of conviction are illegal and void on their face because the offense date listed in the documents is incorrect. Further, the Petitioner asserts that his judgment for rape of a child contains an illegal sentence, entitling him to habeas corpus relief. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas court.

Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/16
State of Tennessee v. Helkie Nathan Carter
M2015-00280-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Helkie Nathan Carter (“the Defendant”) was indicted for the following counts: (1) driving under the influence (“DUI”)—third offense; (2) driving with a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of .08 or more (“DUI per se”)—third offense; (3) violation of the habitual motor vehicle offender statute; and (4) driving on a revoked license.  The Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained during a mandatory blood draw was granted by the trial court.  The State sought and was granted permission to appeal, arguing that the Defendant gave both actual and implied consent to the blood draw and that, if the good-faith exception is adopted in Tennessee, it should apply to this case.  Upon review, we conclude that the Defendant’s actual consent was not freely and voluntarily given; Tennessee’s implied consent law does not, by itself, operate as an exception to the warrant requirement; and no exception to the warrant requirement justified the blood draw.  We decline to adopt a good-faith exception.  The judgment of the trial court suppressing the results of the warrantless blood draw is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/16
State of Tennessee v. Robert Henry Jackson
M2014-02039-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

The Williamson County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant-Appellant, Robert Henry Jackson, for two counts of aggravated stalking, one count of coercion of a witness, and one count of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.  During trial, the State dismissed the coercion of a witness count.  The jury acquitted the Defendant-Appellant of the aggravated stalking counts but found him guilty of the count charging him with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a Class A misdemeanor.  See T.C.A. § 37-1-156.  Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days, with the Defendant-Appellant to serve ninety days’ confinement before serving the remainder of his sentence on supervised probation.  On appeal, the Defendant-Appellant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction and that his sentence is excessive.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
Joseph Gilbert Williams, Jr. vs. State of Tennessee
M2015-02063-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Fishburn

In 2013, a Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Joseph Gilbert Williams, Jr., of violation of the sex offender registry, third offense.  The Petitioner appealed, and this Court dismissed the appeal for failure to file a brief as ordered.  State v. Joseph Gilbert Williams, Jr., No. M2014-00019-CCA-R3-CD, (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, July 10, 2014).  In 2015, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, contending that the State failed to disclose favorable evidence to him and that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel.  The trial court summarily dismissed the petition as untimely filed.  The Petitioner then untimely filed his notice of appeal.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it summarily dismissed his petition.  Finding that the post-conviction petition was not timely filed, we dismiss the appeal.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
Justin L. Horstead v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01070-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

In 2013, the Petitioner, Justin L. Horstead, entered a best interest plea to aggravated robbery.  The trial court sentenced him in accordance with the plea agreement to ten years, to be served concurrently with a previous probationary sentence of six years.  The Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that, but for counsel’s errors, he would have insisted on taking his case to trial.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it denied his petition.  We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Maurice Blocker
W2015-00053-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Maurice Blocker, as charged of one count of first degree premeditated murder and one count of theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10,000. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202(a)(1); 39-14-103, -105(3) (Supp. 2011). Blocker was sentenced to consecutive sentences of life imprisonment and eight years, respectively. His sole argument on appeal is that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Jasper Clayton
W2015-00785-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The defendant, Jasper Clayton, was convicted of three counts of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, a Class C felony. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Epperson
E2015-00478-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The Defendant-Appellant, Kenneth Epperson, was charged by affidavit of complaint on November 28, 2012, for driving under the influence (DUI) second offense, violation of the open container law, violation of the implied consent law, driving on a revoked license, and improper display of a license plate. See T.C.A. §§ 55-4-110, 55-10-401, -406, -416, 55-50-504. Epperson entered guilty pleas to improper display of a license plate and violating the open container law and was convicted by a jury as to the remaining charges. On appeal, Epperson contends that the affidavit of complaint made against him was void and that the State therefore failed to initiate a prosecution against him within the statutory period. He contends that this error requires vacating his convictions. He also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his DUI conviction. Upon our review, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support Epperson's conviction for DUI. However, we agree with Epperson that the State failed to initiate a prosecution against him within the statutory period. Accordingly, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and vacate Epperson's convictions.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/16
Craig Abston v. State of Tennessee
W2014-02513-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Petitioner, Craig Abston, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, he raises the same lone issue that he raised in his petition and at the evidentiary hearing: that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion to suppress a statement given to police following his arrest. The State first challenges our jurisdiction to hear this appeal, and, alternatively, contends that the Petitioner has failed to prove that the post-conviction court erred in denying him relief. In reply, the Petitioner disagrees with the State’s jurisdictional argument and asks that we proceed to consider the issue on its merits. Upon careful review, we reject the State’s jurisdictional challenge. After considering the merits of the Petitioner’s claim, we conclude that he is not entitled to relief. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/16
State of Tennessee v. Pamela Moses
W2014-01986-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Defendant, Pamela Moses, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for theft under $500. Defendant was convicted by a jury as charged. The trial court imposed a $350 fine. Defendant appeals and raises the following issues for our review: 1) the trial court improperly allowed a witness for the State, who was an inmate, to wear “street” clothing when she testified; 2) the trial court erred by limiting cross-examination of a State's witness; and 3) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument. Having reviewed the record on appeal, we conclude that the judgment of the trial court should be affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/17/16