Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 09/03/2015
Format: 09/03/2015
Christopher Allen Cummins v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01197-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.

The petitioner, Christopher Allen Cummins, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying the petition.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/15
State of Tennessee v. Deandre D. Rucker
M2014-00742-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The defendant, Deandre D. Rucker, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to sever, the evidence is insufficient to sustain the conviction, and the court erred in denying a motion for a mistrial or a cautionary instruction because of prosecutorial misconduct during the State’s closing argument. Following our review, we conclude that the defendant’s first two assignments of error are without merit. However, we agree that the State’s closing argument was improper to such a degree that we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for a new trial.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/15
Frank Shackelton v. David B. Westbrook, Warden
M2015-00252-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr.

The pro se petitioner, Frank Shackleton, appeals the Davidson County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his conviction and sentence are illegal and void because he pled guilty to an offense with a different date from the offense date in the indictment. Because the petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/15
State of Tennessee v. Twanna Blair
E2014-01377-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood
In this appeal, the State challenges the trial court’s dismissal of two counts of conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder, a Class A felony. Through a series of indictments, the State charged the defendant, Twanna Blair, with one count of conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder, three counts of felony murder, and one count of especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony. The trial court consolidated the indictments and required the State to elect which offenses it wished to prosecute. The State chose not to prosecute the defendant on the charge of conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder and proceeded to trial on Count 2 of the indictment, especially aggravated robbery, and Counts 3, 4, and 5 of the indictment, felony murder. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury was deadlocked. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion for acquittal as to Count 2. The trial court also granted the motion of acquittal for felony murder and the lesser included offense of second degree murder in Counts 3, 4, and 5. The trial court declared a mistrial in Counts 3, 4, and 5 for the remaining lesser included offense of facilitation of felony murder. After the mistrial, the State re-indicted the defendant for a host of offenses, including two counts of conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, which the trial court granted. The State now appeals, challenging only the dismissal of the two counts of conspiracy to commit first degree premeditated murder. The State argues that: (1) the indictments are not barred by the statute of limitations; (2) the Double Jeopardy Clause does not prohibit the re-indictment of the defendant; and (3) Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 8 does not prevent an indictment for additional charges after the declaration of a mistrial. After thoroughly reviewing the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we conclude that the indictments are not prohibited by the statute of limitations or the Double Jeopardy Clause but that the indictments constitute the “saving back” of charges that Rule 8 is intended to prevent. Accordingly, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/15
Shaun Alexander Hodge v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01005-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

A Knox County Criminal Court Jury convicted the petitioner, Shaun Alexander Hodge, of first degree premeditated murder, and the trial court imposed a life sentence. Subsequently, the petitioner filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, arguing that he was entitled to a new trial based upon the recantation of a State witness. After an evidentiary hearing, the coram nobis court denied the petition, and the petitioner appeals. Based upon our review of the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/08/15
State of Tennessee v. Rodney Jeffries
W2014-02464-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Rodney Jeffries, the Defendant, appeals the summary dismissal of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the summary dismissal of his motion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Michael G. Kohlmeyer
M2014-01359-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge George C. Sexton
A Humphreys County jury convicted the Defendant, Michael G. Kohlmeyer, of two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class D felony, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of two years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to suppress photographs and videos police officers found on his cellular telephone because the police officers did not have consent to search the phone or probable cause to view photographs and videos on the phone. After review, we affirm the convictions and sentences. We remand the case to the trial court for the entry of corrected judgments reflecting that the convictions and sentences are for sexual exploitation of a minor rather than attempted sexual exploitation of a minor.
Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Terrance E. Kindall
M2014-01680-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg

The appellant, Terrance E. Kindall, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s revoking his community corrections sentence for carjacking and ordering that he serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the appellant was statutorily ineligible for community corrections. Therefore, the appellant’s community correction sentence is vacated, and the case is remanded to the trial court for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the illegal sentence was a bargained-for element of the appellant’s plea agreement.  

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Michael Anthony Smith
M2014-01930-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

In a plea agreement encompassing several cases, the Defendant, Michael Anthony Smith, pleaded no contest to one count of theft of property valued over $1,000, one count of sale of a Schedule II drug, one count of sale of a Schedule IV drug, and one count of theft of property valued less than $500. In exchange for his plea, the State dismissed several charges against him. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of nine years to be served on supervised probation. It also ordered that he successfully complete the 23rd Judicial Drug Court Program and pay restitution. Subsequently, the Defendant’s probation officer filed a warrant, alleging that he had ceased to participate in the 23rd Judicial Drug Court Program. At a hearing, the Defendant admitted the violation, and the trial court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. William Seigler
M2014-02559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor
The Appellant, William Seigler, is appealing the order of the trial court denying his “motion to correct 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.
Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. William Seigler
M2014-02559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor
The Appellant, William Seigler, is appealing the order of the trial court denying his “motion to correct 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.
Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. William Seigler
M2014-02559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor
The Appellant, William Seigler, is appealing the order of the trial court denying his “motion to correct 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.
Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Vickie Lynn Perry
E2014-01088-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

Defendant, Vickie1 Lynn Perry, appeals her convictions for first degree murder and robbery, arguing: 1) that there is insufficient evidence to establish that she killed the victim while committing felony robbery; 2) that the State introduced improper evidence; 3) that the trial court improperly admitted evidence of a specific instance of conduct to impeach Defendant‟s character for truthfulness; and 4) that the State made improper remarks during its closing argument. After careful review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Susan Gail Stephens
M2014-01270-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa Jackson

In this interlocutory appeal, Susan Gail Stephens (“the Defendant”) challenges the prosecutor‟s denial of her application for pretrial diversion. She asks this court to remand the case to the prosecutor with instructions that the Defendant be granted pretrial diversion. She also asks us to instruct the prosecutor to grant pretrial diversion nunc pro tunc to the Defendant‟s 2012 update to her application for pretrial diversion. Upon review, we find that there is no substantial evidence in the record to support the denial of pretrial diversion. Accordingly, we reverse the order of the trial court and remand the case to the trial court with instructions that the Defendant be granted pretrial diversion upon the terms and conditions of the diversion to be established by the trial court. However, we decline to instruct that pretrial diversion be granted nunc pro tunc to 2012.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
David Anthony Lajeniss v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01434-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
David Anthony Lajeniss (“the Petitioner”) filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was involuntary and unknowing. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/15
State of Tennessee v. Gary Hamilton
E2014-01585-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Gary Hamilton (“the Defendant”) seeks interlocutory review of the district attorney general‟s denial of his application for pretrial diversion and the trial court‟s affirmance of that denial. The Defendant, a former teacher‟s assistant, was charged with assault after engaging in an altercation with a student at the school where he was employed. The district attorney general denied the Defendant‟s application for pretrial diversion. The Defendant filed a petition for writ of certiorari to the trial court, challenging the denial, and the trial court upheld the district attorney general‟s decision. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the district attorney general abused his discretion in denying pretrial diversion and that the trial court erred when it found no abuse of discretion. Upon review of the record and applicable law, we hold that the trial court did not properly review the district attorney general‟s decision to deny pretrial diversion. Additionally, although the district attorney general considered all the relevant pretrial diversion factors and did not consider any irrelevant factors, the record does not contain substantial evidence supporting the denial of pretrial diversion. Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the trial court and remand with instructions that the Defendant be granted pretrial diversion.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Derrick Carey
M2015-00185-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman
The Petitioner, Derrick Carey, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing his motion. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/06/15
State of Tennessee v. Drennard T. Riley
M2014-01360-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg
The appellant, Drennard T. Riley, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s revoking his community corrections sentences for aggravated burglary and robbery and ordering that he serve the balance of his effective ten-year sentence in confinement. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/06/15
Phillippe Rogers v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01445-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The petitioner, Phillippe Rogers, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2008 Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of both conspiracy to sell and possession with intent to sell 300 grams or more of cocaine, claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/02/15
State of Tennessee v. David Louis Way
E2014-01246-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance
The Defendant, David L. Way, pleaded guilty to burglary and misdemeanor theft. The trial court ordered concurrent probationary sentences of four years for the burglary conviction, and eleven months and twenty-nine days for the theft conviction. Thereafter, the Defendant was arrested for burglary and possession of burglary tools. The trial court issued a probation violation warrant and, after a hearing, revoked the Defendant’s probationary sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court improperly ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement for violating the terms of his probation, and that the trial court improperly admitted a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation firearms and tool mark examiner as an expert witness. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 
Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Wayne Sanders
W2014-01455-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Wayne Sanders, was charged with aggravated robbery. After a jury trial, he was convicted of the lesser-included offense of aggravated assault. On appeal, the Defendant argues that he was denied his right to a speedy trial and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Upon review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Calvin Coe
W2014-01854-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

Appellant stands convicted of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, fourth offense, and driving on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license, second offense. The trial court sentenced appellant to an effective eighteen-month sentence, suspended to supervised probation after serving 150 days in confinement. On appeal, appellant argues that the trial court violated the Tennessee Rules of Evidence and appellant's Equal Protection rights by limiting appellant's cross-examination of Officer Norris regarding any racial bias or any disciplinary action the police department levied against Officer Norris due to racially-biased language. Following our review of the parties' briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Fred Calvin Lee
M2014-01655-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael W. Binkley

The Defendant, Fred Calvin Lee, pleaded guilty to two counts of delivery of 0.5 gram or more of cocaine, Class B felonies. See T.C.A. § 39-17-417 (Supp. 2013) (amended 2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to serve concurrent terms of ten years for each conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court failed to consider all of the relevant sentencing factors and erred by denying alternative sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/01/15
Clark Derrick Frazier v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02374-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

The Petitioner, Clark Derrick Frazier, challenges the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that, had he known about the results from the DNA analysis performed on items found at the scene, he would have elected not to plead guilty.  After a review of the record and applicable law, we conclude that the Petitioner failed to prove that the results from the DNA analysis were newly discovered evidence or that he was without fault in failing to present the evidence at the proper time.  Additionally, we conclude that, even if the evidence was newly discovered, the Petitioner failed to establish that it may have resulted in a different judgment.  Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/01/15
State of Tennessee v. Rodney Bates
E2014-02381-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rebecca J. Stern

The Petitioner, Rodney Bates, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the trial court erred by summarily dismissing his motion. The State concedes that this case should be reversed and remanded to the trial court. Upon review, we reverse the trial court’s judgment and remand the case for further proceedings.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/30/15