Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 05/28/2016
Format: 05/28/2016
Gdongalay P. Berry v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00052-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Gdongalay P. Berry (“the Petitioner”) was convicted of two of counts of first-degree premeditated murder, two counts of first-degree felony murder, two of counts especially aggravated kidnapping, and two of counts especially aggravated robbery in connection with the deaths of D’angelo McKinley Lee and Gregory Lanier Ewing. In this coram nobis proceeding, the Petitioner claims that a previously undisclosed videotaped interview of Yakou Murphy might have led to a different result had that interview been disclosed prior to trial.  After a hearing, the coram nobis court denied relief.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/16
Patrick Rico Edwards v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01839-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Patrick Rico Edwards (“the Petitioner”) appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues (1) that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to present at the sentencing hearing expert testimony about the Petitioner’s mental health; and (2) that his plea was unknowing and involuntary.  Additionally, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court’s failure to make findings of fact and conclusions of law about the voluntariness of his plea constitutes reversible error.  We conclude that the post-conviction court erred when it failed to make findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding the voluntary and intelligent nature of the Petitioner’s plea but such error was harmless in this case.  Further, we conclude that the Petitioner has failed to prove that he is entitled to post-conviction relief for either of his claims.  The judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/16
State of Tennessee v. Tyler Alexis Dixon
M2015-00543-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The appellant, Tyler Alexis Denton, pled guilty in the Lincoln County Circuit Court to three counts of selling less than one-half gram of cocaine within a drug-free zone and three counts of delivering less than one-half gram of cocaine within a drug-free zone, Class C felonies.  The trial court merged each count of delivering cocaine into its corresponding count of selling cocaine and sentenced the appellant to three, concurrent sentences of five and one-half years.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the length of his sentences is excessive.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.  However, we remand the case to the trial court for correction of the judgments.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/16
State of Tennessee v. Stephanie Lynn Bickford
M2015-00628-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The defendant, Stephanie Lynn Bickford, pled guilty to statutory rape, a Class E felony, in exchange for a one-year sentence on probation.  The trial court ordered that the defendant was required to register as a sex offender, a decision the defendant now appeals.  On appeal, the defendant also argues that this court should review the trial court’s decision using a de novo with a presumption of correctness standard of review, rather than an abuse of discretion with a presumption of reasonableness standard.  After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/16
State of Tennessee v. Gary Wayne Garrett
M2015-01390-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The defendant, Gary Wayne Garrett, is serving an effective sentence of 119 years, following his convictions in 1986 for sixteen felonies.  Pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, the defendant filed a motion to correct what he views as sentences which are illegal because the trial court failed to award proper jail credits, and the court then entered an order providing the defendant with jail credits from October 31, 1985, until October 10, 1986.  The defendant appealed, arguing that he was entitled to additional credits, and we note that the State did not appeal the awarding of these credits. We conclude that the defendant has failed to present a colorable claim for relief in asking for additional credits, pursuant to Rule 36.1, and affirm the order of the court awarding only these credits.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/23/16
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Fralix
E2015-01115-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The defendant, Christopher Fralix, pled guilty to one count of robbery, a Class C felony, and one count of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, in exchange for an effective sentence of six years. The trial court denied all forms of alternative sentencing and ordered the defendant to serve his sentence in incarceration. He now appeals, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in denying an alternative sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/16
State of Tennessee v. Kendall Joy
W2015-01765-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Kendall Joy, appeals the trial court's denial of his 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 03/22/16
Joseph B. Thompson v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01563-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore Jr.

The Petitioner, Joseph B. Thompson, appeals the trial court's denial of his 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.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/21/16
Kentavis Jones v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00459-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

A Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Kentavis Jones, of two counts of aggravated assault, one count of reckless endangerment, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The State contends that the Petitioner's appeal is untimely and that he is not entitled to post-conviction relief. After review, we conclude there exists no error. We affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Derek Burgess
W2015-00196-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The defendant, Derek Burgess, committed new criminal offenses while on probation, and the trial court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in prison. The defendant appeals the trial court’s order sentencing him to serve his sentence in incarceration, arguing that the trial court incorrectly calculated the length of his remaining sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Charles Speed
W2015-00473-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The defendant, Charles Speed, appeals the denial of his Rule 36.1 motion to correct what he alleges is an illegal sentence. He argues that his sentence is illegal because the State never filed a noticed to seek an enhanced sentence within ten days of the entry of his guilty plea. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Anne Elizabeth Cushing
E2015-00462-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

On appeal, the defendant, Anne Elizabeth Cushing, has presented a certified question of law for our review. Following the denial of her motion to suppress, the defendant entered a guilty plea to one count of driving under the influence (“DUI”) but reserved a certified question. In the question, she challenges the denial of the motion to suppress because, according to the defendant, the results of the field sobriety tests should be inadmissible because she was entitled to be Mirandized when she was placed in the backseat of the police officer's patrol car while he conducted an investigation at the accident scene. She contends she was not free to leave and that, as such, the right to Miranda warnings had attached. Following our review of the record, we conclude that the question, as presented, is not dispositive of the case. Accordingly, we must dismiss the appeal.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/18/16
Christopher Kinsler v. State of Tennessee
E2015-00862-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas J. Wright

The petitioner, Christopher Kinsler, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel elicited inadmissible hearsay testimony on cross-examination and then failed to object to the testimony. Following our thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/17/16
State of Tennessee v. Hester Croy
E2014-02406-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

The defendant, Hester Croy, was convicted of theft of property under $500, a Class A misdemeanor. On appeal, she argues that the trial court erred by ruling that her prior convictions for theft of property would be admissible for impeachment purposes if she testified. Following our review, we conclude that this issue is waived due to the defendant‟s failure to file a motion for new trial and that plain error review is not warranted. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/17/16
John David Luther v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02465-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The Petitioner, John David Luther, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, and reckless aggravated assault, and resulting effective seventeen-year sentence.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/17/16
State of Tennessee v. Deangelo Key
W2015-00135-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The defendant, Deangelo Key, was convicted of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and sentenced to nine years at 85% in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/16/16
Reggie Carnell James v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01640-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The petitioner, Reggie Carnell James, was convicted in 2007 of first degree murder and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for the murder conviction and ten years for the tampering with evidence conviction, with the sentences to be served consecutively. This court affirmed his convictions on direct appeal. State v. Reggie Carnell James, No. W2007-00775-CCA-R3-CD, 2009 WL 636726, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 10, 2009), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 17, 2009). In April 2010, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that trial counsel had been ineffective for not filing a motion to suppress a statement the petitioner had made to police officers. Following a hearing on April 11, 2011, the post-conviction court entered an order on January 31, 2012, denying the petition. The notice of appeal for this decision was not filed until August 27, 2015. The State argues on appeal that the notice of appeal was untimely and that, as a result, the appeal should be dismissed. We conclude that the interest of justice does not require our waiving the late filing of the notice of appeal and, therefore, dismiss the appeal.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/16/16
Terrance Heard v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00447-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Terrance Heard, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his August 2001 Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping. Because the petitioner failed to prepare an adequate record for our review, we presume the ruling of the post-conviction court is correct and, therefore, affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/16/16
State of Tennessee v. Adam Moates
E2014-02405-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The appellant, Adam Moates, was convicted in the Knox County Criminal Court of two counts of attempted first degree premeditated murder, three counts of attempted second degree murder, and five counts of employing a weapon during the commission of a dangerous felony. After a sentencing hearing, the appellant received an effective twenty-six-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his attempted first degree murder convictions because it fails to show premeditation. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/16/16
State of Tennessee v. Lakeith Moody
W2014-01056-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

Following a jury trial, Defendant, LaKeith Moody, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and first degree felony murder of the victim, with whom Defendant had a long-time romantic relationship. He received a sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred by admitting acts of prior domestic violence committed by Defendant against the victim; (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; and (3) the trial court failed to merge Defendant's convictions for premeditated and felony murder into one judgment for first degree murder. After a thorough review, we affirm the convictions for first degree premeditated murder and felony murder and remand the case for entry of corrected judgment forms noting merger of the two convictions as set forth herein.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/16
State of Tennessee v. Roy Thomas Rogers
W2015-00988-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn L. Peeples

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Roy Thomas Rogers, was convicted of initiating the manufacture of methamphetamine, a Class B felony; promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine, a Class D felony; possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor; and criminal impersonation, a Class B misdemeanor. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-16-301, -17-425, -17-433, -17-435. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twelve years. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred by admitting evidence from a garbage bag found near his residence and (2) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions. However, the Defendant failed to timely file his motion for new trial, and, subsequently, his notice of appeal. Because we conclude that the interest of justice does not require us to hear the appeal, we dismiss it as untimely.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/16
Huston Foley Lloyd, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00295-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wootten, Jr.

The petitioner, Huston Foley Lloyd, Jr., appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief, and the State concedes that summary dismissal was improper.  Because the petitioner stated a colorable claim for post-conviction relief, the post-conviction court erred by summarily dismissing the petition.  Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is reversed, and the case is remanded for an evidentiary hearing on the petitioner’s claims.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/16
State of Tennessee v. Ann Dodd
M2015-01469-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph Woodruff

The petitioner, Ann Dodd, appeals the Williamson County Criminal Court’s denial of her petition to expunge the record of her 2009 Williamson County General Sessions Court guilty-pleaded conviction of simple possession of cocaine.  Because we conclude that the petitioner failed to satisfy the requirements of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-32-101(g), we affirm the trial court’s order.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/16
State of Tennessee v. Ricky Flamingo Brown
M2015-01754-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The defendant, Ricky Flamingo Brown, appeals the summary dismissal 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 grounds for relief raised by the defendant have been previously determined and because the defendant failed to state cognizable grounds for relief under Rule 36.1, the interests of justice do not require the waiver of the timely filing of the notice of appeal in this case.  Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/16
State of Tennessee v. Brenda Haynes Jackson Claughton
M2015-01467-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne Lockert-Mash

The appellant, Brenda Haynes Jackson Claughton, pled guilty in the Dickson County Circuit Court to two counts of felony theft and received concurrent, four-year sentences to be served on supervised probation.  The trial court also ordered that she pay $36,000 restitution.  On appeal, the appellant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking probation for her failure to pay restitution when the evidence shows that she had no ability to pay it.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/16