Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/28/2017
Format: 04/28/2017
Alfonso Chalmers v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01500-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Petitioner, Alfonso Chalmers, appeals the denial of his petition for the writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his conviction for premeditated first degree murder and resulting sentence of life in prison. The Petitioner filed a petition for the writ of error coram nobis, alleging that newly discovered mental health records reveal that he was diagnosed as psychotic and, therefore, unable to be convicted for premeditated first degree murder. The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that it was time-barred, was meritless, and raised issues previously determined by this court. Following review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Melton Jackson
M2016-01559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Defendant, Matthew Melton Jackson, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated robbery, one count of theft of property valued over $500, and two counts of aggravated rape, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of twenty-five years, to be served at 100%. This Court affirmed the Defendant’s sentence on appeal. State v. Matthew Melton Jackson, No. M2001-01999-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 288432, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 7, 2003), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 12, 2003). The Defendant then unsuccessfully filed two petitions for post-conviction relief and two petitions for writs of habeas corpus, and this Court affirmed the lower courts’ denial of relief in each regard. The Defendant then filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct his allegedly illegal sentence, which the trial court summarily dismissed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Terry Sherrod
M2016-01112-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Defendant, Terry Sherrod, pled guilty in two separate cases to domestic assault and possession of a Schedule IV drug with the intent to sell or deliver. As a result of the guilty pleas, he received an effective sentence of four years to be served on Community Corrections. Subsequently, an affidavit and warrant were filed alleging Defendant violated the conditions of his sentence. After a hearing, the trial court revoked Defendant’s Community Corrections sentence and ordered him to serve the remainder of his original sentence of four years with credit for 580 days. Defendant appeals the revocation. After a review, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by determining that Defendant violated the terms of his Community Corrections sentence. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed. However, we remand the case for the entry of proper judgment forms for the charges that were dismissed as a result of the guilty plea.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Curtis Coleman
E2016-00678-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The petitioner, Curtis Coleman, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The petitioner has failed to state a colorable claim for relief under Rule 36.1; therefore, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petitioner’s motion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Juan Diego Vargas
M2015-02458-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Defendant, Juan Diego Vargas, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. After a review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, it appears that the trial court failed to enter a judgment form dismissing Count Three of the indictment. Accordingly, we remand for entry of a judgment form dismissing Count Three of the indictment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/17
Willie Gatewood v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02480-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Petitioner, Willie Gatewood, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance (1) by not filing a motion to suppress the results of a photographic identification by the victim, (2) by not filing a motion to suppress the results of a warrantless search of Petitioner's cellphone, and (3) by various failures during trial preparation. Because Petitioner has failed to prove his claims by clear and convincing evidence, the decision of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Doyan Anderson
W2015-02405-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Doyan Anderson, was indicted for aggravated assault involving the use or display of a deadly weapon, a Class C felony; aggravated assault based on violation of a court order, a Class C felony; domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor; and unlawful possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony involving the use or attempted use of violence, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-102(a)(1)(A)(iii), -13-102(c), -13-111, -17-1307. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of domestic assault and both counts of aggravated assault. The jury acquitted the Defendant of the unlawful possession of a firearm charge. The trial court merged the domestic assault conviction into the aggravated assault conviction based on violation of a court order. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a career offender and imposed a total effective sentence of thirty years' incarceration. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for aggravated assault involving the use or display of a deadly weapon and (2) that the trial court committed plain error by failing to require the State to make an election of the distinct conduct it was relying upon regarding the charge of aggravated assault based on violation of a court order. Following our review, we affirm the Defendant's convictions. However, we merge the Defendant's two convictions for aggravated assault and remand the case to the trial court for entry of corrected judgment forms reflecting said merger and the resulting sentence of fifteen years' incarceration.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
Jermaine Burdette v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02400-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

In 2011, the Petitioner, Jermaine Burdette, entered a best interest plea to three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and three counts of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to 111 years of incarceration. This Court affirmed his conviction and sentences on direct appeal. State v. Jermaine Burdette, No. W2011-01938-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 6726525, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Dec. 26, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 9, 2013). In 2014, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel, that his plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered, and that the State had violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by failing disclose exculpatory evidence until the day before trial. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. We affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
Quinzell Lawon Grasty v. State of Tennessee
E2015-02075-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

Petitioner, Quinzell Lawon Grasty, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective for: (1) failing to challenge his first statement to police on the basis that he had requested counsel; (2) failing to file a pretrial motion in limine to exclude references to gang activity; (3) failing to object to the State‟s use of demonstrative evidence; (4) failing to object to the chain of custody of a backpack; (5) failing to request the trial court to question jurors about a newspaper found in the jury box; and (6) failing to disclose that he had a conflict of interest with Petitioner's stepfather. Petitioner also argues that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to include a copy of the suppression hearing transcript in the record on appeal and failing to raise sufficiency of the evidence as an issue on appeal. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Robert L. Lumpkin
M016-00878-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe

The defendant, Robert L. Lumpkin, appeals the Dickson County Circuit Court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas to aggravated sexual battery and sexual exploitation of a minor, arguing that he did not understand the lifetime supervision aspect of the sex offender registry at the time he entered his pleas.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court denying the motion.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
Jose Luiz Dominquez v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00302-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Mudge Monte Watkins

The Petitioner, Jose Luiz Dominguez, appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Davidson County Criminal Court.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the indictment was defective and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, which rendered his guilty plea involuntary.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Dunn
M2016-00469-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

A Robertson County jury convicted the Defendant, Timothy Dunn, of sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and delivery of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school.  The trial court merged the two convictions and sentenced the Defendant to serve seventeen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his request for a continuance; (2) the trial court erred when it allowed Detective Eddie Stewart to testify when he was not listed on the indictment; (3) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; and (4) his sentence is excessive.  After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
Austin Myles Tomlin v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00705-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durand, Jr.

The Petitioner, Austin Myles Tomlin, pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide by intoxication, and the trial court sentenced him to ten years for each count, to be served consecutively.  The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it dismissed his petition because his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to properly advise him regarding his guilty plea.  After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Michael O. Brown
M2016-01343-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

In 1991, the Defendant, Michael O. Brown, was convicted of sale of cocaine, and the trial court sentenced him to eleven years of incarceration.  In 1996, the Defendant was convicted of sale of cocaine, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty years of incarceration to be served consecutively to his sentence for the 1991 conviction.  In 2006, the Defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence.  The trial court concluded that the Defendant’s 1991 sentence had been improperly enhanced, so it modified the sentence to eight years.  The trial court further concluded that this modification did not affect the Defendant’s sentence for his 1996 conviction.  After filing multiple motions to correct an illegal sentence from 2006 to 2008, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 in 2016, contending that his 1991 conviction was illegal and had been vacated, making the trial court’s use of it as an enhancement for his 1996 sentence improper.  The trial court dismissed the Defendant’s motion and denied his subsequent motion to reconsider.  The Defendant appeals, contending that his sentence for his 1996 conviction was improperly enhanced and that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to reconsider.  After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Minor-Concur In Part, Dissent In Part
W2016-00348-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

I concur with the majority with respect to its resolution of the Defendant's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. However, in light of this court;s holding in State v. Bonds, 502 S.W.3d 118 (Tenn. Crim. App. April 7, 2016), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 18, 2016), I respectfully disagree with the majority's conclusion that the Defendant has waived his challenge to the constitutionality of the gang enhancement statute.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Minor
W2016-00348-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

In a bifurcated trial, a Madison County jury convicted the defendant, Christopher Minor, of two counts of first degree murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, one count of aggravated assault, one count of convicted felon in possession of a firearm, one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony having been previously been convicted of a felony, and six counts of violating Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-121, the criminal gang offenses enhancement statute. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of life plus twenty years. The defendant appeals his conviction, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence and the constitutionality of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-121. The State argues the evidence was sufficient to support the defendant's convictions, and the defendant waived his constitutional challenge by raising his argument for the first time on appeal. We agree with the State and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/17
State of Tennessee v. David Troy Firestone
W2016-00347-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

David Troy Firestone (“the Defendant”) pled guilty to burglary and theft of property. At a bench trial, the trial court found that the value of the stolen property was over $10,000. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent sentences of four years for the burglary conviction and to five years for the theft of property conviction as a Range I standard offender. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to establish that the value of the stolen property exceeded $10,000, that he was improperly sentenced, and that the trial court erred in ordering the Defendant to pay $5,000 in restitution to Storage Town of America. After a thorough review of the record and case law, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions and sentences but reverse and vacate the trial court’s order of restitution to Storage Town of America.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/17
Kenneth Dale Sanders v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00756-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The pro se petitioner, Kenneth Dale Sanders, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis.  Following our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition as time-barred pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/17
State of Tennessee v. George A. Belt
M2016-00663-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The defendant, George A. Belt, was convicted by a Bedford County Circuit Court jury of two counts of rape, Class B felonies; one count of incest, a Class C felony; and one count of purchasing alcohol for a minor, a Class A misdemeanor.  The trial court merged the rape convictions and imposed a sentence of twenty years for that conviction.  The court imposed a sentence of ten years for the incest conviction and eleven months and twenty- nine days for the purchasing alcohol for a minor conviction.  The court ordered that all the sentences be served concurrently.  On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence convicting him of rape and incest and also argues that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence.  After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Jason Larry Russo
M2016-00052-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell

In the Bedford County Circuit Court, the defendant, Jason Larry Russo, pled guilty to second offense driving on a revoked license, a Class A misdemeanor, and was found guilty by a jury of promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine, a Class D felony.  He was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days for the driving offense and twelve years for the drug offense, to be served consecutively.  On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences.  After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Marcia Latrice Taylor
M2016-00934-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David L. Allen

A Maury County grand jury indicted the Defendant, Marcia Latrice Taylor, for one count of possession of 0.5 grams or more of a Schedule II substance, cocaine, with the intent to sell or deliver and one count of possession of 14.175 grams of a Schedule VI substance, marijuana, with the intent to sell or deliver.  The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence found as a result of a search of an establishment that she owned based upon the credibility and reliability of the confidential informant whose statement police used as a basis for the warrant.  The trial court granted the motion, and the State appeals.  On appeal, the State contends that the trial court erred because the confidential informant’s reliability and knowledge were corroborated by independent police investigation.  After review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/15/17
Horace E. Hollis, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-01509-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Burch

This appeal of the denial of post-conviction relief is before this court pursuant to remand by the Tennessee Supreme Court, which vacated this court’s August 2015 opinion upholding the post-conviction court’s denial of post-conviction relief because the transcript of the post-conviction hearing was not included in the appellate record. In August 2001, the Petitioner, Horace E. Hollis, Jr., was charged in an eighty (80) count presentment with forty counts of aggravated sexual battery and forty counts of rape of a child. The sexual abuse was committed against the Petitioner’s two minor granddaughters by marriage and, based on the presentment, occurred every other weekend from October 2000 to July 2001. The counts in the presentment were identical except for the victim’s name and date range. Before trial, the Petitioner’s third appointed counsel agreed to sever the counts of the indictment into separate groups of four, one count of rape of a child and one count of aggravated sexual battery for each of the two victims, theoretically resulting in twenty separate trials. The Petitioner was acquitted at his first trial. At his second trial, the Petitioner was convicted of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery of each victim, for which he received an effective sentence of forty (40) years’ incarceration. Following his second trial, the remaining counts of the presentment were dismissed by the State. Although the Petitioner presents a multitude of issues for our review, we consider his primary issue to be whether third counsel was ineffective in failing to require an election of offenses in his first trial, which resulted in an acquittal. Because there was no election of offenses in his first trial, the Petitioner further contends that third counsel was ineffective in failing to object to his second trial based on double jeopardy principles. Following a thorough review of the record and applicable authority, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/14/17
Alexis Mason v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01644-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Alexis Mason (“the Petitioner”) was convicted of one count of second degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault by a Shelby County jury, for which the Petitioner received an effective sentence of thirty-seven years. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to argue self-defense. The post-conviction court denied relief after finding that trial counsel’s failure to argue self-defense was not deficient and did not prejudice the Petitioner. On appeal, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Richardson
W2016-00340-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Defendant, Antonio Richardson, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202 (2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to life imprisonment. On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and (2) the trial court erred by admitting in evidence a photograph of the victim from the crime scene. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Rodney Lee Scott
E2015-01772-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Scott Green

Defendant, Rodney Lee Scott, was found guilty by a jury of attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless aggravated assault, leaving the scene of the accident, and public intoxication as the result of an incident described as road rage on December 16, 2013. As a result of the convictions, Defendant received an effective sentence of six years. Defendant appeals, challenging: (1) the sufficiency of the evidence; (2) the denial of a motion to sever; (3) the denial of a motion in limine which sought to allow Defendant to cross-examine the victims about their criminal history; (4) his dual convictions for attempted voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault; and (5) the trial court’s denial of a mistrial. After a review of the evidence and authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court with respect to Defendant’s convictions for attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, leaving the scene of the accident, and public intoxication. Because reckless aggravated assault cannot be a lesser included offense of aggravated assault based upon fearing imminent bodily injury, we reverse and dismiss Defendant’s conviction for reckless aggravated assault. On remand, the trial court should enter judgment forms dismissing Counts Four and Seven of the indictment.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/13/17