Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/25/2016
Format: 06/25/2016
State of Tennessee v. Michael Williams
W2015-00662-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Pro se petitioner, Michael Williams, appeals from the Shelby 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 in summarily dismissing his motion. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/16
State of Tennessee v. Michael Mullins
E2015-00270-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Scott Green

The Defendant, Michael Mullins, pleaded guilty in the Knox County Criminal Court to aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and received a three-year sentence. See T.C.A. § 39-13-102 (Supp. 2009) (amended 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015). The trial court granted the Defendant's request for judicial diversion and ordered him to pay more than $8000 in restitution. After a probation violation report and warrant were filed with the trial court, the court determined that the Defendant violated the conditions of his release, revoked the Defendant's judicial diversion, and sentenced him to three years' enhanced probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) because the parties had a plea agreement regarding the disposition of the probation violation, the trial court erred by allowing the State to rescind the agreement and by not providing the Defendant the opportunity to choose between requiring the State to specifically perform the agreement and withdrawing his guilty plea to the probation violation, (2) the trial court's failure to consider his corrective actions during the two years the probation violation proceedings were pending violated his right to a speedy trial, (3) the court erred by holding a judicial diversion revocation proceeding before holding a probation violation proceeding, and (4) the court erred during its restitution determinations. We affirm the judgment of the trial court and dismiss the Defendant's appeal relative to restitution pursuant to the mootness doctrine.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/16
Gerry Tallant v. State of Tennessee
W2014-02519-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Gerry Tallant, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his premeditated first degree murder conviction. He argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because counsel failed to argue in the motion to suppress that: (1) he was arrested on the murder charge although the officers lacked probable cause; (2) he was detained for a custodial interrogation although the officers lacked probable cause; and (3) he was seized without reasonable suspicion. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Casey Bryant
M2015-00938-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The defendant, Jonathan Casey Bryant, pleaded guilty in the Warren County Circuit Court to promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine, reserving as a certified question of law whether the evidence obtained following a traffic stop should have been suppressed because it arose from his illegal detention.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Patricia Tarver
E2015-01496-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

Appellant, Patricia Tarver, appeals the trial court’s revocation of her probation, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering her to serve her original sentence in confinement. Because there is substantial evidence to support the trial court’s finding that Appellant violated the terms and conditions of her probation, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by revoking Appellant’s probation and executing the underlying sentence. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/05/16
State of Tennessee v. Eric D. Crenshaw
W2015-01577-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Eric D. Crenshaw, pleaded guilty to theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, a Class C felony, evading arrest, a Class E felony, theft of property valued at $500 or less, a Class A misdemeanor, possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, and driving on a revoked license, a Class B misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103 (2014) (theft), 39-16-603 (2014) (evading arrest), 39-17-425 (2014) (unlawful drug paraphernalia), 55-50-504 (2012) (driving on a revoked license). Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant would receive concurrent sentences as a Range I, standard offender, with the length and the manner of service of the sentences to be determined by the trial court. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve six years for the felony theft conviction, two years for the evading arrest conviction, eleven months, twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor theft conviction, eleven months, twenty-nine days for the possession of drug paraphernalia conviction, and six months for the driving on a revoked license conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by (1) denying him alternative sentencing and (2) imposing excessive fines for his felony theft and evading arrest convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/16
State of Tennessee v. Mark Tiger
W2015-01558-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant, Mark Tiger, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-102 (2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to five years' confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and (2) the trial court erred during sentencing. We affirm the Defendant's conviction.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/16
Andre Davis v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01250-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Petitioner, Andre Davis, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter by a Shelby County jury and sentenced to fourteen and one-half years in incarceration. His first appeal was denied. State v. Andre Davis, No. W2007-01442-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 4831230, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 5, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Mar. 16, 2009). Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief which led to the grant of a delayed appeal based on trial counsel's failure to file a motion for new trial. Petitioner was permitted to file a motion for new trial. The motion was denied, and Petitioner was again denied relief on appeal. Andre Davis v. State, No. W2011-00373-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 5970932, at *2 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 29, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Apr. 10, 2013). Petitioner then sought post-conviction relief again. After a hearing, the petition was denied. On appeal, Petitioner challenges the post-conviction court's denial of relief. After a review, we determine Petitioner has failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he is entitled to relief. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/16
Shawn Christopher Sales v. Shawn Phillips, Warden
E2015-01746-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Eugene Eblen

The Petitioner, Shawn Christopher Sales, pleaded guilty in the Rutherford County Circuit Court to robbery, and the trial court sentenced him as a career offender to serve fifteen years with release eligibility at 60%. The trial court ordered that the Petitioner serve 163 days in confinement and the remainder of his sentence on community corrections. The trial court later revoked the Petitioner’s community corrections sentence and ordered that he serve his sentence in confinement. This Court affirmed the revocation on appeal. State v. Shawn C. Sales, M2013-01510-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 806316 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 28, 2014), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. The Petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus relief, contending that his judgment is void because his sentence is illegal. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition finding that the Petitioner had failed to satisfy the procedural requirements and had failed to prove he was entitled to habeas corpus relief. After review, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s judgment.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/16
State of Tennessee v. James Patterson
E2015-01148-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, James Patterson, was found guilty by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of attempt to commit aggravated rape, a Class B felony, and two counts of assault, Class A misdemeanors. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-502 (2014) (aggravated rape), 39-12-101 (2014) (attempt), 39-13-101 (2010) (amended 2013) (assault). The trial court merged the assault convictions and sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent terms of ten years for attempted aggravated rape and eleven months, twenty-nine days for assault, all to be served on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his attempted aggravated rape conviction. We affirm the judgments of the trial court

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/16
State of Tennessee v. Heather Renee McCollum
M2015-00656-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell

Appellant, Heather Renee McCollum, stands convicted of first degree premeditated murder and arson, for which she received consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole and five years, respectively. Challenging her convictions and sentence alignment, she raises the following issues in this appeal: (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to support her convictions; (2) whether her arson conviction should be set aside based upon the “physical facts” rule; and (3) whether the trial court erred in aligning her sentences consecutively. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/16
Eric O'Neil Turner v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02368-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Petitioner, Eric O’Neil Turner, pled guilty to three counts of aggravated statutory rape, a Class D felony, with an agreed sentence of nine years for each count with one conviction to be served consecutively to the others for an effective eighteen-year sentence as a persistent offender. The sentence was suspended with time served, and Petitioner was immediately released on probation. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance and that Petitioner’s guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Following a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/16
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Neal McClean
E2015-01957-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword


The Defendant, Thomas Neal McClean, was convicted upon his guilty pleas to robbery, a Class C felony; burglary, a Class E felony; and theft of property valued at $500 or less, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-401 (2014) (robbery), 39-14-402 (2014) (burglary), 39-14-103 (2014) (theft), 39-14-105(a)(1) (2014) (grading of theft). He received an effective ten-year sentence as a Range III, persistent offender. In this appeal, he contends he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. Because his appeal is not upon any basis permitted by Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3(b), we dismiss the appeal.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
Charles R. Blackstock v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01384-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman


In 2000, the Petitioner, Charles R. Blackstock, pleaded guilty to one count of especially aggravated kidnapping and two counts of rape of a child, and the trial court sentenced him to three consecutive twenty-five year sentences. This Court affirmed the consecutive sentencing on appeal, but modified the total effective sentence to seventy-one years. State v. Charles R. Blackstock, No. E2000-01546-R3-CD, 2001 WL 969036, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Aug. 27, 2001), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. In 2013, the Petitioner filed a petition for habeas corpus relief, which was denied. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed. Charles R. Blackstock v. State, No. E2013-01173-CCA-R3-HC, 2014 WL 1092812, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Mar. 19, 2014), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. In 2015, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel at the guilty plea hearing and also during the habeas corpus proceeding. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that his counsel during the habeas corpus proceeding was ineffective. He further contends that the post-conviction court erred when it did not “mention[] the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.” After a thorough review, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
State of Tennessee v. Grady Joe Careathers
E2015-00904-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole


The Defendant, Grady Joe Careathers, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault in exchange for a probation sentence. Shortly thereafter, the Defendant was arrested for violating the Habitual Motor Vehicle Offender Act, a charge to which he pleaded guilty. At the same time, he entered a guilty plea to violating his probation. Over the next five years, the Defendant admitted to violating his probation sentence on several occasions. At his fifth revocation hearing, 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 by ordering him to serve his sentence in confinement. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
State of Tennessee v. Mitchell Lee Davis
E2015-01220-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle


The Defendant, Mitchell Lee Davis, pleaded guilty to burglary, misdemeanor theft, and sale of a Schedule II controlled substance, and the trial court entered the agreed sentence of five years, 180 days of which were to be served in confinement and the remainder to be served on probation. The Defendant's probation officer subsequently filed an affidavit alleging a probation violation. The trial court issued a warrant, and the parties agreed that the Defendant should serve 120 more days followed by reinstatement to probation. The trial court rejected the agreement, revoked the Defendant's probation, and ordered him to confinement. The Defendant did not appeal but then filed a motion to reduce his sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 35, contending that the trial court improperly considered his lengthy criminal history when it revoked his probation. The trial court denied the Defendant's motion. On appeal, the Defendant contends that, after the trial court rejected the parties' agreement for the probation violation, the trial court violated his due process rights by not holding a hearing to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to support the probation violation. He further contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it revoked his probation because it based its decision on the Defendant's previous criminal history. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
State of Tennessee v. Billy Locke
E2015-00901-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew Mark Freiberg


In 1998, a jury convicted the Defendant, Billy Locke, for DUI, third offense. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve eleven months and twenty-nine days, 160 days of which was to be served in confinement with the remainder to be served on probation. In 1999, the Defendant pleaded guilty to burglary, evading arrest, assault, and possession of burglary tools, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of three years to run consecutively with any sentence he received for violating his probation for the DUI conviction. Fifteen years later, in January 2015, the Defendant filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that the trial court was required to align his sentences consecutively because he was on probation and thus still “serving” his sentence for the DUI conviction when sentenced for the burglary-related convictions. The trial court denied the Defendant’s motion, and he appealed to this Court. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Polk County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
William Thomas Mayers v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01704-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The Petitioner, William Thomas Mayers, filed a petition for post-conviction relief in the Davidson County Criminal Court, alleging that his counsel was ineffective at trial and on appeal.  The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
Jerry Crawford, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00882-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Jerry Crawford, Jr., of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to thirty years in prison. The Petitioner appealed his conviction and sentence, and this Court affirmed the trial court's judgments. See State v. Jerry Crawford, Jr., No. W2012-02729-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 296014, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Jan. 28, 2014), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. In 2015, the Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court appointed counsel who filed an amended petition for post-conviction relief alleging that the Petitioner had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court held a hearing on the petition and denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the trial court erred when it denied his petition. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Traveno Cox, Jr.
M2015-00512-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Special Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Appellant, Marcus Traveno Cox, Jr., stands convicted (after merger of duplicate counts) of possession with intent to sell less than .5 grams of cocaine, possession with intent to sell more than one-half ounce but less than ten pounds of marijuana, possession of a Schedule III controlled substance (Lortab), possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a firearm with intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony.  The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of nine years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, appellant argues that the indictment and jury instructions for the possession of a firearm charge were fatally deficient and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel.  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
Teresa Deion Smith Harris v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01072-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

In 1994, a Henry County jury convicted the Petitioner, Teresa Deion Smith Harris, of first degree felony murder, and she was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the Petitioner's conviction and sentence. State v. Teresa Deion Smith Harris, No W2012-00540-CCA-R3-CD, 1996 WL 654335, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Nov. 12, 1996), perm. app. granted (Tenn. June 8, 1998). The Tennessee Supreme Court affirmed the Petitioner's conviction and sentence but found that there existed some harmless error in sentencing. State v. Harris, 989 S.W.2d 301, 316 (Tenn. 1999). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief and two previous petitions for writ of error coram nobis. All of these petitions were denied, the Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed their denial. In this, her third, petition for writ of error coram nobis, the Petitioner alleged that she had received newly discovered evidence in the form of an affidavit from a doctor who said that her attorney was cavalier about the charges the Petitioner faced and seemed to not want to talk to the doctor about the Petitioner's case. The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition, finding it was filed outside the statute of limitations and that the evidence presented by the Petitioner was not newly discovered and was available to her before her 1994 trial. On appeal, the Petitioner, proceeding pro se, contends that the coram nobis court erred when it dismissed her petition without conducting an evidentiary hearing. After a thorough review, we affirm the coram nobis court's judgment.

Henry County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
State of Tennessee v. Brian Pillow
M2014-01355-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

A Maury County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Brian Pillow, of three counts of selling .5 grams or more of cocaine in a drug-free zone.  The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by requiring the Appellant to expose his tattooed arms to the jury and by admitting photographs of his tattoos into evidence.  Additionally, the Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
State of Tennessee v. Eddie Williams, Jr.
W2015-02065-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Eddie Williams, Jr., the Defendant, appeals the summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. He claims that the trial court improperly used his prior petit larceny conviction to enhance his sentence. Because this claim has previously been rejected by this court on multiple occasions and because the Defendant’s motion failed to state a colorable claim, we affirm the trial court’s summary denial of the motion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Hammack
M2015-00898-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Christopher Hammack (“the Defendant”) was indicted for one count of initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine (Count 1), one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony (Count 2), and one count of convicted felon in possession of a firearm (Count 3).  The Defendant was convicted by a jury of the lesser included offense of facilitation of initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine in Count 1 and as charged in Count 2.  A judgment of conviction was entered by the trial court in Count 3.  On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence underlying his convictions in Counts 1 and 2.  Upon review, we conclude that there was insufficient evidence to support the Defendant’s convictions for Counts 1 and 2.  Additionally, we conclude that the Defendant did not effectively waive his right to a jury trial or enter a plea of guilty in Count 3.  The judgments of the trial court are reversed and the charges are dismissed.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16
Loice E. Pittman v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02105-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

The Petitioner, Loice E. Pittman, appeals as of right from the Coffee County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief.  The Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by summarily dismissing his petition for having been untimely filed.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/16