Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/30/2015
Format: 08/30/2015
Earl David Crawford v. James Holloway, Warden
W2014-02500-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

In 1986, the Petitioner, Earl David Crawford, was convicted of aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, and armed robbery, and he received two life sentences plus thirty-five years. In 1987, this Court affirmed the trial court's judgments on direct appeal. State v. Earl David Crawford, CCA No. 258, 1987 WL 19611, at *1-2 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Nov. 10, 1987), perm. app. denied (Tenn. March 14, 1988). In 2014, the Petitioner filed a petition, his second, for a writ of habeas corpus, in which he alleged that his judgments of conviction were void because the trial court erred when it considered his "status as a parolee" to enhance his sentence. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the Petitioner's petition. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/15
State of Tennesse v. Jonathan Mitchell Grimes-Concurring In Part, Dissenting In Part
W2014-00786-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn L. Peeples

I concur with the majority with respect to its resolution of all issues in this case except issue two, which challenged the trial court's admission of evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts that occurred in Milan, Tennessee. In my view, the admission of this evidence amounted to plain error. For the reasons that follow, I would have reversed the conviction and remanded for a new trial.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/15
State of Tennesse v. Jonathan Mitchell Grimes
W2014-00786-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn L. Peeples

The defendant, Jonathan Mitchell Grimes, was indicted by the Gibson County Grand Jury in count 1 for rape of a child and in count 2 for aggravated sexual battery of a child under the age of thirteen. At trial, the State dismissed count 2. The jury subsequently convicted the defendant in count 1 of the lesser included offense of aggravated sexual battery, and he was sentenced to ten years at one hundred percent release eligibility. On appeal, the defendant argues: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) the trial court erred in allowing evidence of uncharged crimes, wrongs, or acts under Rule 403 and Rule 404(b) of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the victim to testify after speaking with prosecutors during a break at trial; and (4) the State's bill of particulars did not provide adequate notice to him of the time frame for the charged offense, and there was a fatal variance between the bill of particulars and the evidence presented at trial. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of conviction, vacate the judgment forms in counts 1 and 2, and remand the case for entry of correct judgment forms.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/15
Preston Rucker v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01573-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Preston Rucker, seeking post-conviction relief, argued that trial/appellate counsel was ineffective because he failed to call a certain witness to contradict the victim's testimony and failed to request a jury instruction regarding the kidnapping charge against the petitioner. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court concluded that the petitioner failed to show that counsel was ineffective. We have carefully reviewed the matter and affirm the order denying relief to the petitioner.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Scott Lee-Concurring
W2014-00986-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

I respectfully agree with the conclusion reached by the majority in this case. Certainly, the better practice in all convicted felon in possession of a handgun cases is to have a pre-trial written stipulation agreeing that at the time of the offense the defendant had been previously convicted of a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year. However, I write separately to emphasize that a formal stipulation to a defendant’s status as a convicted felon is not necessary to establish the predicate felony.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Scott Lee
W2014-00986-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The defendant, Scott Lee, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree murder in the perpetration of attempted robbery; two counts of attempted second degree murder, Class B felonies; aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; employing a firearm during the commission of a felony, a Class C felony; and felon in possession of a firearm, a Class E felony. He was sentenced to an effective term of life plus forty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues: (1) that the trial court erred in denying his motion in limine to keep his prior convictions listed in Count 6 of the indictment from being heard and seen by the jury, and (2) that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Jerald Jefferson
W2014-00784-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The defendant, Jerald Jefferson, was convicted of aggravated rape and sentenced to confinement for twenty-five years. On appeal, he argues that this court should utilize a plain error review to consider his claims that the trial court erred in its jury instructions regarding eyewitness testimony and admission by silence, that the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct in its closing argument, and that the aggregate effect of trial errors entitles him to a new trial. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeremy S. Moore
M2014-02181-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Wolfe

The Defendant, Jeremy S. Moore, appeals the Dickson County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation for his convictions for two counts of aggravated burglary and theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10,000 and ordering him to serve the remainder of his effective six-year sentence in confinement.  The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Lamar Mandell Cullom
M2014-00414-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

Appellant, Lamar Mandell Cullom, was convicted in Count I of the indictment of casual exchange of a controlled substance as a lesser-included offense of the indicted offense of sale of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance within 1,000 feet of a drug-free zone. He was convicted in Count II of delivery of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, within 1,000 feet of a drug-free zone.  The trial court sentenced him to consecutive terms of eleven months, twenty-nine days and fifteen years, respectively. Appellant now challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and testimony of a law enforcement officer that allegedly implied that appellant had a prior criminal history. Following our review, we affirm appellant’s convictions.  However, we remand for entry of a single judgment form indicating merger of the convictions.  The judgment form should reflect that appellant is a Range II, multiple offender and that the mandatory minimum period of incarceration for appellant’s range is twelve years.  The judgment form should also note that the “conviction offense name” is “violation – drug-free zone,” not “violation – drug-free school zone.”

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
Lawrence Freeze v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01396-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The petitioner, Lawrence Freeze, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  The petitioner pled nolo contendere to aggravated sexual battery and rape, both Class B felonies, and received an effective sentence of ten years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, he contends that the court erred in denying his petition because he was denied effective assistance of counsel, which resulted in an unknowing and involuntary guilty plea.  Specifically, he contends that trial counsel’s failure to be prepared for trial left him with no choice but to accept the agreement.  Following review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Fentress County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/15
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Price
W2014-00402-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Campbell

Aggrieved of his Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of aggravated burglary and theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, the defendant, Kevin Price, appeals, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/24/15
Dwight Miller v. State of Tennessee
W2014-02093-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

Petitioner, Dwight Miller, was convicted of first degree murder in 2001 and was sentenced to life in prison. Following an unsuccessful direct appeal, he now challenges his conviction and sentence, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to call three potential alibi witnesses at trial. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Haywood County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/24/15
State of Tennessee v. Larry Lenz
W2014-01720-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Appellant, Larry Lenz, pleaded guilty to five counts of theft: two counts of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, Class C felonies; two counts of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, Class D felonies; and one count of theft of property valued at $500 or more but less than $1,000, a Class E felony. He received the agreed-upon effective sentence of twelve years as a Range III, persistent offender, to be served at forty-five percent release eligibility. The trial court denied appellant’s request for alternative sentencing pursuant to the Community Corrections Act, and he appeals the denial. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/24/15
Charles E. Jones v. State of Tennessee
W2014-02306-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Petitioner, Charles E. Jones, appeals the post-conviction court's denial of his petition for DNA testing pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001, alleging that DNA testing of glass shards found at the crime scene would have resulted in a more favorable verdict or sentence. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition. Perceiving no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/24/15
Mousen Aden v. Brenda Jones Warden
W2014-01977-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The petitioner, Mousen Aden, appeals the denial of his petition for the writ of habeas corpus. The habeas corpus court dismissed the petition without appointing counsel or holding a hearing after finding that the indictment was valid, the judgment was not facially void, and that the petitioner's sentence had not expired. On appeal, the petitioner contends that his indictment was invalid because it did not vest the trial court with jurisdiction to enter a proper judgment and failed to provide him with adequate protection from double jeopardy. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/24/15
Byron Becton v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00993-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Byron Becton, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2011 Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of aggravated rape, claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/23/15
State of Tennessee v. Stanley Bernard Gibson
M2014-00598-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

The defendant, Stanley Bernard Gibson, was charged with the possession of but convicted of facilitation of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with intent to deliver within 1000 feet of a drug-free school zone and sentenced, as a Range II, multiple offender, to twelve years at 100%.  On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support the verdict and that the court erred in ordering that he serve his sentence at 100%.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/23/15
Michael White v. Bruce Westbrooks, Warden
M2014-02459-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

The Petitioner, Michael White, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for habeas corpus relief from his 2005 convictions for five counts of rape and his fifty-five-year sentence.  The Petitioner contends that the habeas corpus court erred by summarily denying relief.  He argues that his convictions are void because his constitutional right to a jury trial was violated by the trial court’s applying erroneous sentencing enhancement factors and that principles of double jeopardy were violated by the court’s merging his convictions.  We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/23/15
State of Tennessee v. Tyrone Leroy Watts
M2013-02750-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin Lee Russell

The Defendant, Tyrone L. Watts, appeals his conviction for attempted terrorism.  He challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and the trial court’s failure to provide complete jury instructions defining what would constitute an “imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.”  Following our review, we conclude that the evidence is insufficient to support the Defendant’s conviction for attempted terrorism.  Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for sentencing on the Defendant’s alternative conviction for disorderly conduct in count one.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/23/15
State of Tennessee v. Adam Wayne Robinson
M2013-02703-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

The Defendant, Adam Wayne Robinson, was convicted by a jury of three counts of aggravated sexual battery. The Defendant raises three issues on appeal: prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument, sufficiency of the evidence to sustain the convictions, and cumulative error. During closing argument, the prosecutor improperly commented upon the Defendant’s right not to testify and engaged in a persistent pattern of other improper prosecutorial argument. Following a thorough review, we conclude that the prosecutor’s comments on the Defendant’s right not to testify constitute reversible non-structural constitutional error. Moreover, the record establishes that the prosecutor engaged in a persistent pattern of other improper prosecutorial argument, the cumulative effect of which constitutes plain error. We, therefore, reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand the case for a new trial.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/23/15
State of Tennessee v. Poncho Juan Delgado
E2014-01101--CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Cupp

The Defendant, Poncho Juan Delgado, appeals as of right his jury conviction for first degree premeditated murder. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the State failed to prove the element of premeditation. The State responds that ample evidence of premeditation was presented. Following our review, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to establish premeditation, and we therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/15
Martez D. Matthews v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01663-CCA-R3-ENC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The petitioner, Martez D. Matthews, was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.  His conviction was affirmed following his direct appeal.  State v. Deangelo M. Moody and Martez D. Matthews, No. M2011-01930-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 1932718, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 9, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 17, 2013).  Subsequently, he filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis.  The basis for the petition was the claim by a co-defendant, who pled guilty to second degree murder for the killing which resulted in the petitioner’s conviction, that the petitioner was not involved in the crime.  Following an evidentiary hearing at which the co-defendant testified that the petitioner did not kill the victim, the court concluded the witness was not truthful in his testimony.  Accordingly, the court denied the petition.  Following our review, we affirm the order denying the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/19/15
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Lee Boles
M2014-01030-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin Lee Russell

The defendant, Kenneth Lee Boles, was convicted by a Bedford County jury of the introduction of a controlled substance into a penal institution and the possession of a controlled substance in a penal institution, both Class C felonies.  After merging the counts into a single conviction, the trial court sentenced the defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to ten years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred by not allowing him to present the testimony of his expert witness and by not instructing the jury on the defense of necessity.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/19/15
State of Tennessee v. Phillip K. Adams
M2014-00501-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael W. Binkley

Defendant, Phillip K. Adams, was indicted by the Williamson County Grand Jury for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), driving while his blood alcohol concentration was .08 percent or more (DUI per se), and DUI, second offense.  Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of DUI second offense and sentenced to 11 months and 29 days, to be suspended after serving 60 days in confinement.  On appeal, Defendant contends that: 1) the trial court erred by not allowing Defendant to present the expert testimony of his co-worker Travis Adams at trial; 2) the trial court erred by not allowing Defendant to testify as an expert witness at trial; and 3) the trial court deprived Defendant of his right to due process by preventing him from presenting a defense.  Having reviewed the record before us and the briefs of the parties, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.  Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/19/15
State of Tennessee v. Stanley Blue
W2014-01728-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Stanley Blue, of facilitation of first degree premeditated murder, attempted second degree murder, and reckless endangerment. Following a grant of post conviction relief and a remand for resentencing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective term of forty-six years as a Range III, persistent offender. The Defendant challenged the length of his sentence on appeal, and this Court reversed the Defendant's sentences for attempted second degree murder and reckless endangerment. We remanded the case for a new sentencing hearing regarding these two convictions and affirmed all other judgments of the trial court. State v. Stanley Blue, No. W2013-00437-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 1464177, at *9 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, April 14, 2014). On remand, the trial court conducted a sentencing hearing and imposed a total effective sentence of forty-four years. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it imposed consecutive sentences. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/17/15