Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 05/04/2016
Format: 05/04/2016
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Jordan
W2014-01568-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The defendant, Joseph Jordan, was convicted of rape, a Class B felony, two counts of false imprisonment, Class A misdemeanors, and one count of domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred by not requiring the State to make an election of offenses; that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions; that the testimony of a witness did not open the door to his prior conviction for domestic assault; that the trial court erred in restricting the testimony of a second witness to impeach the victim; that the trial court erred by instructing the jury regarding the mens rea of recklessness for the crime of rape; that the trial court should have instructed the jury regarding the defense of voluntary intoxication; that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of his prior bad acts; that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct in its opening statement; that it was plain error to allow the victim to testify that the defendant was incarcerated; and that his convictions should be reversed under the doctrine of cumulative error. Following our thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Darrian White
W2015-01645-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Appellant, Darrian White, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Appellant contends that he was released on bail prior to committing several offenses and that his sentences are illegal because the trial court ordered them to be served concurrently rather than consecutively. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Larry Pittman
W2015-01237-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The defendant, currently serving a life sentence as the result of a 1984 conviction for armed robbery, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, claiming that the sentencing court erred in finding him to be a “persistent offender.” His motion was denied without a hearing, and he appealed. Following our review, we affirm the order of the trial court dismissing the motion.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Isen Berry
W2015-01531-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant, Isen Berry, appeals the trial court’s order revoking his community corrections sentence and ordering him to serve the balance of his six-year sentence in the Department of Correction. He contends that the trial court abused its discretion in concluding that he had violated the conditions of his community corrections. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Anthony R. Smith, Jr.
M2015-01289-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

Defendant, Anthony R. Smith, Jr., filed a motion to dismiss his indictment for possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony drug offense, which was granted by the trial court.  The State appealed the dismissal.  Upon our review of this matter of first impression, we determine that the definition of “felony” provided in Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-11-110 controls the determination of whether an out-of-state conviction constitutes a “felony drug offense.”  We reverse the decision of the trial court, reinstate the indictment, and remand for further proceedings.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Tammy Marie Harbison
M2015-01059-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Defendant-Appellant, Tammy Marie Harbison, entered an open guilty plea to one count of theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $10,000 in the Lawrence County Circuit Court.  As a Range I, standard offender, she received a three-year sentence, which was suspended following service of six months in incarceration.  On appeal, the Defendant-Appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in denying her request for full probation.  Upon review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for entry of a judgment sentencing the Defendant-Appellant to serve her three-year sentence on supervised probation.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
Tourie Bryant v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01705-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The petitioner, Tourie Bryant, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief.  He pled guilty to one count of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, a Class C felony, and received a six-year sentence in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, he contends that his guilty plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily because he was denied the effective assistance of counsel.  Specifically, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective by: (1) failing to properly communicate with the petitioner; and (2) failing to “properly articulate” that the petitioner was waiving his right to appeal the denial of his motion to suppress by pleading guilty and failing to provide the petitioner with an opportunity to review the plea agreement terms prior to his acceptance.  Following a thorough review of the record before us, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
Randy Bea Anderson v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00112-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Petitioner, Randy Bea Anderson, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief arising from his guilty plea to one count of aggravated burglary, one count of theft of property valued between $1,000 and $10,000, and one misdemeanor count of theft of property valued at $500 or less.  On appeal, he contends he received ineffective assistance of counsel in connection with his guilty pleas.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Danny Wayne Horn
E2015-00715-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street
The Defendant, Danny Wayne Horn, was convicted by a jury of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-504. He received a sentence of ten years' incarceration for said conviction. The Defendant now appeals, arguing that the evidence presented was insufficient to support his conviction; that the trial court erred in denying his request for a mistrial after the victim stated that she identified the Defendant from “his picture on a sex offender website”; and that the State committed plain error during closing argument by alluding to the Defendant's status as a registered sex offender. Following our review, we discern no reversible error and affirm the trial court's judgment.
 
Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
Roger Joseph v. State of Tennessee
E2015-01324-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

The petitioner, Roger Joseph, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The petitioner pled guilty to premeditated first degree murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment. In his instant petition, he contends that his guilty plea was not entered knowingly and voluntarily based upon the ineffective assistance of counsel. While acknowledging that the petition was filed well outside the statute of limitations, he claims that he has shown that due process requires the tolling of the statute based upon his mental condition. Based upon that assertion, he contends that the summary dismissal of the petition was erroneous. Following review of the record, we conclude that the law of the case doctrine prohibits our review of that issue and affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
William Lance Walker v. State of Tennessee
M2014-02331-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert G. Crigler

William Lance Walker (“the Petitioner”) filed a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel.  The Petition was denied after a hearing.  On appeal, the Petitioner asserts for the first time that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to call for the sequestration of witnesses during the Petitioner’s suppression hearing.  We conclude that the Petitioner has waived this claim by failing to include it in the Petition and by failing to present any proof about this claim at the post-conviction hearing.  Additionally, we conclude that, even if the issue were not waived, the Petitioner has failed to show that he was prejudiced by trial counsel’s alleged deficiency.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Owen Smithson
M2015-00863-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa Jackson

Jeffrey Owen Smithson (“the Defendant”) appeals from his convictions for first degree felony murder, theft over $1,000, first degree premeditated murder, and especially aggravated robbery.  The Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion for mistrial based upon a witness’s testimony that the Defendant had been recently released from prison; and (3) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion to suppress his statement to police as not voluntarily given.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Lashonda Moneak Williamson
M2015-01818-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

LaShonda Moneak Williamson, the Appellant, appeals the summary denial of her Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence that she claims was imposed as the result of a coerced guilty plea.   Because the Appellant’s motion failed to state a colorable claim, we affirm the trial court’s summary denial of the motion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Terry Eugene Fisher, Jr.
M2015-01388-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Terry Eugene Fisher, Jr. (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to robbery and was sentenced to nine years’ probation.  Thereafter, the Defendant’s probation was revoked based on the accrual of new charges, including a charge for a homicide that occurred prior to the Defendant’s being placed on probation.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it revoked probation based on criminal conduct that occurred prior to the Defendant’s being placed on probation.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. James Jordan Leggett
M2015-00869-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

James Jordan Leggett appeals claiming that the trial court abused its discretion when it revoked his probation. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Horace Dunlap
M2015-00358-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The defendant, Horace Dunlap, appeals the denial of his Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence.  Because the defendant’s sentences have expired, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/11/16
State of Tennessee v. Amilcar C. Butler
M2015-01053-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The defendant, Amilcar C. Butler, appeals the denial of his Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence.  On appeal, he argues that he illegally received concurrent sentences when he should have received consecutive sentences.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/11/16
Craig Beene v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01054-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

The petitioner, Craig Beene, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for the writ of habeas corpus.  Because the petitioner failed to follow the procedural requirements governing the writ of habeas corpus and failed to state a cognizable claim for relief, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/11/16
State of Tennessee v. Dwight David Foster
E2015-00409-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

Appellant, Dwight David Foster, pleaded guilty to possession of less than point five (.5) grams of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver, a Class C felony; simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; simple possession of buprenorphrine, a Schedule III controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor; and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. He received the agreed-upon effective sentence of five years as a Range I, standard offender to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he certified a question for our review. Upon the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/11/16
State of Tennessee v. Valdez Domingo Wilson
E2015-01009-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

Appellant, Valdez Domingo Wilson, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to sell more than twenty-six grams of a substance containing cocaine, possession with intent to sell not less than one-half ounce but not more than ten pounds of marijuana, possession with intent to sell less than 200 grams of a Schedule II controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Appellant received a total effective sentence of ten years in confinement. As part of the plea agreement, appellant reserved a certified question of law that challenged the denial of his motion to suppress. On appeal, he argues that the trial court improperly denied his motion to suppress evidence discovered in his vehicle and home. Following our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we dismiss appellant’s appeal.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/11/16
Darrell Kennedy v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00148-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

Petitioner, Darrell Kennedy, was convicted of one count of aggravated rape and two counts of theft of property, for which he received an effective sentence of forty-one years in confinement. He filed a request pursuant to The Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001 seeking retesting of various swabs that were analyzed in 1993. The post-conviction court denied relief, and this appeal follows. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/10/16
State of Tennessee v. Cassidy Johnson
W2014-02314-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The defendant, Cassidy Johnson, was convicted of one count of rape of a child, a Class A felony. On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction; that the trial court erred in admitting the forensic interviews of the victim and another witness; and that the trial court improperly excluded evidence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/10/16
State of Tennessee v. Calvin Rogers
W2014-01715-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The defendant, Calvin Rogers, was convicted of first degree felony murder, two counts of attempted second degree murder, aggravated robbery, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and felon in possession of a handgun. He was ordered to serve an effective sentence of life without parole plus fifty years. On appeal, he argues the unconstitutionality of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-203 and that the trial court erred in denying his motion to declare him ineligible for the death penalty, that the State should not have been allowed to present proof of a prior consistent statement of one of the victims, and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/10/16
Rhyunia Lamont Barnes v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01061-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

A Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Rhyunia Lamont Barnes, of first degree premeditated murder, and the trial court sentenced him to life in prison.  The Petitioner appealed, arguing that there was newly discovered evidence.  This Court affirmed the Petitioner’s conviction.  State v. Rhyunia Lamont Barnes, No M2010-00631-CCA-R3-CD, 2002 WL 1358717, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, June 24, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 2, 2002).  In 2009, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, which the coram nobis court summarily dismissed on the basis of it being untimely filed.  This Court affirmed that judgment.  In 2015, the Petitioner filed this, his second petition for a writ of error coram nobis, alleging that he had newly discovered evidence in the form of an ATF report that exonerated him as well as some emails between his attorney and the prosecutor that indicated his innocence.  The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that it was untimely filed and that the allegations contained therein, even taken as true, did not prove his innocence or that the result of his trial would have been different.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the coram nobis erred when it summarily dismissed his petition and that he is entitled to coram nobis relief.  After a thorough review of the record and applicable authority, we affirm the coram nobis court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/10/16
State of Tennessee v. Melody Danielle Corum
M2015-01140-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Appellant, Melody Danielle Corum, entered guilty pleas to seven counts of aggravated burglary, seven counts of theft of property, one count of tampering with evidence, and one count of vandalism, for which she received the agreed-upon effective sentence of twelve years, suspended after time served.  Appellant’s probation was revoked after she was convicted of an additional theft of property offense; the trial court reinstated her probation and added a consecutive four-year sentence, suspended to probation, to her probationary term, for an effective sixteen-year term of probation.  The State obtained the instant probation of violation warrant alleging that appellant was found to be in possession of controlled substances, that she admitted using controlled substances, and that she had failed to pay restitution as required.  Following a hearing, the trial court revoked appellant’s probation and ordered her sentence into execution.  Appellant appeals the revocation, alleging that the trial court abused its discretion.  We affirm.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/10/16