Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/27/2015
Format: 07/27/2015
Antonio Johnson v. David B. Westbrook, Warden
M2014-01403-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

Petitioner, Antonio Johnson, appeals the summary dismissal of his two petitions for writ of habeas corpus challenging the legality of his sentences on the basis that the trial court failed to properly award all requisite pre-trial jail credits.  Following our extensive review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/19/15
Ronnie Bradfield v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01735-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The petitioner, Ronnie Bradfield, appeals the trial court's denial of his pro se motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. Following our review, we affirm the trial court's judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Lonnie Lee Angel, Jr.
E2014-00732-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas Graham
The defendant, Lonnie Lee Angel, Jr., appeals his Bledsoe County Circuit Court jury conviction of second degree murder and the accompanying 23-year sentence, claiming that the trial court committed plain error by commenting on the testimony of a child witness, that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the trial court erred by providing jury instructions on flight and on second degree murder as a lesser included offense of first degree murder, and that the trial court erred by applying two enhancement factors. Discerning no error, we affirm.
 
Bledsoe County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Michael Crockett
M2013-02744-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

Defendant, Michael Crockett, was indicted by the Rutherford County Grand Jury for third offense driving on a suspended license, possession of a weapon by a convicted felon, and theft over $500. Defendant filed a pre-trial motion to suppress evidence obtained from the traffic stop and subsequent search of his vehicle. In his motion, Defendant asserted that: 1) probable cause did not exist to conduct a traffic stop of Defendant’s vehicle; 2) the duration of the stop was unreasonable and resulted in an unlawful detention of Defendant; and 3) the canine sweep of Defendant’s vehicle was improper. Following a hearing, the trial court denied Defendant’s motion. Defendant subsequently entered a guilty plea to possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant was sentenced to three years to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. As part of his plea, Defendant reserved a certified question of law, in which he challenges the trial court’s ruling on his motion to suppress. Having reviewed the parties’ briefs and the record before us, we conclude that the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Tiffany Marie Webb
E2014-01721-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
The Defendant, Tiffany Marie Webb, pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted aggravated child  abuse and three counts of attempted aggravated child endangerment, which, the trial court merged by agreement into one count of attempted aggravated child abuse. The Defendant agreed to a sentence of nine years, with the trial court to determine the manner of service of the sentence. After a hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve her sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied her request for an alternative sentence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.
 
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Roy Lee Sewell
M2014-02060-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

Appellant, Roy Lee Sewell, pleaded guilty to the sale of dihydrocodeinone and the sale of alprazolam.  Appellant was placed on probation as a result of his plea agreement, and after appellant’s conviction on new charges, the trial court revoked his probation.  On appeal, appellant argues that his probation had expired prior to this revocation due to an illegal extension of his probation a year earlier.  After reviewing the record, the arguments, and the relevant law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Clay County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Otis Quirino Loyola, Sr.
M2014-01621-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

The defendant, Otis Quirino Loyola, Sr., appeals his Montgomery County Circuit Court convictions of aggravated child neglect and aggravated child abuse which resulted in an effective 20-year sentence to confinement.  On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence of aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect.  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the circuit court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Kyle Roger Stewart
M2014-01309-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

Defendant, Kyle Roger Stewart, appeals from the trial court’s revocation of probation. On March 21, 2012, Defendant pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated burglary. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Defendant received concurrent sentences of four years with 180 days to be served in confinement and the balance to be suspended on probation. Defendant also agreed to pay $17,875.00 in restitution to the victims. On December 19, 2013, a “Probation Violation Report” was filed, alleging that Defendant had violated the conditions of his probation by failing to report a change in his residence, failing to report to his probation officer, and failing to pay restitution as ordered. Following a probation revocation hearing, the trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and ordered Defendant to serve his sentences in confinement. Defendant appeals and asserts that the trial court denied him procedural due process by failing to make adequate findings regarding the evidence supporting his probation revocation. Defendant also asserts that the trial court’s decision to revoke probation and order Defendant to serve his sentence does not comply with the sentencing principles. Having reviewed the record before us and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/18/15
State of Tennessee v. Sharon Donella Phillips
E2014-00996-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.

The defendant, Sharon Donella Phillips, appeals her Sullivan County Criminal Court jury convictions of reckless endangerment and aggravated arson, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence on the arson conviction and the length of her sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15
Wilmarcus H. Martin v. State of Tennessee
E2014-02009-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Petitioner, Wilmarcus H. Martin, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his guilty-pleaded conviction for cocaine possession with intent to sell within 1,000 feet of a park. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, leading to an involuntary plea, because trial counsel told him incorrectly that his release eligibility would be changed from 100% to 85% by the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”) once he began serving his sentence, and because trial counsel failed to reserve a challenge to the search as a part of the guilty plea. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15
State of Tennessee v. Nicos Broadnax and Aaron Cook
W2014-00506-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

A Shelby County jury convicted Nicos Broadnax and Aaron Cook of aggravated robbery. The trial court ordered Defendant Broadnax, as a Range I standard offender, to serve eleven years, and ordered Defendant Cook, as a multiple offender, to serve nineteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant Broadnax asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. Defendant Cook also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence but additionally asserts that: (1) the trial court improperly declined to strike the jury venire following notice that the jury pool was tainted by comments from observers at the trial; (2) the prosecutor's misstatement of facts during closing argument unfairly prejudiced him; and (3) his sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15
State of Tennessee v. Jessica Green
W2014-00332-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, Jessica Green, entered guilty pleas to one count of theft of property less than $1,000 and one count of forgery under $1,000, both Class E felonies. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103; 39-14-114. The trial court denied judicial diversion and imposed one-year concurrent sentences for each offense, which were suspended to probation. In this appeal, the Defendant-Appellant contends that the trial court erred in denying her request for judicial diversion. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15
Myron Tate v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01699-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Petitioner, Myron Tate, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel failed to advise him regarding the sufficiency of his indictment. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Lewayne Morton
M2014-02029-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The defendant, Timothy Lewayne Morton, appeals the revocation of the probationary sentence imposed for his Sumner County Criminal Court convictions of disorderly conduct, public intoxication, repetitive telephone harrassment, and solicitation to bribe a witness.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15
Robert W. Roddy v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01436-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The petitioner, Robert W. Roddy, was convicted of two counts of first degree (premeditated) murder and one count of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. He received a sentence of two life terms and an additional four years, all to be served consecutively. In his post-conviction petition, the petitioner argues that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the testimony regarding his behavior after he was transported from the scene of the crime. The post-conviction court found that trial counsel did not perform deficiently. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/15
State of Tennessee v. James Robert Christensen, Jr. - Concurring In Part, Dissenting In Part
W2014-00931-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

I agree that in this case, there are three separate state actions to consider when determining whether the evidence seized, as a result of the warrantless search of the defendant's residence, should have been suppressed. First, the investigators entered the defendant's property to conduct a “follow-up investigation,” without a search warrant, despite the defendant's “no trespassing” signs. Second, after smelling methamphetamine, Investigator Chunn forcibly entered the defendant's residence and conducted a brief sweep, during which he saw the firearms and some of the components for making methamphetamine, but did not see the active nor inactive labs. Third, after the defendant told officers that the lab was in the freezer, the investigators re-entered the defendant's residence and collected the active lab from the refrigerator and the inactive lab from the deep freezer. I believe the majority has correctly analyzed actions two and three. My disagreement with the majority only relates to the State's first action. My review of the record leads me to conclude that this defendant had clearly revoked any implied consent for the officers to come upon his property without a search warrant. Without lawfully being upon the premises, the second and third actions are void and the fruit of the poisonous tree.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/15
State of Tennessee v. James Robert Christensen, Jr.
W2014-00931-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

Appellant, James Robert Christensen, Jr., stands convicted of resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor; promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, a Class D felony; initiation of methamphetamine manufacture, a Class B felony; and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, Class D felonies. He received an effective sentence of three years‟ incarceration followed by eight years suspended to supervised probation. On appeal, appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress evidence and that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions for two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Following our careful review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/15
State of Tennessee v. Travis Lamonte Steed
W2014-00146-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The defendant, Travis Lamonte Steed, was convicted by a Madison County Criminal Court jury of first degree felony murder; second degree murder, a Class A felony; felony reckless endangerment, a Class E felony; convicted felon in possession of a handgun, a Class E felony; and attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony. The court sentenced the defendant as a Range I, violent offender to concurrent sentences of life for the felony murder conviction and twenty-five years for the second degree murder conviction. The court sentenced the defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to twenty years for the attempted second degree murder conviction and four years each for the felon in possession of a handgun and felony reckless endangerment convictions. The court ordered that the defendant serve the four-year sentences for felony reckless endangerment and felon in possession of a handgun concurrently to each other but consecutively to the twenty-year sentence for attempted second degree murder. The court also ordered that the defendant serve the twenty-year sentence for attempted second degree murder consecutively to the life sentence, for a total effective sentence of life plus twenty-four years in the Department of Correction. The defendant raises three issues on appeal: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain his murder and attempted murder convictions; (2) whether the jury's verdicts finding him guilty of first degree felony murder and attempted second degree murder are mutually exclusive; and (3) whether the trial court erred in ordering consecutive sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand for entry of corrected judgments to reflect that the defendant's second degree murder conviction is merged into his felony murder conviction.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/15
Undray Luellen v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00508-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn I. Wright

The petitioner, Undray Luellen, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/15
State of Tennessee v. Jeremiah Thomas Sullivan
M2014-00568-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The defendant, Jeremiah Thomas Sullivan, pled guilty in the Bedford County Circuit Court to one count of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor involving one to twenty-four images, a Class C felony; eight counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor involving twenty-five or more images, a Class B felony; one count of sexual exploitation of a minor involving 100 or more images, a Class B felony; and two counts of solicitation of a minor, a Class B felony.  Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court used a combination of concurrent and consecutive sentencing to sentence him to an effective term of twenty-eight years in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court erred by not merging the multiple convictions for aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor involving twenty-five or more images into a single offense and by imposing an excessive sentence.  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/15
State of Tennessee v. Termel Dowdy
M2014-02147-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The defendant, Termel Dowdy, pled guilty to introduction of contraband into a penal institution, a Class C felony, and DUI, a Class A misdemeanor, in exchange for a ten-year sentence with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court.  After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that the defendant serve his sentence in confinement, which he now appeals.  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/15
State of Tennessee v. Rodney Williams
W2014-00251-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The defendant, Rodney Williams, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony, and was sentenced to twelve years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) the trial court erred in allowing recordings of his jailhouse phone calls into evidence; (3) the trial court erred in admonishing him in the presence of the jury; and (4) the trial court erred in imposing the maximum sentence. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/15
Marcus Deangelo Lee v. State of Tennessee-Dissenting
W2014-00994-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Lammey Jr.

Something rather odd appears to be happening in this case and others similar to it. It appears that this defendant pled guilty to three offenses and received an agreed-to effective sentence of three years in December 1995. His sentences should have expired in December 1998. Yet this court has either denied or dismissed this defendant’s challenges to his convictions in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. And now in 2015, almost 20 years later, we feel obligated to set this defendant’s convictions aside as illegal and allow him to withdraw his 1995 guilty pleas because he did not receive twice as much time in jail as he should have in 1995. What makes this case stranger is that it is not the State who is asking for relief; rather, the defendant complains that he did not get consecutive sentencing when he should have in 1995. It is a rare case indeed when a defendant complains about not getting more time in jail. If the defendant was seeking the remedy of serving additional jail time because the law required it at the time he pled guilty, I would be happy to oblige him. But he is not. He is attempting to have his conviction set aside and presumably to have a trial, whereupon if he is found guilty, he will have to do additional time to that ordered in 1995. What, if anything, has changed to allow such a seemingly absurd result to take place?

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/15
Marcus Deangelo Lee v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00994-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Lammey, Jr.

The defendant, Marcus Deangelo Lee, argues that the trial court erred in denying him relief under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 after finding that his sentences were illegal and the illegality was a material component of the plea agreement. The State agrees with the defendant’s assertion. After review, we conclude that the trial court should have allowed the defendant the remedies available to him under Rule 36.1, and we, therefore, reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/15
Dimitrie Colbert v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02768-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The petitioner, Dimitrie Colbert, murdered his girlfriend and was subsequently charged with one count of first degree (felony) murder, one count of first degree (premeditated) murder, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated rape, one count of aggravated kidnapping, and one count of evading arrest in a motor vehicle. The State sought the death penalty. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the petitioner pled guilty to one count of first degree (felony) murder and one count of evading arrest in a motor vehicle, a Class D felony. He received an agreed-upon life sentence for the murder conviction and a consecutive four-year sentence for the evading arrest conviction. The petitioner filed a timely post-conviction petition, alleging that trial counsel performed deficiently in investigating his mental health and in advising him to accept the plea offer. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the petitioner has not established that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, and we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/13/15