Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/20/2018
Format: 04/20/2018
State of Tennessee v. Ricardo Davidson
M2017-00598-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The Appellant, Ricardo Davidson, is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/07/18
State of Tennessee v. Rosemary L. Decosimo
E2017-00696-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paul G. Summers

Defendant-Appellant Rosemary L. Decosimo entered a plea of nolo contendere to driving under the influence per se and reserved a certified question regarding the trial court’s denial of her motion to dismiss the indictment, or in the alternative, motion to suppress the test results from her blood test. She argues on appeal that the trial court erred in denying her motion on the basis that Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-413(f), which gives the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation $250 for each DUI conviction that is obtained using a blood or breath test, is unconstitutional. For the reasons that follow, we agree with Decosimo and reverse the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/06/18
State of Tennessee v. David Way
E2016-02289-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

The Defendant-Appellant, David Way, appeals from his Sevier County jury convictions of burglary, theft over $1,000, vandalism over $1,000, and possession of burglary tools. As a career offender, he received an effective sentence of thirty-six years in confinement. The sole issues presented for our review are whether the trial court erred in denying Way’s motion to suppress certain evidence due to the State’s failure to establish a proper chain of custody and whether the evidence is sufficient to support each of his convictions. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/06/18
Randy Wayne Bennett v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00575-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

The Petitioner, Randy Wayne Bennett, appeals from the Williamson County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that the ineffective assistance of his trial counsel led to his rejection of a more beneficial plea offer from the State. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/06/18
State of Tennessee v. Barbara Pinnix
M2017-00822-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

The Defendant, Barbara Pinnix, pleaded guilty to attempted conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, and the trial court imposed an eight-year sentence, with the Defendant to serve twenty-seven days followed by the remainder of her sentence on probation. The Defendant’s probation officer filed an affidavit for a probation violation warrant, alleging that the Defendant had brought contraband into jail. The Defendant pleaded guilty to the revocation but later filed a motion to set aside the revocation order, claiming that her decision was hastily made. The trial court denied the motion, and the Defendant appeals. On appeal, she contends that the trial court erred when it denied her motion to withdraw her admission to a probation violation and that it should have reviewed her motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(f). After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Marion County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/06/18
Asata Dia Lowe v. Shawn Phillips, Warden
E2017-01109-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David R. Duggan

The Petitioner, Asata Dia Lowe, appeals the Blount County Circuit Court’s summary denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus from his 2000 convictions for two counts of first degree murder and one count of especially aggravated robbery and his effective sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole plus twenty-five years. The Petitioner contends that the habeas corpus court erred by summarily dismissing his petition. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/18
State of Tennessee v. Travis Eugene Taylor
M2017-00302-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Defendant, Travis Eugene Taylor, pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. In exchange for his guilty pleas, he received consecutive sentences of fifteen years for voluntary manslaughter and six years for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Many years later, Defendant sought to set aside the trial court’s judgment, arguing that his convictions violated the principles of double jeopardy. Defendant appeals the denial of his motion. Because Defendant’s motion fails regardless of how it is construed, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/18
State of Tennessee v. Marvin Devon Summers
M2017-00033-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell

A Bedford County jury found the Defendant, Marvin Devon Summers, guilty of theft of property valued between $10,000 and $60,000. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve a ten-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient, his sentence is excessive, and he requests plain error review of "all objections" and "all issues regarding venue and jurisidiction." After review, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/05/18
Charvasea Lancaster v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00553-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Petitioner, Charvasea Lancaster, appeals from the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered because his trial counsel was ineffective in explaining the possible sentencing outcomes to him. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/02/18
Latisha Jones v. Trinity Minter, Warden
W2016-01697-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The Petitioner, Latisha Jones, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of her petition for a writ of habeas corpus, wherein she sought relief from her convictions for first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery. In this appeal as of right, the Petitioner alleges that her convictions are void because she was illegally extradited from Mississippi to Tennessee, depriving the trial court of lawful jurisdiction. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/02/18
Dorothy Denise Cross v. State of Tennessee
E2017-00263-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Petitioner, Dorothy Denise Cross, filed a petition for post-conviction relief from her assault conviction, alleging that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to seek a continuance due to the Petitioner’s mental health issues. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/02/18
State of Tennessee v. Edward Jerome Harbison
E2017-00520-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge. J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas C. Greenholtz

The defendant, Edward Jerome Harbison, was convicted of first-degree murder, second degree burglary, and grand larceny for the 1983 death of Edith Russell and sentenced to death. State v. Harbison, 704 S.W.2d 314 (Tenn. 1986). The defendant’s death sentence was eventually commuted, and he is currently serving a term of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. After numerous appeals, the defendant filed the present motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The defendant argues his sentence under the prior Tennessee statute, Tennessee Code Annotated § 39-2-202(a) (1982), is unconstitutional in addition to a plethora of other claims. Having reviewed the record and the procedural history of the defendant’s convictions, we conclude that the defendant’s claims are either not cognizable under Rule 36.1 and/or have been previously reviewed and resolved by our courts. As a result, the defendant is not entitled to relief.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/01/18
Eddie Charles Warlick v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00703-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

The petitioner, Eddie Charles Warlick, appeals the denial of his petition for postconviction relief, which petition challenged his 2015 guilty-pleaded conviction of second degree murder, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/18
State of Tennessee v. Roy Lee Ellis
W2017-00699-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

The Carroll County Grand Jury issued a five-count indictment in Case No. 2015-CR-8, charging Roy Lee Ellis (“the Defendant”) with especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated rape, aggravated assault, possession of drug paraphernalia, and theft of services. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was found guilty of possession of drug paraphernalia but was acquitted of especially aggravated kidnapping, aggravated rape, and aggravated assault of A.H., an adult female. The theft of services count was not presented to the jury. Based on video images captured from one of the Defendant’s cellular phones during the police investigation into Case No. 2015-CR-8, the State also obtained an indictment of the Defendant for two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor in Case No. 2016-CR-87. The Defendant filed a “Motion to Quash Indictment Because [o]f Misjoinder and/or Double Jeopardy” (“the Motion”). Following a hearing on the motion, the trial court found that the State violated the mandatory joinder requirement of Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(a) and dismissed the indictment, and the State appealed. Because the two counts of sexual exploittion of a minor were not “based on the same conduct” nor did they “arise from the same criminal episode” as the offenses for which the Defendant was tried, we reverse the trial court, reinstate the indictment in Case No. 2016-CR-87, and remand for further proceedings.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/18
State of Tennessee v. Sandra Kay Stutts
W2016-01681-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Defendant, Sandra Kay Stutts, was convicted by a Dyer County jury of one count of burglary of an automobile and one count of misdemeanor theft of property valued at $500 or less. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to one year in confinement for burglary of an automobile and to eleven months and twenty-nine days for misdemeanor theft and ordered the sentences to run concurrently. The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve sixty days of her sentence in confinement and the remainder on supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to convict her of burglary and of theft and that the trial court erred in sentencing her to continuous confinement for the non-violent property offense of burglary of an automobile. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court with respect to sufficiency of the evidence for both convictions but reverse the judgment for burglary of an automobile as to sentencing and remand for imposition of an appropriate sentence.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/31/18
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Johnson
W2017-00476-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Shelby County Grand Jury indicted Defendant, Antonio Johnson, on charges of attempted first degree murder, employing a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon, and three counts of aggravated assault; the State later dismissed two of the aggravated assault counts. The jury convicted Defendant of attempted second degree murder, employment of a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony, aggravated assault, and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. The trial court sentenced Defendant to eleven years for the attempted second degree murder conviction, six years for the aggravated assault conviction, six years for the employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony conviction, and two years for the reckless endangerment conviction. The trial court ordered the sentences for aggravated assault and reckless endangerment to run concurrently with each other and ordered the remaining sentences to run consecutively, for an effective sentence of twenty-three years. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient for a rational juror to have found him guilty of attempted second degree murder beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) the trial court erred in allowing the admission of testimony regarding Defendant’s past fight with one of the victims; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the admission of a surveillance video; and (4) the trial court erred in ordering partial consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review of the facts and
law, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Daniel Perez
W2016-02483-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Campbell

The Defendant, Daniel Perez, was convicted of one count of aggravated robbery. The Defendant argues: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, and (2) that the trial court erred in allowing the State to reference witnesses that the Defendant could have produced at trial. Following our review, the judgment is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
David Ivy v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02454-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Petitioner, David Ivy, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis, seeking relief from his conviction of first degree premeditated murder and resulting sentence of death. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred by dismissing his petition, by denying his Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence, and by denying his writ of error audita querela. In addition, he asks that this court advise him as to the correct pleading to file in order to challenge his death sentence. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the coram nobis court did not err by denying relief, and we decline to provide an advisory opinion regarding future requests for relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Devin Whiteside
W2016-00671-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The Appellant, Devin Whiteside, pled guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery, and he received concurrent sentences of eight years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Thereafter, the Appellant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty pleas, alleging that after the plea hearing, he obtained information relating to the testimony of two of the State’s witnesses. He maintained that, if he had been provided the information prior to the plea, he would not have pled guilty. The trial court denied the motion, and the Appellant appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Smith
E2016-02130-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

Defendant, Antonio Smith, was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury in a multi-count presentment with one count of sale of heroin in a drug-free zone, one count of delivery of heroin in a drug-free zone, three counts of possession of heroin with the intent to sell in a drug-free zone, three counts of possession of heroin with the intent to deliver in a drugfree zone, one count of possession of marijuana, two counts of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, two counts of felon in possession of a firearm with intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, three counts of felon in possession of a firearm, and four counts of criminal gang enhancement. A codefendant, Heather Montgomery, was also indicted for several offenses. The trial court dismissed the criminal gang enhancement counts prior to trial after the statute was found unconstitutional by this court in State v. Bonds, 502 S.W.3d 118 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2016). Following a jury trial, Defendant was acquitted of the two counts of felon in possession of a firearm with intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony but found guilty of all other counts as charged. The trial court merged several of the convictions and sentenced Defendant as a career offender to an effective sentence of 72 years. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant initiated this appeal. On appeal Defendant challenges the denial of a pretrial motion to suppress evidence and the sufficiency of the evidence. Having carefully reviewed the record before us and the briefs of the parties, we find no error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
Jerome Lamont Wolley v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01388-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Jerome Lamont Wolley, the Petitioner, appeals from the post-conviction court’s order summarily dismissing his second
post-conviction petition. Discerning no error, we affirm the post-conviction court’s order.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
Mardoche Olivier v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01059-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Defendant, Mardoche Olivier, was indicted by the Montgomery County Grand Jury for the offense of driving a vehicle at a time when his license to drive had been canceled, suspended, or revoked. While this charge was pending in Montgomery County Circuit Court, the Defendant filed pro se a petition for habeas corpus relief as to the pending charge. The trial court summarily dismissed the petition and the Defendant has appealed. We conclude that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider the Defendant’s habeas corpus petition, and accordingly the trial court properly summarily dismissed the petition. Because the instant appeal is frivolous and because the Defendant is abusing the appellate process, we order that the Clerk of this Court shall not file any further notices of appeal from the Defendant in habeas corpus matters unless the Defendant attaches to the notice of appeal a copy of the final judgment challenged. We tax the costs to the Defendant.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Jessie D. McDonald
M2017-01201-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Jessie D. McDonald, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The Petitioner contends that the coram nobis court erred by summarily dismissing his petition as having been untimely filed and failing to state a cognizable claim. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
Mardoche Olivier v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01056-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Defendant, Mardoche Olivier, was indicted by the Montgomery County Grand Jury for the offense of driving a vehicle at a time when his license to drive had been canceled, suspended, or revoked. This charge is currently pending in Montgomery County Circuit Court. However, Defendant filed pro se a petition for habeas corpus relief in the trial court as to the pending charge. The trial court summarily dismissed the petition the following day, and Defendant has appealed. We conclude that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider Defendant’s habeas corpus petition, and accordingly the trial court properly summarily dismissed the petition. We also conclude that because Defendant has filed numerous similar habeas corpus petitions in cases where there is no final judgment to attack and he has repeatedly appealed the dismissals, that this is a frivolous appeal and Defendant is abusing the appellate process. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s summary dismissal of the habeas corpus petition, and order that the Clerk of this Court shall not file any further notices of appeal from Defendant in habeas corpus matters unless Defendant attaches to the notice of appeal a copy of the final judgment challenged in his habeas corpus petition.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18
State of Tennessee v. Jeffery Carl Shields
M2017-00870-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin L. Russell

Defendant, Jeffrey Carl Shields, pled guilty to one count of burglary and thirteen counts of forgery in exchange for a total effective sentence of twelve years as a Range II, multiple offender. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied alternative sentencing and ordered Defendant to serve his sentence in incarceration. This appeal followed. After a review, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying an alternative sentence where Defendant was facing additional charges at the time of sentence and previous attempts at alternative sentencing had failed. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/30/18