Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 12/19/2014
Format: 12/19/2014
State of Tennessee v. Charles Newsom
M2014-00168-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The Defendant, Charles Newsom, was convicted of aggravated burglary upon his best interest guilty plea.  See T.C.A. § 39-14-403 (2014).  As part of the plea agreement, he accepted a three-year, Range I sentence, with the question of judicial diversion and the manner of service to be determined by the trial court.  The trial court denied judicial diversion and imposed a split-confinement sentence of one year of confinement followed by two years of probation.  On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred in denying judicial diversion.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Brown
W2013-00329-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Appellant, Kenneth Brown, was convicted of one count of first degree premeditated murder, twelve counts of criminal attempt to commit first degree murder, twelve counts of aggravated assault, one count of employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony, and one count of reckless endangerment. The trial court merged the attempted murder and aggravated assault convictions. He was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 308 years. On appeal, appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his murder and attempted murder convictions and argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress his confession. Following our careful review of the record, the applicable law, and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Robert Brian King
M2013-02168-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Defendant, Robert Brian King, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of assault.  As a result, he was sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days in incarceration, to be served on supervised probation after the service of ten days in incarceration.  Defendant was also ordered to pay restitution to the victim.  After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant appeals, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence and the trial court’s decision to exclude testimony on the basis that it constituted hearsay.  After our review, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the assault conviction where the jury weighed the credibility of the State’s witnesses and accredited their testimony.  Further, we determine that the trial court erred in excluding testimony as hearsay when the statements were not offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted but to prove their effect on the hearer.  However, we determine the error was harmless.  Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Jeffery Scott Hutchinson
M2013-02746-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin Lee Russell

The Defendant, Jeffery Scott Hutchinson, was convicted by a Bedford County jury of one count of initiating a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine, one count of promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine, and two counts of simple possession of methamphetamine.  He was thereafter convicted by a separate Bedford County jury of failure to appear.  At a consolidated sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective eighteen-year sentence for all of these convictions.  In this direct appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support a jury’s finding that he knowingly failed to appear and that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentencing.  Finding no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/14
Johnny Young v. State of Tennessee
M2013-02209-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The Petitioner, Johnny Young, contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial – citing multiple bases supporting his contention – and on appeal – citing counsel’s failure to file a motion for new trial – and asks this court to either grant him a new trial or a delayed appeal. After reviewing the record and the applicable authorities, we conclude that counsel was ineffective for failing to file a motion for new trial and, therefore, grant the Petitioner a delayed appeal.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Quincy Maurice Deal
M2013-02315-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The defendant, Quincy Maurice Deal, pled guilty, in three different cases, to two counts of aggravated robbery, Class B felonies; aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony; possession of cocaine in a school zone with intent to sell or deliver, a Class B felony; and felon in possession of a weapon, a Class E felony.  The trial court sentenced the defendant to an effective term of fourteen years, to be served consecutively to his sentences in previous convictions for which he was on probation.  On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence.  After review, we affirm the sentences imposed by the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/14
State of Tennessee v. Narceus Cox
W2014-00056-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The Defendant, Narceus Cox, pleaded guilty to one count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, Oxycodone, with intent to sell. The trial court denied the Defendant’s request for judicial diversion and sentenced him to a three-year sentence involving split confinement. The Defendant asserts that the trial court erred when it denied his application for judicial diversion. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/08/14
State of Tennessee v. Phalanda D. Falls
E2014-00350-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

Appellant, Phalanda D. Falls, entered a guilty plea to evading arrest, a Class D felony, and driving with a suspended license, a Class B misdemeanor, and received an effective sentence of four years. Following a hearing to determine her request for alternative sentencing, the trial court denied the motion and ordered appellant to serve her sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. This appeal follows. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/08/14
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Scott Morrell
E2013-02431-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy Street

The defendant, Joseph Scott Morrell, appeals his Washington County Criminal Court jury conviction of third offense driving under the influence (“DUI”), claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the verdict of the jury was not unanimous, and that the trial court should have dismissed the indictment or declared a mistrial following the State’s improper commentary during closing argument. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/07/14
State of Tennessee v. James Dean Wells
M2013-01145-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The defendant was indicted for driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”), DUI per se, simple possession, leaving the scene of an accident, and DUI (second offense) after his vehicle struck a utility pole and small building.  The defendant refused law enforcement’s request to test his blood in order to determine his blood alcohol content.  The defendant’s blood was taken pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406(f)(2) (2012) and without a warrant, despite his refusal to submit to testing.  The defendant moved to suppress evidence of his blood alcohol content, alleging that his Fourth Amendment rights had been violated and that Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406(f)(2) was unconstitutional.  The trial court granted the motion to suppress, concluding that the statute was unconstitutional.  The State sought and was granted permission to appeal, arguing that the blood was taken under exigent circumstances and that the implied consent law functioned to satisfy the consent exception to the warrant requirement.  After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the blood draw violated the defendant’s right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures because it was not conducted pursuant to an exception to the warrant requirement, and we affirm the suppression of the evidence.  We determine that, although the blood draw was taken pursuant to the statute, the statute did not dispense with the warrant requirement and is therefore not unconstitutional as applied to the defendant.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/06/14
Vernon Motley v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01185-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Vernon Motley, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of postconviction relief from his conviction for first degree premeditated murder and his sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the State’s Brady violation rendered counsels’ assistance ineffective. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
Barry Lamont Price v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01209-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan

Appellant, Barry Lamont Price, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his 1991 guilty plea to three counts of the sale of cocaine, one count of driving on a revoked license, and one count of obtaining money by false pretenses and his effective ten-year sentence. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
David Freeman Clay v. State of Tennessee
E2013-02262-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Petitioner, David Freeman Clay, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his petition for postconviction relief following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner sought post-conviction relief from his convictions of two counts of sexual battery and three counts of assault, based upon his assertions that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal. In his appeal Petitioner asserts that the trial court erred by ruling that trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Charles A. Kennedy
M2013-02207-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

In this interlocutory appeal by the State, the State challenges the trial court’s suppression of the results of blood alcohol testing conducted on the defendant’s blood pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-406(f)(2) (Supp. 2012), claiming that the trial court erred by declaring Code section 55-10-406(f)(2) unconstitutional and by ruling that no exception to the warrant requirement existed to justify the warrantless taking of the defendant’s blood.  Because Code section 55-10-406(f)(2) does not mandate the warrantless taking of a blood sample, the trial court erred by declaring the statute unconstitutional, and that portion of the judgment is reversed.  Because no exception to the warrant requirement justified the warrantless taking of the defendant’s blood in this case, however, we affirm the trial court’s order suppressing the results of blood alcohol testing conducted on the sample.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Casey Bryant
M2013-00922-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The Defendant, Jonathan Casey Bryant, pled guilty to promotion of the manufacture of methamphetamine.  As part of the plea agreement, the Defendant reserved a certified question of law challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence resulting from his traffic stop.  However, the Defendant failed to file any document specifying the certified question presented.  Because the Defendant failed to properly reserve the certified question, the appeal is dismissed.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
Lonnie Lanorris Holland, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00124-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The petitioner, Lonnie Lanorris Holland, Jr., appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his 2012 guilty-pleaded conviction of second degree murder.  In the petition for post-conviction relief, the petitioner claimed that his guilty plea was unknowing or involuntary and stemmed from the ineffective assistance of his counsel.  Because the record supports the post-conviction court’s denial of relief, we affirm its order.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Andrea Kelly Jones
M2013-02720-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Patterson

The defendant, Andrea Kelly Jones, appeals her Class D felony, guilty-pleaded convictions of two counts of vehicular assault entered by the Dekalb County Criminal Court.  The trial court ordered that the agreed four-year sentence be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of a sentencing alternative to incarceration.  We affirm the manner of service of the sentences imposed by the trial court.

DeKalb County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Concetta Long aka Concetta Walton
M2014-00565-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg

The defendant appeals the order of the Rutherford County Circuit Court revoking her probation and ordering her to serve the balance of her sentence in confinement.  In this appeal, she argues that the trial court erred by ordering her to serve the balance of her sentence.  Discerning no error, we affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Lamont Hall
M2013-02841-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark Fishburn

The Defendant, Gregory Lamont Hall, was indicted for one count of manufacturing .5 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, a Class B felony; one count of possession with intent to sell 26 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school, a Class B felony; one count of possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class D felony; and tampering with evidence, a Class C felony.  See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-16-503, -17-417, -17-1324(a).  The Defendant filed a suppression motion which the trial court denied.  The Defendant subsequently entered into a plea agreement with the State and reserved a certified question of law for appellate review pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2).  The Defendant pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to sell 26 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and received a ten-year sentence to be served consecutively to a prior sentence.  The remaining charges were dismissed.  In this appeal, the Defendant contends that there was not sufficient probable cause to justify the issuance of a warrant to search the residence in question.  Following our review, we reverse, vacate the judgment of the trial court, and dismiss the charge.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Allen Dale Spicer
W2013-01446-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The defendant, Allen Dale Spicer, was convicted by a Fayette County Circuit Court jury of aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-102(a)(1)(A) (2010). The trial court sentenced the defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to ten years’ confinement and ordered the sentence be served consecutively to the sentence in another case. On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and (2) his sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Fayette County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/02/14
State of Tennessee v. Roderick Jermaine McAlpin
E2013-02267-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Sword

Defendant, Roderick Jermaine McAlpin, was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury for possession with intent to sell more than .5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a public school; possession with intent to deliver more than .5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a public school; possession with intent to sell more than .5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a child care agency; possession with intent to deliver more than .5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a child care agency; criminal trespass, and public intoxication. Due to an error in the indictment, the trial court dismissed the public intoxication charge at the State’s request. Defendant was convicted by a jury of the remaining offenses. The four felony drug convictions were merged into one Class A felony conviction of possession with intent to sell more than .5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a public school. The trial court sentenced Defendant to serve 16 years’ incarceration for this conviction and 30 days, concurrently, for the conviction of criminal trespass. On appeal, Defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the crack cocaine, and that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Finding no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/02/14
James David Shell v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00381-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Petitioner, James David Shell, pled guilty to two counts of possession with intent to sell or deliver a Schedule II controlled substance and one count of driving under the influence.  During plea negotiations, Petitioner was offered two alternate sentences by the State: either one year to serve with ten years of probation or seven years to serve with no probation.  After consulting with his attorney, Petitioner chose the seven-year sentence.  Subsequently, Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary because he was under the influence of several prescribed medications at the time he pled.  He also claimed that he received ineffective assistance of counsel.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, finding that Petitioner failed to prove his claims by clear and convincing evidence.  Petitioner appealed.  Upon thorough review of the record, we affirm the decision of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/02/14
Willie Douglas Johnson v. State of Tennessee
E2013-02826-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

The Petitioner, Willie Douglas Johnson, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his convictions for attempted second degree murder and unlawful possession of a weapon. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/14
State of Tennessee v. Victor James
W2013-02643-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Victor James, of one count of driving on a revoked license. The Defendant also pleaded guilty to an additional count of driving on a revoked license, prior offender, and the trial court sentenced him to eleven months and twenty-nine days in jail. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence presented is insufficient to support his conviction. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/14
State of Tennessee v. Pamela Taylor
W2012-02535-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Otis Higgs Jr.

The Defendant, Pamela Taylor, was indicted for the first degree premeditated murder of her husband, Michael Taylor. Following a jury trial, she was convicted of second degree murder. The trial court sentenced her as a Range I, violent offender to twenty-one years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues: (1) the trial court erred in declining to suppress her statement to police; (2) the trial court erred in abbreviating voir dire and jury selection, which prevented her from properly questioning prospective jurors and kept her from invoking her last two peremptory challenges; (3) the ex parte communication between two senior attorneys with the district attorney’s office and the trial judge created an appearance of impropriety; (4) the successor judge erred in finding that the presiding judge had satisfied her duty as the thirteenth juror; (5) the trial court erred in admitting opinion testimony requiring specialized and/or expert knowledge; (6) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of her character and her prior bad acts; (7) the State committed pervasive prosecutorial misconduct; (8) the trial court erred in excluding evidence of the victim’s violence, anger, and aggression, which were offered as corroborative evidence that the victim was the first aggressor; (9) the evidence was insufficient to sustain her conviction for second degree murder; and (10) the trial court erred in imposing an excessive sentence. Upon review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/30/14