Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/21/2017
Format: 01/21/2017
Eddie Medlock v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02130-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

A jury convicted the Petitioner, Eddie Medlock, of two counts of aggravated rape and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping perpetrated during the brutal assault of his ex-girlfriend. On direct appeal, this court vacated one count of especially aggravated kidnapping but affirmed the other convictions and the Petitioner‘s sentence of one hundred and twenty years. The Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief on June 27, 2003, but the post-conviction court did not enter a final disposition until October 1, 2015, when it denied the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that the post-conviction court erred in denying him funding for expert analysis during the post-conviction proceeding and that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/21/16
State of Tennessee v. Demarcus Holman
W2015-01744-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

The trial court found that the Defendant, Demarcus Holman, was guilty of possession of a firearm as a convicted felon, a Class C felony. The Defendant asserts that the conviction should be overturned on the basis of insufficient evidence. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/21/16
State of Tennessee v. Frank C. Massengill
W2016-00349-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

Pro se petitioner, Frank Massengill, appeals from the Madison County Circuit Court’s dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the trial court erred in summarily dismissing his motion, his sentences have not expired, and the trial court failed to follow the sentencing procedures under Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-210(b). Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/19/16
Dorothy Denise Cross v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00104-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The petitioner, Dorothy Denise Cross, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of her petition for post-conviction relief. The State concedes that the post-conviction court erred in summarily dismissing the petition. Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for an evidentiary hearing.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/19/16
State of Tennessee v. Zachary Gale Rattler
E2015-01570-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

A Sevier County jury convicted Zachary Gale Rattler (“the Defendant”) of attempted first degree murder, aggravated burglary, especially aggravated robbery, and possession of a prohibited weapon. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of sixty years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the trial court erroneously instructed the jury on flight, violating the Defendant's right to trial by jury; (2) the trial court erred in admitting the Defendant's subsequent arrest in North Carolina as evidence of flight; (3) the trial court erred when it would not permit backstriking of potential jurors; (4) the trial court erroneously refused to reconvene the jury for the Motion for New Trial hearing; (5) the Defendant was denied his right to a fair and impartial jury because a juror failed to disclose knowledge of two of the State's witnesses; (6) the evidence was insufficient to support the Defendant's conviction for especially aggravated robbery; (7) the trial court erred in failing to require the jury to further deliberate after returning an “incorrect verdict”; (8) the sentence imposed by the trial court is excessive; (9) the jury improperly considered the Defendant's decision not to testify to the prejudice of the Defendant; and (10) cumulative error requires a new trial. Following a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/19/16
Russell Brown v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00437-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew Mark Freiberg

The petitioner, Russell Brown, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received the effective assistance of trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Terry Vonner
E2016-00019-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, Terry Vonner, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of attempt to commit second degree murder, a Class B felony; reckless endangerment, a Class C felony; and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-210 (2014) (second degree murder), 39-13-103 (Supp. 2012) (amended 2013) (reckless endangerment), 39-17-1324 (2010) (amended 2012) (employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony), 39-12-101 (2014) (criminal attempt). The Defendant also pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-1307(b)(1)(A) (2010) (amended 2012, 2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of fifty-one years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by not placing more weight on the mitigating evidence presented at the sentencing hearing. We affirm the Defendant's convictions, but we remand for the entry of a corrected judgment in Count 2, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, to reflect 100% release eligibility.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Anita Marie Strickland
E2015-02195-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

The Defendant, Anita Marie Strickland, pled guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to twenty-one years in the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”). The sole issue presented for our review is whether the sentence imposed by the trial court was excessive. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Lishun Brewer
E2015-02178-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Defendant, Joshua Lishun Brewer, entered a guilty plea to carjacking, a Class B felony, with an agreed-upon sentence of eight years and with the manner and method of service to be determined by the trial court. See T.C.A. § 39-13-404 (2014). The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by ordering confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/16
David Lynn Brummitt v. State of Tennessee
E2015-02452-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The petitioner, David Lynn Brummitt, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition for post-conviction relief.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/16
Arturo Jaimes-Garcia v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02109-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Petitioner, Arturo Jaimes-Garcia, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2007 drug-related convictions and his effective eighteen-year sentence.  The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Nicholas Cole
M2015-02286-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Nicholas Cole (“the Defendant”) pled guilty to fifteen counts of theft of property valued at $500 or less and eighteen counts of burglary of an automobile.  Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of fifteen years’ incarceration.  In this delayed direct appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court improperly sentenced him to serve partially consecutive sentences, erred in sentencing him to continuous confinement, erred in denying probation, and erred in imposing an excessive sentence.  Upon a thorough review of the record below and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s order as to the length of the Defendant’s sentences, the partial consecutive sentence alignment, and the denial of probation, but reverse the trial court’s order of continuous confinement for his convictions of “burglary of an auto,” a specifically enumerated non-violent property offense in Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-122(c)(18).  We remand for resentencing consistent with Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-122(a) and section 40-35-104(c).

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Roger Dale Stewart - concurring and dissenting
E2015-00820-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.
I agree with most of the conclusions set forth in the majority opinion. I write separately, however, to respectfully dissent from the majority’s conclusion that the trial court’s merger of the defendant’s reckless endangerment convictions does not constitute plain error.
 
Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/16
State of Tennessee v. Roger Dale Stewart
E2015-00820-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

The defendant, Roger Dale Stewart, was convicted of one count of criminally negligent homicide, a Class E felony, and two counts of reckless endangerment, Class E felonies. On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; that the trial court erred when it refused to provide a requested jury instruction; that his convictions violate the principles of double jeopardy and the Due Process Clause; and that the trial court erred by imposing a two-year sentence to be served in confinement. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hawkins County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/18/16
Timothy Richard Singleton v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02319-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Timothy R. Singleton, appeals as of right from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged the validity of his guilty plea to aggravated robbery.  See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-402.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he did not enter into his guilty plea knowingly and voluntarily because he did not understand the agreement due to his mental illness.  Additionally, he claims his attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to adequately investigate the Petitioner’s mental health history and using such information to arrange a better plea deal with the State.  Finally, the Petitioner claims he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to file a motion to suppress his confession.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/17/16
State of Tennessee v. Leonardo Williams
W2015-02434-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Leonardo Williams (“the Defendant”) appeals the summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Defendant claims the trial court erred in revoking his probation on a three-year sentence because the sentence had expired. The trial court found the motion failed to state a colorable claim because the Defendant’s sentences imposed by the court were legal and proper. We affirm the summary dismissal pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/16
State of Tennessee v. Raymond B. Thomas
W2016-00486-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

Raymond B. Thomas (“the Defendant”) pleaded guilty to one count of felony failure to appear and was sentenced to two years' incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court's denial of his request for an alternative sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/16
David Lynn Jordan v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00698-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don R. Ash

The petitioner, David Lynn Jordan, appeals the post-conviction court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his convictions of three counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident and his sentences of death. On appeal, the petitioner contends that (1) he received ineffective assistance of counsel during both the guilt and penalty phases of the trial; (2) the venue of the trial in Madison County, Tennessee, violated his rights to a fair trial and due process; (3) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by suppressing evidence; (4) the selection and impaneling of the grand jury was unconstitutional; (5) the post-conviction court erred in denying his motion to continue the evidentiary hearing; (6) the post-conviction court erred in allowing trial counsel to assist the State during the evidentiary hearing; (7) the post-conviction court erred in excluding an expert witness; (8) Tennessee's death penalty scheme is unconstitutional; (9) his death sentence is disproportionate; and (10) cumulative error warrants a new trial. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/14/16
Martin Dean Gibbs v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00218-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Petitioner, Martin Dean Gibbs, appeals as of right from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his convictions for multiple counts of aggravated sexual battery of a child less than thirteen years of age and rape of a child more than three years of age but less than thirteen years of age.  See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-504; -522.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to provide appropriate accommodations for the Petitioner’s hearing difficulties during his trial.  The Petitioner claims that, because of this failure, he was unable to meaningfully participate in his own defense at trial.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/16
State of Tennessee v. Laurie Lynn Welch and Roland John Welch
M2015-00361-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Defendants, Laurie Lynn Welch (“Mrs. Welch) and Roland John Welch (Mr. Welch”), were convicted of promotion of methamphetamine manufacturing, initiation of methamphetamine manufacture process, and possession of drug paraphernalia.  Mrs. Welch was sentenced to four years for the promotion charge, eight years for the initiation charge, and eleven months, twenty-nine days for possession of drug paraphernalia to be served concurrently for an effective eight-year sentence to be served in the Department of Correction as a Range I offender.  Mr. Welch was sentenced to eight years for the promotion charge, eighteen years for the initiation charge, and eleven-months, twenty-nine days for possession of drug paraphernalia to be served concurrently for an effective eighteen-year sentence to be served in the Department of Correction as a Range II offender.  On appeal, both Defendants argue that: (1) the affidavit in support of the search warrant did not contain probable cause; (2) the trial court erred by failing to suppress evidence discovered as a result of a warrantless search and seizure; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support both Defendants’ convictions for promotion of methamphetamine manufacture and initiation of methamphetamine manufacturing process and Mr. Welch’s conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia; and (4) Mr. Welch’s sentence was excessive.  After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.   

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/16
Billy Joe Russell, Jr., AKA Joe Billy Russell, Jr., AKA Craig C. Scott v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02318-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The petitioner, Billy Joe Russell, Jr., a.k.a. Joe Billy Russell, Jr., a.k.a. Craig C. Scott, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for relief. On appeal, the petitioner asserts that his petition is timely because it falls within one year of certain federal opinions which establish a constitutional right requiring retroactive application. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the dismissal of the petition in accordance with Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/13/16
State of Tennessee v. Travis Lindsey
M2015-01954-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella Hargrove

The Defendant, Travis Lindsey, was convicted by a Maury County Circuit Court jury of the sale of 0.5 gram or more of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school, a Class A felony, and sale of 0.5 gram or more of cocaine, a Class B felony.  See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-432 (2014) (school zone), 39-17-417(A)(3)(C)(1) (2010) (amended 2012, 2014) (sale of cocaine).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent sentences of twenty years for the sale of cocaine in a drug-free zone conviction and ten years for the sale of cocaine conviction.  The court also ordered concurrent service with an unrelated sentence in federal court.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for sale of cocaine in a drug-free zone, (2) the court erred by allowing testimony relative to the Defendant’s prior bad acts, and (3) the court erred by admitting into evidence recorded statements in violation of the Confrontation Clause.   We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Brannon Harrison Shockley
E2016-00261-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword
The Defendant, Brannon Harrison Shockley, pleaded guilty in the Knox County Criminal Court to aggravated assault, a Class C felony, with an agreed sentence of four years with the manner of service of the sentence to be determined by the trial court. See T.C.A. § 39-13-102(a)(1)(A)(iv) (2014) (amended 2015) (aggravated assault by strangulation). The court denied alternative sentencing. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by denying him alternative sentencing. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/16
State of Tennessee v. James Ronald Rollins
E2016-00186-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The appellant, James Ronald Rollins, filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence in the Hamilton County Criminal Court pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion, and the appellant appeals the ruling. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/16
Kimberly Mangrum v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00383-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

The Petitioner, Kimberly Mangrum, appeals the Dickson County Circuit Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions for first degree felony murder, attempted first degree premeditated murder, aggravated burglary, and especially aggravated kidnapping and her effective life sentence.  The Petitioner contends that (1) she received the ineffective assistance of counsel on appeal and (2) counsel’s ineffective assistance deprived her of due process of law.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/16