Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 09/20/2020
Format: 09/20/2020
State of Tennessee v. Brian Keith Capps
M2019-00280-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

Defendant, Brian Keith Capps, was charged in four separate indictments with two counts of possession with intent to sell over 0.5 grams of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school; three counts of sale of over 0.5 grams of methamphetamine within 1,000 feet of a school; two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia; one count of possession with intent to sell Oxycodone; one count of driving on a revoked license; one count of violation of the registration law; and one count of tampering with evidence. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of possession with intent to sell over 0.5 grams of methamphetamine and two counts of sale of methamphetamine in a drug-free zone. All of the remaining counts were dismissed. Defendant received concurrent sentences of eight years to be served at 100 percent for each of his sale of methamphetamine convictions. He was sentenced to eight years to be served at 30 percent for his possession with intent to sell methamphetamine conviction, which was ordered to be served consecutively to his other sentences, for a total effective sentence of 16 years with 8 years to be served at 100 percent. Defendant sought to withdraw his guilty pleas. Following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied Defendant’s motion. Defendant appeals. Having reviewed the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court denying the motion to withdraw the guilty pleas. However, there are clerical errors in the judgments in case number 26162. The judgments show a 30 percent release eligibility. The plea agreement was for 100 percent service of the sentence. The trial court must enter corrected judgments upon remand.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/20
State of Tennessee v. DeMorris McKenzie
E2018-02226-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Defendant, DeMorris McKenzie, was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury for one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, one count of first degree premeditated murder, and one count of driving on a revoked license. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged on all three counts. Following a sentencing hearing, Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment for his first degree murder conviction. He was sentenced to serve two years for his firearm conviction and six months for his driving on a revoked license conviction. Those sentences were ordered to run concurrently with his life sentence. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that: 1) the trial court erred by allowing a witness to testify as to what she observed in security video footage of the apartment complex where the shooting occurred; 2) the evidence at trial was insufficient to support Defendant’s conviction for first degree murder; and 3) Defendant is entitled to relief under the cumulative error doctrine. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we find no reversible error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/20
State of Tennessee v. Justin L. Kiser
E2019-01296-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Defendant, Justin L. Kiser, was convicted by a Union County Criminal Court jury of five counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13- 305 (2018). On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred by not requiring the State to show its good faith efforts to locate a missing witness before declaring that witness unavailable for trial; and (3) the trial court erred by sentencing the Defendant to twenty-one years’ confinement. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Union County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/20
Mark Lipton v. State of Tennessee
E2019-01037-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James L. Gass

Petitioner was convicted of aggravated assault by a Sevier County jury. Subsequently, Petitioner filed a direct appeal. This Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court. State v. Mark Lipton, No. E2012-02197-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 4365969, at *16 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 14, 2014), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Jan. 15, 2015). Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief on January 12, 2016. On February 2, 2017, Petitioner filed a petition seeking relief under the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001. The same day Petitioner filed the petition for DNA analysis, he filed an amended post-conviction petition. Petitioner filed two additional amended post-conviction petitions. In the final amended petition, Petitioner abandoned arguments in his prior petitions and argued that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel (1) failed to file a motion to disqualify the District Attorney; (2) failed file a change of venue motion; (3) failed to request specific Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b) findings of fact; and (4) erred by calling a particular trial witness. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition for DNA analysis and the Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b) issue in the petition for post-conviction relief. The post-conviction petition denied relief on the remaining issues. After a reviewing the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Earl Harold Crisp
E2019-01223-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

After presenting with a criminal record that consists of 21 prior felony convictions and 16 prior misdemeanor convictions, Defendant, Earl Harold Crisp, appeals the trial court’s refusal to grant an alternative sentence despite his eligibility for probation. Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Christina Eads
E2019-01958-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

Defendant, Christina Eads, appeals the revocation of her supervised probation for her simple possession of a Schedule VI drug and possession of drug paraphernalia convictions. After a hearing, the trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and ordered her to serve the remainder of her sentence incarcerated. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Marquail Patterson
E2019-01139-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

Marquail Patterson, Defendant, was found guilty by a jury of unlawful possession of a handgun, second degree murder, and five counts of attempted reckless endangerment after a shooting at Studio X in Knoxville in the summer of 2014 during which one person was killed and five people were injured. Defendant received an effective sentence of thirty years in incarceration to be served at 100%. In this delayed appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions. After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court with respect to Defendant’s convictions for unlawful possession of a handgun and second degree murder. However, we vacate Defendant’s convictions for attempted reckless endangerment because Defendant was convicted of a crime which does not exist. Therefore, those convictions are void. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/15/20
Eric L. Parker v. State of Tennessee
E2019-00893-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge William K. Rogers

A jury convicted the Petitioner, Eric L. Parker, of aggravated domestic assault by reckless conduct, and the trial court sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender, to four years of incarceration. This court affirmed the Petitioner’s conviction and sentence. State v. Eric L. Parker, No. E2013-02339-CCA-R3-PC, 2014 WL 5483015, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Knoxville, Oct. 29, 2014), no perm. app. filed. The Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel, which the post-conviction court dismissed after a hearing. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/20
State of Tennessee v. Kimberly Miller
M2018-00869-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Appellant, Kimberly Miller, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and first degree felony murder. The convictions were merged, and she was sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, she challenges the sufficiency of the evidence underlying her convictions. Specifically, the Appellant contends that the evidence “does not show that it was [the Appellant’s] conscious desire to kill the victim in this case, nor that she acted in concert with the shooter, or that she was an active participant in the shooting.” Therefore, she could not be found criminally responsible for the first degree premeditated murder of the victim. The Appellant also contends that “the evidence unquestionably established that [the Appellant] did not share the intent of [the victim’s] assailants nor did she actively participate in any facet of the armed robbery and subsequent shooting”; therefore, she cannot be held criminally responsible for the felony murder of the victim. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/20
State of Tennessee v Jorge Pena
M2018-02082-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

The Defendant-Appellant, Jorge Pena, was convicted of three counts of rape of a child and three counts of aggravated sexual battery, for which he received an effective sentence of forty years imprisonment. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court erred in qualifying a local police officer as an expert in Spanish language translation and admitting his translation of pretextual phone calls between the Defendant and the victim’s mother at trial. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/20
Jamar Scott v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00014-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The Petitioner, Jamar Scott, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis, alleging that he has newly discovered evidence of innocence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the error coram nobis court denying the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/20
State of Tennessee v. Octavious Wright
W2019-00559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell

The Shelby County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant-Appellant, Octavious Wright, for the rape of A.B., a person more than three years of age but less than thirteen years of age (Count 1); the aggravated sexual battery of A.B., a person less than thirteen years old (Count 2); the rape of A.G., a person more than three years of age but less than thirteen years of age (Count 3); and the aggravated sexual battery of A.G., a person less than thirteen years of age (Count 4). Prior to trial, the charges pertaining to the two victims, A.B. and A.G., were severed, and the trial proceeded as to Counts 1 and 2. After the proof was presented at trial, the trial court instructed the jury that the offense of aggravated sexual battery charged in Count 2 was a lesser included offense of rape of a child charged in Count 1, and a nolle prosequi was entered as to Count 2. At the conclusion of trial, the jury convicted Wright as charged in Count 1, and the trial court subsequently imposed a thirty-five-year sentence. On appeal, Wright argues: (1) the trial court erred in excluding from evidence a Tennessee Child Protective Services investigative report on the grounds that the report was inadmissible hearsay, not relevant, and speculative; and (2) the exclusion of this investigative report violated his due process right to present a defense. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/20
State of Tennessee v. Tony Levon Johnson, Jr.
W2019-00738-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Tony Levon Johnson, Jr., was convicted by a Madison County jury of burglary of a vehicle, a Class E felony, and theft of property under $1,000, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced him to an effective term of two years, with 240 days of “shock incarceration” in the Madison County Jail before release to Community Corrections. On appeal, the Defendant argues, and the State agrees, that the trial court erred in ordering a sentence of continuous confinement before release to Community Corrections. Because the Defendant’s sentence of continuous confinement is prohibited by Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-122, we reverse the sentence of incarceration, modify the sentence to Community Corrections, and remand to the trial court for entry of judgments in accordance with this opinion.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/20
Arturo Cardenas, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00899-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Smith

Pro se petitioner, Arturo Cardenas, Jr., appeals the summary dismissal of his “Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and/or Post Conviction Relief.” Upon our review, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/20
State of Tennessee v. Terry Bradford Whitaker
W2019-00583-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles C. McGinley

The Defendant, Terry Bradford Whitaker, was convicted by a Hardin County Circuit Court jury of premeditated first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress DNA evidence and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/20
Marvin T. Dickerson v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00840-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Petitioner, Marvin T. Dickerson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel in various matters related to his sentencing. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/20
State of Tennessee v. Kimberly Ann Lennon
W2019-01008-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The Defendant, Kimberly Ann Lennon, was convicted by a Henderson County Circuit Court Jury of driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. § 55-10-401 (2017). The trial court sentenced her to eleven months and twenty-nine days at 75% service, to be served on probation, supervised by the community corrections program, after two days’ jail service. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support her conviction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court, and we remand the case for correction of a clerical error on the judgment form.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/20
State of Tennessee v. Odell Glass
E2019-00965-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The defendant, Odell Glass, appeals his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, felony murder, and reckless homicide, challenging the admission of testimony from the medical examiner regarding muzzle distance, the admission of surveillance video, and the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/20
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Brennan
E2019-01186-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge James L. Gass

The Defendant, Joseph Brennan, appeals as of right from the Sevier County Circuit Court’s revocation of his probation and reinstatement of the remainder of his six-year sentence for aggravated assault. Although the Defendant acknowledges that he violated the terms of his probationary sentence, he submits that the trial court abused its discretion by requiring him to serve the balance of his sentence in custody given his expressed desire for drug treatment and need for rehabilitation. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/20
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Cole Moose
E2019-00648-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew Freiberg

Defendant, Timothy Cole Moose, was charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in an indictment returned by the Monroe County Grand Jury. Following a jury trial, he was found guilty of the lesser included offense of attempted possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The trial court sentenced defendant to a sixyear sentence as a career offender. In this appeal, Defendant’s sole issue is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support the convictions. After a thorough review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/20
Brandon D. Theus v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01120-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Brandon D. Theus, appeals the Madison County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2016 conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/20
State of Tennessee v. David Byron Alexander, Jr.
W2019-00839-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Allen

The Defendant, David Byron Alexander, Jr., was convicted by a Henderson County Circuit Court jury of aggravated assault, a Class C felony; two counts of vandalism valued at $1000 or less, a Class A misdemeanor; aggravated criminal trespass, a Class A misdemeanor; and domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-102 (2018) (aggravated assault); 39-14-408 (2018) (vandalism); 39-14-105 (2018) (grading); 39-14-406 (2018) (aggravated criminal trespass); 39-13-111 (2018) (domestic assault). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months, twenty-nine days for each misdemeanor conviction and to six years for aggravated assault. The court ordered concurrent service of the misdemeanor sentences and consecutive service with the six-year sentence, for an effective sentence of six years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. The court, likewise, ordered the Defendant to serve his effective sentence consecutively to a six-year sentence imposed in an unrelated drug case. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and (2) his sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/20
State of Tennessee v. William Grant Morgan, Alias
E2018-02245-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, William Grant Morgan, alias, of first degree premeditated murder and possession of drug paraphernalia. He received concurrent terms of life imprisonment and eleven months and twenty-nine days, respectively. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to sustain the Defendant’s murder conviction, specifically, challenging the element of premeditation; (2) whether the trial court failed to ensure that the Defendant voluntarily and knowingly waived certain defenses against the advice of his attorneys; (3) whether the trial court erred in admitting an autopsy photograph depicting the multiple cuts to the victim’s throat; and (4) whether the trial court committed plain error by admitting evidence that the Defendant invoked his right to remain silent. After our review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/20
State of Tennessee v. Melvin Terry
E2019-01780-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Duggan

The defendant, Melvin Terry, appeals the order of the trial court revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his original ten-year sentence in confinement. Upon review of the record, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding the defendant violated the terms of his probation, and the imposed sentence is proper. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/05/20
State of Tennessee v. Monterio Funzie
W2018-02222-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Defendant, Monterio Funzie, was indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for sexual battery by an authority figure and sexual battery. According to the judgment, Defendant pleaded guilty to sexual battery, and the remaining charge was dismissed on motion of the State. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant as a multiple offender to three years to be served in a workhouse. On appeal, Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by denying his request for judicial diversion and that his sentence is excessive. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/20