Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/23/2016
Format: 07/23/2016
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Wilson
W2015-00699-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Christopher Wilson, filed a Rule 9 interlocutory appeal seeking our review of the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence against him. The Defendant filed a motion to suppress the results of his blood alcohol test based upon a violation of Missouri v. McNeely, 133 S. Ct. 1552 (2013). The trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing and found that a “good faith exception” to the Defendant's forced blood draw existed and denied the Defendant's motion. The Defendant filed an application for an interlocutory appeal, which the trial court granted. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied the Defendant's motion to suppress based upon a “good faith exception” to the exclusionary rule. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court erred when it denied the Defendant's motion to suppress. As such, we reverse the trial court's judgment and remand this case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/16
State of Tennessee v. Mark Alan Hager
W2015-00570-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Defendant, Mark Alan Hager, pled guilty to a charge of burglary of a motor vehicle and to a charge of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-14-402, -103, -105(a)(3). Pursuant to the plea agreement, the defendant received concurrent terms of one year and three years respectively, on community corrections. Subsequently, the Defendant’s community corrections sentence was revoked, and upon revocation, the trial court imposed a new total effective sentence of six years. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences, and (2) that the trial court erred in not awarding sufficient credit for time served on community corrections. Following our review, we affirm the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentences; however, we remand this case to correct the judgments to reflect the full measure of the Defendant’s community corrections credit.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/16
State of Tennessee v. Charles L. Hartley
E2015-01493-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck

Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant, Charles L. Hartley, pleaded guilty to nine drug-related offenses for a total effective sentence of eight years with the trial court to determine the manner of service of the sentence. After a hearing, the trial court ordered that the Defendant serve one year in confinement and the remaining seven years on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends the trial court erred when it denied him an alternative sentence. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/20/16
State of Tennessee v. Ike O. Nwangwa
E2015-01086-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

A Blount County jury convicted the Defendant, Ike O. Nwangwa, of Count 2, operating a motor vehicle while his blood alcohol concentration was .08% or more but acquitted him of Count 1 Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to eleven months and twenty-nine days, with two days to be served in jail followed by supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by accepting the guilty verdict to Count 2 when the jury acquitted him of Count 1. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/20/16
State of Tennessee v. Darryl Claxton
W2015-00885-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Following a jury trial, Darryl Claxton (“the Defendant”) was convicted of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment for the death of Terry Johnson (“the victim”). The Defendant raises the following issues on this direct appeal: (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to support his conviction; (2) whether the trial court erred when it allowed a witness to testify about the Defendant's association with a “group of young men” in violation of Tennessee Rules of Evidence 403 and 404(b); (3) whether the trial court erred when it allowed a witness to “speculate” about the disposition of the murder weapon in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 602; and (4) whether the cumulative effect of the errors requires a new trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/20/16
State of Tennessee v. Joshua R. Starner and Caitlyn Metz
M2014-01690-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael R. Jones

A Montgomery County jury convicted Defendant Joshua R. Starner of aggravated child abuse, first-degree felony murder committed during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, first-degree felony murder committed during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect, and aggravated sexual battery.  The jury convicted Defendant Caitlyn Metz of aggravated child abuse, first-degree felony murder committed during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, first-degree felony murder committed during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect, and facilitation of aggravated sexual battery.  The trial court dismissed both Defendants’ sexual battery convictions and merged the felony murder convictions.  The trial court sentenced Defendant Starner to life in prison for the felony murder conviction and fifteen years for each of the remaining two convictions, aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect.  The trial court ordered that Defendant Starner’s fifteen year sentences run concurrently with each other but consecutively to his life sentence.  The trial court sentenced Defendant Metz to the same sentences but ordered that all her sentences run concurrently.  On appeal, Defendant Starner contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions and that the trial court erred when it ordered partial consecutive sentencing.  Defendant Metz contends that the trial court erred when it denied her motion for severance and that the evidence is insufficient to sustain her convictions.  After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/20/16
State of Tennessee v. Guy Lee Powell
E2015-00741-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

After a bench trial, the Defendant, Guy Lee Powell, was convicted of manufacturing a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, felony possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a still. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences for an effective sentence of two years' incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court's denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized from his premises during a search. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

Hancock County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/16
State of Tennessee v. Anthony T. Brandon
M2015-00654-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Defendant, Anthony T. Brandon, stands convicted of possession with intent to sell .5 grams or more of cocaine, possession with intent to sell .5 grams or more of cocaine base, and possession or casual exchange of marijuana.  The trial court imposed an effective twenty-four-year sentence.  On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions for possession with intent to sell .5 grams or more of cocaine and for possession with intent to sell.5 grams or more of cocaine base; (2) that his sentences were excessive; and (3) that the trial court should have merged Counts 1 through 4 into one conviction.  Based on the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we merge Defendant’s convictions for possession with intent to sell .5 grams or more of cocaine and possession with intent to sell .5 grams or more of cocaine base, but we affirm the judgments of the trial court in all other respects.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/16
State of Tennessee v. Brady P. Smithson
M2015-00310-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

The appellant, State of Tennessee, appeals the Williamson County Circuit Court’s granting the motion of the appellee, Brady P. Smithson, to dismiss an indictment for two counts of vehicular assault, a Class D felony.  On appeal, the State contends that the trial court misapplied the factors in State v. Ferguson, 2 S.W.3d 912 (Tenn. 1999).  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the ruling of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/18/16
Jacob Brown v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00887-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker

The petitioner, Jacob Brown, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2012 convictions of two counts of first degree murder and the accompanying sentences of life without parole. In this appeal, the petitioner contends that the trial court‘s denial of funds for an expert prior to the transfer hearing ran afoul of his due process rights, that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel, and that the consecutive sentences of life without parole, imposed when the petitioner was a juvenile, violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The petitioner‘s claims of a violation of his due process rights and deprivation of his right to the effective assistance of counsel were previously determined and cannot avail him of post-conviction relief. We conclude that the imposition of a sentence of life without parole in this case did not violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment but that consecutive alignment of the petitioner‘s sentences does not comport with the recent rulings of the United States Supreme Court. Therefore, we remand the case for the entry of corrected judgment forms reflecting concurrent alignment of the sentences.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/16
State of Tennessee v. Marc Baechtle
W2014-01737-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Marc Baechtle, of rape of a child, aggravated sexual battery, and rape. The trial court dismissed the convictions for aggravated sexual battery and rape based upon the statute of limitations and sentenced the Defendant to twenty-five years for the rape of a child conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it: (1) denied his motion to suppress his statement to police; (2) denied his motion to dismiss based upon a violation of the prompt notification requirement of the Interstate Agreement on Detainers; and (3) denied his motion for a bill of particulars. The Defendant also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/16
State of Tennessee v. Delshun Jones
W2015-00156-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Wright

The defendant, Delshun Jones, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he argues: (1) that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during voir dire and rebuttal closing argument; (3) the trial court erred in allowing testimony and evidence of cell phone records into evidence; and (4) the trial court erred in allowing an inmate to testify despite the inmate and the defendant's having a defacto attorney-client relationship. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/16
Michael Marks v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00468-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

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

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/16
State of Tennessee v. Rakeem Rashan Jones and Giovoanne Tremane Johnson
M2015-00515-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

In a joint trial, Defendants Giovoanne Treymane Johnson and Rakeem Rashan Jones were convicted of first degree felony murder, second degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery. As to each, the trial court merged the second degree murder conviction into the felony murder conviction and imposed a sentence of life imprisonment. As to the convictions for especially aggravated robbery, each defendant was sentenced to twenty-five years, with the sentences to be served consecutively to the sentence for the felony murder conviction. On appeal, Defendant Jones argues that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to sever the defendants for trial; (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain the convictions; (3) the trial court erred both in the length and manner of service of the sentences; and (4) the court erred in denying his motion for mistrial. Defendant Johnson argues on appeal that the evidence is insufficient to sustain the convictions and that the trial court erred in ordering that the sentences be served consecutively. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/16
State of Tennessee v. Jessie R. Bailey
E2015-01323-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The Defendant, Jessie R. Bailey, entered a guilty plea to possession of 0.5 gram or more of cocaine with the intent to sell. The Defendant was sentenced to serve eight years. In a separate case, the Defendant pleaded guilty to facilitation of second degree murder and was sentenced to serve eight years concurrently to the sentence in the cocaine possession case. Approximately sixteen years after the judgments were filed, the Defendant filed motions pursuant to Tennessee Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1 requesting that the trial court correct illegal sentences. The trial court summarily denied the motions. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/16
Jeffery L. Vaughn v. State of Tennessee
W2015-00921-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

Petitioner, Jeffery L. Vaughn, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner asserts that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to convey a favorable plea offer, failed to file a motion to suppress text messages, and failed to adequately prepare Petitioner to testify. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Preston Rashad Royal
W2015-01334-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, Preston Rashad Royal, pled guilty to thirteen counts of burglary of an automobile and received an effective sentence of six years to be served on supervised probation after one year of confinement in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Correction (“TDOC”). Defendant argues that his sentence is illegal because it directly contravenes Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-122(a). The State concedes error. We conclude that Defendant’s sentence is illegal, vacate the judgments of the trial court, and remand the case for a new sentencing hearing.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Billy Ramer
W2015-01692-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The defendant, Billy Ramer, pled guilty to one count of sexual battery for crimes committed against his granddaughter. The trial court denied judicial diversion, and the defendant appeals. We conclude that the defendant’s appeal was not timely filed and that the interest of justice, having been served by the denial of diversion, does not demand that we waive the time for filing a notice of appeal. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed. We remand the case for correction of the judgment form.

McNairy County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Anmichael Leonard
W2015-01313-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant, Anmichael Leonard, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony, identity theft, a Class D felony, and fraudulent use of a credit card, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-103 (2014) (theft of property); 39-14-150 (2012) (identity theft); 39-14-118 (2014) (unauthorized use of a credit or debit card). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective twenty-four years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient support his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Brown
W2015-00990-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

A Shelby County jury found the Defendant, Christopher Brown, guilty of one count of first degree premeditated murder and three counts of aggravated assault. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erroneously admitted evidence of prior bad acts under Rule 404(b) of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence and that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
Michael Kent Walker v. State of Tennessee
M2015-00861-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The Petitioner, Michael Kent Walker, appeals the Putnam County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2012 convictions for selling Schedule I and Schedule II controlled substances in a drug-free zone, for which he received an effective sentence of twelve years.  The Petitioner contends that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary based upon erroneous advice from trial counsel regarding the amount of jail credit to which he was entitled.  We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
State of Tennessee v. Brian Christopher Dunn
M2015-00759-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter C. Kurtz

Brian Christopher Dunn (“the Defendant”) was convicted of initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine and driving with a suspended, cancelled, or revoked license—6th offense.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/16
Kelcey Z. Williams v. State of Tennessee
W2015-01170-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

The Petitioner, Kelcey Z. Williams, appeals from the post-conviction court's denial of relief from his conviction for second degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not knowing, voluntary, and intelligent. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Bailey
W2014-02434-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The defendant, Christopher Bailey, was convicted of one count of rape of a child, a Class A felony. On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction; that the trial court erred by admitting evidence of uncharged sexual conduct; that the trial court erred by preventing him from impeaching a witness with evidence of the witness's prior convictions; and that the trial court erred by excluding evidence of the victim's prior sexual abuse. Following our thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Victoria Monquette Orr - Dissent
M2015-00690-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley


Because I cannot agree with the majority’s conclusion that the evidence was sufficient to corroborate the accomplice’s testimony implicating the Defendant in the crime, and, because I similarly disagree with the conclusion that the trial court’s admission of Mr. Taylor’s prior consistent statement was harmless error, I respectfully dissent.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/16