Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/18/2018
Format: 06/18/2018
State of Tennessee v. Cory Lynn White
E2017-00885-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald R. Elledge

The Defendant, Cory Lynn White, was convicted by a jury of making a false report or statement, and he received a three-year spilt confinement sentence for this conviction. The Defendant appeals, arguing (1) that there was a fatal variance between the indictment and the proof offered at trial and (2) that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction.1 Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/18
State of Tennessee v. David Wayne Cupp, Alias
E2017-00790-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, David Wayne Cupp, alias, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his request for judicial diversion. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by overvaluing “the circumstances of the offense[s] to the exclusion of the factors supporting diversion.” Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/21/18
George Timmons v. State of Tennessee
E2017-00335-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz

The Petitioner, George Timmons, appeals from the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective (1) for failing to present a defense based on the Petitioner’s “mental instability”; and (2) for failing to properly advise the Petitioner that he would be sentenced as a repeat violent offender to life without the possibility of parole upon his conviction at trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Julie A. Morgan (Moran)
E2017-00532-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa N. Rice

The Appellant, Julie A. Morgan (Moran), appeals from the Unicoi County Criminal Court’s denial of her “motion to set aside disposition and/or retired status of traffic citation for mistake and to reset for further consideration.” On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court should have treated her motion as a petition for post-conviction relief or applied Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 60.02 “for post[-]judgment relief.” Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Unicoi County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Eugene Goodwin
E2017-01377-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa N. Rice

The Defendant, Jonathan Eugene Goodwin, appeals as of right from the Carter County Criminal Court’s revocation of his community corrections sentence and order of incarceration for the remainder of his six-year sentence. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering execution of his sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Carter County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Gatewood
E2017-00653-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Defendant, Christopher Gatewood, is charged in the Hamilton County Criminal Court with rape of a child. See T.C.A. § 39-13-522 (2014). The State contends in this interlocutory appeal pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 9 that the trial court erred in granting the Defendant’s motion in limine to exclude evidence of the alleged victim’s statements to a nurse practitioner on Confrontation Clause grounds. We affirm the order of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Joel W. Allen
W2016-01040-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

The Defendant, Joel W. Allen, was convicted by a Benton County Circuit Court jury of driving under the influence, “DUI,” fifth offense, a Class E felony; simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; and operating a vehicle after being declared a habitual motor vehicle offender, a Class E felony. He was sentenced to an effective term of twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his DUI conviction and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Benton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/18
In Re Amarria L.
M2017-00878-COA-R3-PT
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ross H. HIcks

This is a termination of parental rights case focusing on the minor child, Amarria L. (“the Child”), of Patricia L. (“Mother”). The Child was placed in protective custody on November 8, 2014, after Mother left the Child unsupervised at a homeless shelter. On July 7, 2016, the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) filed a petition to terminate the parental rights of Mother. DCS alleged as a basis for termination the statutory grounds of (1) abandonment by failure to provide a suitable home, (2) abandonment by an incarcerated parent, (3) substantial noncompliance with the reasonable requirements of the permanency plan, and (4) persistence of the conditions leading to removal of the Child. Following a bench trial, the trial court granted the petition upon its determination by clear and convincing evidence that DCS had proven the statutory grounds of abandonment by failure to provide a suitable home and substantial noncompliance with the reasonable requirements of the permanency plan. The court further determined by clear and convincing evidence that termination of Mother’s parental rights was in the Child’s best interest. Mother has appealed. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Ralph Alan Stanley
M2016-02546-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant, Ralph Alan Stanley, was convicted of aggravated assault after a jury trial and was sentenced to ten years of supervised probation. The Defendant appeals his conviction, asserting that he is entitled to a new trial because the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict. He also contends that the trial court erred in denying a motion to suppress, in allowing evidence of text messages and other bad acts, in allowing evidence produced in violation of the rules governing discovery, and in limiting crossexamination regarding a prior conviction. The Defendant also requests relief under a theory of cumulative error. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the Defendant is not entitled to a new trial, and we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/18
State of Tennessee v. Lavonte Dominique Simmon
E2016-01582-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, Lavonte Dominique Simmon, appeals as of right his jury convictions for first degree premeditated murder and two counts of aggravated assault. On appeal, the Defendant alleges the following errors: (1) that the Defendant was deprived of his right to present a viable defense when the trial court permitted Charles Maples to assert the privilege against self-incrimination and, thereafter, refused to allow defense counsel to withdraw so that defense counsel could testify about Mr. Maples’ past statements; (2) that the trial court improperly denied the Defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment after the State failed to preserve exculpatory evidence in the form of Mr. Maples’ testimony; (3) that the trial court should have granted the Defendant’s motion to suppress his statement to the police in light of testimony that the Defendant suffered a brain injury causing intellectual impairment, that the Defendant invoked his right to counsel, and that the Defendant did not voluntarily waive his Miranda rights; (4) that the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce numerous photographs of weapons, weapons-related items, and ammunition found during the search of the home where the Defendant was apprehended; (5) that the evidence was insufficient to support the Defendant’s convictions because the State failed to prove that the Defendant was the person who shot the murder victim or that the Defendant acted with premeditation; and (6) that the trial court should have instructed the jury on diminished capacity.Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Michael Eugene Tolle
E2017-00571-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob McGee

In this appeal, the State challenges the trial court’s decision to apply the amended version of Code section 39-14-105, which provides the grading of theft offenses, to modify the class of the defendant’s conviction offense and the corresponding sentence following the revocation of the defendant’s probation. No appeal right lies for the State pursuant to either Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3, Code section 40-35-402, or Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 35 under the circumstances in this case. Because we have concluded that the trial court exceeded its authority by the application of the amended version of Code section 39-14-105, however, we have elected to treat the improperlyfiled appeal as a petition for the common law writ of certiorari. Accordingly, we vacate the order of the trial court and remand the case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Tracy Lebron Vick
E2017-01534-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Defendant, Tracy Lebron Vick, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and received a forty-year, Range II sentence to be served at 85%. Nineteen years after his sentencing, he filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 alleging that his sentence was illegal because 100% service was statutorily mandated but that the trial court imposed 85% service in his case. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion on the basis that it failed to state a colorable claim. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/18
Macolm Orlando Witherow v. State of Tennessee
E2017-00512-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz

The Petitioner, Malcolm Orlando Witherow, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2011 conviction for first degree premeditated murder and his life sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/18
Robert C. Clanton v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00977-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Petitioner, Robert C. Clanton, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Rebecca Michelle Robinson
M2016-01957-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Russell Parkes

A Lawrence County jury convicted the Defendant, Rebecca Michelle Robinson, of vehicular homicide by intoxication, reckless endangerment, and failure to exercise due care while operating a motor vehicle. The trial court sentenced her to an effective sentence of eight years of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied her an alternative sentence and ordered that she serve her sentence in confinement. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/19/18
Allen Craft v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02340-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The Petitioner, Allen Craft, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that trial counsel was ineffective (1) for not filing a motion to sever his case from his codefendant; and (2) for failing “to introduce expert testimony which would tend to negate the requisite mental state required for the offense.” Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Damarko D. Clay
W2017-00185-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Damarko D. Clay, appeals as of right from his convictions for possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. The Defendant argues that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Timothy R. Maness
W2017-01221-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Defendant, Timothy R. Maness, appeals his convictions for one count of rape, one count of misdemeanor assault, one count of incest, and two counts of sexual battery, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. The Defendant filed an untimely notice of appeal, and the interest of justice does not support waiver of the timely filing requirement. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.

McNairy County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Deandrey Peterson
W2016-01878-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Defendant, Deandrey Peterson, appeals his convictions for aggravated rape, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, and his effective thirty-year sentence. The Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court violated Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b) in admitting evidence of other offenses. We affirm the Defendant’s convictions but remand the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing for the firearm conviction.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Deandrey Peterson
W2017-00307-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Defendant, Deandrey Peterson, appeals his convictions for aggravated rape, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony for which he received an effective thirty-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court violated Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b) in allowing the State to present evidence of offenses committed against other victims. We conclude that the trial court committed reversible error in admitting evidence of other criminal offenses. Accordingly, we reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand the case for a new trial.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Charles Keese
E2016-02020-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Scott Green

In this appeal, the State challenges the trial court’s decision to apply the amended version of Code section 39-14-105, which provides the grading of theft offenses, when calculating the defendant’s sentence. The defendant asserts that the State has no right to appeal the ruling of the trial court and, in the alternative, that the trial court correctly applied the amended statute in this case. The defendant also appeals the judgment of the trial court, claiming that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions because the State failed to adequately establish the value of the stolen property. We agree with the defendant that no appeal of right lies for the State pursuant to either Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3 or Code section 40-35-402. Because we have concluded that the trial court exceeded its authority by the application of the amended version of Code section 39-14-105 before the effective date, we could treat the improperly-filed Rule 3 appeal as a common law petition for writ of certiorari. We need not do so, however, because, pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 13, this court acquired jurisdiction of the State’s claim when the defendant filed a timely notice of appeal. Following our review of the issues presented, we hold that sufficient evidence supports the defendant’s conviction but that the trial court erred by applying the amended version of Code section 39-14-105. Accordingly, we affirm the defendant’s conviction but vacate the six-year sentence imposed by the trial court and remand the case for the entry of a modified judgment reflecting a 12-year sentence for a Class D felony conviction of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/18
Christopher L. Williams v. State of Tennessee
M2017-01854-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Christopher L. Williams, filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The coram nobis court summarily denied his petition on the grounds that it was untimely filed. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the petition was timely filed and that the coram nobis court erred in denying relief without a hearing. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Mario Antoine Leggs
M2017-01963-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Mario Antoine Leggs, the Defendant, filed a motion requesting an ex parte injunction and hearing, arguing that the judgments in his case were invalid because they did not have a file stamp date. The trial court denied the Defendant’s motion because the judgments were signed by the trial court and entered on November 29, 2001. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in denying relief. The State contends that the Defendant does not have an appeal as of right under Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 3 from the denial of a motion requesting injunctive relief. Additionally, the State argues that the lack of a file stamp date does not invalidate the Defendant’s judgments. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we dismiss the Defendant’s appeal.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/18
Joseph Ellison v. State of Tennessee
E2017-00673-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Petitioner, Joseph Ellison, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered because “there was no factual basis for” them. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Hugh Everret Burt
M2017-00547-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

After a bench trial, the trial court found the Defendant, Hugh Everret Burt, guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor for knowingly possessing less than fifty sexual images of minors. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to two years and six months, with six months to be served in jail and the remaining served through Community Corrections. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence against him is insufficient and that the trial court erred when it ordered him to serve a portion of the sentence in jail. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/14/18