Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 02/27/2017
Format: 02/27/2017
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Terrell Pewitte
M2015-02103-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Defendant, Antonio Terrell Pewitte, was convicted of aggravated child neglect and received a sentence of twenty years.  Defendant raises the following issues in his direct appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred by failing to require the State to make an election of offenses; (2) whether the evidence is sufficient to support his conviction; (3) whether the trial court abused its discretion by admitting multiple photographs of the victim’s injuries; (4) whether the trial court erred by admitting hearsay testimony; (5) whether the trial court abused its discretion by not granting a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument; and (6) whether the trial court abused its discretion during sentencing.  Following a careful review of the record, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/16
Jeffery W. Dean v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01581-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Petitioner, Jeffery W. Dean, filed for post-conviction relief from his convictions of aggravated kidnapping and carjacking, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to explain the State’s evidence against the Petitioner and counsel’s trial strategy and by failing to prepare the Petitioner to testify at trial.  The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/16
Shane Seth Ghorley v. Brandi Lynn Ghorley
E2015-02051-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas R. Frierson, II
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Jerri S. Bryant

This appeal, which stems from a divorce action, involves issues of child support and an award of attorney’s fees. The father asserts error in the trial court’s decision to award to the mother attorney’s fees in the amount of $25,000 as alimony in solido. The father also argues that his co-parenting time with the children was not properly calculated when setting his child support obligation. Following our thorough review of the evidence in light of the statutory factors, we conclude that the trial court properly awarded $25,000 for attorney’s fees to the mother as alimony in solido. We also determine, however, that the permanent parenting plan order entered by the trial court contains an internal inconsistency. We therefore vacate the permanent parenting plan order and remand to the trial court for entry of an appropriate and internally consistent permanent parenting plan order.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/16
William James Watt v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02411-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The petitioner, William James Watt, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which challenged his 2012 Davidson County Criminal Court jury convictions of three counts of rape of a child and three counts of aggravated sexual battery, claiming that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal.  Discerning no reversible error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/16
State of Tennessee v. Sherry Dewitt
M2015-00816-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Sherry Dewitt, was acquitted of aggravated child abuse but convicted of aggravated child neglect.  She now appeals as of right from that conviction, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the requisite mental state for that crime and that the child suffered an adverse effect to her health and welfare from the Defendant’s alleged neglect as statutorily required.  Following our review, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support a knowing mens rea, but we reverse the Defendant’s conviction because there was insufficient proof that the Defendant’s delay in informing the parents about the child’s injuries or in seeking medical help had an actual, deleterious effect on the child’s health and welfare.  Therefore, the judgment is vacated, and the charge is dismissed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/16
State of Tennessee v. James Allen Gooch
M2016-00359-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Appellant, James Allen Gooch, is appealing the trial court’s order dismissing his motion to correct an illegal sentence filed pursuant to Rule of Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1  The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20.  Said motion is hereby granted.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/09/16
State of Tennessee v. Franklin Dale Grayson, Jr.
E2016-00803-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

On November 14, 2014, the Johnson County Grand Jury returned an indictment charging the defendant, Franklin Dale Grayson, Jr., with four drug-related offenses including, initiating a process to manufacture methamphetamine (Count 1), possession of a Schedule II controlled substance (methamphetamine) with intent to sell or deliver (Count 2), maintaining a dwelling for using or selling controlled substances (Count 3), and possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia (Count 4). Following trial, a jury found the defendant guilty as charged in Counts 1 and 4. They found the defendant guilty of the lesser-included offense of simple possession of a Schedule II controlled substance in Count 2 and not guilty of maintaining a dwelling for using or selling controlled substances in Count 3. The trial court imposed an effective thirteen-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction for initiating a process to manufacture methamphetamine and that the prosecutor made two improper statements in his closing argument that constitute reversible error. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Kelly Lynn Chandler
M2016-00053-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The defendant, Kelly Lynn Chandler, appeals the order of the trial court revoking her probation and imposing her original sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days in confinement. Upon review of the record, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the defendant violated the terms of her probation. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Randall T. Beaty - Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part
M2014-00130-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

I respectfully dissent from that portion of the majority=s opinion which modifies a judgment to impose a conviction for a lesser included offense even though there is legally sufficient evidence to sustain the conviction for the greater offense.  I concur in all other aspects of the majority’s opinion.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Randall T. Beaty
M2014-00130-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Defendant, Randall T. Beaty, was indicted for first degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse.  After a jury trial, he was convicted of reckless homicide and aggravated assault, which were charged to the jury as lesser[-]included offenses.  He received consecutive sentences of four years for Class D felony reckless homicide and six years for Class C felony aggravated assault, for an effective ten-year sentence to be served in the Department of Correction.  On appeal, Defendant argued: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) that the trial court erred by allowing Detective Bachman to testify in violation of the rule of sequestration; (3) that the trial court erred by excluding a proffer by Amber Peveler; (4) that the trial court erred in failing to merge his convictions on double jeopardy grounds; and (5) that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive sentencing.  As to the alleged violation of the rule of sequestration, we held, pursuant to State v. Jordan, 325 S.W.3d 1, 40 (Tenn. 2010), that the State had the rightunder Tennessee Rule of Evidence 615 to designate an investigating officer as exempt from sequestration and the designated investigating officer can remain in the courtroom during the testimony of other witnesses.  We further recognized, as a matter of plain error, that the jury’s verdict for aggravated assault failed to specify the mens rea with which the Defendant acted, and a majority of the panel concluded that the Defendant’s judgment of conviction for knowing aggravated assault, a Class C felony, should be modified to reflect a conviction for reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony.  We, therefore, modified the conviction in Count 2 to a Class D felony reckless aggravated assault and modified Defendant’s sentence in Count 2 to four years’ incarceration to be served consecutively to the four year sentence for reckless homicide. Finally, we concluded that the conviction for reckless aggravated assault did not merge with the conviction for reckless homicide and affirmed all other aspects of Defendant’s convictions.  On October 19, 2016, the Tennessee Supreme Court granted Defendant’s application for permission to appeal and remanded the case to this court for reconsideration in light of the supreme court’s recent opinion in State v. Howard, No. E2014-01510-SC-R11-CD, __ S.W.3d __, 2016 WL 5933430 (Tenn. Oct. 12, 2016).  Upon reconsideration in light of Howard, we conclude that Defendant’s conviction for reckless aggravated assault must merge with his conviction for reckless homicide.  The judgments of the trial court are affirmed as modified, and the case is remanded for entry of amended judgments of conviction.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
Dennis Cedric Woodard, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2015-02002-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forrest Durard, Jr.

The Petitioner, Dennis Cedric Woodard, Jr., appeals the Bedford County Circuit Court’s denial of his petitions for post-conviction relief and for a writ of error coram nobis from his first degree premeditated murder conviction and his resulting life sentence. The Petitioner contends that the court erred by denying (1) post-conviction relief and (2) coram nobis relief. We affirm the judgments of the post-conviction and coram nobis court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Amanda L. Irwin
M2016-00219-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge L. Craig Johnson

Amanda L. Irwin (“the Defendant”) pled guilty to driving under the influence and possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage, reserving two certified questions of law challenging the trial court’s denial of a motion to suppress.  On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the law enforcement officer lacked reasonable suspicion to ask her to step out of her car and perform field sobriety tests.  After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/16
State of Tennessee v. Maurice Brown Sr.
W2015-00466-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant, Maurice Brown, Sr., appeals from his convictions for two counts of felony murder, aggravated child abuse of a child under eight years old, aggravated child neglect of a child under eight years old, and resisting official detention, for which he received an effective sentence of life plus eighteen years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
Anthony L. Woods v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00188-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Anthony L. Woods, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner pled guilty to two counts of aggravated assault and one count of driving on a revoked license and received an effective six-year sentence to be served on probation. The Petitioner sought post-conviction relief, asserting that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, which rendered his pleas unknowing and involuntary. The post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Johnny Wilkerson
W2016-00078-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

A Shelby County jury found the Defendant, Johnny Wilkerson, guilty of two counts of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to consecutive sentences of twenty years for each conviction. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
Demariceo Chalmers v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02235-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn I. Wright

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Demarico Chalmers, of attempted aggravated robbery and first-degree felony murder, and the trial court sentenced the Petitioner to an effective sentence of life plus five years. This Court affirmed the Petitioner's convictions. State v. Demarico Chalmers, No. W2011-01274-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 3601626, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Aug. 22, 2012), Tenn. R. App. P. 11 app. denied (Tenn. Jan. 9, 2013). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that that his trial counsel was ineffective by failing to obtain gunshot residue testing. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner's petition. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
Marcus Thomas v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02499-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Petitioner, Marcus Thomas, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and entered an unknowing and involuntary guilty plea. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
Brian Gauldin v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00607-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore Jr.

The Petitioner, Brian Gauldin, appeals from the denial of post-conviction relief by the Circuit Court for Dyer County. He was convicted of the sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine in a drug free zone and the sale of cocaine under .5 grams in a drug free zone and received an effective sentence of twenty years' incarceration. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel's failure to (1) present current photos of the location where the drug sales occurred to demonstrate that it was a “vacant lot” rather than a city park; (2) present an expert witness to rebut the State's explanation of a change in drug amounts listed in its reports between his first and second trials; (3) advise him that he would be sentenced as a Range III, Persistent Offender; and (4) challenge the racial composition of the jury. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
Marcus T. Johnson v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00642-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

Marcus T. Johnson (“the Defendant”) pled guilty to sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine, a Class B felony. The Defendant was sentenced as a Range I standard offender to ten years of probation. The Defendant now appeals from the denial of his fourth Rule 36.1 motion. After reviewing the record and applicable law, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Timmy Thompson
E2016-00749-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Reed Duggan
The defendant, Timmy Thompson, received a six-year sentence to be served on Community Corrections after being convicted of criminal simulation involving a value over $10,000. After holding a hearing, the trial court determined the defendant materially violated the terms of his alternative sentence and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to impose another alternative sentence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
William Reynolds v. Cherry Lindamood, Warden
M2016-01312-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

William Reynolds (“the Petitioner”) was indicted for sale of cocaine in an amount less than .5 grams in a school zone, a Class B felony.  He entered a negotiated plea to sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine, a Class B felony, and was sentenced to twelve years’ incarceration as a career offender with release eligibility after service of 60% of the sentence.  The Petitioner filed petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging his conviction which the habeas corpus court denied.  On appeal, the Petitioner claims that his judgment of conviction is void because the indictment was insufficient to support his plea to an increased amount of cocaine and that the habeas corpus court erred in summarily dismissing his Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus.  After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Luis Castanon
M2016-00797-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

Luis Castanon, the Petitioner, appeals the summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence.  Because the motion failed to state a colorable claim, we affirm the trial court’s summary denial of the motion.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Thomas L. Dowlen
M2015-01582-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John H. Gasaway, III

A jury convicted the defendant, Thomas L. Dowlen, of first degree (premeditated) murder. On appeal, the defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support the verdict of guilt and that he is entitled to a new trial based on the prosecutor’s remarks during opening argument. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
State of Tennessee - Javonta Marquis Perkins - Concurring in part and dissenting in part
M2015-01025-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, 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 Sergeant Sanderson qualified as an endangered third party, which elevated the evading arrest to a Class D felony.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16
State of Tennessee v. Javonta Marquis Perkins
M2015-01025-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

This is Defendant’s, Javonta Marquis Perkins, direct appeal from his conviction of evading arrest, a Class D felony.  On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and that the trial court erred by giving a jury instruction on criminal responsibility.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/16