Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/29/2015
Format: 01/29/2015
State of Tennessee v. Stephen Rene Morris
M2013-01265-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley

The defendant, Stephen Rene Morris, was convicted of Class A misdemeanor assault and sentenced to eleven months and twenty-nine days, which was suspended to supervised probation.  The defendant now appeals his conviction asserting: (1) that the trial court erred by instructing the jury that misdemeanor assault is a lesser included offense of Class E felony abuse of an adult, the original charge; and (2) that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction.  Following review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did err in instructing the jury, but the resulting error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  Additionally, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the conviction.  As such, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Alajemba
M2013-00968-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg

The defendant, Jonathan Alajemba, appeals his Rutherford County Circuit Court jury convictions of felony murder, second degree murder, attempted first degree murder, attempted voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, reckless aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and facilitation of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated robbery, claiming a violation of his right to a speedy trial; that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the statement he made to police and his motion for transcription of witness statements; that the trial court erred by declaring a witness unavailable for the purpose of admitting prior testimony; that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions of first degree felony murder, facilitation of conspiracy to commit especially aggravated robbery, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated burglary; that the trial court made several erroneous evidentiary rulings; and that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument.  Because the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions of aggravated burglary and felony murder in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate a burglary, those convictions are reversed, and the charges are dismissed.  The felony murder convictions predicated upon robbery and theft remain unaffected.  The trial court’s judgments are affirmed in all other respects.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/12/14
Derrick Taylor v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02053-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Wright

The petitioner, Derrick Taylor, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that his guilty pleas were knowing and voluntary. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Deangelo Sevier v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00363-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The petitioner, Deangelo Sevier, 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.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Donald Ragland v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02778-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Donald Ragland, appeals the trial court’s denial of his “Motion to Reconsider Relief from Judgment,” asserting that he is entitled to relief based on testimony surrounding the affidavit supporting his arrest. We conclude that the petitioner does not have an appeal as of right from the denial of such motion and dismiss the appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
Landreo Lurry v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00337-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

The pro se petitioner, Landreo Lurry, appeals the order of the trial court dismissing his petition for writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that his petition failed to state a claim for habeas relief. The petitioner argues that he is entitled to habeas corpus, error coram nobis, and post-conviction relief because his Tennessee burglary convictions, which were used to enhance his federal firearms sentence, occurred following the improper transfer of his case from juvenile to criminal court without a transfer hearing or the representation of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court dismissing the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Jackson and Joletta Summers
W2013-00185-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett

The husband-wife defendants, Antonio Jackson and Joletta Summers, were convicted of voluntary manslaughter, a Class C felony, and attempted voluntary manslaughter, a Class D felony. Defendant Summers was also convicted of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. Defendant Jackson was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to concurrent terms of eight years for the voluntary manslaughter conviction and four years for the attempted voluntary manslaughter conviction. Defendant Summers was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent terms of three years for each of the manslaughter convictions and to six years for the firearm conviction, to be served consecutively to the three-year sentence. The defendants now appeal, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence, the denial of their motion to sever, and certain evidentiary rulings made by the court. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Ivy
W2013-02655-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The defendant, Thomas Ivy, was convicted of possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, and sentenced to eleven months, twenty-nine days, suspended to probation. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/14
State of Tennessee v. Billy Dean Sizemore
M2013-01853-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy Easter

A Lewis County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Billy Dean Sizemore, of delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance, a Class C felony, and the trial court sentenced him as a Range III, persistent offender to fourteen years in confinement.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction; that the trial court erred by allowing evidence of a prior bad act in violation of Rule 404(a), Tennessee Rules of Evidence; that the trial court’s failure to give the jury a limiting instruction regarding the prior bad act constitutes reversible error; and that the trial court improperly relied on the presentence report showing prior convictions in Florida rather than requiring the State to produce certified copies of the judgments of conviction.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lewis County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Croasmun
M2014-00243-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

The defendant, Brandon Croasmun, appeals from the Cannon County Circuit Court’s denial of his motion for a suspended sentence.  Because the trial court’s denial was based on its erroneous belief that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the motion, as conceded by the State, we reverse the decision of the trial court and remand for a hearing.

Cannon County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Danny J. C. King
M2014-00562-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest Durard

This matter is before the Court upon the State’s motion to affirm the judgments of the trial court by memorandum opinion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Appellant, Danny J. C. King, has appealed the Marshall County Circuit Court order denying Appellant’s request for alternative sentencing.  Upon a review of the record in this case, we are persuaded that the trial court did not err in denying alternative sentencing.  The State’s request meets the criteria for affirmance pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.  Accordingly, the State’s motion is granted, and the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Daniel Vallejo, Jr.
M2013-02028-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The appellant, Daniel Vallejo, Jr., was convicted in the Williamson County Circuit Court of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; theft of property valued more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, a Class D felony; and two counts of automobile burglary, a Class E felony.  After a sentencing hearing, he received an effective nine-year sentence.  On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the aggravated burglary conviction; that his statements to police were inadmissible because they were tainted by an illegal search; that his jailhouse statements to his wife were inadmissible because they were protected by marital privilege; and that evidence deemed inadmissible at trial also was inadmissible at sentencing.  Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/14
State of Tennessee v. Emonnie Dion Branch, Jr.
M2013-01843-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The appellant, Emonnie Dion Branch, Jr., pled guilty in the Sumner County Criminal Court to twenty-three offenses resulting from two home invasions, two convenience store robberies, and an assault of a fellow inmate.  The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of one hundred and thirty years.  On appeal, the appellant challenges the length of the sentences imposed by the trial court.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/06/14
Cyntoia Denise Brown v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00825-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

The Petitioner, Cyntoia Denise Brown, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief from her convictions of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery and resulting concurrent sentences of life and eight years.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel, that she is “entitled to relief under error coram nobis,” that her mandatory life sentence is unconstitutional, and that she was denied due process.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/06/14
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Todd Ghormley
E2013-01932-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don R. Ash

In an opinion filed on January 20, 2012, this court determined that the trial court erred by failing to hold a competency hearing and remanded the case to the trial court to conduct a retrospective competency hearing. See State v. Anthony Todd Ghormley, No. E2010-00634-CCA-R3-CD (Tenn. Crim. App., Knoxville, Jan. 20, 2012) (Ghormley I). Following the hearing on remand, the trial court concluded that the defendant was competent to stand trial. The defendant now appeals that decision. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
Doris Williams v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00033-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Doris Williams, pleaded guilty to second degree murder and received an out-of-range sentence of thirty-five years to be served at 100%.  In her post-conviction petition, she claimed that she received ineffective assistance of counsel and that her guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary.  The post-conviction court denied relief.  On appeal, petitioner argues that she was heavily medicated during trial counsel’s representation of her and during her plea hearing, that trial counsel did not advise her in a manner she could comprehend due to said medication, and that she entered her guilty plea without a full understanding of the consequences.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
State of Tennessee v. Roy Anthony Haley
M2013-02756-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Russell

The defendant, Roy Anthony Haley, appeals his Bedford County Circuit Court jury conviction of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, contending that the sentence imposed by the trial court was excessive.  We affirm the conviction and sentence but remand for correction of a clerical error in the judgment.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/05/14
Ivan Charles Graves v. State of Tennessee
E2013-02445-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

Petitioner, Ivan Charles Graves, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. Petitioner was convicted by a Knox County jury of first degree premeditated murder and felony murder in the perpetration of a kidnapping. The trial court merged Petitioner’s convictions and sentenced Petitioner to life in prison. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After a careful review of the record, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to establish that he is entitled to post-conviction relief. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/04/14
Ronnie Lee Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01198-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Appellant, Ronnie Lee Johnson, appeals the trial court’s summary denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis.  The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/04/14
State of Tennessee v. Ernest H. Pyle
E2013-01977-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Richard R. Vance

Defendant, Ernest H. Pyle, was charged by presentment with two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated kidnapping, and one count of resisting arrest. The trial court dismissed at the request of the State the two counts of aggravated kidnapping. A petit jury convicted Defendant of the remaining counts. The trial court properly merged Defendant’s two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and sentenced Defendant to 25 years’ incarceration. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, and that trial court erred by not granting a mistrial after allowing evidence of a prior bad act. Having carefully reviewed the record before us and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Carl Miller Jr.
W2014-00054-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

A Shelby County grand jury indicted Defendant, Carl Miller, Jr., for aggravated sexual battery, sexual battery by an authority figure, and rape. Defendant was tried before a jury. Over the objection of Defendant, the trial judge declared a mistrial based on manifest necessity. Thereafter, Defendant moved to dismiss the indictment based on double jeopardy. The trial court denied the motion. Defendant entered a plea of guilty to rape, reserving a certified question related to the trial court’s denial of the motion. Following our review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to dismiss the indictment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Michael Kizer
W2013-02559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

Michael Kizer (“the Defendant”) was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated robbery and one count of attempted aggravated robbery. Following a sentencing hearing, the Defendant received a total effective sentence of forty-five years’ incarceration. In this direct appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court improperly severed his case from that of his co-defendant and that the trial court erred in allowing the State to reopen its proof in order to introduce the testimony of his co-defendant. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/14
State of Tennessee v. Laquita Monique Hogan
M2013-02340-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

This direct appeal presents a certified question of law pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(A) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure.  After the trial court denied her motion to suppress, Defendant, Laquite Monique Hogan, entered a guilty plea in the Maury County Circuit Court to facilitation of possession of a schedule II drug for sale and was sentenced to three years to be suspended and served on probation.  Defendant properly reserved the following certified question of law: “whether there was a sufficient nexus that continued to persist at the time the search warrant was executed due to the fact that the location of the alleged sales was away from the residence and the affidavit does not include facts that Jason Coleman was seen coming and returning to his home from the sale which was to have occurred 96 hours ago; whether the alleged facts that Mr. Coleman was monitored leaving from his home and returning within 30 days of the execution of the warrant was stale information and whether the record supports the finding that both prongs of Aguil[]ar-Spinelli have been satisfied.” After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that Defendant is not entitled to relief in this appeal.  Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to suppress, and we affirm Defendant’s judgment of conviction.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/14
Kevin Womack v. State of Tennessee
W2013-02288-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

On July 26, 2012, this court affirmed judgments regarding the petitioner, Kevin Womack, for possession of cocaine with intent to sell, possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of a firearm with intent to employ in the commission of a dangerous felony, possession of drug paraphernalia, theft of property over $500, and tampering with evidence, reducing the theft conviction from a Class E felony to a Class A misdemeanor. State v. Kevin Womack, No. W2011-01827-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 3055773, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 26, 2012). No application for permission to appeal was filed. On August 8, 2013, he filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that he did not file a Rule 11 application because his trial counsel had filed a motion to withdraw, “informing the petitioner his application [for permission to appeal] must [be] filed by September 24, 2012.” He argued that his post-conviction petition was timely because it was filed within one year of this date. The State responded that the petition was untimely, and the post-conviction court agreed, dismissing the petition for this reason. On October 15, 2013, the petitioner filed his notice of appeal regarding that dismissal. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court’s dismissal of the petition.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14
Charles Hall v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01438-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Charles Hall, was convicted of aggravated robbery and sentenced, as a repeat violent offender, to life imprisonment without parole. This court affirmed the judgment of the trial court on direct appeal, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied his application for permission to appeal. State v. Charles Hall, No. W2009-02569-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 5271082, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 10, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Apr. 12, 2011). Subsequently, he filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that trial counsel was deficient in pursuing pretrial motions and making erroneous trial decisions. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court determined both that the petitioner had failed to establish that trial counsel had been ineffective or that he had been prejudiced by counsel’s alleged misdeeds. Following our review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/31/14