Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/09/2022
Format: 08/09/2022
Joseph Sanford McNair, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2021-00219-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson

The Petitioner, Joseph Sanford McNair, Jr., filed a petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, possession of cocaine with intent to sell, and possession of marijuana and the accompanying effective twelve-year sentence. In the petition, the Petitioner alleged that trial counsel was ineffective (1) by failing to pursue a Sixth Amendment claim regarding the racial composition of the jury pool; (2) by failing to pursue a claim regarding the “constructive amendment in the indictment”; and (3) by failing to fully pursue the Petitioner’s Fourth Amendment rights during a motion to suppress. The Petitioner also raises two free-standing claims: (1) his Sixth Amendment right to a jury composed of a fair cross-section of the community was violated because black people were underrepresented in the jury pool; and (2) his rights against double jeopardy were violated when the trial court allowed the indictment to be constructively amended after the jury rendered its verdict. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/13/22
Robert Smith v. State of Tennessee
W2021-00890-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

In November of 2018, Petitioner, Robert Smith, pleaded guilty to three counts of aggravated rape in exchange for an effective 18-year sentence. The crimes were all committed in 1986. Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of plea counsel. At the evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court heard testimony and arguments on the ineffective assistance of counsel claim and whether Petitioner freely and voluntarily entered his guilty plea. The post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, Petitioner argues that he did not freely and voluntarily enter his guilty plea. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/22
State of Tennessee v. Daniel Leon McCaig
W2021-00736-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

Daniel Leon McCaig, Defendant, pled guilty to several offenses in 2018 and received a sentence to be served on Community Corrections. After a partial revocation of his alternative sentence in 2020, Defendant was arrested for new charges two separate times in 2021. As a result of the new charges, two probation violation reports were filed. After a hearing, the trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and reinstated his eight-year sentence with credit for time served. Defendant appeals the revocation. After a de novo review, we affirm the revocation of probation.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/22
State of Tennessee v. Darrin Keith Ward
W2021-00047-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Moore

Aggrieved of his Dyer County Circuit Court jury convictions of possession with intent to sell or deliver more than 300 grams of cocaine and possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, the defendant, Darrin Keith Ward, appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by failing to dismiss for cause a juror who was sleeping during trial and committed plain error by permitting a police officer to testify as an expert in narcotics trafficking. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/22
Ebony Marshall v. State of Tennessee
W2021-01131-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell

The Petitioner, Ebony Marshall, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for two counts of robbery and his effective twenty-five-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by determining that his petition was untimely and by summarily dismissing his petition. We conclude that the petition for relief was timely filed. We reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for further proceedings.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/22
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Cody Gass
E2021-00692-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

Douglas Cody Gass, Defendant, entered an open guilty plea to reckless aggravated assault (Count 10), felony evading arrest (Count 11), and vehicular homicide (Count 12); and the remaining nine counts were dismissed. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of twenty years—four years to serve in Count 10, six years to serve in Count 12, and four years suspended to ten years’ probation in Count 11— and aligned the sentences consecutively. Defendant claims that the trial court erred in setting the length of his sentences, in imposing consecutive sentences, and in denying alternative sentencing in Counts 10 and 12. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/22
Quincy Scott v. State of Tennessee
E2021-00400-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

Quincy Scott (“Petitioner”) filed a petition for post-conviction relief claiming that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at his probation revocation hearing. The postconviction court dismissed the petition based on the holding of Young v. State, 101 S.W.3d 430, 433 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2002), that the Post-Conviction Procedure Act “does not permit the filing of a petition . . . to attack collaterally the validity of a proceeding to revoke the suspension of sentence and/or probation.” We affirm.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/22
State of Tennessee v. Charles Hardy, Jr.
E2021-00616-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Defendant, Charles Hardy, Jr., alias, appeals his convictions for first degree premeditated murder and tampering with evidence, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. Upon reviewing the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/22
State of Tennessee v. David Stewart Cowles, Jr.
E2021-00603-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

Defendant, David Stewart Cowles, Jr., entered an open guilty plea to theft of property valued at $10,000 but less than $60,000 with the manner and length of the sentence to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of split confinement, with seven months to be served in the county jail and the remainder of the sentence on supervised probation. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing a sentence of split confinement and in denying a community corrections sentence. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/22
State Of Tennessee v. Jennifer Sadie Thompson
M2021-00420-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The Appellant, Jennifer Sadie Thompson, filed a pro se motion for correction of sentence pursuant to Rule 36.1, which was denied by the trial court.  On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying her motion, arguing that the Tennessee Department of Correction failed to apply sentencing credits to which she was entitled.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.  

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/22
State of Tennessee v. Inman D. Turner
M2020-01729-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

In 2019, the Appellee, Inman D. Turner, was charged in the Rutherford County Circuit Court with two counts of criminal sexual conduct and four counts of aggravated rape, Class X felonies, for offenses that allegedly occurred from 1978 to 1982.  The Appellee filed a motion to dismiss the indictment for prosecutorial delay.  The trial court held an evidentiary hearing and granted the motion, and the State appeals.  Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/06/22
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Hinson
W2021-00257-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

A Madison County jury convicted Defendant, Timothy Hinson, for one count of continuous sexual abuse of a child (“CSAC”), five counts of rape, five counts of aggravated statutory rape, five counts of statutory rape by an authority figure, three counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, and one count of attempted sexual battery by an authority figure. On appeal, Defendant argues that (1) the trial court violated Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-518(f) when it failed to dismiss the predicate offenses after merging them into CSAC, (2) the trial court imposed sentences for the predicate offenses in contravention of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-518(f), (3) his convictions in Counts 3 and 11 violate the protections against double jeopardy, and (4) the trial court abused its discretion in enhancing Defendant’s sentence for the CSAC conviction. After review and pursuant to the plain language of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-518(f), we remand the case for resentencing on Counts 4, 8, 12, 15, and 18, and entry of corrected judgment forms in Counts 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17, 19, and 20. The judgments of the trial court are otherwise affirmed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/22
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Maurice Jackson
M2020-01098-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant, Antonio Maurice Jackson, was convicted of three counts of second degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault after a bench trial. The trial court merged the homicide offenses and imposed an aggregate sentence of twenty-five years in prison. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s decision to admit the preliminary hearing testimony of a witness; the trial court’s various evidentiary decisions; the trial court’s rulings on self-defense; the trial court’s refusal to require the State to make an election on various charges; the trial court’s decision to convict the Defendant of second degree murder in Count 3 after announcing a verdict of acquittal from the bench and entering it in the minutes; and the sentencing determination. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the principles of double jeopardy prohibited the trial court from revisiting its acquittal, and we accordingly reverse the Defendant’s conviction for second degree murder in Count 3. The Defendant’s remaining convictions and sentences are affirmed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/22
State of Tennessee v. Roy Donald Coons, Jr.
M2021-00202-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

A Davidson County jury convicted the defendant, Roy Donald Coons, Jr., of two counts of second-degree murder, one count of
first-degree felony murder, one count of attempted rape of a child, and one count of aggravated criminal trespass, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus twenty-five years.  On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erred in allowing the admission of the victim’s text messages, in permitting the State to introduce an excessive number of photographs of the victim, and in imposing consecutive sentences.  The defendant also contends the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions.  After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.  However, we remand the case for corrected judgment forms in counts one and three.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/22
Gary Ray Welden v. State of Tennessee
E2021-00772-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Petitioner, Gary Ray Welden, appeals from the Campbell County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction for solicitation of a minor to engage in aggravated statutory rape and his one-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by denying relief on his ineffective assistance of counsel claims. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/22
State of Tennessee v. Kristopher Michael Martin
M2020-01384-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Defendant, Kristopher Michael Martin, was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder, for which he received a sentence of twenty years. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial erred in applying enhancement factors and that the trial court erred in failing to consider mitigating factors.  See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 40-35-113, -13-114.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/22
Gregory Arnez Goff v. State of Tennessee
W2021-00929-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan

The petitioner, Gregory Arnez Goff, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his convictions of aggravated robbery and aggravated assault, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/22
George John Byrd v. State of Tennessee
E2021-00562-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson

The Petitioner, George John Byrd, filed a petition for post-conviction relief from his three aggravated rape convictions, his aggravated assault conviction, and the resulting effective sentence of twenty-five years. The Petitioner alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective by “opening the door” to evidence that was detrimental to the Petitioner, inadequately preparing for trial, failing to interview and call certain defense witnesses, and failing to prepare the Petitioner to testify at trial. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals this ruling. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/22
State of Tennessee v. Mike Settle
W2021-00328-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

The pro se Pctitioner, Mike Settle, appeals the dismissal of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 claim. Upon our review, we affirm.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/31/22
State of Tennessee v. Kenyon Demario Reynolds, Alias
E2021-00066-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

Aggrieved of his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of second degree murder, delivery and sale of a Schedule I controlled substance, and unlawful possession of a firearm, the defendant, Kenyon Demario Reynolds, appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by denying his motion to sever the charges, denying his motion to suppress evidence, providing an incorrect jury instruction, and failing to merge two firearm convictions. Because the trial court erred by failing to merge Counts 13 and 14, we remand the case for merger of those counts and entry of corrected judgment forms. We affirm the trial court’s judgments in all other respects.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/31/22
State Of Tennessee v. Vincent Edward Crowson, Jr.
M2021-00321-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

Following a bench trial, the trial court found the defendant, Vincent Edward Crowson, Jr., guilty of driving under the influence (count 1), driving while his license was suspended because of a conviction for driving under the influence (count 2), possession of a weapon while under the influence of a controlled substance (count 4), being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm (count 5), driving while his license was suspended because of a conviction for driving under the influence, second offense (count 6), and driving under the influence, second offense (count 7).  The trial court imposed an effective twenty-year sentence, and the defendant appealed.  On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions, the constitutionality of the felon in possession of a firearm statute, and several pre-trial rulings of the trial court.  After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/27/22
State of Tennessee v. Nikos Burgins
E2021-00602-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Defendant, Nikos Burgins, appeals his conviction for solicitation of first degree murder and corresponding thirty-year sentence. The Defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred by qualifying three law enforcement officers as gang experts; (2) the court erred by allowing a layperson to offer expert testimony about handwriting; (3) the court erred by declining to issue an absent material witness instruction; (4) the court erred by admitting general gang evidence, including testimony regarding unrelated gang violence in a prison; and (5) the court should have granted his motion for judgment of acquittal due to insufficient evidence. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/22
State of Tennessee v. James Rodney Smith
M2021-00547-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne Lockert-Mash

The Defendant, James Rodney Smith, was convicted of arson following a jury trial, and he was sentenced to four years on probation and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution.  No appeal was filed, and the Defendant sought post-conviction relief and was permitted to file a delayed motion for a new trial and appeal.  James Rodney Smith v. State, No. M2019-00820-CCA-R3-PC, 2020 WL 3832996, at *6 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 8, 2020) (reversing the post-conviction court’s denial of post-conviction relief and remanding for a hearing on due process tolling), no perm. app. filed.  On appeal of the conviction, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence, the unanimity of the jury verdict, and the restitution order.  After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Houston County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/25/22
Jonathan Robert Leonard v. State of Tennessee
M2021-00535-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Wyatt Burk

The Petitioner, Johnathan Robert Leonard, sought post-conviction relief from his convictions of three counts of rape of a child, two counts of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor, and one count of aggravated sexual battery, for which he received an effective ninety-six-year sentence.  Relevant to this appeal, he alleged that counsel was ineffective because counsel failed to adequately meet and confer with him, preserve for appeal several issues related to prosecutorial misconduct during trial proceedings, and appeal his sentence.  See Johnathan Robert Leonard v. State, No. M2018-01737-CCA-R3-PC, 2019 WL 5885085, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Nov. 12, 2019), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Mar. 26, 2020).  Following a hearing, the post-conviction court granted the Petitioner relief in the form of a delayed appeal regarding his claim that counsel was ineffective in failing to appeal his sentence, but this court reversed and remanded for adjudication of the Petitioner’s remaining allegations.  Id. at *9.  On remand, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner’s remaining claims after a second evidentiary hearing.  The Petitioner appeals, maintaining that counsel failed to adequately meet and confer with him and to preserve for appeal claims related to prosecutorial misconduct.  We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/25/22
State of Tennessee v. Ronald Edward Boykin, Jr.
M2020-00558-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Defendant, Ronald Edward Boykin, Jr., pleaded guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to four counts of sexual battery by an authority figure. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he was sentenced to concurrent fifteen-year sentences in the Tennessee Department of Correction with release eligibility after serving thirty percent of the sentences. The Defendant was also required to register as a sex offender and to be subject to community supervision for life. Thereafter, the Defendant filed a motion to correct his
sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, alleging that “[t]he trial court erred in holding that the lifetime community supervision portion of [the Defendant’s] ,sentence is legal, where the statutory authority for that provision mandates lifetime supervision for certain offenses but not the offenses for which [the Defendant] was convicted.” The trial court denied the motion, and the Defendant appeals. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for entry of corrected judgments of conviction.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/24/22