Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/09/2022
Format: 08/09/2022
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Roshone Perry
M2020-01407-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Marcus Roshone Perry, Defendant, appeals his convictions for two counts of premeditated first degree murder, one count of first degree felony murder, and one count of felon in possession of a firearm, claiming that the trial court erred (1) in admitting hearsay evidence, (2) in admitting discoverable evidence that was not provided to Defendant, and (3) by empaneling a jury which was not representative of Defendant’s peers.  Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/22/22
State of Tennessee v. Quincy Lamont Collins
W2020-01566-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

Defendant, Quincy Lamont Collins, was indicted by the Madison County Grand Jury for one count each of attempted first degree premeditated murder, aggravated assault, especially aggravated robbery, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony having been previously convicted of a dangerous felony. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted as charged, and he received an effective sentence of 31 years. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress his statement to police; that the trial court should have suppressed the gun located as a result of information obtained during Defendant’s interrogation; that the trial court erred by instructing the jury on flight; and that his convictions for attempted first degree premeditated murder and aggravated assault violate double jeopardy. Following our careful review of the record, the arguments of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/22
State of Tennessee v. Sean Matthew Houser
E2020-01389-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

I concur with the majority’s conclusion to dismiss the Defendant’s appeal. However, I would dismiss the appeal on the basis that the certified questions are not dispositive because even if the results of the Defendant’s warrantless blood draw were suppressed, other sufficient evidence exists upon which the Defendant could be convicted of DUI.

Grainger County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/22
State of Tennessee v. Sean Matthew Houser
E2020-01389-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

The Appellant, Sean Matthew Houser, pled guilty in the Grainger County Circuit Court to driving under the influence (DUI) per se, a Class A misdemeanor. As a condition of his plea, he reserved two certified questions of law regarding the admissibility of his warrantless blood alcohol test. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the certified questions do not comply with Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A) because they are too broad. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.

Grainger County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/22
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Scott Donaldson
E2020-01561-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

Aggrieved of his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of second degree murder, the defendant, Brandon Scott Donaldson, appeals. He alleges error in the composition of the jury, arguing that the venire did not represent a fair cross-section of the community and that the State improperly used a peremptory challenge to strike an African American. He claims error in both the admission and exclusion of evidence, arguing that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence a sonogram photograph and by excluding text messages sent by the victim, certain of the victim’s medical records, and prior consistent statements of a defense witness. He also asserts that the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial after a State’s witness offered improper testimony. He asserts that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct during closing argument. He claims error in the jury instructions provided by the trial court, arguing that the trial court incorrectly defined the offense of voluntary manslaughter and that the sequential jury instruction essentially barred the jury from adequately considering voluntary manslaughter as a lesser included offense of second degree murder. The defendant also challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and the propriety of the total effective sentence. Finally, he asserts that the cumulative effect of the alleged errors prevented him from receiving a fair trial. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/21/22
Antonio Bonds v. State of Tennessee
W2021-00589-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

The Petitioner, Antonio Bonds, was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder, and he received a sentence of life imprisonment. The Petitioner filed this fourth petition for post-conviction relief over twenty years after his conviction, and the postconviction court summarily dismissed his petition on the ground that the statute of limitations barred its consideration of his claims. The Petitioner appeals. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/20/22
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Willingham
M2020-01740-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

A Rutherford County jury convicted the Defendant, Marcus Willingham, of ten counts of rape of a child and two counts of solicitation of sexual exploitation of a child, for which the trial court imposed an effective sentence of thirty years’ incarceration.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it admitted pornographic material found on his electronic devices and that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions.  After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.  

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/20/22
State of Tennessee v. Daniel H. Jones
E2021-00701-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The pro se Appellant, Daniel H. Jones, appeals the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s orders summarily dismissing his motions to recuse the trial judge and motion for relief from final judgment. See Tenn. R. Civ. P. 60.02. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s judgments pursuant to Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/22
State of Tennessee v. Casey Bryan Gibbs
M2021-00933-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne Lockert-Mash
Defendant, Casey Bryan Gibbs, entered a nolo contendere plea to possession of methamphetamine over 0.5 grams and felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to ten years in the Department of Correction to serve 180 days with the balance suspended to the Community Corrections program. Following a hearing on a community corrections violation warrant based on Defendant’s failure to report, the trial court revoked Defendant’s community corrections sentence and ordered him to serve the remainder of his ten-year sentence in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues the trial court abused its discretion in fully revoking his community corrections sentence and ordering him to serve the sentence in confinement. Following our review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/22
State of Tennessee v. Quentin Dean Bird
M2021-00372-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Defendant, Quentin Dean Bird, was convicted by a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury of two counts of first degree premeditated murder.  See T.C.A. § 39-13-202(a)(1) (2014) (subsequently amended).  The jury imposed sentences of life without the possibility of parole, which the trial court ordered to be served consecutively to each other.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) he was deprived of his right to equal protection under the law when the State exercised a peremptory challenge against a black prospective juror without articulating a valid race-neutral reason, (2) the trial court erred in admitting graphic autopsy photographs, (3) the sentence of life without parole for the murder of one of the victims was excessive and constituted double jeopardy because the facts used to establish the enhancement factor were also used to enhance the sentence for the murder of the second victim, and (4) the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentences based upon its finding that the Defendant was a dangerous offender.  We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/19/22
Curtis Keller v. State of Tennessee
W2021-00123-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

After the dismissal of his petition for error coram nobis relief without a hearing, Curtis Keller, Petitioner, appealed. Upon review, we determine that the petition for relief was properly dismissed and affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/18/22
State of Tennessee v. Jeremiah Emery
W2021-00086-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, Jeremiah Emery, entered open guilty pleas to one count of possession of marijuana with intent to sell (Count 1), one count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver (Count 2), one count of possession of drug paraphernalia (Count 3), two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony (Counts 4 and 5), and one count of unlawful possession of a firearm (Count 6). The trial court sentenced Defendant to a total effective sentence of five years in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by misapplying enhancement factors and ordering the maximum sentence for Counts 1 and 2, that the trial court erred in denying a probated sentence for Counts 1 and 2, and that the trial court erred in ordering Defendant to serve the conviction for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony to be served after Counts 1 and 2. Following our review of the entire record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/18/22
Tarence Nelson v. State of Tennessee
W2021-00896-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

After being convicted of two counts of first degree murder, Tarence Nelson, Petitioner, sought a direct appeal and post-conviction relief. See State v. Tarence Nelson, No. W2011- 02222-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 12185279, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 24, 2013), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Oct. 16, 2013); Tarence Nelson v. State, No. W2017-02063-CCA-R3- PC, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 12, 2019), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Jan. 15, 2020). Petitioner was not successful in either appeal. Petitioner sought relief via the writ of error coram nobis while the post-conviction petition was pending. That petition was ultimately dismissed. Petitioner filed another petition for writ of error coram nobis. It was summarily dismissed on the basis that it was untimely. After a review, we affirm the judgment of the criminal court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/18/22
State of Tennessee v. David Johnson
W2019-01133-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

On October 12, 2018, a Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, David Johnson, of aggravated rape committed in February 2000, based on DNA evidence linking him to the crime. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that he is entitled to have the conviction reversed and dismissed because he was not timely indicted. He also argues that the State failed to establish the chain of custody of the DNA evidence. We conclude that the Defendant was timely indicted through a “John Doe” indictment and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the chain of custody was adequately established for the DNA evidence. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/18/22
Michael Bland v. State of Tennessee
W2021-00897-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

In 2015, a Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Michael Bland, of first degree premeditated murder, and the trial court imposed a life sentence. On February 20, 2020, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, alleging that newly discovered evidence exists. After a hearing on the petition, the coram nobis court issued an order denying the petition. The Petitioner appeals, arguing that the coram nobis court erred by denying relief. The Petitioner asserts that newly discovered evidence would have changed the outcome of the trial. After review, we affirm the coram nobis court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/18/22
State of Tennessee v. Justin Antonio McDowell
E2020-01641-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, Justin Antonio McDowell, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of two counts of possession of more than 0.5 gram of cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver within a drug-free zone, a Class A felony; possession of more than twenty-six grams of methamphetamine with the intent to sell, deliver, or manufacture within a drug-free zone, a Class A felony; unlawful possession of a firearm by a person previously convicted of a violent felony, a Class B felony; and two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417(a), (c), (i) (possession of cocaine or methamphetamine) (2018) (subsequently amended); 39-17-1307(b)(1) (possession of a firearm after previously having been convicted of a violent felony); 39-17-1324(a) (possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony) (2018) (subsequently amended); 37-17-1324(g)(2) (increasing the penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, if the defendant had a prior felony conviction at the time of the present offense). The trial court merged two of the firearm convictions and imposed an effective thirty-year sentence, to be served at 100%. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence obtained after his unlawful detention and a warrantless search of his car and motel room, (3) the trial court erred in admitting drug evidence because an unbroken chain of custody was not established, and (4) he is entitled to a sentence reduction due to post-sentencing changes to the drug-free zone sentence enhancement statute. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/14/22
Oscar Smith v. State of Tennessee
M2022-00455-CCA-R3-PD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

Petitioner, Oscar Smith, a death row inmate, appeals the trial court’s order denying his “Motion to Reopen Post-Conviction Proceedings and/or for Review under Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001.”  The trial court denied Petitioner’s motion to reopen and his DNA petition in the same order.  Petitioner has filed a notice of appeal (Docket No. M2022-00455-CCA-R3-PD) and an application for permission to appeal (Docket No. M2022-00460-CCA-R28-PD).  The Court hereby consolidates these two appeals under Docket No. M2022-00455-CCA-R3-PD.  The record has been filed and Petitioner, in addition to having filed an application for permission to appeal, has already filed his appellate brief.  Upon our review, we affirm the rulings of the trial court pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/14/22
State of Tennessee v. Wayne David Jones
M2020-00871-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant, Wayne David Jones, was convicted by a jury of two counts of reckless homicide, one count of aggravated child abuse, and one count of child neglect, for which he received an effective twenty-five-year sentence.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficent to support his convictions because the jury improperly weighed conflicting expert medical testimony regarding the thirteen-month-old victim’s head trauma and cause of death.  Following our review, we find that the evidence was sufficient to support the Defendant’s convictions.  However, we determine error with the classification of the Defendant’s child neglect conviction as a Class A misdmeanor and the imposition of a misdemeanor sentence.  Accordingly, we vacate the conviction and sentence for child neglect and remand for entry of a modified Class E felony child neglect conviction and for the trial court to impose a corresponding felony sentence.  In all other respects, we affirm. 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/22
State of Tennessee v. Amanda L. Moore
M2020-01147-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Amanda L. Moore, Defendant, appeals after a jury convicted her of two counts of vehicular assault, one count of driving under the influence (“DUI”), and one count of reckless endangerment.  The trial court merged the DUI conviction into the convictions for vehicular assault.  Defendant was sentenced to an effective sentence of four years.  After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant appealed, arguing: (1) the trial court improperly admitted the results of a blood draw used by the hospital for medical treatment; (2) the trial court improperly allowed her to be questioned extensively about her driving history on cross-examination; (3) the trial court improperly allowed the State to meet with its expert during cross-examination; and (4) the trial court had improper ex parte communication with the jury during deliberation.  After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand to the trial court for entry of a judgment form for DUI.  

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/22
State of Tennessee v. Derrick Himes
M2020-00407-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

A Rutherford County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Derrick Himes, of three counts of rape of a child and three counts of aggravated sexual battery.  The trial court imposed a sentence of twenty-five years for each rape of a child conviction and eight years for each aggravated sexual battery conviction.  The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of twenty-five years for each rape of a child conviction, concurrent sentences of eight years for each aggravated sexual battery conviction, and ordered that the
twenty-five-year sentence and the eight-year sentence be served consecutively for a total effective sentence of thirty-three years.  On appeal, the Appellant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying the Appellant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal and motion for new trial because the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions, (2) the trial court abused its discretion by allowing the prosecutor to elicit irrelevant and prejudicial testimony from the State’s witnesses, and (3) the trial court erred in imposing consecutive sentencing.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. 

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/22
State of Tennessee v. Mark Dewayne McMurry
M2021-00223-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Defendant, Mark Dewayne McMurry, was indicted for and pleaded guilty to robbery.  Prior to sentencing, Defendant moved to recuse the trial judge.  The trial court denied Defendant’s motion for recusal and, following a sentencing hearing, sentenced Defendant as a Range II multiple offender to serve 10 years in incarceration.  In this appeal as of right, Defendant challenges his sentence as excessive and argues that the trial court should have granted his motion for recusal.  Following our careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.  

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/22
Tut M. Tut v. Kevin Genovese, Warden
W2021-01290-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The pro se Petitioner, Tut Mayal Tut, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court but remand the case for entry of corrected judgments.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/11/22
Markist Cole v. State of Tennessee
W2021-00973-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Markist Cole, appeals the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. He asserts that due process considerations warranted the tolling of the one-year statute of limitations mandated by Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-102(a). Following our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/11/22
Lamario Hill v. Kevin Genovese, Warden
W2021-01150-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The pro se Petitioner, Lamario Hill, appeals the Lake County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus from his convictions for first degree felony murder, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and aggravated assault, for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment and concurrent sentences of nine and four years, respectively. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the judgment for his life sentence is void (1) because it was imposed pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-501(i), which he claims is invalid, and because it was imposed in contravention of Tennessee Code Annotated sections 40-35-501(a)(2) and 40-28-115(b)(1); and (2) because it was imposed in violation of the Eighth Amendment pursuant to Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), and Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U.S. 190 (2016). We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/11/22
Billy Gene DeBow v. State of Tennessee
M2021-00471-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael E. Spitzer

The Petitioner, Billy Gene DeBow, appeals the Hickman County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his pro se petition seeking habeas corpus relief from his first-degree murder conviction.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the habeas corpus court abused its discretion by dismissing his petition without ruling on the merits of his claims and that he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because his judgment is void and his sentence is illegal.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment summarily dismissing the petition. 

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/22