Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 03/22/2017
Format: 03/22/2017
State of Tennessee v. Carl Hall
W2016-00915-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Appellant, Carl Hall, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Appellant contends that the trial court erred because his motion stated a colorable claim for relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/17
State of Tennessee v. William Crayton
W2016-01708-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The defendant, William Crayton, appeals the summary dismissal of his motion, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, to correct what he believes to be an illegal sentence imposed for his 2009 Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of criminal attempt to commit first degree murder. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Tony Wolfe
W2016-00903-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Tony Wolfe, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his motion to reopen his post-conviction petition on the basis of newly discovered scientific mental health evidence. He contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying his motion without conducting a hearing on the merits. Because the Petitioner has no appeal as of right from the denial of a motion to reopen and did not follow the procedure required for seeking permission to appeal, we dismiss the appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Earl Vantrease
M2016-01200-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary S. McKenzie

The Defendant, Earl Vantrease, was convicted by a Putnam County jury of aggravated robbery in 2003 and received a sixteen-year sentence as a Range II offender.  Thirteen years later, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1 requesting that the trial court correct an illegal sentence.  The trial court summarily dismissed the motion.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in dismissing his motion.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Troy Love
E2015-02297-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Defendant, Troy Love, was found guilty by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of two counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and of aggravated sexual battery, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-522 (2014) (rape of a child), 39-13-504 (2014) (aggravated sexual battery). He was sentenced to consecutive terms of twenty-five years each for the rape of a child convictions and to a concurrent term of ten years for aggravated sexual battery, for an effective sentence of fifty years to be served as a Violent Offender. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress his pretrial statement, (2) the court erred in denying the Defendant‘s pretrial motions relative to interaction between the victim and State agents and for a "taint hearing" to determine the victim‘s reliability, (3) the court erred in failing to conduct a pretrial hearing to corroborate the reliability of the Defendant‘s pretrial statements, (4) the court erred in denying the motion for a directed verdict and for judgment of acquittal, (5) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions, (6) the court and the prosecutor improperly referred to "Count 8" despite the fact that only three counts were submitted to the jury, (7) the court erred in its jury instructions, (8) the sentence is improper, and (9) due process requires relief due to the existence of cumulative error. We affirm the rape of a child convictions, and we reverse the aggravated sexual battery conviction and remand for a new trial.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/21/17
Mitchell Nathaniel Scott v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01210-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

After pleading guilty to one count of aggravated child abuse, Petitioner sought unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty plea.  Subsequently, Petitioner sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel, among other things.  The post-conviction court denied relief, and Petitioner appeals.  After a review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Lee Williams
M2016-00568-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt, Jr.

Defendant, Christopher Lee Williams, was convicted of reckless endangerment, aggravated kidnapping, and domestic assault.  Defendant raises the following issues on appeal: (1) whether dual convictions for aggravated kidnapping resulting in bodily injury and domestic assault based on bodily injury are proper, and (2) whether the trial court failed to consider a statutory mitigating factor in fashioning Defendant’s sentence.  After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/21/17
Kelley Elizabeth Cannon v. State of Tennessee
M2015-01869-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

A Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Kelley Elizabeth Cannon, of first degree premeditated murder and a life sentence was imposed.  On direct appeal, this Court affirmed the Petitioner’s conviction and sentence.  State v. Kelley Elizabeth Cannon, No. M2010-01553-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 5378088, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Oct. 30, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 9, 2013).  The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition alleging ineffective assistance of counsel, and the post-conviction court denied relief following a hearing.  On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that she received the ineffective assistance of counsel, asserts that the post-conviction court erred by preventing her use of trial exhibits for a demonstration and challenges the validity of the search warrants in this case.  After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher L. Smith
M2016-00662-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

The defendant, Christopher L. Smith, pled guilty to two counts of aggravated burglary and one count of aggravated assault, all Class C felonies, in exchange for an effective sentence of six years with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court.  Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of confinement, which the defendant now challenges.  After review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/17
Cedric Watkins v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00681-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The petitioner, Cedric Watkins, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his first degree premeditated murder conviction, arguing that the post-conviction court erred in finding that he received effective assistance of trial counsel.  Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/20/17
Tehren Wilson v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00770-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

The Petitioner, Tehren Wilson, appeals as of right from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to file a written request for a jury charge on fraudulent use of a credit card as a lesser-included offense of identity theft. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Jeffery Keith Toone, Jr.
W2015-02332-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

The Defendant-Appellant, Jeffery Keith Toone, Jr., pled guilty to two counts of extortion, ten counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, and two counts of solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor and received an effective four-year sentence, suspended to supervised probation after service of two consecutive sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days in the county jail. As a condition of his guilty plea, Toone sought to reserve several certified questions of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A), generally arguing that the transfer of his case from juvenile court to circuit court was improper. Because Toone's certified questions are overly broad, the appeal is dismissed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Joe Edward Daniels
M2015-01939-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Earl Durham

A jury convicted the Defendant, Joe Edward Daniels, of first degree (premeditated) murder.  The Defendant was also convicted of certain collateral crimes and traffic offenses, including tampering with evidence, a Class D felony; abuse of a corpse, a Class E felony; failure to give notice of an accident, a Class C misdemeanor; leaving the scene of an accident, a Class C misdemeanor; driving on the wrong side of the road, a Class C misdemeanor; and failure to use due care, a Class C misdemeanor.  The Defendant appeals his murder conviction, asserting that the State failed to prove premeditation and that the State’s proof regarding the chain of custody of the corpse should have preceded the medical examiner’s testimony.  The Defendant also claims error in the jury instructions, including the trial court’s decision not to charge attempt; the trial court’s decision to charge flight; the trial court’s inclusion of a charge regarding criminal responsibility and lack of notice regarding that charge; and the trial court’s failure to charge facilitation.  After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Jackson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Terrance Lavar Walker
M2016-00687-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph W. Woodruff

Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant, Terrance Lavar Walker, pleaded guilty to delivery of more than .5 grams of cocaine with an agreed upon Range I sentence of nine years, with the trial court to determine the manner of service of the nine-year sentence.  After a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied the Defendant’s request for an alternative sentence and ordered that the Defendant serve nine years in confinement.  On appeal, the Defendant contends the trial court erred when it denied him an alternative sentence.  We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Petr Pompa
M2016-00193-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The Defendant, Petr Pompa, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of two counts of sexual battery by an authority figure and two counts of statutory rape by an authority figure.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred in allowing inadmissible opinion, character, and hearsay testimony at trial; (2) the trial court erred in excluding evidence of the victim’s motive to fabricate the allegations against the Defendant; (3) the trial court erred in allowing the victim to remain in the courtroom following her testimony; (4) the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion for judgment of acquittal as to counts five and six; and (5) the Defendant’s sentence was unlawful.  Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Lavar Jernigan
M2016-00507-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

The Defendant, Lavar Jernigan, was convicted by a Rutherford County Circuit Court jury of six counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, Class B felonies.  SeeT.C.A. § 39-17-1005 (2010) (amended 2013).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant to ten years for each count and ordered partial consecutive service, for an effective sentence of thirty years at 100% service.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by (1) admitting in evidence a notebook containing text messages exchanged between the Defendant and the victim, (2) denying his motion to dismiss the indictment, and (3) denying his motion for a bill of particulars.  We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Jason Erik Redden
E2016-00998-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

 The Defendant, Jason Erik Redden, pleaded guilty to two counts of official misconduct,Class E felonies, in exchange for concurrent sentences of two years each. See T.C.A. §§39-16-402 (2014). Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court was to determine themanner of service and ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, theDefendant contends that the court erred by denying (1) judicial diversion and (2) alternative sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/15/17
Starbrough Jones v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00197-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Petitioner, Starbrough Jones, filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel was ineffective. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition as untimely. On appeal, the Petitioner concedes that the petition was untimely but maintains that due process requires tolling the statute of limitations because he was never “official[ly]” informed that counsel was withdrawing after this court filed its opinion on direct appeal and because counsel did not advise the Petitioner of his right to seek postconviction relief. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Douglas Smith-Dissenting
W2015-01826-CCA-R10-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

I must respectfully dissent from the majority in this case. This court granted the State’s request for extraordinary review pursuant to Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. In this Rule 10 appeal, we permitted review of the following certified question: “Did the trial court abuse its discretion in excluding the evidence seized from the defendant after a warrantless arrest that was supported by probable cause?” In reversing the trial court, the majority relies on information from the confidential informant contained in the search warrant in support of the Defendant’s warrantless arrest. In my view, the majority has recast the certified question to whether the confidential informant’s tip provided sufficient probable cause to arrest the Defendant, which was not addressed by the trial court.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Douglas Smith
W2015-01826-CCA-R10-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

After the trial court denied an interlocutory appeal pursuant to Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, the State sought an extraordinary appeal pursuant to Rule 10 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. This Court granted the State's application. On appeal, the State argues that the trial court erred in excluding the evidence seized from Defendant because the arresting officer had probable cause to arrest him for a felony drug offense and search him incident to that arrest. Following our review, we reverse the judgment of the trial court.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/14/17
Odell Wisdom v. Randy Lee, Warden, et al.
E2016-01737-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa N. Rice

The Petitioner, Odell Wisdom, appeals as of right from the Johnson County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. He claims entitlement to habeas corpus relief, alleging that his separate convictions for contempt and failure to appear violate double jeopardy principles. Following our review, we conclude that the Petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for relief and, therefore, affirm the summary dismissal of his petition.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Tommy Tyrell Johnson
M2016-01243-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Bragg

The Defendant, Tommy Tyrell Johnson, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s order revoking his probation for his theft conviction and ordering him to serve his four-year sentence in confinement.  The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Shanerick Abraham
W2016-01497-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

A Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Shanerick Abraham, of aggravated robbery. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence was insufficient to support his aggravated robbery conviction because the victim voluntarily gave the defendant money, and the alleged taking was temporally remote to the subsequent act of violence. The defendant additionally alleges ineffective assistance of counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Louis Grieco
E2015-01110-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

Defendant, Louis Grieco, was arrested on August 24, 2013, without a warrant for driving under the influence (DUI). On the date of the arrest, the arresting officer summarized the facts underlying the offense in an affidavit of complaint, which he signed under oath before a notary public. Two days later, a general sessions judge found probable cause that the offense was committed based on the officer's affidavit of complaint. Over one year later, on October 6, 2014, Defendant waived his right to a preliminary hearing in General Sessions Court and agreed to have the case bound over to the Sullivan County Grand Jury. The grand jury indicted Defendant for DUI on January 21, 2015. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment as time barred, arguing that the affidavit of complaint was void because the officer did not make it on oath in the presence of an authorized official capable of making a probable cause determination. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss. The State appeals. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/10/17
State of Tennessee v. Janice Darlene Helbert
E2015-02017-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

Defendant, Janice Darlene Helbert, was issued a Uniform Citation of Complaint for the offenses of driving under the influence and following too closely. The citation included the officer's narrative of the facts underlying the offenses. The officer also prepared an affidavit of complaint, which he signed under oath before a notary public. Three days later, the affidavit of complaint was signed by a deputy clerk. Over one year later, Defendant waived her right to a preliminary hearing and agreed to have her case bound over to the grand jury. The grand jury subsequently returned a presentment against Defendant for the misdemeanor offenses above, as well as one count of felony reckless endangerment. Subsequent to the presentment, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the two misdemeanor counts as time barred, arguing that the affidavit of complaint was void because the officer did not make the oath in the presence of an authorized official capable of making a probable cause determination. The trial court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss the misdemeanor charges. The State sought and was granted an interlocutory appeal of the trial court's decision. On appeal, the State contends that the fact that the affidavit of complaint was sworn before a notary public rather than a qualified judicial officer was a “technical defect” that should not render it void. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/10/17