Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/27/2017
Format: 06/27/2017
Teddy Robbins, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01531-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Petitioner, Teddy Robbins, Jr., was convicted after a jury trial of domestic assault, aggravated assault, especially aggravated kidnapping, and aggravated rape for crimes committed against his wife, and he was sentenced to an aggregate sentence of fifty years’ imprisonment. The Petitioner filed a timely post-conviction petition, asserting that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel when his trial counsel failed to adequately prepare for trial and failed to present certain defense witnesses. After a hearing, the trial court found that counsel prepared adequately for trial, that a defense witness presented at the post-conviction hearing was not credible, and that the Petitioner failed to demonstrate any prejudice. The Petitioner appeals, contending that trial counsel’s testimony at the hearing demonstrated inadequate preparation and that as a result, his strategic decision not to call a witness was not entitled to deference. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Scott County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Austin Randall Britt
E2016-01991-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

The defendant, Austin Randall Britt, through counsel, appeals as of right from the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s order revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his sentence in the custody of the Department of Correction. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/27/17
State of Tennessee v. David Frazier
E2016-00006-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

The pro se defendant, David Frazier, appeals as of right from the Polk County Criminal Court’s order summarily dismissing his motion for correction of illegal sentence. Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s order pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the order of the trial court.

Polk County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Jose Dimas Alvarado
M2016-00378-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

The Defendant, Jose Dimas Alvarado, appeals as of right from his conviction for aggravated sexual battery. See Tenn. Code Ann.
§ 39-13-504. The Defendant argues (1) that the trial court erred in admitting the victim’s forensic interview as substantive evidence; (2) that the trial court erred in allowing the State to present evidence and argument that the Defendant had characteristics typical of perpetrators of child sexual abuse; (3) that the trial court erred in allowing the prosecutor to make improper statements during closing argument that referenced facts outside the record and shifted the burden of proof to the Defendant; (4) that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on aggravated sexual battery as a lesser-included offense of rape of a child; and (5) that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/27/17
Shaun Rondale Cross v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01578-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell

The Petitioner, Shaun Rondale Cross, appeals as of right from the Marshall County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his guilty plea was not voluntary because one of his trial attorneys “terrorized” him by threatening that he would receive “an all[-]white jury” that would “hang” him if he went to trial. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Terry Charles Jordan
M2016-01067-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Following the Defendant’s, Terry Charles Jordan’s, guilty-pleaded conviction for felony failure to appear, the trial court imposed a sentence of four years’ incarceration. The Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in enhancing his sentencing term to the maximum within the range because several of his felony convictions should have been merged. Following our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/27/17
State of Tennessee v. David Wayne Hearing
E2016-00566-COA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas J. Wright

The pro se appellant, David Wayne Hearing, appeals as of right from the Greene County Criminal Court’s order denying his motion for correction of clerical mistake. Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the judgment of the Greene County Criminal Court.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Rocky Burton
M2016-00754-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

Defendant, Rocky Burton, was convicted by a Rutherford County Jury of felony vandalism, assault, disorderly conduct, and public intoxication after an incident involving his neighbor. He appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by allowing the State to use prior convictions to impeach him and that the State’s closing argument was improper. Because Defendant opened the door to impeachment by his own testimony and the State did not engage in improper closing argument, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Elgain Ricky Wilson
M2016-02247-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth Norman

The Defendant, Elgain Ricky Wilson, pleaded guilty to first degree felony murder, armed robbery, and two counts of assault with the intent to commit armed robbery in 1984 and received an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus fifty years. Almost thirty-two years later, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Criminal Procedure Rule 36.1 requesting that the trial court correct an illegal sentence because although the indictment alleged the murder victim was killed when the victim was being robbed, the evidence showed the murder victim was killed during the robbery of another person. As a result, the Defendant argued that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary and that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion after determining that the Defendant’s motion failed to state a colorable claim for relief because the motion was not based upon the imposition of an illegal sentence but rather upon insufficient evidence and the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/27/17
State of Tennessee v. Willie Johnson
E2016-00343-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The pro se Appellant, Willie Johnson, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s order denying his motion to correct illegal sentence. Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the order of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/17
Marquise Harris v. Gerald McAllister, Warden
E2015-01218-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa Rice

The pro se petitioner, Marquise Harris, appeals as of right from the Johnson County Criminal Court’s order summarily dismissing his fourth petition for writ of habeas corpus alleging that his 2006 guilty-pleaded convictions for two counts of attempted first degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of felonious possession of a weapon are void because the general sessions and trial courts did not have jurisdiction over him due to his alleged mental incompetency. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is welltaken and affirm the order of the trial court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/17
Phillip W. Kelley v. Shawn Phillips, Warden, et al.
E2016-01771-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffery H. Wicks

The pro se Petitioner, Phillip W. Kelley, appeals as of right from the Morgan County Criminal Court’s order summarily dismissing his petition for writ of habeas corpus alleging that his 1982 convictions for three counts of first degree murder and one count of assault with intent to commit murder are void because the trial court’s minutes failed to reflect the indictments. The State has filed a motion to affirm the trial court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/17
State of Tennessee Stephan Lajuan Beasley, Sr.
E2015-02528-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The pro se appellant, Stephan Lajuan Beasley, Sr., appeals as of right from the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s order denying his motion for correction of illegal sentence. Tenn. R. Crim. P. 36.1. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the judgment of the Hamilton County Criminal Court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/17
Marcus Johnson v. State of Tennessee
E2016-00758-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The pro se Petitioner, Marcus Johnson, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s order summarily denying his petition for post-conviction relief. The State has filed a motion requesting that this court affirm the trial court’s denial of relief pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we conclude that the State’s motion is well-taken and affirm the judgment of the Knox County Criminal Court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/17
Kenneth Jackson v. State of Tennessee
E2016-01218-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Petitioner, Kenneth Jackson, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his guilty pleas were not voluntary because trial counsel stated that she was not prepared for trial the day before the trial was scheduled to begin. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/17
Carlos Smith v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01087-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The petitioner, Carlos Smith, appeals the denial of post-conviction relief from his 2012 Shelby County Criminal Court jury convictions of attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated robbery, especially aggravated burglary, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and being a felon in possession of a handgun, claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Because the post-conviction court failed to make any findings with regard to the petitioner’s claim that trial counsel did not properly inform him of his potential sentencing exposure, we remand for the limited purpose of making the requisite findings on this issue. In all other respects, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/17
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Blackwell
M2016-01063-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

The Defendant, Anthony Blackwell, was convicted by a Giles County jury of the aggravated rape of a child, a Class A felony, and sentenced as a Range III, Persistent Offender to fifty-years’ imprisonment at one-hundred percent service. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the trial court erred by allowing certain medical testimony and records pertaining to “child sexual abuse,” and that his sentence was unlawful. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/17
State of Tennessee v. Ebony Houston
M2016-01649-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody N. Kane

The Defendant, Ebony Houston, appeals the Wilson County Criminal Court’s finding of criminal contempt for failure to appear at a show cause hearing. The Defendant argues, and the State concedes, that the trial court violated her due process rights when it found her in contempt without providing notice or an opportunity to prepare for the hearing. Following our review, we reverse the Defendant’s conviction.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/26/17
William B. Gatlin v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00824-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge F. Lee Russell

Petitioner, William B. Gatlin, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner alleges that the jury at his original trial was subjected to an improper outside influence, thereby violating his Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury. Petitioner also contends that the post-conviction judge was disqualified and should have recused himself because he had also presided as the trial judge in Petitioner’s original trial. Upon our review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/23/17
Christopher Mimms v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01016-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

The Petitioner, Christopher Mimms, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Trousdale County Criminal Court. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that his drug-related convictions are void because the trial court amended the indictment without his consent. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Trousdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Daniel Inmon
M2016-00596-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

Pro se Defendant, Daniel Inmon, was indicted by the Rutherford County grand jury with four counts of educational neglect, Tennessee Code Annotated sections 49-6-3001 to -3006, a class C misdemeanor, for failing to cause his four children to attend school for a period of seventeen days. He was subsequently convicted as charged and sentenced to thirty days supervised probation for each count, to be served consecutively. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Robert G. Thornton, Jr.
M2015-01895-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

Following a jury trial in Hickman County Circuit Court, Defendant, Robert G. Thornton, Jr., was convicted of two counts of rape. The trial court merged the convictions and sentenced Defendant to twelve years in the Department of Correction to be served at 100%. On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) that the trial court improperly refused to strike a juror for cause; (2) that the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial; (3) that the evidence was not sufficient to support his rape convictions; and (4) that his sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Michael Eugene Jones
M2016-02277-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judg F. Lee Russell

The Appellant, Michael Eugene Jones, pled guilty in the Marshall County Circuit Court to selling one-half gram or more of a Schedule II controlled substance, a Class B felony. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court was to determine the length and manner of service of the sentence. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that the Appellant serve ten years in confinement. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the length of his sentence is excessive and that the trial court erred by not sentencing him to community corrections. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/21/17
State of Tennessee v. George Martin Zickefoose
E2016-01845-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The Defendant, George Martin Zickefoose, pleaded guilty to vandalism valued between $1,000 and $10,000, theft of property valued between $1,000 and $10,000, and burglary, with the trial court to determine the sentences. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered concurrent four-year sentences for each count for an effective four-year sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the trial court erred when it denied him an alternative sentence. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/20/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Collier
W2016-01231-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Christopher Collier, of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to twelve years of incarceration as a persistent offender. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/20/17