Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 10/15/2018
Format: 10/15/2018
Dennis Evans v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01619-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula Skahan

The Petitioner, Dennis Evans, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues (1) his conviction in Count 2 for possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony violated the prohibition against double jeopardy; (2) that he is entitled to retroactive application of State v. Angela Ayers, No. W2014-00781-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 7212576 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 13, 2016) (“Ayers II”), which requires this court to reverse and vacate his firearm conviction and dismiss Count 2 for lack of adequate notice; and (3) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance by advising him to accept the plea agreement offered by the State. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Casey Colbert
W2017-01998-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Defendant-Appellant, Casey Colbert, entered guilty pleas to two counts of bribery of a witness and two counts of coercion of a witness, see T.C.A. §39-16-107(a)(1) and §39-16-507 (2010). After a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the two convictions for bribery and the two convictions for coercion into single convictions of bribery and coercion. The trial court then imposed a six-year sentence for bribery and a four-year sentence for coercion, to be served consecutively, for an effective sentence of ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court erred in ordering the Defendant to serve his sentences consecutively. Upon our review, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Tywan Montrease Sykes
E2017-02300-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Reed Duggan

Defendant, Tywan Montrease Sykes, was convicted by a Blount County jury of a violation of the sex offender registry, for which he received a sentence of two years’ incarceration. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction because the State failed to prove that he established a secondary residence under Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-39-208. Defendant further contends that there was insufficient evidence to corroborate his statements to investigators and establish the “body of the crime,” or corpus delicti. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Stephen Berline Orrick
M2017-01856-CCA-R9-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

This interlocutory appeal concerns the Warren County Circuit Court’s order granting the Defendant’s motion to disqualify the Office of the District Attorney General for the Thirty-First Judicial District based upon an imputed conflict of interests of an assistant district attorney general. On appeal, the State contends that the trial court abused its discretion by granting the motion. We reverse the order of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/15/18
State of Tennessee v. Raymond Robert Crepack
E2017-02236-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

Following the denial of his motion to suppress, the Defendant-Appellant, Raymond Crepack, was convicted as charged by a Sevier County Circuit Court jury in Count 1 of driving under the influence (DUI by impairment), third offense, T.C.A. § 55-10-401(1); in Count 2 of driving while the alcohol concentration in his blood or breath was 0.08% or more (DUI per se), third offense, id. § 55-10-401(2); in Count 3 of violating the open container law, id. § 55-10-416, and in Count 4 of driving while his license was cancelled, suspended, or revoked for a prior DUI conviction, id. § 55-50-504(a)(1). The trial court merged the conviction for DUI per se, third offense, with the conviction for DUI by impairment, third offense, and sentenced Crepack1 to concurrent sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days to be served at 100%, to thirty days for the open container violation, and to six months for the driving on a revoked license conviction. On appeal, Crepack argues: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because the investigatory stop, which was based upon reports from an anonymous caller, amounted to an improper seizure without independent corroboration of his “poor driving,” and (2) the sentence for his DUI, third offense, conviction is excessive. After review, we remand the case for entry of corrected judgment forms in Counts 1 and 2 as specified in this opinion. In all other respects, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Eidson
M2017-01808-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Defendant, Gregory Eidson, was convicted by a jury of driving under the influence (“DUI”) and received a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the trial court committed reversible error by failing to appoint a court reporter; (2) he and his counsel were improperly excluded from the grand jury proceedings; (3) counsel was ineffective at the preliminary hearing; (4) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress statements made to an officer before being read his Miranda warnings; (5) the trial court erred in admitting the results of his blood test; (6) the trial court was biased, failed to correct prosecutorial misconduct, and denied the Defendant his right to a speedy trial; and (7) the trial court erred in dismissing his petition for writ of habeas corpus in a separate case. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Laura L. Beasley
M2017-00591-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Defendant, Laura L. Beasley, pled guilty in the Sumner County Criminal Court to vehicular homicide by intoxication, a Class B felony, and two counts of vehicular assault, Class D felonies, with the sentences to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed sentences of ten years, three years, and three years, respectively, to be served consecutively in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the length of sentences imposed, the imposition of consecutive sentences, and the denial of an alternative sentence. After review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/18
Marvin Readus v. State of Tennessee
M2017-02298-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Petitioner, Marvin Readus, was convicted in the Davidson County Criminal Court of aggravated kidnapping while employing a firearm, aggravated rape, and aggravated assault, and he received an effective sentence of life plus fifteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Thereafter, the Petitioner filed a petition requesting DNA analysis of evidence pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001. The post-conviction court summarily dismissed the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/11/18
Willie Jones v. State of Tennessee
W2017-01960-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Lammey

The Petitioner, Willie Jones, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2014 convictions for second degree murder and being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm and his effective twenty-nine-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/18
William Franklin Robinette v.State of Tennessee
E2017-02105-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The petitioner, William Franklin Robinette, appeals the denial of his petition for postconviction relief, which petition challenged his 2012 Greene County Criminal Court jury convictions of solicitation to commit first degree murder, claiming that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the denial of postconviction relief.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/09/18
State of Tennessee v. Rubin P. Pena
M2017-01663-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

The Defendant, Rubin P. Pena, was convicted by a Rutherford County Circuit Court jury of vehicular homicide by reckless conduct, a Class C felony, three counts of reckless aggravated assault, a Class D felony, and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a death, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-213 (2014) (amended 2015) (vehicular homicide by reckless conduct), 39-13-102 (reckless aggravated assault) (2014) (amended 2015), 55-10-101 (leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a death) (2014). The Defendant was sentenced as a Range I, standard offender and received a six-year sentence for vehicular homicide by reckless conduct and concurrent four-year sentences for each reckless aggravated assault conviction. The Defendant also received a two-year consecutive sentence for leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a death, for an effective sentence of eight years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his vehicular homicide by reckless conduct and reckless aggravated assault convictions and (2) the trial court erred during sentencing by applying certain enhancement factors. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/08/18
State of Tennessee v. Patricia Ann Bingham, a.k.a. Patricia Ann Starnes
M2017-02059-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte D. Watkins

The Defendant, Patricia Ann Bingham, a.k.a. Patricia Ann Starnes, appeals her jury conviction for aggravated robbery, for which she received a sentence of ten years’ incarceration. In this direct appeal, the Defendant alleges the following errors: (1) that the evidence was insufficient to support her conviction, arguing that the State failed to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that she personally assaulted the victim or directed her co-defendant during the robbery and that the State failed to prove that either she or her co-defendant used a deadly weapon to accomplish the robbery; and (2) that trial court failed to properly supervise the jury’s viewing of the surveillance video footage and that admission of the entire surveillance video was error because all of the angles contained on the recording were not properly authenticated. Following our review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/08/18
State of Tennessee v. Martrell Holloway
W2017-01816-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Pro se Petitioner, Martrell Holloway, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his “Ex Parte Injunction and/or Show Cause Order” and “Motion to Alter and Amend Judgment Dated August 16, 2017 Denying ‘Ex Parte Injunction and/or Show Cause Order.’” On appeal, he argues that his original convictions are invalid because the trial court clerk failed to file-stamp his judgments of conviction in accordance with Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(e) and Tennessee Rule of Civil Procedure 58. The State contends that the Petitioner’s appeal is not properly before this court, and despite the lack of jurisdiction, the Petitioner is not entitled to relief on the merits of his claim. Upon review, we agree with the State and dismiss this appeal pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/18
State of Tennessee v. Jamaal Austin
W2017-01632-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Jamaal Austin, was convicted by a jury of one count of first degree felony murder; one count of first degree premeditated murder; one count of especially aggravated robbery, a Class A felony; two counts of attempted aggravated robbery, a Class C felony; one count of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; and one count of employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-12-101, -13-202, -13-402, -13-403, -14-403, -17-1324(b). The trial court then merged the first degree premeditated murder conviction into the first degree felony murder conviction. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of life imprisonment plus twenty-four years. On appeal, the defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) that the trial court erred in denying his severance motion; (3) that his convictions violate the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy; (4) that the trial court failed to fulfill its duty as the thirteenth juror; and (5) that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing partial consecutive sentences. Following our review, we conclude that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s conviction for especially aggravated robbery. We vacate that conviction and modify it to aggravated robbery. The case is remanded to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing on the modified conviction, entry of an amended judgment form reflecting the modification, and entry of corrected judgment form in Count 1 reflecting the trial court’s merger of the first degree premediated murder conviction into the first degree felony murder conviction. We affirm the judgments of the trial court in all other respects.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/18
Christopher M. Hooten v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00122-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

Petitioner, Christopher M. Hooten, appeals the denial of his petition for post conviction relief from his convictions of first degree premeditated murder, first degree felony murder, aggravated robbery, and tampering with evidence. On appeal he contends that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Petitioner also appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis based upon newly discovered evidence. After thoroughly reviewing the record and applicable authorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/05/18
State of Tennessee v. David Merrell Maness
W2017-02335-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Appellant, David Merrell Maness, appeals the Henderson County Circuit Court’s order revoking his community corrections sentence and ordering him to serve his sentence in confinement. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/04/18
State of Tennessee v. Jack Austin
W2017-02042-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

On July 19, 2017, the Defendant, Jack Austin, was convicted of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender to eight years and six months at 85% in the Department of Correction. The Defendant argues on appeal that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction. He additionally argues that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence by misapplying an enhancement factor. After thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/04/18
Stephen B. Wlodarz v. Shawn Phillips, Warden
E2017-02252-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffery H. Wicks

Petitioner, Stephen B. Wlodarz, appeals from the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus from his 2001 convictions for first degree premeditated murder, attempted first degree premeditated murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of manufacturing a Schedule VI controlled substance. Petitioner entered “best interest” pleas under North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S. Ct. 160, 27 L. Ed. 2d 162 (1970), and was sentenced to a total effective sentence of life imprisonment “without parole.” Following our review, we conclude that Petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief. Therefore, we affirm the summary dismissal of his petition.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/04/18
Victor Clark v. Cherry Lindamood, Warden
M2018-00134-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

Pro se Petitioner, Victor Clark, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Wayne County Circuit Court. The sole issue presented in this appeal is whether the Petitioner’s judgment of conviction for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, see T.C.A. § 39-17-1324(b), is void because he was acquitted of the predicate dangerous felony of attempted second degree murder as charged in the indictment. After review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/04/18
State of Tennessee v. Charles Phillip Maxwell
M2017-00865-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph P. Binkley, Jr.

Defendant, Charles Phillip Maxwell, was convicted of driving on a suspended license (second offense) following a bench trial. The trial court imposed a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days, to be served at sixty percent release eligibility and a fine of $2,500.00. On appeal, Defendant raises twenty-seven issues. A number of these issues we have deemed are waived. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we find no error and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/18
State of Tennessee v. John Palladin Gibson - concurring in part and dissenting in part
E2017-01567-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

I agree with the majority’s conclusion to affirm Defendant’s conviction for driving on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license. Additionally, I agree with the majority’s conclusion on the ineffective assistance of counsel claim. However, I respectfully disagree with the majority’s conclusion to reverse both DUI convictions. I am of the opinion that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the blood-sample evidence because there was sufficient authentication to establish a chain of custody. Therefore, I would affirm the decision of the trial court regarding both DUI convictions. Further, even if the trial court erred in admitting the blood-sample evidence, it was harmless error with regard to the DUI by impairment conviction. A rational jury could have grounded its verdict on both Deputy Sulewski’s testimony and the dashboard video showing Defendant’s speech and performance on three field-sobriety tests. Therefore, I would affirm the conviction for DUI by impairment on that basis as well.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/18
State of Tennessee v. John Palladin Gibson
E2017-01567-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, John Palladin Gibson, was convicted of two counts of driving under the influence (DUI), Class A misdemeanors; two counts of fourth-offense DUI, Class E felonies; and one count of second or subsequent offense driving on a cancelled, suspended, or revoked license, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 55-10-401 (2013) (amended 2015) (DUI), 55-10-402(a)(4) (2013) (amended 2014, 2015, 2016) (fourthoffense DUI), 55-50-504 (2013) (amended 2016) (driving while privilege cancelled, suspended, or revoked). The trial court merged the DUI convictions and sentenced the Defendant, a career offender, to six years for DUI and eleven months, twenty-nine days for driving on a revoked license. The sentences were imposed concurrently. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in (1) admitting blood tests results without sufficient proof of the chain of custody and (2) denying his ineffective assistance of counsel claim related to his trial counsel’s alleged failure to review evidence with him, causing him to reject a plea offer that he would have accepted if he had been aware of the evidence. We reverse the DUI convictions and remand for a new trial, and we affirm the driving on a revoked license conviction.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/03/18
Jerome Perkins v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00801-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

The petitioner, Jerome Perkins, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/02/18
Shawn Simmons v. Randy Lee, Warden
M2018-00150-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Petitioner, Shawn Simmons, appeals the Lincoln County Circuit Court’s denial of his request for a delayed appeal. Having construed the Petitioner’s pleading as a motion to reopen his first post-conviction petition, we dismiss this appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the Petitioner failed to comply with the statutory requirements governing an appeal from the denial of a motion to reopen.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/02/18
Mohammed Bassim Al-Khafajy, aka Mohammed Bassim Al-Khafiy v. State of Tennessee
M2017-02392-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Mohammed Bassim Al-Khafajy, aka Mohammed Bassim Al-Khafiy, was indicted on multiple counts of drug and weapons charges after a police surveillance operation. He eventually pled guilty to one count of possession with intent to sell or deliver more than one half an ounce of marijuana and one count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony in exchange for a two-year sentence on the drug conviction and a mandatorily consecutive three-year sentence to be served at 100 percent on the firearm conviction. Petitioner sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel and the unknowing and involuntary nature of his plea. The post-conviction court denied relief and Petitioner appealed. After a review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 10/02/18