Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/14/2020
Format: 07/14/2020
Kane Stackhouse v. State of Tennessee
E2019-01651-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The petitioner, Kane Stackhouse, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2008 Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery. In this appeal, the petitioner claims, as he did below, that he is entitled to post-conviction relief because he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal. Discerning no error, we affirm. 

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Lonnie Duane Orr
M2019-01555-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Defendant, Lonnie Duane Orr, appeals from the trial court’s community corrections revocation for his eight-year, Range III sentence for his conviction of burglary. He contends that the court erred in revoking his community corrections sentence and ordering him to serve his sentence in the Department of Correction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/20
Jarrett A. Jones v. State of Tennessee
M2019-01601-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Davidson County Grand Jury indicted Petitioner, Jarrett A. Jones, on one count of sexual exploitation of a minor (over 100 images) and thirty-four counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, all Class B felonies. Petitioner pled guilty as a Range I offender to one count of sexual exploitation of a minor (over 100 images) and two counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor. All other counts were dismissed based upon his guilty plea. The trial court sentenced Petitioner, pursuant to the plea agreement, to eight years at 100% on each count and ordered the sentences to run consecutively, for a total effective sentence of twenty-four years’ incarceration. Petitioner timely filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief, and the post-conviction court appointed counsel, who filed an amended petition. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief in a written order. On appeal, Petitioner argues that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not entered into knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Catherine Ann Pinhal
M2019-01516-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

The Defendant, Catherine Ann Pinhal, was convicted upon her 2019 guilty pleas of vehicular homicide by reckless conduct, a Class C felony, and two counts of possession of contraband in a penal facility, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-213 (2019) (vehicular homicide); 39-16-201 (2019) (possession of contraband). The length and manner of service of her sentence were reserved for the trial court’s determination. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed six years for the vehicular homicide conviction and four years for each possession of contraband in a penal facility conviction. The court, likewise imposed partial consecutive service, for an effective ten-year sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying her request for alternative sentencing and by imposing consecutive service. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Monqueze L. Summers
M2019-01006-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

Monqueze L. Summers, Defendant, appeals from the trial court’s denial of his motion filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 in which he argued that his life sentence was illegal. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/13/20
State of Tennessee v. George Anthony Vasser
W2019-01374-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

The Defendant, George Anthony Vasser, was convicted by a Gibson County Circuit Court jury of selling or delivering cocaine, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-417 (2018). He received a sentence of eight years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence does not support the Defendant’s conviction for selling or delivering, (2) the evidence only supports a conviction for the lesser included offense of casual exchange of drugs, and (3) the trial court erred by failing to enter a judgment of acquittal. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Gibson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/20
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Terell Mays
W2019-01095-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Timothy Terell Mays, was convicted on his guilty pleas to two counts of sale of cocaine, a Class C felony, and two counts of delivery of cocaine, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-417(a)(2), (3), (c)(2)(A) (2018). The delivery offenses were merged with the sale offenses. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he received six-year sentences, to be served concurrently to each other and consecutively to a previous sentence, and he reserved a certified question of law regarding mandatory joinder of the present offenses with the offenses from a previous prosecution in which his guilt had already been adjudicated. We affirm the judgments of the trial court, and we remand the case for correction of a clerical error.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/20
State of Tennessee v. Buford Cornell Williams
M2019-01073-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

Defendant, Buford Cornell Williams, was convicted of selling .5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine. Defendant appealed, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence. This court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. State v. Buford Williams, No. M2017-00507-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL 6028876, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Dec. 5, 2017), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Feb. 12, 2018). Defendant subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to file a timely motion for new trial. The post-conviction court granted relief for the purpose of filing a motion for new trial which would permit an appeal if the motion was denied. Defendant filed a motion for new trial which was denied by the trial court. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to dismiss based on the State’s failure to preserve evidence or exclude evidence from the trial. Having reviewed the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/20
Joseph A. Colwell, Sr. v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00212-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Parkes

The Petitioner, Joseph A. Colwell, Sr., appeals the Maury County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, seeking relief from his two convictions of rape and two convictions of incest and resulting effective twenty-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to object to evidence of prior sexual abuse pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b), failed to file a motion to question one of the victims about her prior sexual behavior pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 412, and failed to present evidence from electronic devices that would have been helpful to his case. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/10/20
State of Tennessee v. Jesus Alfonso Castillo
M2019-01256-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

Defendant, Jesus Alfonso Castillo, was indicted by a Rutherford County Grand Jury along with four co-defendants for conspiracy to sell over 300 grams of methamphetamine in a drug free zone. Defendant was also indicted for delivery of over 300 grams of methamphetamine in a drug free zone and possession of over 300 grams of methamphetamine in a drug free zone. The second and third counts and the drug free zone enhancement were dismissed prior to trial. A jury convicted Defendant on the conspiracy count. The trial court imposed a fifteen-year sentence to be served in confinement. Defendant filed a motion for new trial that was denied by the trial court. Defendant timely appeals whether the trial court had territorial jurisdiction and whether venue was proper. Defendant further argues the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. After a review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/20
State of Tennessee v. James Ruba Hill, Jr.
E2019-00556-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

A Knox County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, James Ruba Hill, Jr., of burglary, theft, and evading arrest. The trial court sentenced the Appellant as a career offender to a total effective sentence of twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his burglary conviction and that the theft conviction should be merged into the burglary conviction. Upon review, we conclude the evidence is sufficient to sustain his burglary conviction and remand to the trial court for the theft conviction to be merged into the burglary conviction.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/09/20
James Rodney Smith v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00820-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry J. Wallace

The Petitioner, James Rodney Smith, appeals the Houston County Circuit Court’s order summarily dismissing his petition for
post-conviction relief as untimely. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that due process requires the tolling of the one-year limitations period. After reviewing the record, we conclude that while the petition was untimely, the Petitioner has alleged facts that would toll the limitations period. As such, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand the case for an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the Petitioner is entitled a late-filed petition for post-conviction relief.

Houston County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/08/20
State of Tennessee v. Jose Gonzalez Bonilla
M2019-01193-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Defendant, Jose Gonzalez Bonilla, was convicted by a jury of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery, and he received an effective sentence of thirty-five years in confinement. The Defendant appeals, asserting that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict, that the trial court erred in denying his motion to sever, that the trial court erred in permitting the testimony of a forensic social worker, that he is entitled to relief from the convictions under the theory of cumulative error, and that the trial court erred in sentencing him. After a thorough review of the record, we conclude that the Defendant is not entitled to appellate relief, and we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/20
State of Tennessee v. Novodny Young
M2019-01221-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Defendant, Novodny Young, appeals after the trial court revoked his probation and ordered him to serve his effective eight-year sentence in incarceration. Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/20
State of Tennessee v. Maliq Asadi Muhammad
E2019-01988-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The Defendant, Maliq Asadi Muhammad, appeals from the Blount County Circuit Court’s revocation of probation for his Range I,
eight-year sentence for possession with the intent to sell 0.5 gram or more of cocaine, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-417 (2018). The Defendant contends that the trial court erred in revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/20
Allen Hill v. State of Tennessee
E2019-01994-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

The Petitioner, Allen Hill, appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2018 conviction for possession with the intent to sell 0.5 gram or more of cocaine, for which he is serving a twenty-year sentence as a Range II offender. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, rendering his guilty plea involuntary. We affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/20
State of Tennessee v. Michael William Shavers
E2019-01558-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas C. Greenholtz

The defendant, Michael William Shavers, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s order revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the balance of the 10-year effective sentence for his guilty-pleaded convictions of attempted second degree murder in confinement. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/07/20
Quinton A. Cage v. State of Tennessee
M2019-01888-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Amanda Jane McClendon

Petitioner, Quinton A. Cage, appeals the denial of his petition for habeas corpus relief in which he argues that he was deprived of a fair trial. Because we determine that Petitioner has failed to file a timely notice of appeal or provide a reason as to why the timely filing of the notice of appeal should be waived, the appeal is dismissed.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/06/20
Dwight Michael Alston v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00930-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Petitioner, Dwight Michael Alston, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his conviction for first degree premeditated murder. The Petitioner maintains that trial counsel was ineffective for advising him not to testify and for failing to investigate and raise issues regarding the competence of the Petitioner’s son. Additionally, the Petitioner asserts that the postconviction court erred in finding that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise issues on appeal that were included in the motion for new trial. The Petitioner also argues that the post-conviction court erred in not allowing a continuance or bifurcated hearing so that appellate counsel could be present to testify. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/02/20
Miguel Saenz v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01665-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The petitioner, Miguel Saenz, appeals the dismissal of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in dismissing the petition as time-barred. Following our review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s dismissal of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/02/20
State of Tennessee v. Bryan James Cooke
M2019-01164-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The Defendant, Bryan James Cooke, challenges his effective sentence of two consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole resulting from his convictions of two counts of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of felony murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, and a theft offense. Both the Defendant’s motion for a new trial and his notice of appeal were filed over one year after the entry of the judgment forms, and the Defendant has given no explanation of the untimely filings. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/02/20
Leonel Lopez v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00683-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Smith

A Davidson County grand jury indicted Petitioner, Leonel Lopez, for first degree murder. After a jury trial, Petitioner was convicted of second degree murder. Petitioner received a twenty-year sentence. This Court upheld Petitioner’s conviction on appeal. State v. Lopez, 440 S.W.3d 601 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2014). Petitioner filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief arguing that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, that the prosecution failed to disclose exculpatory evidence, that the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct, and that the trial court made various errors. After two hearings, the post-conviction court denied relief. After reviewing the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/02/20
Kenneth Darrin Fisher v. State of Tennessee
E2019-01816-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Ray Elledge

The petitioner, Kenneth Darrin Fisher, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial and on appeal. Specifically, the petitioner asserts trial counsel was ineffective for failing to properly prepare the petitioner to testify at trial; failing to object to the State’s assertion that the gun found in the petitioner’s vehicle was an “assault rifle;” failing to object to the admission of the unredacted video of the petitioner’s police interview; and failing to appeal the trial court’s admission of Ms. Burchett’s recorded preliminary hearing testimony. The petitioner also asserts he was deprived due process when the post-conviction court sustained the State’s objection regarding Ms. Green’s testimony. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/01/20
State of Tennessee v. Carlton Smith
E2019-01532-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

A Knox County jury convicted the defendant, Carlton Smith, of three counts of burglary and one count each of assault and theft. As a result of his convictions, the trial court sentenced the defendant to 12 years’ confinement for each count of burglary and 11 months and 29 days for assault and theft. The trial court merged the three burglary convictions into one count and ordered the defendant’s sentences to be served concurrently. On appeal, the defendant challenges the application of the burglary statute, challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions, and claims his misdemeanor convictions for theft and assault should merge into his conviction for burglary. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the defendant’s convictions. However, we conclude the defendant’s convictions for assault and theft should be merged with his conviction for burglary and remand the matter to the trial court for entry of amended judgments in accordance with this opinion.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/01/20
State of Tennessee v. William Johnson
W2019-00914-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

The defendant, William Johnson, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of vandalism of property valued at $500 or less, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/30/20