Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/22/2017
Format: 08/22/2017
Elza Evans, III v. State of Tennessee
M2016-02332-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Petitioner, Elza Evans III, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he challenged his convictions for aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and his effective sentence of two consecutive terms of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance at trial and on appeal. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Leon Denton and Devan Denton
W2016-00910-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

After a jury trial, the defendants, Leon Denton and Devan Denton, were convicted of three counts of aggravated rape, one count of facilitation of aggravated rape, one count of facilitation of especially aggravated robbery, and two counts of facilitation of aggravated robbery. On appeal, the defendants assert the evidence was insufficient to support their convictions, arguing the State failed to overcome the defense of duress. The defendants also claim their right to a speedy trial was violated. Independently, Leon Denton argues his convictions violate double jeopardy. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Errol Johnson
W2016-00839-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The defendant, Errol Johnson, was convicted of two counts of aggravated child neglect, a Class A felony, and two counts of criminally negligent homicide, a Class E felony. The trial court merged the two aggravated child neglect convictions and sentenced the defendant as a violent offender to twenty-two years in the Department of Correction. The trial court also merged the defendant’s convictions for criminally negligent homicide and sentenced him to two years. The defendant’s sentences were ordered to be served concurrently for an effective sentence of twenty-two years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for aggravated child neglect and that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. We conclude that the evidence is sufficient to sustain the jury’s verdict and affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, because aggravated child neglect is not an enumerated offense included in Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-35-501(i)(2), the trial court erred in its applying the statute and sentencing the defendant as a violent offender at 100% release eligibility. Therefore, we remand the matter for a new sentencing hearing.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/17
Tony Britton v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01298-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The petitioner, Tony Britton, appeals pro se from the summary dismissal of his 2015 petition for post-conviction relief, which challenged his 2011 guilty-pleaded conviction of second degree murder. Because the petition was filed well beyond the applicable statute of limitations and because the petitioner failed to prove a statutory exception to the timely filing or a due process tolling of the statute of limitations, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/21/17
State of Tennessee v. William Harold Smith, Alias
E2016-02137-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

William Harold Smith, alias (“the Defendant”), was convicted of failure to appear after a jury trial. The trial court sentenced him to serve three years with a thirty-five percent release eligibility in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence introduced at trial was insufficient to support his conviction. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we reverse the Defendant’s conviction and dismiss the charge.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/18/17
Larry A. Pullum v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00171-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The Petitioner, Larry A. Pullum, appeals from the Wayne County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. The habeas corpus court dismissed the petition because it failed to state a cognizable claim. We affirm its judgment.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/18/17
State of Tennessee v. Jabriel Linzy, Alias
E2016-01052-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The Defendant, Jabriel Linzy, alias, appeals as of right from his convictions for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The Defendant argues (1) that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions, and (2) that evidence from social media posts was improperly admitted. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/18/17
State of Tennessee v. Calvin Banks
W2016-01085-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn W. Blackett

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Calvin Banks, of first degree premeditated murder and the trial court imposed a sentence of life. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence supporting his conviction is insufficient because the State failed to establish premeditation. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/17/17
Sebastian Pegues v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02489-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Sebastian Pegues, of two counts of first degree felony murder, one count of aggravated child abuse, and one count of aggravated child neglect, and the trial court sentenced him to life plus twenty years of incarceration. This court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions and sentence on appeal. State v. Sebastian Pegues, No. W2014-00854-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 3404736, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, May 27, 2015), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application filed. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial counsel ineffectively cross-examined the medical examiner. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Donald Ragland
W2017-00464-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Donald Ragland, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct a clerical error pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36. The Defendant has failed to present an appropriate argument under Rule 36; therefore, we affirm the summary dismissal pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Mark L. Watson
M2016-02392-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe

A Stewart County jury convicted the Defendant, Mark L. Watson, of vandalism of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to two years on probation. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Stewart County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Michael Dean Sexton
E2016-01296-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

Defendant, Michael Dean Sexton, was convicted of one count of theft over $10,000 and one count of vandalism over $10,000. He received concurrent sentences of nine years for each count to be served on supervised probation. On appeal, Defendant raises the following issues: (1) Whether the trial court properly discharged a juror (Defendant’s Issues I and II); (2) Whether the State was required to make an election of offenses and whether the trial court properly declined to issue a jury instruction (Defendant’s Issues III and IV); and (3) Whether the trial court erred by permitting the name of the co-defendant to be redacted from the indictment and whether the trial court refused to allow Defendant to introduce a copy of the unredacted indictment into evidence. (Defendant’s Issues V and VI). After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Scott County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/17/17
Carl Bond v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00691-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, Carl Bond, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of one count of aggravated robbery. Over a year after this Court affirmed his conviction, the petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief. The trial court subsequently denied the petition on its merits. Following our review of the record and pertinent authorities, we conclude the petition was untimely, and this Court is without jurisdiction to consider this appeal. Accordingly, we dismiss this appeal.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Kristie Louis McLerran
M2016-02005-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge David A. Patterson

The Defendant, Kristie Louise McLerran, entered a plea of nolo contendere to attempted aggravated child neglect, a Class B felony, as a Range I, standard offender and to serve an eight-year term with manner of service to be determined by the trial court. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a term of incarceration, finding that confinement was necessary to avoid depreciating the seriousness of the offense. The Defendant appeals the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing. We conclude that the trial court did not err in sentencing the Defendant to a term of imprisonment. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Clay County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Atlanta Pearl Hardy
M2017-00537-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Randall Wyatt

Defendant, Atlanta Pearl Hardy, was convicted of second degree murder in 2004 and now appeals the trial court's denial of her motion to correct an illegal sentence under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Upon review of the record, this Court affirms the trial court's denial of relief under Rule 36.1.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Marquis Devann Churchwell
M2016-02218-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Defendant, Marquis Devann Churchwell, pled guilty to one count of robbery and two counts of assault with the sentence to be determined by the trial court. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a total effective sentence of eight years, eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by imposing a sentence of confinement. Upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand the case for entry of judgment forms for each count of the indictment in case number 2015-D-2352.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Deangelo Lee
W2016-02208-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

The Defendant, Marcus Deangelo Lee, pleaded guilty in 1997 to escape from felony incarceration, and the trial court sentenced him to one year and ordered that his sentence run consecutively to a three-year sentence the Defendant received for drug-related and firearm convictions in 1995. Since that time, the Defendant has been arrested and convicted on other charges unrelated to this case. Almost seventeen years later, the Defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 with regard to jail credits for his 1997 felony escape conviction. The trial court summarily dismissed the motion, and the Defendant appeals. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred when it summarily dismissed his motion because the trial court improperly amended his judgment to reflect 103 days of jail credit, which he argues resulted in his sentences running concurrently rather than consecutively as mandated by statute. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Mario Bowles
W2016-00496-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Defendant, Mario Bowles, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of two counts of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated kidnapping. The trial court sentenced Defendant to twenty-three years at one-hundred percent for each count of aggravated rape, which the trial court merged, and twenty-three years at one-hundred percent for aggravated kidnapping. The sentences were ordered to be served concurrently with one another and consecutively with an unrelated case. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for aggravated rape and that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury on the lesser-included offense of attempted aggravated rape. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Montreal Lyons
W2016-00929-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

Defendant, Montreal Lyons, appeals from the trial court’s dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Defendant contends that his sentence is illegal because the trial court imposed the sentence for offenses that occurred in 2002 under the 2005 amendments to the sentencing act without an ex post facto waiver signed by Defendant. The State responds that the trial court properly dismissed Defendant’s motion because he failed to state a colorable claim for relief. We agree with the State. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Michael Harris
W2016-01964-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Defendant, Michael Harris, appeals from an order of the trial court denying his petition to suspend the remainder of his sentence. Following our review of the record, we conclude that the trial court did not err by denying the petition. We affirm the order of the trial court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Demarcus Lashawn Blackman
M2016-01828-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Franklin Lee Russell
The Defendant, Demarcus Lashawn Blackman, was convicted by a Marshall County Circuit Court jury of aggravated criminal trespass and evading arrest, Class A misdemeanors. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-406 (2014) (aggravated criminal trespass), 39-16-603 (2014) (amended 2016) (evading arrest). The trial court sentenced him to consecutive terms of eleven months, twenty-nine days for each conviction and ordered the sentence to be served consecutively to an unrelated twelve-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that his sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
Tut Mayal Tut v. State of Tennessee
M2016-01673-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn
Petitioner, Tut Mayal Tut, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his guilty-pleaded convictions for two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, two counts of especially aggravated robbery, and four counts of aggravated rape.  Petitioner alleges that he received ineffective assistance of counsel during both the juvenile court transfer hearing and the criminal court plea proceedings. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
 
Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/15/17
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan C. Buckner
M2016-01162-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne Lockert-Mash

The Defendant, Jonathan C. Buckner, was convicted by a Houston County Circuit Court jury of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony.  See T.C.A. § 39-14-103 (2014).  The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range III, persistent offender to twelve years’ confinement and ordered that his sentence be served consecutively to a sentence in an unrelated case.  On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred (1) by failing to provide witnesses and prospective jurors proper instructions before jury selection, (2) by admitting inadmissible hearsay evidence, (3) by denying his two motions for a mistrial, (4) by overruling defense objections during the prosecutor’s opening statement and closing argument, and (5) during sentencing.  We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Houston County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/14/17
Cleveland Frazier v. State of Tennessee
E2016-02441-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Petitioner, Cleveland Frazier, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2015 guilty pleas to possession of less than 0.5 gram of cocaine in a school zone and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and his effective eleven-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Lucas Potter
E2016-02268-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The defendant, Lucas Potter, pled guilty to attempted aggravated robbery, attempted robbery, and theft of property under $500. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-401, -402, 39-14- 103. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court denied the defendant’s request for judicial diversion and imposed an effective five-year sentence of split confinement with community corrections after 270 days of service. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court failed to properly consider his request for judicial diversion and erred in allowing the State to present rebuttal proof at the sentencing hearing. Following our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/14/17