Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 05/29/2015
Format: 05/29/2015
Harry Joseph Chase v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01375-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

The Petitioner, Harry Joseph Chase, appeals as of right from the Greene County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. In this appeal, the Petitioner asserts that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because lead trial counsel was not present when he pled guilty, did not review the Petitioner’s discovery with him, and did not fully discuss a possible self-defense claim with the Petitioner. Following our review, we conclude that the record supports the post-conviction court’s conclusion that the Petitioner received the effective assistance of counsel, and we therefore affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/29/15
State of Tennessee v. Deborah B. Bowes
E2014-01462-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Jerry Beck
The appellant, Deborah B. Bowes, pled guilty in the Sullivan County Criminal Court to one count of filing a false report, for which she received a sentence of eight years. On appeal, the appellant challenges the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
 
Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/29/15
Vernon Lavone Roberts v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01371-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Vernon Lavone Roberts (“the Petitioner”) appeals from the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel.  Upon review, we conclude that the Petitioner’s claim was previously determined by this Court on direct appeal.  Consequently, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/29/15
State of Tennessee v. Deanty Montgomery
E2014-01014-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, Deanty Montgomery, appeals as of right from his jury convictions for aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, and misdemeanor reckless endangerment, which resulted in an effective five-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court properly permitted the State‘s argument that the Defendant was engaged in unlawful activity and was, therefore, not excused from the duty to retreat under a theory of self-defense; (2) whether the trial court committed error during jury deliberations in its response to a question from the jury about a person‘s duty to retreat when engaged in an unlawful activity; and (3) whether the evidence is sufficient to support his convictions. Following our review, we affirm the trial court‘s judgments.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/28/15
Alejandro Neave Vasquez v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01404-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Petitioner, Alejandro Neave Vasquez, was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to deliver 300 grams or more of cocaine in a drug-free school zone and possession with intent to deliver 300 grams or more of cocaine in a drug-free school zone.  He received concurrent twenty-year sentences for each count, for a total effective sentence of twenty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel.  After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief.  On appeal, petitioner argues that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel: (1) failed to utilize an interpreter during all meetings and at trial; (2) advised petitioner not to testify; and (3) failed to adequately explain the school-zone enhancement. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/28/15
Terry Lynn King v. State of Tennessee
E2014-01202-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz
The Petitioner, Terry Lynn King, appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis regarding his convictions for felony murder, for which he was sentenced to death, and for armed robbery, for which he is serving 125 years. The coram nobis court dismissed the petition because it was untimely and because due process did not require tolling the one-year statute of limitations. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the court erred by dismissing the petition. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.
Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/28/15
State of Tennessee v. George Robert Hamby
M2014-00839-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Appellant, George Robert Hamby, was convicted of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony.  The trial court sentenced appellant as a Range II offender to twelve years in confinement.  On appeal, appellant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in not accepting a negotiated guilty plea; (2) the trial court erred in denying appellant’s motion for judgment of acquittal; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; and (4) the trial court erred in sentencing.  Following our review of the evidence and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/28/15
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Williams aka Antwoin Williams
W2014-02108-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Appellant, Antonio Williams a.k.a. Antwoin Williams, pleaded guilty to selling a controlled substance and received a suspended three-year sentence with eighteen months on probation. Appellant’s probation officer issued a probation violation warrant before appellant had completed his eighteen months on probation. While the warrant was pending, appellant received four additional charges and subsequently pleaded guilty to the violation of probation and the four additional charges, receiving concurrent sentencing. Appellant later filed a Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, which the trial court summarily dismissed. On appeal, appellant argues he stated a colorable claim in his motion because the trial court erroneously imposed concurrent sentencing and the trial court failed to make proper findings during sentencing. Following our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/28/15
David Wayne Britt v. Debra Johnson, Warden
W2014-01787-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, David Wayne Britt, appeals the Circuit Court of Hardeman County‘s denial of his third petition for writ of habeas corpus. The State has filed a motion requesting that this Court affirm the trial court‘s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Following our review, we grant the State‘s motion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/28/15
Justin Dewayne Rogers v. State of Tennessee
W2014-01460-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

A Tipton County jury convicted the Petitioner, Justin DeWayne Rogers, of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty-five years in the Department of Correction. The Petitioner appealed and this Court affirmed the conviction. State v. Justin DeWayne Rogers, No. W2009-00982-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 4812776, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Nov. 19, 2010). Thereafter, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, and after a hearing, the post-conviction court issued an order dismissing the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and relevant law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/27/15
State of Tennessee v. James Harrell Driver
W2014-01152-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, James Harrell Driver, of violating the Sexual Offender Registry residency restriction. The trial court sentenced the Defendant, as a Range II offender, to four-years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the trial court improperly imposed a four-year sentence; and (3) Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-39-211(c) is unconstitutional as applied in this case. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Jerry Edward Lanier
W2014-01840-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Russell Lee Moore, Jr.

A Dyer County jury convicted the Defendant, Jerry Edward Lanier, of two counts of selling more than .5 gram of cocaine in a drug-free zone. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve concurrent thirty-year sentences for his convictions. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence against him. After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Sebastian Pegues
W2014-00854-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Sebastian Pegues, of two counts of first degree felony murder, one count of aggravated child abuse and one count of aggravated child neglect. The trial court merged the two first degree felony murder convictions and sentenced the Defendant to life. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent twenty-year sentences for the aggravated child abuse and aggravated child neglect convictions. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that there is insufficient evidence to support his convictions. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions and sentences. We remand this case to the trial court for the entry of a corrected judgment in Count 3, indicating that the convicted offense is aggravated child neglect.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Willie L. Taylor
M2014-01614-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael R. Jones

Following a jury trial, the defendant, Willie L. Taylor, was convicted of aggravated burglary and aggravated assault, both Class C felonies.  He was sentenced as a Range III, persistent offender to fourteen years for each conviction, to be served concurrently.  On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his aggravated burglary conviction and that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by arguing facts not in evidence.  Based upon our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/27/15
Evan Kenyon Knox v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01104-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Evan Kenyon Knox, was indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for first degree premeditated murder and for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Petitioner pleaded guilty to the lesser-included offense of second degree murder, and the trial court dismissed the firearm charge. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Petitioner received an out-of-range sentence of 30 years to be served at 100 percent. Petitioner filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief, alleging that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance and that Petitioner’s guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. Petitioner appeals. Following a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/27/15
James Randall Roskam v. State of Tennessee
M2014-00599-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, James Roskam, appeals from the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. Petitioner was convicted of aggravated robbery and was sentenced to twenty years in confinement as a Range II multiple offender. Petitioner challenged his conviction on appeal, and a panel of this court affirmed the judgment of the trial court. State v. James Randall Roskam, No. M2011-02071-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 3611749 (Tenn. Crim. App., Aug. 20, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn., Nov. 26, 2012). On appeal, Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to request a mistrial, failing to investigate whether exculpatory video evidence existed, failing to acquire 911 recordings, and failing to communicate with Petitioner during voir dire. After a careful review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/27/15
State of Tennessee v. Kenon Pack and Jennifer Banks
W2014-00518-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendants, Kenon Pack and Jennifer Banks, were both indicted by the Shelby County Grand Jury for two counts of aggravated child abuse for injuries inflicted upon Defendant Banks's five-year-old daughter. After a jury trial, both Defendants were convicted as charged, and the trial court merged the two sets of convictions into a single count of aggravated child abuse for each Defendant. On appeal, both Defendants challenge the sufficiency of the convicting evidence as well as the trial court's rulings regarding the admission and exclusion of certain evidence. Upon thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/15
Kenneth L. Williams v. State of Tennessee
M2014-01527-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael R. Jones

The Petitioner, Kenneth L. Williams, pursuant to a plea agreement, pleaded guilty to aggravated sexual battery with a sentence of twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner filed, pro se, a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and a petition for post-conviction relief. After a hearing, the post-conviction court issued an order denying the motion and dismissing the petition. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that his guilty plea was not knowingly entered and that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review of the record and relevant law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgments.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Orlando E. Bourrage
M2014-01194-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

Appellant, Orlando E. Bourrage, pleaded guilty to simple possession of marijuana and was sentenced to eleven months, twenty-nine days, suspended to probation.  In pleading guilty, he reserved a certified question of law challenging the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence seized as a result of an allegedly illegal detention.  On appeal, he argues that the arresting officer unreasonably prolonged the initial traffic stop and that the trial court erred by denying his request for judicial diversion.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/15
State of Tennessee v. Antonio Crenshaw
W2014-01367-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Defendant-Appellant, Antonio Crenshaw, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of the charged offense of robbery, and the trial court sentenced him as a Range III, persistent offender to fifteen years. On appeal, Crenshaw argues: (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) the trial court erred by instructing the jury on the generic offense of theft of property rather than the offense of shoplifting, by providing an incomplete charge for theft of property, and by giving a confusing definition for the term “violence” in the robbery charge in response to a question from the jury; (3) he was deprived of due process and a fair trial when the trial court corrected defense counsel during and after his closing argument, when the trial court ruled against him on a Rule 404(b) issue, and when a witness later testified, over his objection, that employees informed her Crenshaw had been “stealing again” after the incident in this case; and (4) the trial court lacked jurisdiction over his case because the grand jury foreperson on the grand jury indicting him possibly served longer than her two-year term. Upon review, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Gerald Stephen Cassell and Brian James Beckwith
W2013-02368-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

The Defendant-Appellants, Gerald Stephen Cassell and Brian James Beckwith, were jointly convicted by a Hardin County jury of one count of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-402. The trial court ordered each Defendant to serve twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, consecutive to their unserved sentences in Florida. In this consolidated appeal, the Defendants argue that the trial court erred in denying their motion to suppress a witness's pretrial and trial identifications of them, the evidence is insufficient to sustain their aggravated robbery conviction, and the trial court erred in sentencing them. In addition, Cassell argues that the trial court erred in admitting witness testimony regarding the contents of a WalMart surveillance video. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Travis Heath King
M2014-01478-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Lee Holloway, Jr.

The defendant, Travis Heath King, 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.  Because the defendant stated a colorable claim for relief under the terms of Rule 36.1, the trial court erred by summarily dismissing his motion.  Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for further proceedings.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Cheyne R. Stewart
M2014-00074-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Curtis Smith

The Defendant, Cheyne R. Stewart, was convicted by a Franklin County Circuit Court jury of criminal attempt to commit sexual battery, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-505(a)(3) (2014) (sexual battery), 39-12-101 (2014) (attempt). The trial court sentenced him to eleven months, twenty-nine days of probation. On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the court erred by failing to provide his requested jury instructions, (3) the court erred by limiting defense counsel’s questioning of character witnesses, (4) the court committed plain error by failing to instruct the jury on a lesser included offense, and (5) the court erred by failing to fulfill its duties as the thirteenth juror. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Franklin County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/22/15
State of Tennessee v. Patrick Lee Mitchell
M2014-01129-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael W. Binkley

Pursuant to Rule 37(b) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, the defendant, who pleaded guilty to a single count of driving under the influence (“DUI”), appeals a certified question of law related to the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the results of blood alcohol testing. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/22/15
John E. Carter v. Sharon Taylor, Warden
E2014-01065-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert E. Cupp

The Petitioner, John E. Carter, appeals as of right from the Johnson County Criminal Court's summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The Petitioner contends that his due process rights were violated because, at the time of his trial, he was not given “fair warning” that the negation of an element of a criminal offense was recognized as a defense in this state. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/22/15