Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 01/22/2018
Format: 01/22/2018
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Jones
E2016-00769-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin

Defendant, Christopher Jones, appeals the trial court’s order requiring him to serve in confinement his effective two-year sentence resulting from his guilty pleas to reckless aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, driving under the influence of an intoxicant (DUI), simple possession of buprenophine (a Schedule III drug), and simple possession of marijuana (a Schedule VI drug). Upon reviewing the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

 

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Zackary James Childress
M2017-00753-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Zackary James Childress, entered an open guilty plea to two counts of simple possession of a Schedule II controlled substance, one count of simple possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance, and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia. The trial court held a sentencing hearing and sentenced the Defendant to eleven months and twenty-nine days at seventy-five percent release eligibility on each count. On appeal, the Defendant argues that his sentences are excessive and that the trial court erred in denying alternative sentencing. After a review of the record, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion, and we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
State of Tennessee v. William Lamont Green
M2017-00734-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Appellant, William Lamont Green, is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20.  Said motion is hereby granted.          

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
State of Tennessee v. Jaquan Gathing and Prince Parker
W2016-02076-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Defendants, Jaquan Gathing and Prince Parker, were convicted of various offenses in connection with the robbery and assault of three victims committed with firearms and a hatchet. Mr. Gathing was convicted of attempted especially aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, facilitation of aggravated assault, facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated robbery, and he received an effective sentence of forty-seven years. Mr. Parker was convicted of facilitation of attempted especially aggravated robbery, facilitation of aggravated assault, facilitation of attempted aggravated robbery, and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery, and he received an effective sentence of twenty-six years. On appeal, Mr. Gathing relies on his brief and oral argument and challenges: (1) the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress; (2) improper comments made by the State during voir dire; (3) the insufficient chain of custody for DNA evidence; (4) improper comments made to the jury regarding the merger of offenses; and (5) the State’s failure to preserve the record for appeal. On appeal, Mr. Parker relies on his brief and challenges: (1) the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions; (2) the admission of a photograph of an alleged victim’s injuries; (3) the trial court’s application of enhancement factors to his sentences; and (4) the trial court’s decision to run his sentences consecutively. After review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand for entry of corrected judgments of Prince Parker to reflect facilitation of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, rather than with serious bodily injury, and to reflect the proper classification of facilitation of especially aggravated robbery as a Class B felony, rather than a Class C felony.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
State of Tennessee v. David Wayne Phillips
W2016-02087-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Defendant, David Wayne Phillips, was convicted by a Tipton County jury of initiating the manufacture of methamphetamine and was sentenced by the trial court to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress statements made to an officer after the Defendant consented to a search of his bedroom. The Defendant also argues that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
Andre Benson v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02346-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The Petitioner, Andre Benson, was convicted of aggravated robbery after a jury trial and was sentenced to serve fifteen years in prison. The Petitioner filed a timely postconviction petition, and the post-conviction court denied the petition without a hearing for failure to state a colorable claim. The Petitioner then filed a second petition, raising a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court held a hearing on the second petition, which it proceeded to deny. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of his counsel at trial and that, as a result, he is entitled to post-conviction relief. The State counters that the post-conviction court lacked jurisdiction to hear a second post-conviction petition when a prior petition was decided on the merits. Alternatively, the State argues that the petition was without merit and that the denial should be affirmed. We conclude that the post-conviction court was required by statute to dismiss the second or subsequent petition, and we affirm the denial of postconviction relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/19/18
Christopher Alan Walls v. Grady Perry, Warden
W2017-00296-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

Christopher Alan Walls, the Petitioner, filed a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, stating as his ground for relief that he was “presently restrained of his liberty by virtue of an illegal, void, and/or expired criminal conviction/sentence[.]” The Petitioner claimed that he was entitled to receive the pretrial jail credit for the time he was incarcerated in Loudon County after a hold was placed on him by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department on October 25, 2010. Therefore his sentence, after applying sentence reduction credits, expired on or about December 29, 2016. The habeas corpus court found that “the petition demonstrates no right to relief” and summarily dismissed the petition. We affirm the dismissal of the petition but remand the cause to the habeas corpus court for transfer to the Circuit Court for Jefferson County for correction of the judgments to provide the pretrial jail credit to which the Petitioner is entitled.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Howard Hinson, III
W2016-02161-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

A Hardin County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Joseph Howard Hinson, III, of selling .5 grams or more of methamphetamine within a drug-free zone, a Class B felony. The trial court sentenced the Appellant as a Range II, multiple offender to sixteen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his conviction. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Jerald Crowley
M2016-02263-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant, Christopher Jerald Crowley, was convicted by a jury of premeditated first degree murder and sentenced to imprisonment for life. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-202. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in excluding the testimony of expert witnesses about the Defendant’s mental health that the Defendant sought to present to establish that the killing was a voluntary manslaughter; (2) that the trial court erred in failing to instruct the jury on voluntary manslaughter; (3) that the trial court erred in admitting testimony from a witness about a statement the Defendant made several months before the killing; and (4) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Christopher Scott
M2016-02362-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Defendant, Brandon Christopher Scott, was sentenced to an effective twenty-five-year sentence for his guilty-pleaded convictions to attempted first degree murder and reckless endangerment. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court failed to provide adequate analysis in support of its decision to enhance his sentence to the maximum within the range for a Class A felony, failed to assign enough weight to the one mitigating factor it found applicable, and failed to apply two additional mitigating factors. Additionally, the Defendant submits that his enhanced sentence does not comport with the purposes and principles of our Sentencing Act. Following our review, we find no abuse of discretion in the trial court’s sentencing decision.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
State of Tennessee v. James Mario Starnes
M2016-02274-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Appellant, James Mario Starnes, appeals as of right from the Bedford County Circuit Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. The Appellant contends that the trial court erred because his motion stated a colorable claim for relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
Thomas Ernest Young v. State of Tennessee
M2016-02333-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The Petitioner, Thomas Ernest Young, appeals as of right from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus. He claims entitlement to habeas corpus relief, alleging that his guilty-pleaded conviction for Class C felony possession of cocaine is void because the cocaine was obtained following his unlawful arrest, because he was the victim of vindictive prosecution, because he received ineffective assistance of counsel, and because his plea resulted from coercion. Alternatively, he submits that we should treat his petition as one seeking post-conviction relief and that the one-year statute of limitations should be tolled due to his mental incompetence. Following our review, we conclude that the Petitioner has failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief and, furthermore, that tolling of the one-year limitations period for filing a post-conviction petition is not required. Therefore, we affirm summary dismissal of his petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/17/18
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Beauregard
W2017-00536-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan

The defendant, Douglas Beauregard, appeals his Madison County Criminal Court jury conviction of vandalism of property valued at more than $500 but less than $1,000, alleging an insufficiency of evidence and error in the sentencing and restitution decisions of the trial court. Because the record does not support either the denial of all forms of alternative sentencing or the amount of restitution ordered in this case, we reverse the imposition of a fully incarcerative sentence, vacate the restitution order, and remand the case to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Quantez Person
W2016-01945-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The defendant, Quantez Person, appeals his Shelby County Criminal Court jury conviction of criminal exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (“HIV”), see T.C.A. § 39-13-109(a), arguing that the trial court erred by consolidating the charge of criminal exposure to HIV with a charge of aggravated rape of which the defendant was later acquitted, that the trial court erred by admitting health department records, and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Under the circumstances presented in this case, Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 8(a) barred the State from bringing the charge of criminal exposure to HIV to trial. In consequence, the defendant’s conviction is vacated, and the charge is dismissed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
State of Tennessee v. James Earnest Smith
W2016-01131-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, James Earnest Smith, was indicted for one count of rape of a child and one count of aggravated sexual battery. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of two counts of aggravated sexual battery. The trial court merged the convictions and imposed a sentence of twelve years’ confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the sentence was excessive. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Chester County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
Joseph Cordell Brewer, III v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02106-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

Petitioner, Joseph Cordell Brewer, III, appeals from the denial of relief following a hearing on his petition for post-conviction relief. Only Petitioner and his trial counsel testified at the post-conviction hearing. Since Petitioner failed to present evidence of any prejudice to him as a result of trial counsel’s alleged deficient representation, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
Dwayne Wright v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01260-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Petitioner, Dwayne Wright, was convicted of one count of aggravated rape and sentenced to twenty-four years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, this court affirmed his conviction and sentence. State v. Dwayne Wright, No. W2013-00433-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL 1168579 (Tenn. Crim. App. March 21, 2014). Petitioner filed a timely petition for post-conviction relief. Following a hearing on the petition, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to call Eric Hulbert as a witness at trial. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/16/18
State of Tennessee v. Mario Donte Keene
E2017-00316-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

The Greene County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant, Mario Donte Keene, on four counts of felony murder, one count of especially aggravated robbery, and one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, all in connection with the death of the victim, Donald Gunter. A jury convicted the Defendant as charged, and the trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of life. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient for a rational juror to have found him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and especially aggravated kidnapping. The Defendant also asserts that the State committed prosecutorial misconduct in its closing arguments, warranting a new trial. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions but remand the case for entry of amended judgments merging counts two, three, and four into count one.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/12/18
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Glen Howell - Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part
M2016-01812-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

I agree with the majority’s conclusions in section II of the opinion, the evidence of a federal lawsuit and section III, impeachment of the victim.  However, I respectfully disagree with the majority’s conclusion in section I that a new trial on the offense of simple assault is barred by the prohibition against double jeopardy.  I am of the opinion that there is no valid and final judgment for the purposes of collateral estoppel via double jeopardy and that a rational jury could have grounded its verdict upon an issue other than that which Defendant seeks to estop.  Therefore, I would remand the case for a new trial on simple assault.  

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/18
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Glen Howell
M2016-01812-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The defendant, Matthew Glen Howell, who was originally charged with aggravated assault, appeals his 2016 Davidson County Criminal Court conviction of simple assault, which was imposed by the trial court after the jury found the defendant guilty of the inapplicable lesser included offense of reckless aggravated assault.  The defendant argues that, because the jury acquitted him of the crime of intentional or knowing aggravated assault and instead found him guilty of reckless aggravated assault, the trial court erred by amending the conviction offense to one that required an intentional or knowing mens rea.  The defendant also challenges several of the trial court’s evidentiary rulings.  Because the jury found the defendant guilty of a crime that did not exist under the facts of the case and because double jeopardy and collateral estoppel principles precluded the trial court from imposing a conviction that required an element of which the defendant had already been acquitted, the defendant’s conviction of simple assault is vacated, and the case is dismissed.  

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/18
Sebastian Valentino v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00448-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

The Petitioner, Sebastian Valentino, appeals from the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered because he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/11/18
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Bernard Scott
W2016-02488-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Kenneth Bernard Scott, was convicted by a Henderson County jury of the sale and delivery of less than .5 grams of cocaine, a Class C felony, and two counts of the sale and delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine, a Class B felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a Range II, multiple offender to an effective term of sixteen years in the Department of Correction. The Defendant raises two issues on appeal: (1) whether the trial court erred by allowing laboratory reports into evidence without the testimony of the technician who conducted the testing and prepared the reports; and (2) whether the trial court imposed an excessive sentence. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18
State of Tennessee v. Andrew Shearin
W2016-02228-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Defendant, Andrew Shearin, pled guilty in the Shelby County Criminal Court to sexual exploitation of a minor involving more than 100 images, a Class B felony, and was sentenced by the trial court as a Range I, standard offender to twelve years at 100% in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the trial court imposed an excessive sentence by misapplying enhancement factors. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18
Julius Perkins v. Mike Parris, Warden
W2016-02341-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Petitioner, Julius Perkins, appeals the Lake County Circuit Court’s summary denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, seeking relief from his conviction of first degree felony murder and resulting life sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that his conviction is void because of a faulty indictment and that the court erred by dismissing his petition without appointing counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18
Brandon Washington v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01965-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Brandon Washington, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus, seeking relief from his convictions of aggravated assault, evading arrest, and various drug offenses. Based upon our review of the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 01/10/18