Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 02/24/2017
Format: 02/24/2017
Mansour Bin El Amin v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00048-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Petitioner, Mansour Bin El Amin, filed a petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000. In the petition, the Petitioner alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective. The Petitioner also filed a motion for the post-conviction court to approve funds for a private investigator to locate witnesses for the Petitioner’s case. The post-conviction court denied the petition and the motion, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Charles R. Presley
M2015-01600-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

The Appellant, Charles R. Presley, appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probation and its order that he serve his eight-year sentence for identity theft in confinement. The Appellant contends that the evidence was not sufficient to show that he “was actually on probation, what the probation conditions were, or whether he was advised of his probation conditions.” Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/17
Daniel Adam Barnes v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00178-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Normal McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry Wallace

The Petitioner, Daniel Adam Barnes, filed in the Cheatham County Circuit Court a petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of violating Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-111 and the accompanying sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. The Petitioner alleged that his counsel was ineffective by failing to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence on direct appeal. The post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Cheatham County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/24/17
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth Gaines
W2016-01262-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Petitioner, Kenneth Gaines, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court's summary denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Because the motion failed to state a colorable claim for relief, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/17
Christopher D. Hodge v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00892-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Petitioner, Christopher D. Hodge, appeals the Lauderdale County Circuit Court's summary dismissal of his petition requesting DNA analysis of evidence pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001. Based upon the record and the parties' briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/17
Gregory D. Valentine, Sr. v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00854-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Gregory D. Valentine, Sr., (“the Petitioner”) entered a “best interest” plea to twenty counts of identity theft, six counts of criminal simulation, and one count each of forgery, theft of property valued between $10,000 and $60,000, and money laundering. The Petitioner received an effective sentence of twelve years and eight months; he was ordered to serve thirty-two months with a seventy-five percent release eligibility in the county jail and ten years with a thirty percent release eligibility on probation. The Petitioner filed three pro se motions to set aside his guilty pleas, which the trial court summarily denied. The Petitioner appealed, and this court reversed and remanded for a hearing on the motions to set aside the Petitioner’s guilty pleas. On remand, the trial court denied the Petitioner’s motions. The Petitioner appealed, and this court affirmed the trial court’s denial. The Petitioner then filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court summarily denied. The Petitioner appealed the denial, and this court reversed and remanded for a hearing on the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel. After this court remanded this case, the Petitioner filed a motion to recuse, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing. The post-conviction court held an evidentiary hearing on the Petitioner’s petition for post-conviction relief and denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred in denying post-conviction relief and by denying his motion to recuse. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/23/17
Janell Morton v. State of Tennessee
W2016-00478-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Janell Morton, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief in which she challenged her guilty pleas to attempted first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping and her effective sentence of thirteen and one-half years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she was denied her right to the effective assistance of counsel and that as a result, her pleas were unknowing and involuntary. We affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Miko Burl
W2016-00670-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

The Petitioner, Miko Burl, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion for the correction of an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Following review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
Alfonso Chalmers v. State of Tennessee
W2016-01500-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Petitioner, Alfonso Chalmers, appeals the denial of his petition for the writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his conviction for premeditated first degree murder and resulting sentence of life in prison. The Petitioner filed a petition for the writ of error coram nobis, alleging that newly discovered mental health records reveal that he was diagnosed as psychotic and, therefore, unable to be convicted for premeditated first degree murder. The coram nobis court summarily dismissed the petition, finding that it was time-barred, was meritless, and raised issues previously determined by this court. Following review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court in accordance with Rule 20 of the Rules of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Melton Jackson
M2016-01559-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The Defendant, Matthew Melton Jackson, pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated robbery, one count of theft of property valued over $500, and two counts of aggravated rape, and the trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of twenty-five years, to be served at 100%. This Court affirmed the Defendant’s sentence on appeal. State v. Matthew Melton Jackson, No. M2001-01999-CCA-R3-CD, 2003 WL 288432, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Feb. 7, 2003), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 12, 2003). The Defendant then unsuccessfully filed two petitions for post-conviction relief and two petitions for writs of habeas corpus, and this Court affirmed the lower courts’ denial of relief in each regard. The Defendant then filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct his allegedly illegal sentence, which the trial court summarily dismissed. We affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Terry Sherrod
M2016-01112-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Defendant, Terry Sherrod, pled guilty in two separate cases to domestic assault and possession of a Schedule IV drug with the intent to sell or deliver. As a result of the guilty pleas, he received an effective sentence of four years to be served on Community Corrections. Subsequently, an affidavit and warrant were filed alleging Defendant violated the conditions of his sentence. After a hearing, the trial court revoked Defendant’s Community Corrections sentence and ordered him to serve the remainder of his original sentence of four years with credit for 580 days. Defendant appeals the revocation. After a review, we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by determining that Defendant violated the terms of his Community Corrections sentence. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed. However, we remand the case for the entry of proper judgment forms for the charges that were dismissed as a result of the guilty plea.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/22/17
State of Tennessee v. Curtis Coleman
E2016-00678-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The petitioner, Curtis Coleman, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. The petitioner has failed to state a colorable claim for relief under Rule 36.1; therefore, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petitioner’s motion pursuant to Rule 20, Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/17
State of Tennessee v. Juan Diego Vargas
M2015-02458-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Defendant, Juan Diego Vargas, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. After a review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, it appears that the trial court failed to enter a judgment form dismissing Count Three of the indictment. Accordingly, we remand for entry of a judgment form dismissing Count Three of the indictment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/21/17
Willie Gatewood v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02480-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Petitioner, Willie Gatewood, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. He argues that his trial counsel provided ineffective assistance (1) by not filing a motion to suppress the results of a photographic identification by the victim, (2) by not filing a motion to suppress the results of a warrantless search of Petitioner's cellphone, and (3) by various failures during trial preparation. Because Petitioner has failed to prove his claims by clear and convincing evidence, the decision of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Doyan Anderson
W2015-02405-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant, Doyan Anderson, was indicted for aggravated assault involving the use or display of a deadly weapon, a Class C felony; aggravated assault based on violation of a court order, a Class C felony; domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor; and unlawful possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony involving the use or attempted use of violence, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-102(a)(1)(A)(iii), -13-102(c), -13-111, -17-1307. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted of domestic assault and both counts of aggravated assault. The jury acquitted the Defendant of the unlawful possession of a firearm charge. The trial court merged the domestic assault conviction into the aggravated assault conviction based on violation of a court order. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a career offender and imposed a total effective sentence of thirty years' incarceration. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction for aggravated assault involving the use or display of a deadly weapon and (2) that the trial court committed plain error by failing to require the State to make an election of the distinct conduct it was relying upon regarding the charge of aggravated assault based on violation of a court order. Following our review, we affirm the Defendant's convictions. However, we merge the Defendant's two convictions for aggravated assault and remand the case to the trial court for entry of corrected judgment forms reflecting said merger and the resulting sentence of fifteen years' incarceration.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
Jermaine Burdette v. State of Tennessee
W2015-02400-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

In 2011, the Petitioner, Jermaine Burdette, entered a best interest plea to three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping and three counts of aggravated robbery, and the trial court sentenced him to 111 years of incarceration. This Court affirmed his conviction and sentences on direct appeal. State v. Jermaine Burdette, No. W2011-01938-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 6726525, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Dec. 26, 2012), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 9, 2013). In 2014, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel, that his plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered, and that the State had violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), by failing disclose exculpatory evidence until the day before trial. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. We affirm the post-conviction court's judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
Quinzell Lawon Grasty v. State of Tennessee
E2015-02075-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

Petitioner, Quinzell Lawon Grasty, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court's denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, he contends that trial counsel was ineffective for: (1) failing to challenge his first statement to police on the basis that he had requested counsel; (2) failing to file a pretrial motion in limine to exclude references to gang activity; (3) failing to object to the State‟s use of demonstrative evidence; (4) failing to object to the chain of custody of a backpack; (5) failing to request the trial court to question jurors about a newspaper found in the jury box; and (6) failing to disclose that he had a conflict of interest with Petitioner's stepfather. Petitioner also argues that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to include a copy of the suppression hearing transcript in the record on appeal and failing to raise sufficiency of the evidence as an issue on appeal. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Robert L. Lumpkin
M016-00878-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge David D. Wolfe

The defendant, Robert L. Lumpkin, appeals the Dickson County Circuit Court’s denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas to aggravated sexual battery and sexual exploitation of a minor, arguing that he did not understand the lifetime supervision aspect of the sex offender registry at the time he entered his pleas.  Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court denying the motion.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
Jose Luiz Dominquez v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00302-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Mudge Monte Watkins

The Petitioner, Jose Luiz Dominguez, appeals the dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Davidson County Criminal Court.  On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the indictment was defective and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel, which rendered his guilty plea involuntary.  Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Dunn
M2016-00469-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

A Robertson County jury convicted the Defendant, Timothy Dunn, of sale of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school and delivery of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school.  The trial court merged the two convictions and sentenced the Defendant to serve seventeen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction.  On appeal, the Defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred when it denied his request for a continuance; (2) the trial court erred when it allowed Detective Eddie Stewart to testify when he was not listed on the indictment; (3) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction; and (4) his sentence is excessive.  After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
Austin Myles Tomlin v. State of Tennessee
M2016-00705-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durand, Jr.

The Petitioner, Austin Myles Tomlin, pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide by intoxication, and the trial court sentenced him to ten years for each count, to be served consecutively.  The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court denied after a hearing.  On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred when it dismissed his petition because his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to properly advise him regarding his guilty plea.  After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Michael O. Brown
M2016-01343-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

In 1991, the Defendant, Michael O. Brown, was convicted of sale of cocaine, and the trial court sentenced him to eleven years of incarceration.  In 1996, the Defendant was convicted of sale of cocaine, and the trial court sentenced him to twenty years of incarceration to be served consecutively to his sentence for the 1991 conviction.  In 2006, the Defendant filed a motion to correct an illegal sentence.  The trial court concluded that the Defendant’s 1991 sentence had been improperly enhanced, so it modified the sentence to eight years.  The trial court further concluded that this modification did not affect the Defendant’s sentence for his 1996 conviction.  After filing multiple motions to correct an illegal sentence from 2006 to 2008, the Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 in 2016, contending that his 1991 conviction was illegal and had been vacated, making the trial court’s use of it as an enhancement for his 1996 sentence improper.  The trial court dismissed the Defendant’s motion and denied his subsequent motion to reconsider.  The Defendant appeals, contending that his sentence for his 1996 conviction was improperly enhanced and that the trial court erred when it denied his motion to reconsider.  After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Minor-Concur In Part, Dissent In Part
W2016-00348-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

I concur with the majority with respect to its resolution of the Defendant's challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. However, in light of this court;s holding in State v. Bonds, 502 S.W.3d 118 (Tenn. Crim. App. April 7, 2016), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 18, 2016), I respectfully disagree with the majority's conclusion that the Defendant has waived his challenge to the constitutionality of the gang enhancement statute.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Minor
W2016-00348-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

In a bifurcated trial, a Madison County jury convicted the defendant, Christopher Minor, of two counts of first degree murder, two counts of aggravated burglary, one count of aggravated assault, one count of convicted felon in possession of a firearm, one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony having been previously been convicted of a felony, and six counts of violating Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-121, the criminal gang offenses enhancement statute. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of life plus twenty years. The defendant appeals his conviction, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence and the constitutionality of Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-121. The State argues the evidence was sufficient to support the defendant's convictions, and the defendant waived his constitutional challenge by raising his argument for the first time on appeal. We agree with the State and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/17
State of Tennessee v. David Troy Firestone
W2016-00347-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

David Troy Firestone (“the Defendant”) pled guilty to burglary and theft of property. At a bench trial, the trial court found that the value of the stolen property was over $10,000. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent sentences of four years for the burglary conviction and to five years for the theft of property conviction as a Range I standard offender. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to establish that the value of the stolen property exceeded $10,000, that he was improperly sentenced, and that the trial court erred in ordering the Defendant to pay $5,000 in restitution to Storage Town of America. After a thorough review of the record and case law, we affirm the Defendant’s convictions and sentences but reverse and vacate the trial court’s order of restitution to Storage Town of America.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 02/16/17