Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 11/19/2017
Format: 11/19/2017
Brandon Leon Forbes v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00310-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Brandon Leon Forbes, was convicted of aggravated burglary, theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000, and vandalism of property valued at $500 or less and was sentenced as a Range III, persistent offender to a total effective sentence of twenty-four years. Subsequently, his convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Brandon Leon Forbes, No. W2014-02073-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 5813434, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct. 5, 2015). He then filed a timely petition for postconviction relief, alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The post-conviction court denied relief, and we affirm that order.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/17/17
State of Tennessee v. Deshan Sanders
W2016-02191-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Deshan Sanders, received a five-year suspended sentence pursuant to a plea agreement, but that sentence was later fully revoked after a hearing. The Defendant then filed a motion to reduce his sentence, asking the trial court to reconsider its revocation decision. The Defendant appeals the denial of his motion. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the Henderson County Circuit Court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Eric Todd Whitaker, Jr.
M2017-00143-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

The Defendant, Eric Todd Whitaker, Jr., entered nolo contendere pleas to aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, and theft of property valued at $1,000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-403 (2014) (aggravated burglary), 39-14-103 (2014) (theft of property). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to concurrent terms of four years and six months for aggravated burglary and four years for theft of property. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred during sentencing. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/16/17
State of Tennessee v. Tony Anthony Hatley
W2016-01802-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

The Defendant, Tony Anthony Hatley, pled guilty to theft of property valued at $1000 or more but less than $10,000, a Class D felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor, in exchange for an effective sentence of eight years with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of confinement, which the Defendant now challenges. After review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/17
Marcus A. Parram v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02477-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

In two separate cases, the Petitioner, Marcus A. Parram, pled guilty to domestic assault, stalking, harassment, and three counts of violation of an order of protection. He was sentenced to a total effective sentence of three years, suspended to probation. In his timely petition for post-conviction relief, he claims that trial counsel was ineffective for not obtaining recordings of his jailhouse telephone conversations with the victim and for not securing a certain police officer or a child of the victim to testify on his behalf. It appears that he also claims that his pleas of guilty were involuntary. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief, and we affirm that denial.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/17
Jeffrey Henry v. State of Tennessee
W2016-02435-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

The Petitioner, Jeffrey Henry, pled guilty on January 12, 2015, to three counts of aggravated sexual battery and received an effective twenty-year sentence. Subsequently, on September 22, 2016, he filed an untimely petition for writ of error coram nobis, alleging as newly discovered evidence that the victim was taking medication for oppositional defiant disorder, which, he believed, raised questions as to whether her responses were true or, simply, impulsive responses. Not knowing the victim was taking this medication meant that the Petitioner’s pleas of guilty were unknowing and involuntary, according to his argument. Additionally, he asserts that the decision of the Tennessee Supreme Court in Frazier v. State, 495 S.W.3d 246 (Tenn. 2016), violates his right to due process, which, in his view, tolls the one-year statute of limitations for filing his claim. The coram nobis court dismissed the petition, finding that, pursuant to the holding in Frazier, the relief the Petitioner sought was not available because he had entered pleas of guilty. Further, the coram nobis court determined that the Petitioner had been aware that the victim was undergoing “some possible mental health treatment.” Accordingly, the coram nobis court denied relief, and we affirm that determination pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Julia Sanford
E2017-00236-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The Defendant, Julia Sanford, was indicted for failure to maintain her lane, violation of the financial responsibility law, driving under the influence, and driving under the influence per se with a blood alcohol content of .20 or higher. The Defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress the evidence resulting from the traffic stop of her vehicle. The trial court denied the Defendant’s motion, and the Defendant pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and reserved a certified question of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) as to whether the stop of the Defendant’s vehicle by law enforcement was lawful. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/17
Eric Demond McCathern v. State of Tennessee
M2016-02143-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Petitioner, Eric Demond McCathern, was convicted after a jury trial of possession of twenty-six or more grams of a substance containing cocaine within one thousand feet of a school with the intent to sell or deliver, possession of drug paraphernalia, and aggravated burglary committed with the intent to commit possession of a substance containing cocaine with the intent to sell or deliver. After this court denied relief on direct appeal, the Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The Petitioner asserts that his trial counsel performed deficiently in advising him to plead guilty to aggravated burglary during trial because the plea essentially conceded elements of the contested drug charge. The Petitioner also asserts that trial counsel was deficient in failing to request a severance or move to suppress evidence. The post-conviction court denied relief. After a review of the record, we conclude that the Petitioner has not established prejudice, and we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/17
Kenneth Krasovic v. State of Tennessee
M2016-02458-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas W. Graham

A jury convicted the Petitioner, Kenneth Krasovic, of reckless vehicular homicide and five counts of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon after he decided to pass a truck on a hill and collided with both the truck and an oncoming vehicle. The Petitioner appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial attorney presented inadequate expert testimony and advised the Petitioner not to testify at trial. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of relief.

Grundy County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/17
State of Tennessee v. John David Smartt
M2016-01407-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

Defendant, John David Smartt, was indicted for five counts of rape of a child, (Counts 1, 2, 3, 6, and 9); one count of rape (Count 12); three counts of especially aggravated sexual exploitation of a child, (Counts 4, 7, and 10); and three counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a child (Counts 5, 8, and 11). Following a second jury trial, after the first trial ended in a mistrial, Defendant was convicted as charged on all twelve counts. The trial court imposed and effective sentence of 153 years' incarceration. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends that: 1) the trial court erred by allowing testimony regarding a recorded phone call by the victim to Defendant; 2) the trial court erred by allowing into evidence Defendant's wife's journal; 3) the evidence was insufficient to support Defendant's convictions; 4) this court should overturn prior case law, so that the testimony of a victim regarding the content of sexually explicit material must be corroborated; and 5) his sentence is excessive. Having reviewed the entire record and the arguments of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/17
Jewell Wayne Smith, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00538-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Petitioner, Jewell Wayne Smith, Jr., appeals from the Robertson County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his 2013 best interest guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter, for which he is serving a thirteen-year sentence. The Petitioner contends that (1) his guilty plea was involuntary and (2) he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Melvin L. Horne
M2017-00647-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wooten, Jr.

Defendant, Melvin L. Horne, appeals the revocation of his probation, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion when it relied on a note on the court file from the original guilty plea hearing.  The State responds that the note is not properly included in the record, that Defendant waived consideration of the issue by failing to object during the hearing, and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion.  Upon our review of the record, we find no abuse of discretion and affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Randy Joe Richards
M2017-00030-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Defendant, Randy Joe Richards, was convicted of theft of property valued over $10,000 but less than $60,000, vandalism less than $500, and driving on a revoked license.  As a result, he was sentenced to an effective sentence of fifteen years as a Range III, persistent offender.  On appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and his sentence.  After a review, we determine that the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant to fifteen years in incarceration.

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/17
State of Tennessee v. Eric Dewayne Finley
E2017-00482-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The Defendant, Eric Dewayne Finley, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s revocation of his probation. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion by reinstating a sentence of full confinement. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/13/17
State of Tennessee v. Richard Crawford
W2016-01230-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Defendant, Richard Crawford, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of especially aggravated robbery, attempted especially aggravated kidnapping, attempted second degree murder, and employing a firearm during the attempted commission of a dangerous felony. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred by: (1) determining that alleged prior bad acts of the victim and another witness were inadmissible for impeachment purposes; and (2) preventing the Defendant from subpoenaing the victim to testify a second time about additional prior inconsistent statements. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/13/17
Quinton Albert Cage v. State of Tennessee
M2016-02574-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

The pro se Petitioner, Quinton Albert Cage, appeals the denial of his motion to reopen his petition for post-conviction relief.  Following our review, we dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction because the Petitioner failed to comply with the statutory requirements to seek discretionary review of a motion to reopen post-conviction proceedings.   

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/13/17
Jason Lee Holley v. State of Tennessee
M2017-00510-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Jason Lee Holley, entered a guilty plea to one count of possession of .5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell in exchange for the dismissal of other charges. Petitioner received a twelve-year sentence as a Range II offender and was ordered to serve one year of the sentence day-for-day prior to being released to community corrections for the balance of the sentence. Petitioner sought post-conviction relief on the basis that his guilty plea was unknowing and involuntary and that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The post-conviction court denied relief after a hearing. Because Petitioner failed to show that he received ineffective assistance of counsel or that his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Lavely L. Brown
E2016-02099-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Petitioner, Lavely L. Brown, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court denying the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Charles Timothy Krauss, Alias
E2016-02329-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Defendant, Charles Timothy Krauss, alias, pled guilty to two counts of theft of property valued at $10,000 or more but less than $60,000 and received a total effective sentence of ten years as a Range III, persistent offender. He applied for but was denied probation. Additionally, the trial court denied his request for pretrial jail credits for the time he had spent in confinement in Mississippi. He filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 33 motion requesting jail credits for the period from January 9, 2013, to February 9, 2016. According to the Defendant, he was entitled to the credits because he had requested, pursuant to the Interstate Compact on Detainers, that he be transferred to Tennessee to answer to the Knox County charges. The trial court denied the motion, and we affirm that denial.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/09/17
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Lee Clymer
M2016-01124-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant, Brandon Lee Clymer, was convicted of rape of a child by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury. He is serving a twenty-six-year, Range II sentence. On appeal, he contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction, (2) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the victim’s forensic interview, (3) the trial court erred in admitting the Defendant’s pretrial statement without redacting opinions expressed by police officers, (4) the trial court erred in overruling the Defendant’s objection to the State’s rebuttal closing argument, (5) he is entitled to a new trial due to cumulative trial error, and (6) the trial court imposed an unconstitutional and excessive sentence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/09/17
Charles D. Belk v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00700-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeff Parham

The Petitioner, Charles D. Belk, appeals the Obion County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of introducing a controlled substance into a penal institution, a Class C felony; Class C felony unlawful possession of a weapon; Class D felony unlawful possession of a weapon; possessing marijuana with intent to sell or deliver, a Class E felony; and simple possession, a Class A misdemeanor, and resulting effective sentence of twelve years in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner claims that he received the ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/17
State of Tennessee v. Taris C. Frazier
M2016-02397-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

The Defendant, Taris C. Frazier, was convicted by a Rutherford County Circuit Court jury of three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, Class A felonies; three counts of aggravated assault, Class C felonies; resisting arrest, a Class B misdemeanor; and criminal impersonation, a Class B misdemeanor. He was sentenced to an effective term of seventy-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction, to be served consecutively to his sentence in another case. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence convicting him of especially aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/17
State of Tennessee v. Zachary Michael Johnson
M2016-01479-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Defendant, Zachary Michael Johnson, was indicted for five counts of rape by force or coercion, a Class B felony, all involving the same victim and occurring over a short period of time. The jury convicted him of the lesser offense of sexual battery, a Class E felony, in two counts of the indictment and acquitted him of the remaining three counts of the indictment. The trial court subsequently sentenced him as Range I, standard offender to concurrent terms of two years for each conviction, suspended to three years of supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence and argues that the trial court committed plain error by not instructing the jury on the lesser-included offense of assault by extremely offensive or provocative physical contact. Following our review, we conclude that the evidence is sufficient to sustain the convictions but that the trial court erred in not instructing the jury as to the lesser-included offense. Accordingly, we reverse the judgments of conviction and remand for a new trial.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/03/17
Phillip Alexander McWilliams v. State of Tennessee
E2017-00275-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Walter C. Kurtz

Petitioner, Phillip Alexander McWilliams, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for aggravated domestic assault and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After a review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we determine Petitioner has failed to establish that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/02/17
State of Tennessee v. D'Maris LaQuann Fuller
M2016-00412-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

A Davidson County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, D’Maris Laquann Fuller, of aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced the Appellant as a Range I, standard offender to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to play a recording of a 911 call, that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction, and that the trial court erred when determining the length of his sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/01/17