Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 08/13/2020
Format: 08/13/2020
Michael Cory Halliburton v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01458-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Michael Cory Halliburton, appeals the denial of his petition for postconviction relief, asserting that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/20
Mario Bateman aka Mario Woods v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01388-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

In 2007, a Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Mario Bateman a/k/a Mario Woods, of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced him to life in prison. This court affirmed the conviction. State v. Mario Bateman a/k/a Mario Woods, No. W2007-00571-CCA-R3-CD, 2008 WL 4756675, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Oct. 28, 2008), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Mar. 23, 2009). The Petitioner then unsuccessfully filed, in turn, a petition for post-conviction relief, a writ of error coram nobis, and a federal habeas corpus petition. He then filed a petition for a writ of error coram nobis at issue in this case, alleging that he had newly discovered evidence in the form of an affidavit from the victim’s father asserting that the victim was “violent, aggressive, and a bully.” He contended that he may have been convicted of a lesser-included offense had the jury heard this testimony and asked that the lower court toll the statute of limitations. The lower court summarily dismissed the petition for a writ of error coram nobis, finding that the Petitioner could have discovered the evidence sooner, that the evidence was cumulative to the evidence presented at trial, and that the Petitioner had not shown that the evidence might have affected the outcome of the trial. The Petitioner filed this appeal. After review, we affirm the lower court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/20
State of Tennessee v. William Brian Robinson
M2019-00451-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant, William Brian Robinson, was convicted by a jury of second degree murder, for which he received a sentence of seventeen years. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the trial court erred by denying his request to present evidence that the State had previously pursued two theories of guilt that were inconsistent with its theory at trial; (2) there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction, specifically, challenging the mens rea element of knowing; (3) the trial court erred by allowing a witness to testify about blood spatter evidence when that witness had not been qualified as an expert; and (4) the cumulative effect of these errors requires a new trial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case for a new trial on the charge of second degree murder, during which the Defendant shall be permitted to present evidence of the State’s previous theories of guilt.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/20
Robert Wayne Garner v. Grady Perry, Warden
M2019-01349-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Petitioner, Robert Wayne Garner, appeals as of right from the Giles County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus, in which he contended that his life sentence for his first degree felony murder was illegal because the statute governing his release eligibility does not allow for the possibility of parole. The Petitioner contends that the petition stated a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/13/20
State of Tennessee v. Ramon Luis Hernandez, Jr.
M2019-01482-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Defendant, Ramon Luis Hernandez, Jr., pled guilty to one count of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor involving over 50 images. Defendant agreed to consecutive sentencing, with the trial court to determine the length and manner of service of the sentences after a sentencing hearing. The trial court sentenced Defendant to five years for each offense for an effective sentence of ten years of incarceration. After a review, we conclude that the trial court sentenced Defendant to a sentence within the range for each conviction and followed the proper sentencing procedure. Accordingly, the trial court did not abuse its discretion and the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Jeffrey Wayne Haithcote
M2018-01943-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Appellant, Jeffrey Wayne Haithcote, pled guilty in the Bedford County Circuit Court to two counts of selling heroin and one count of possessing heroin with intent to sell, Class B felonies. As a condition of his pleas, he reserved certified questions of law concerning whether the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the search of his residence because the affidavit underlying the search warrant did not establish probable cause. Upon review, we affirm the trial court’s denial of the motion to suppress.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/11/20
Derrick D. Carr v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00201-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody N. Kane

Petitioner, Derrick D. Carr, was indicted by a Wilson County grand jury for two counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted first-degree murder, one count of especially aggravated robbery, and two counts of reckless endangerment involving a deadly weapon. Pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement, Petitioner pled guilty to second-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder and received concurrent twenty-five-year prison sentences. Petitioner subsequently filed a timely pro se petition for post-conviction relief claiming that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel and that he had newly discovered evidence from one of the victims. After an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition. After a careful review of the record, we affirm.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/10/20
State of Tennessee v. Demarius Jerome Pitts
M2019-00866-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

Defendant, Demarius Jerome Pitts, pleaded guilty to possession of a Schedule IV drug with intent to sell or deliver. After denying judicial diversion, the trial court sentenced Defendant to serve three years to be suspended to supervised probation. On appeal, Defendant contends that the trial court erred when it denied his request for judicial diversion. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/10/20
State of Tennessee v. Donte Davis
M2019-01314-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa Jackson

Donte Anton Davis, Defendant, was indicted by a Coffee County grand jury for violation of the Sex Offender Registry. Defendant entered a guilty plea, and the trial court sentenced Defendant as a career offender to serve six years in confinement. Defendant filed a timely notice of appeal and argues that his sentence was excessive and that the trial court failed to include specific findings to support its denial of the mandatory minimum sentence. The State argues that the trial court exercised proper discretion and sentenced Defendant appropriately. After a thorough review of the record, we find no error in the judgment of the trial court.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/07/20
State of Tennessee v. Charles Thomas Johnson
M2019-00707-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Charles Thomas Johnson, was convicted by a Lincoln County Circuit Court jury of possession of heroin with the intent to sell, possession of heroin with the intent to deliver, possession with the intent to sell 0.5 gram or more of cocaine, and possession with the intent to deliver 0.5 gram or more of cocaine, Class B felonies. See T.C.A. § 39-17-417 (2018). After the appropriate merger, the trial court imposed consecutive terms of twelve years for possession with the intent to sell heroin and eight years for possession with the intent to sell cocaine, for an effective twenty years’ confinement. The trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his effective sentence consecutively to a conviction in an unrelated case. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss pursuant to State v. Ferguson, 2 S.W.3d 912 (Tenn. 1999), based on lost or destroyed evidence, and (3) the trial court erred by denying his request for alternative sentencing and by imposing consecutive service. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/07/20
Vaughn Harris a.k.a. Vaughn Sherwin Harris v. State of Tennessee
M2019-01873-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Smith

On September 3, 2019, Vaughn Harris, Petitioner, filed pro se petitions for post-conviction relief in three Davidson County cases. The petitions were filed years after the one-year statute of limitations in Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-102(a) had expired. The post-conviction courts summarily dismissed the petitions as untimely. Petitioner appealed claiming that the statutory exceptions in Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-30-102(b) provided jurisdiction for the post-conviction courts to consider the petitions and/or that he was entitled to due process tolling of the statute of limitations. Pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Appellate Procedure 16(b), we ordered the three appeals to be consolidated because they involved “common questions of law and/or common facts.” After review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the summary dismissal in all three cases.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/07/20
Alberto Conde-Valentino v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00617-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

The Petitioner, Alberto Conde-Valentino, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, seeking relief from his convictions of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery and resulting effective sentence of life in confinement. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/06/20
State of Tennessee v. Charles Meriweather
M2019-01779-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Smith

On March 4, 2011, Charles Meriweather, Defendant, entered negotiated pleas of guilty to two Class B felony drug offenses and was sentenced to consecutive terms of twelve-years. The effective twenty-four-year sentence was also ordered to be served consecutively to a federal sentence. The judgments provided that the sentences would be served in a “community based alternative” and required Defendant to report to the community corrections officer within seventy-two hours of his release from federal custody. Defendant was arrested in 2018 on drug and weapons charges. Following a revocation hearing, the trial court revoked Defendant’s probation and ordered Defendant to serve his sentences in the Department of Correction. Defendant claims that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering his sentences to be served. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/06/20
State of Tennessee v. Jessica M. Thompson
W2019-01007-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

Defendant, Jessica M. Thompson, appeals from the trial court’s revocation of her probation. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/03/20
State of Tennessee v. Harvey Lee Webster
M2019-02182-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Harvey Lee Webster, appeals the trial court’s summary dismissal of his motion filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. He alleges that his sentences are illegal because his concurrent sentences had to run consecutively because he was on probation at the time of the offenses. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/20
State of Tennessee v. Kenneth D. Rudd, Sr.
W2019-00692-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

A Fayette County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Kenneth D. Rudd Sr., of rape and incest. The Appellant was sentenced as a Range II, multiple offender to a total effective sentence of seventeen years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions and the length of the sentences imposed by the trial court. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Fayette County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/20
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Montgomery
M2020-00026-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

A Rutherford County jury convicted Defendant, Jonathan Montgomery, of driving under the influence (“DUI”) per se, DUI with blood alcohol content over .08 percent, DUI, sixth offense, and driving on a revoked license. The trial court sentenced Defendant to three years with a thirty percent release eligibility for DUI and to a concurrent sentence of six months for driving on a revoked license. On appeal, Defendant contends the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/31/20
State of Tennessee v. Jamie Thomas
W2019-00787-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

Defendant, Jamie Thomas, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his motion under Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 as amended to correct illegal sentences. Defendant contends that the trial court erred by concluding that relief was not available because his illegal sentence as to Case Nos. 06-09288 and 06-08706 had expired and thus was not subject to correction under Rule 36.1. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court as to Case Nos. 06-09288 and 06-08706, but as to allegations that concurrent sentencing in Case Nos. 06-02344 and 06-04638, which the trial court did not address, the amended motion is remanded to the trial court for disposition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/20
State of Tennessee v. Mary Ann Scates
W2019-01274-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A Henderson County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant-Appellant, Mary Ann Scates, with alternating counts of driving under the influence and driving under the influence (second offense) (counts 1 and 2); following another vehicle too closely and speeding (counts 3 and 4); reckless aggravated assault by use of an automobile as a deadly weapon causing Faith Coleman, Cassandra Coleman, and Alexandria Springer to fear and suffer bodily injury (counts 5, 6, and 7); and vehicular assault of Grace Coleman by reckless operation of an automobile as a result of intoxication (count 8). See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 55-10-401; 55-8-124; 55-8-152; 39-13-102; 39-13-106. The Defendant entered an open guilty plea to the offenses as charged, with the trial court to determine sentencing. After a hearing, the trial court imposed a four-year consecutive term of imprisonment for the reckless aggravated assault in count 5 and the vehicular assault by intoxication in count 8, for an effective sentence of eight years’ confinement. The remaining counts were to be served concurrently. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court erred in ordering consecutive sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/20
Roosevelt Bigbee, Jr. v. Jonathan Lebo, Warden
W2020-00510-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Petitioner, Roosevelt Bigbee, Jr., appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/20
State of Tennessee v. Edward Powell
W2019-01191-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee Moore

The defendant, Edward Powell, appeals his Dyer County Circuit Court jury conviction of the sale of cocaine, challenging the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/20
Larry Donnell Golden, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01531-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

Petitioner, Larry Donnell Golden, Jr., appeals from the denial of his petition for postconviction relief from his 2016 convictions for second degree murder and reckless endangerment. Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel at trial and on direct appeal. Following our review of the record, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/20
State of Tennessee v. Ricky Lee Womac - concurring and dissenting
E2019-00643-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

I dissent from the majority’s conclusion that the evidence is sufficient to support the Defendant’s conviction in Count Two of attempted first degree murder of Deputy Presswood. In my view, the evidence does not show that the Defendant took a substantial step toward killing Deputy Presswood. See T.C.A. § 39-12-101(a)(3) (2018) (criminal attempt). Viewed in the light most favorable to the State, the evidence shows that while standing in a Walmart checkout aisle, the Defendant looked over his left shoulder and saw Deputies Presswood and Redrup, who were in uniform, approaching him. Deputy Redrup, who was wearing a body camera, stepped to the Defendant’s right side and advised him that he was being arrested, and Deputy Presswood stood behind the Defendant. After some discussion with Deputy Redrup about the Defendant’s desire to purchase a drink, the Defendant put money that was in his hand into his pocket, produced a loaded gun with his left hand, and pointed the gun at Deputy Redrup. By the time the Defendant pointed the gun at Deputy Redrup, the hammer was cocked, and the Defendant had his finger on the trigger. The struggle for the gun and to take the Defendant into custody ensued, during which Deputy Redrup forced the web of his left hand into the gun’s breach in order to thwart any attempt by the Defendant to pull the trigger and fire the gun. The gun’s hammer was released, catching and injuring Deputy Redrup’s hand but preventing the gun from discharging. During the struggle, Deputy Redrup was the first officer to engage with the Defendant, who had turned to his right toward Deputy Redrup during the initial struggle for the gun. Deputy Presswood first attempted to assist in restraining and disarming the Defendant while standing behind Deputy Redrup and later moved to the Defendant’s side. The Defendant fought against the deputies’ efforts to restrain him and held onto the gun while Deputy Redrup kept his hand in the gun’s breach until a third deputy, who was in civilian clothing, joined the struggle and struck the Defendant.

McMinn County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/20
State of Tennessee v. Ricky Lee Womac
E2019-00643CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

A McMinn County jury convicted the Defendant, Ricky Lee Womac, of two counts of attempted first degree premeditated murder and one count of reckless endangerment. In a separate proceeding, the Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. For these convictions, the trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of eighty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for attempted first degree premeditated murder and that his trial counsel was ineffective. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

McMinn County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/20
State of Tennessee v. Kurk Mitchell Slater
M2019-01019-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Defendant, Kurk Mitchell Slater, was indicted by a Lawrence County Grand Jury on eight counts: Count 1, attempted aggravated kidnapping; Count 2, attempted rape; Count 3, aggravated assault; Count 4, assault; Count 5, aggravated burglary; Count 6, vandalism under $1000; Count 7, reckless endangerment; and Count 8, assault. Defendant pled guilty to Counts 1, 3, and 5. The remaining counts were nolled pursuant to the plea agreement. Defendant agreed that he would be sentenced as a Range I, standard offender, at a separate sentencing hearing. The trial court sentenced Defendant to five years for each count, with partial consecutive alignment, for a total effective sentence of ten years incarceration. Defendant timely appeals the consecutive sentencing and the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing. After a review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/30/20