Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/22/2014
Format: 07/22/2014
State of Tennessee v. James Joseph Ryan
E2013-02135-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

Following a jury trial in Knox County Criminal Court, Defendant, James Joseph Ryan, was convicted of burglary of a business (an automobile dealership) and theft of property of more than $10,000.00 in value. He was sentenced as a Range II offender to an effective sentence of ten years. In this appeal, Defendant asserts that accomplice testimony was not corroborated, that the trial court erred by not finding a certain witness was an accomplice as a matter of law, and that the trial court erred by ordering Defendant to pay the court costs. After a thorough review we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/22/14
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. TOMMY DALE ADAMS
M2013-01080-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Earl Durham

A Wilson County Jury convicted Defendant, Tommy Dale Adams, of first-degree felony murder, second-degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery.  He received concurrent  sentences of life for first degree felony murder, twenty years for second degree murder, and twenty years for especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) that the trial court erred in admitting a photograph into evidence after finding that its probative value outweighed its prejudicial effect; (2) that the trial court erred in excluding testimony by Dewy Raymond, finding that it was inadmissible hearsay; and (3) that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for first degree felony murder, second degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery.  After a thorough review, we remand the matter to the trial court for entry of a corrected judgment to reflect that the convictions of felony murder and second degree murder are merged into one count of felony murder.  In all other respects, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/14
LEONARD ALLEN v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
M2013-00840-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth Norman

On January 3, 2003 the Davidson County Grand Jury indicted Petitioner, Leonard Allen, for especially aggravated robbery.  Following a jury trial, Petitioner was convicted of the charged offense.  The trial court sentenced Petitioner to twenty years of incarceration.  Petitioner filed a notice of appeal.  Subsequently, Petitioner filed a petition to plead guilty to aggravated robbery in the same case.  The trial court, upon agreement of the parties, vacated the conviction for especially aggravated robbery and accepted a plea agreement to aggravated robbery with a sentence of ten years at thirty percent with credit for time served and the balance of the sentence to be served on probation.  Petitioner appealed, challenging various aspects of his original conviction as well as the guilty plea.  See State v. Leonard Allen, No. M2007-02581-CCA-R3-CD, 2011 WL 1344462 (Tenn. Crim. App. at Nashville, April 5, 2011), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. July 14, 2011).  On direct appeal, this Court invalidated the plea agreement, finding, among other things, that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enter the plea agreement where Petitioner had already filed a notice of appeal.  This Court then reinstated Petitioner’s conviction for especially aggravated robbery.  On remand, the trial court reinstated the accompanying twenty-year sentence.  Subsequently, Petitioner sought post-conviction relief in which he argued, inter alia, that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial.  Following a hearing, the post-conviction court entered an order denying Petitioner relief.  On appeal, Petitioner argues that the post-conviction court erred in dismissing his Petition for Post-Conviction Relief based on ineffective assistance of his trial counsel.  After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying the petition for relief.
 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/14
State of Tennessee v. Jacqueline Nicole Bolden
E2013-02324-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

Defendant, Jacqueline Nicole Bolden, pled guilty to one count of theft of property in an amount more than $60,000, a Class B felony, with an agreed upon sentence of eight years as a Range I offender with the trial court to determine manner of service of the sentence. The trial court ordered Defendant to serve her eight-year sentence on “split confinement” with fifty days to be served on the weekends. Defendant was also ordered to perform one day of community service per month for the first three years of her sentence. On appeal, Defendant contends the trial court erred by denying her request for full probation. We conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing Defendant. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Claiborne County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/21/14
Johnvonta Sain v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00214-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Johnvonta Sain, pleaded nolo contendere to aggravated assault with an agreed upon sentence of four years, suspended upon time served. The Petitioner filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief on the basis that his plea was involuntary and that he had received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the Petitioner relief. The Petitioner now appeals, maintaining that his guilty plea was involuntary and asserting that the post-conviction court should have recused itself in this matter. After a thorough review of the record, the briefs, and relevant  athorities, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/14
Carl Randle v. State of Tennessee
W2014-00136-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

A Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Carl Randle, of aggravated assault and attempted voluntary manslaughter. The trial court merged the convictions and ordered the Petitioner to serve six years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court. State v. Carl Randle, No. W2011–02374–CCA–R3-CD, 2012 WL 3642730, at *11 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Aug. 27, 2012), no Tenn. R. App. P. 11 filed. The Petitioner filed a petition for postconviction relief, in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective. The postconviction court dismissed the petition after a hearing, and the Petitioner appealed that dismissal. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the postconviction court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/14
Vincent Hunt v. State of Tennessee
W2012-01468-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Petitioner, Vincent Hunt, was convicted of first degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping in Shelby County. On direct appeal, his convictions and sentences were affirmed. See State v. Vincent Hunt, No. W2009-00165-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 1407236, at *1-5 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Apr. 8, 2010), perm. app. denied, (Tenn. Sept. 23, 2012). Petitioner then sought post-conviction relief on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel and that the trial court issued improper jury instructions at trial. The post-conviction court denied relief and Petitioner appeals. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we determine that Petitioner failed to establish that he is entitled to post-conviction relief. Accordingly, the judgment of the post-conviction court is affirmed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/14
State of Tennessee v. Christopher I. Thrasher
M2013-02495-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Leon C. Burns, Jr.

The Defendant, Christopher I. Thrasher, was convicted by an Overton County jury of delivery of oxycodone within 1000 feet of a school zone, and the trial court imposed a sentence of seventeen years for that conviction.  In this direct appeal, the Defendant alleges that the following errors were made at his trial: (1) that his motion to suppress should have been granted because he was under the influence of drugs at the time he waived his rights and gave his statement; (2) that the chain of custody regarding the pills was not sufficiently established; and (3) that enhancement of his sentencing term above the range minimum was improper.  After a thorough review of the record and the applicable authorities, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Overton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/18/14
State of Tennessee v. William Avery Crisp
M2013-01339-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert G. Crigler

The defendant, William Avery Crisp, pled guilty to one count of driving under the influence of an intoxicant (“DUI”), a Class A misdemeanor; one count of vehicular homicide, a Class C felony; one count of vehicular homicide as a proximate result of intoxication, a Class B felony; one count of vehicular assault as a proximate result of intoxication, a Class D felony, and one count of a violation of the open container law, a Class C misdemeanor.  The defendant’s guilty pleas reserved four certified questions of law having to do with the trial court’s denial of his motions to suppress certain evidence.  He also appeals the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing.  We conclude that the trial court properly determined that there was probable cause to believe the defendant was driving while intoxicated even if he passed the field sobriety tests administered by law enforcement.  The other certified questions are not dispositive of any of the defendant’s convictions, and the trial court did not err in sentencing.  Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Lincoln County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/14
Jarvis Payne v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01435-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

Petitioner, Jarvis Payne, pled guilty to second degree murder pursuant to a plea agreement and was sentenced to fifteen years as a violent offender. He filed a post-conviction petition in which he alleged that a dying declaration by the victim showed that he lacked the requisite intent for second degree murder. He claimed that his attorney was ineffective because she did not make him aware of the victim’s dying declaration and urged him to plead guilty without explaining the importance of intent in the charged offense. After listening to testimony from Petitioner’s public defender and the prosecuting attorney, the post-conviction court dismissed the petition. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/17/14
Brandon Alexander Rankin v. State of Tennessee
W2013-01216-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jerry L. Smith
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

Petitioner, Brandon Alexander Rankin, pled guilty to second degree murder and accessory after the fact or facilitation to commit first degree murder, to which he was sentenced to concurrent 40-year sentences at 100%. Petitioner subsequently filed a timely motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and trial counsel filed a motion to withdraw as counsel on the same date. A hearing was conducted on the two motions. The trial court elected to classify petitioner’s motion to withdraw the guilty plea as a post-conviction petition. Trial counsel’s motion to withdraw was sustained. Petitioner’s “Amended Petition for Post-Conviction Relief combined with Rule 36 Motion to Correct Clerical Error in Order” was filed through newly appointed counsel. The post-conviction court dismissed the amended petition as time barred. Petitioner timely appealed. After a review of the record and applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court erred in construing Petitioner’s motion to withdraw his guilty pleas as a petition for post-conviction relief. As a result, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand for consideration of Petitioner’s motion to withdraw his guilty pleas.

Carroll County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
Charlie Lovell Leavy III v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00719-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker III

The Petitioner, Charlie Lovell Leavy, III, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of relief from his convictions for aggravated burglary, burglary of a building, theft over $1,000, felony evading arrest, and simple assault. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Lamont French
M2013-01270-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Appellant, Kevin Lamont French, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of premeditated murder, felony murder, and especially aggravated robbery.  He received life sentences for the murder convictions, and the trial court sentenced him to a concurrent sentence of twenty-one years for his especially aggravated robbery conviction.  On appeal, he argues that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred by admitting prior bad act testimony; (3) the trial court erred by admitting a letter purportedly written by appellant; (4) the trial court erred by admitting testimony regarding weapons found in appellant’s home; (5) the assistant district attorney general committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments; and (6) the trial court erred by admitting certain autopsy photographs.  Following our review of the record, the arguments of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand the case for the trial court to merge the two murder convictions.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Mark Edward Greene
M2013-02710-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

Appellant, Mark Edward Greene, appeals the denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion to correct a clerical error.  He alleges that the trial court should have granted pretrial jail credits from the time that Williamson County lodged a detainer against him until the date he was sentenced.  Following our review, we affirm the circuit court’s decision.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/16/14
Blake Delaney Tallant v. State of Tennessee
E2013-01827-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

The petitioner, Blake Delaney Tallant, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he was denied the effective assistance of trial and appellate counsel due to counsel’s failure to properly educate him on the importance of testifying in his own defense, to press the issue of the bill of particulars in the trial court or to raise it as an issue on direct appeal, and to include the jury questionnaires in the record on direct appeal. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
George A. Wylie v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00976-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, George A. Wylie, appeals the Criminal Court for Shelby County’s denial of his pro se 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.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Wendell Guinn
W2013-01436-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter Jr.

The Defendant, Wendell Guinn, was indicted for aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony; rape, a Class B felony; aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; and domestic assault, a Class A misdemeanor. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-111, -13-304, -13-503, -14-403. The State ultimately dismissed the domestic assault charge, and, following a jury trial, the Defendant was acquitted of the aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary charges. The jury convicted the Defendant of rape as charged in the indictment. The trial court imposed a sentence of nine years, with two years to be served in confinement and the remainder on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends (1) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his conviction; (2) that the trial court improperly admitted hearsay evidence; and (3) that the trial court erred in providing a supplemental instruction to the jury in response to a question from the jury during deliberations. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Dwight James
M2013-02030-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter

After a jury trial, appellant, Dwight James, was convicted of failing to register as a sex offender.  The trial court sentenced appellant to two years in confinement, suspended to probation after 150 days of incarceration.  On appeal, appellant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion to vacate his prior guilty plea to two counts of sexual battery in 1989 and that the requirement that he register as a sex offender violates the Ex Post Facto Clause and his procedural due process rights.  Following our review of the parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Curtis W. Hammock
M2013-01382-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert Burch

Appellant, Curtis W. Hammock was indicted for initiating a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine, being a felon in possession of a handgun, and child neglect.  He pleaded guilty to the first two counts and received a sentence of ten years on the drug charge to be served in community corrections and a concurrent sentence of two years in community corrections for the handgun charge.  The State dismissed the child neglect charge.  As a condition of his guilty plea, appellant, with agreement from the State and the trial court, reserved a certified question of law for our consideration:  “Whether the trial court correctly ruled[,] following a suppression hearing[,] that the Defendant did voluntarily consent to a search of his residence subsequent to the unlawful entry of law enforcement on June 12, 2012?”  Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Dickson County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Keith Collins
W2013-01119-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley Jr.

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Keith Collins, of conspiracy to possess with intent to sell more than 300 grams of cocaine, a Class A felony, and attempt to possess more than 300 grams of cocaine with intent to sell, a Class B felony. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender to consecutive sentences of forty and twenty years, respectively. On appeal, the appellant contends that (1) the trial court should have given an accomplice instruction with regard to one of the State’s witnesses; (2) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions; (3) the trial court improperly allowed a State witness to testify about a bad act pursuant to 404(b), Tennessee Rules of Evidence; (4) he is entitled to a new trial based on a witness’s false testimony; and (5) consecutive sentencing was improper. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 07/14/14