Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/18/2014
Format: 04/18/2014
State of Tennessee v. Travei Pryor - dissenting in part, concurring in part
E2012-02638-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

After reviewing the records and law as it currently stands, I must respectfully dissent from the majority’s reasoned opinion with regard to its State v. White determinations. I would affirm the convictions as they were entered, although merging those counts which were alternatively charged. In all other regards, I join in the majority’s opinion.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Travei Pryor
E2012-02638-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood

A Knox County Criminal Court Jury convicted the appellant, Travei Pryor, of eleven counts of aggravated kidnapping, a Class B felony; four counts of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; four counts of aggravated burglary, a Class C felony, one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and one count of possessing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, Class C felonies; and one count of criminal impersonation, a Class B misdemeanor. After a sentencing hearing, he received an effective twelve-year sentence. On appeal, the appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions for employing/possessing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and that the trial court committed reversible error by failing to instruct the jury as provided by State v. White, 362 S.W.3d 559 (Tenn. 2012). Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the trial court’s failure to instruct the jury pursuant to White constitutes reversible error. Therefore, the appellant’s eleven convictions for aggravated kidnapping must be reversed and the case remanded to the trial court for a new trial as to those offenses. The appellant’s remaining convictions are affirmed. However, upon remand, the trial court is to merge the appellant’s aggravated robbery convictions in counts 7 and 8 and counts 9 and 10 and enter single judgments of conviction for those offenses.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Joseph H. Adkins a/k/a Joseph H. Morrison
E2012-02415-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery

Following a jury trial, the Defendant, Joseph H. Adkins a/k/a Joseph H. Morrison, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder; first degree felony murder; aggravated burglary, a Class C felony; and three counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-102, -13-202, -14-403. The trial court merged the felony murder conviction into the premeditated murder conviction and imposed a sentence of life with the possibility of parole. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to six years for each of the remaining convictions and ordered all of the sentences to be served consecutively for an effective sentence of life plus twenty-four years. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends (1) that the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s pro se motion to remove appointed trial counsel; (2) that the trial court erred by not allowing the Defendant to cross-examine a witness about a prior instance where the witness allegedly lied under oath; (3) that the trial court improperly allowed the admission of hearsay evidence at trial; (4) that the trial court erred by instructing the jury on flight; (5) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s conviction for first degree premeditated murder; (6) that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s convictions for two of the aggravated assault charges; (7) that the trial court erred by correcting a “typographical error” on the jury’s verdict form; and (8) that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/14
State of Tennessee v. Cordell Remont Vaughn
M2012-01153-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

A Perry County Grand Jury returned an indictment against Defendant, Cordell Remont Vaughn, charging him with first degree murder. After Defendant’s first trial, this court reversed a jury’s verdict that found Defendant guilty of first degree murder. State v. Vaughn, 279 S.W.3d 584, 586-87 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2008). Pursuant to a second jury trial, Defendant was again found guilty of first degree murder. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The trial court granted Defendant’s motion for new trial. The State filed a Rule 10 application for an extraordinary appeal with this court, which was granted. On appeal, this court reversed the trial court’s granting of a new trial. State v. Vaughn, No. M2011-00067-CCA-R10-CD, 2012 WL 1484191 (Tenn. Crim. App. April 25, 2012) perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 16, 2012). On May 31, 2013, the trial court entered judgment and sentenced Defendant again to life in prison without the possibility of parole. On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) the evidence was not sufficient to support his first degree murder conviction; (2) that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the toxicology report; and (3) whether his right to be free from double jeopardy was violated. After a review of the record, we affirm Defendant’s conviction of first degree murder; we reverse the sentence of life without possibility of parole and remand this case to the trial court for entry of a judgment of conviction of first degree murder with a sentence of life imprisonment.

Perry County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/14
Aso Hassan Nejad v. State of Tennessee
M2013-00165-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Jude Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Aso Hassan Nejad, was convicted by a jury of conspiracy to commit first degree murder and sentenced by the trial court to 25 years’ incarceration. This court affirmed Petitioner’s conviction and sentence on appeal. State v. Aso Hassan Nejad a.k.a. Diako Nejad and Ako Hassan Nejad, No. M2009-00481-CCA-R3-CD, 2010 WL 3562015 (Tenn. Crim. App., Sept. 14, 2010), perm. app. denied (Tenn., Feb. 17, 2011). Petitioner now appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner asserts that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/17/14
Richard Price v. State of Tennessee
W2012-02192-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Otis Higgs Jr.

The Petitioner, Richard Price, appeals as of right from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that his trial counsel was ineffective (1) for failing to communicate a plea offer from the State; and (2) for failing to request a curative jury instruction after a police officer testified that he “attempted to talk to” the Petitioner about the offense. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/14
Kristi Kimbro v. Brenda Jones, Warden
W2013-02323-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Wright

The petitioner, Kristi Kimbro, pled guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to thirty-seven years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Subsequently, she filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, alleging that her sentence was void. The habeas corpus court denied the petition, and the petitioner now appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/14
State of Tennessee v. James Melton
E2013-01629-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge William E. Lantrip

The Defendant-Appellant, James Melton, appeals the trial court’s revocation of his probation and reinstatement of his original six-year sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Melton argues that the trial court based its decision on improper evidence and refused to admit proper evidence. The State responds that there is substantial evidence in the record to support the trial court’s order of revocation. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Gevon Cortez Patton
E2013-01355-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

A Hamblen County jury convicted Gevon Cortez Patton of especially aggravated kidnapping and criminally negligent homicide. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of twenty-five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, appellant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions, that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence the transcript of appellant’s juvenile court transfer hearing, that the trial court erred by forcing appellant’s brother to testify and then declaring him unavailable when he refused to testify, that the trial court erred by admitting an exhibit into evidence when the State had not proven the chain of custody, and that the trial court erred in its sentencing of appellant. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Sharron Joy Mayberry
M2013-01473-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge George C. Sexton

A Humphreys County Circuit Court Jury convicted the appellant, Sharron Joy Mayberry, of simple possession of a Schedule III controlled substance, a Class A misdemeanor, and the trial court sentenced her to eleven months, twenty-nine days suspended to probation and community service. On appeal, the appellant contends that the trial court erred by denying her motion to suppress evidence, that the trial court erred by not giving a missing evidence jury instruction, and that the evidence is insufficient to support the conviction. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/14
State of Tennessee v. Rommel Obligacion-Concurring
W2013-00702-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Roger A. Page
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

I concur with the majority opinion. However, I respectfully disagree with the standard of review followed by the majority regarding judicial diversion. I agree with the reasoning set forth in State v. Kiara Tashawn King, No. M2012-00236-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL793588, at *7 (Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 4, 2013), perm. app. granted (Tenn. Aug. 14, 2013), that after Bise, Caudle, and Pollard, portions of Parker, Electroplating, and their progeny in which this court reversed a trial court’s decision to deny judicial diversion merely because the trial court failed to expressly consider one or more of the seven legally-relevant factors (or merely because it failed to specify why some factors outweighed others) can no longer be considered governing law.

Crockett County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/14
State of Tennessee v. Rommel Obligacion
W2013-00702-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge Clayburn Peeples

The Defendant, Rommel Obligacion, appeals from his jury convictions for three counts of felony reckless endangerment, contending that the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions beyond a reasonable doubt and that the trial court improperly denied his requests for probation and judicial diversion. After reviewing the record and the applicable authorities, we conclude that the trial court failed to demonstrate on the record that it considered all the relevant judicial diversion factors, assigned weight to each factor, and explained how some factors outweighed others. This error, however, was harmless in light of the other findings made by the trial court. Therefore, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Crockett County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/14
Lacey Jones v. State of Tennessee
W2013-00483-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Otis Higgs Jr.

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Lacey Jones, of four counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated burglary, and two counts of aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the aggravated robbery convictions into the convictions for especially aggravated kidnapping and ordered the Petitioner to serve an effective sentence of forty-two years. The Petitioner appealed, and this Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court. State v. Lacey Jones, No. W2004-01628-CCA-R3-CD, 2005 WL 1848476, at *6 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Aug. 4, 2005), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Dec. 19, 2005). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition after a hearing. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/14