Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 10/22/2019
Format: 10/22/2019
State of Tennessee v. Whitcliffe McLeod
W2018-01646-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The defendant, Whitcliffe McLeod, appeals his sentences for second degree murder and attempted second degree murder. The defendant argues the trial court abused its discretion in ordering the defendant to serve his sentences consecutively. Following our review, we affirm the judgments and sentence of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/26/19
State of Tennessee v. John C. Murray
M2018-01150-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody Kane

The Defendant was convicted upon his guilty plea to theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. § 39-14-103(a) (2018) (theft), 39-14-105 (Supp. 2015) (amended 2016) (grading of theft). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve eight years as a Range II, multiple offender. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in sentencing. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/26/19
State of Tennessee v. Ricky Jan Stevison - dissenting opinion
E2018-01832-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

I respectfully dissent from the conclusion reached by the majority affirming the trial court’s denial of the Defendant’s motion to withdraw his guilty plea. Based on my review of the record, the Defendant’s guilty pleas were not knowingly, voluntarily, and understandingly entered as to their effect and consequences. Accordingly, I would have concluded that the trial court erred by denying his motion to withdraw the guilty plea.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/26/19
State of Tennessee v. Ricky Jan Stevison
E2018-01832-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

Defendant, Ricky Jan Stevison, pled guilty to theft of property and was sentenced to two years on supervised probation with the trial court to determine the issue of restitution at a hearing. Defendant subsequently filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. The trial court denied the motion after a hearing. Because we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, because the judgment form does not include the amount of restitution or the terms of the repayment, we remand to the trial court for entry of an amended judgment form.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/26/19
State of Tennessee v. Roshaun Colbert
E2018-02062-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby McGee

On February 8, 2018, a Knox County jury convicted Roshaun Colbert, Defendant, on one count each of reckless endangerment, evading arrest, reckless driving, attempted tampering with evidence, and possession of drug paraphernalia. The trial court sentenced Defendant to a total effective sentence of twelve years. On November 14, 2018, the trial court vacated Defendant’s conviction for reckless endangerment because reckless endangerment was not properly charged in the indictment as a lesser-included offense of aggravated assault. On appeal, Defendant argues that there was insufficient evidence to convict Defendant of attempted tampering with evidence and that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on flight. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/24/19
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Ogle
E2019-00258-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge David Duggan

The defendant, Christopher Ogle, appeals the order of the trial court revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his original
five-year sentence in confinement. Upon review of the record, we conclude the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding the defendant violated the terms of his probation, and the imposed sentence is proper. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/24/19
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Waggoner
E2018-01065-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Defendant, Kevin Waggoner, appeals his conviction for second degree murder for which he received an eighteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant challenges: (1) the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction; (2) the trial court’s failure to grant a change of venue; (3) the trial court’s failure to grant a new trial due to juror misconduct; (4) law enforcement’s failure to record the statements of the Defendant and the Defendant’s son; (5) the admission of testimony from the forensic pathologist related to crime scene reconstruction; (6) the trial court’s exclusion of the recording of the Defendant’s 911 call; (7) the trial court’s exclusion of evidence of the victim’s conduct directed at the Defendant and his family; and (8) the trial court’s denial of the Defendant’s request for access to the audio recordings of the trial. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Union County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/24/19
Isaac Scott v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00327-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Isaac Scott, of first degree premeditated murder, for which the Petitioner received an automatic life sentence. The Petitioner appealed, and this court affirmed the conviction and sentence. See State v Isaac Scott, No. W2005-02902-CCA-R3-CD, 2006 WL 3837243 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Dec. 28, 2006), perm. app. denied (Tenn. April 30, 2007). The Petitioner then filed a postconviction petition, claiming he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and, following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. This court affirmed the post-conviction court’s denial. Isaac Scott v. State, No. W2009-01256-CCA-R3-PC, 2011 WL 744764 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Mar. 2, 2011), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 16, 2011). In May 2018, the Petitioner filed a “Motion for Plain and Harmless Error Review.” The trial court, treating the motion as a post-conviction petition, summarily dismissed the motion because the issues had been previously determined and the petition was a second petition. The Petitioner appeals the denial, maintaining that he is entitled to plain error relief due to the jury instructions, the sentencing hearing, and the jury composition. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/23/19
Kendall Joy v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00100-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The petitioner, Kendall Joy, appeals from the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis by the Shelby County Criminal Court. The petitioner argues his Fourth Amendment rights were violated, and he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. After our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
Deangelo Norton v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01420-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The petitioner, Deangelo Norton, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received effective assistance of counsel at trial. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
Jeremy P. Duncan v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00021-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

A Madison County jury convicted the Petitioner, Jeremy P. Duncan, of two counts of aggravated assault, one count of possession of cocaine with the intent to sell, one count of possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, one count of being a felon in possession of a handgun, and one count of tampering with the evidence. The trial court imposed an effective twenty-four-year sentence. The Petitioner appealed, and this court affirmed the convictions and sentence. See State v. Jeremy Peres Duncan, No. W2017-00529-CCA-R3-CD, 2018 WL 1182579 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Mar. 6, 2018), perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 8, 2018). The Petitioner filed a post-conviction petition, claiming he received the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. The Petitioner appeals the denial, maintaining that his counsel was ineffective. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Tevin Mantez Harris
M2018-00638-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers

A Robertson County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Tevin Mantez Harris, of second degree murder and possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed, and the trial court sentenced him to concurrent sentences of twenty-two years to be served at one hundred percent and eleven months, twenty-nine days, respectively. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by allowing witnesses to testify about his being Muslim and his “viewpoint” toward Christianity and that his twenty-two-year sentence is excessive because the trial court misapplied an enhancement factor. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Robertson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Jonathan Michael Atha
E2018-00663-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

The Defendant, Jonathan Michael Atha, was convicted by a jury of two counts of aggravated rape, four counts of aggravated robbery, and three counts of aggravated kidnapping, for which he received an effective sentence of fifty years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant argues (1) that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress the victims’ in-court identifications of the Defendant; (2) that the trial court erred by declining to issue a limiting jury instruction regarding the State’s failure to preserve evidence; (3) that the trial court erred in ordering the Defendant to serve consecutive sentences for aggravated rape; and (4) that the cumulative effect of these errors deprived the Defendant of a fair trial. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Missy Daniella Lane
E2017-01907-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Ben W. Hooper, II

A Cocke County Jury found Defendant, Missy Daniella Lane, guilty of reckless homicide. The trial court imposed a sentence of two years to be served in confinement. On appeal, Defendant raises the following issues: (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to support her conviction for reckless homicide; (2) whether the trial court erred by denying Defendant’s motion for an extension of time to file an amended motion for new trial; (3) whether the Cocke County Grand Jury had jurisdiction to render a superseding presentment; (4) whether the trial court denied Defendant the right to peremptory challenges during voir dire; (5) whether Defendant was prejudiced by a violation of the rule of sequestration by the State’s witnesses; (6) whether the State committed prosecutorial misconduct by calling Derrick Raines as a witness; (7) whether the trial court violated Defendant’s right to a public trial; (8) whether the State’s expert witnesses testified improperly; (9) whether the trial court improperly denied Defendant’s request for jury instructions; (10) whether the jury was exposed to extraneous information; (11) whether the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments; (12) whether the trial court properly denied alternative sentencing; and (13) cumulative error. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Cocke County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/19
State of Tennessee v. Arnold Asbury
E2018-01095-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

Arnold Asbury, Defendant, claims that the trial court erred by denying his “Motion to Withdraw Guilty Plea Prior to Sentencing” and, as a result, that he was denied a right to trial by jury. Although we determine that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to withdraw the guilty plea, we determine that the trial court committed reversible error at the subsequent sentencing hearing because it neither properly accepted Defendant’s Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement pursuant to Rule 11(c)(4) nor properly rejected the plea agreement pursuant Rule 11(c)(5). We reverse the judgments of the trial court and remand for a hearing in which the court may, in its discretion, either reject or accept the Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement. If the trial court rejects the plea agreement and Defendant opts to withdraw his guilty pleas, Defendant will have the right to a trial by jury. If the trial court accepts the agreement, it must sentence Defendant pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/19
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Caldwell
M2018-02068-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Defendant, Christopher Caldwell, appeals the Sumner County Criminal Court’s order revoking his community corrections sentence for his convictions for burglary of a motor vehicle and felony theft and ordering him to serve the remainder of his effective twelve-year sentence in confinement. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his community corrections sentence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/19
State of Tennessee v. Wayford Demonbreun, Jr.
M2018-02159-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Petitioner, Wayford Demonbreun, Jr., appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Rule 36.1 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that his convictions are illegal because the trial court failed to award pretrial jail credits, the date his sentences were imposed is in question, the trial judge’s name was not printed on the judgment forms, and the judgment forms were not stamped filed. We affirm the trial court’s denial of relief.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/19
State of Tennessee v. Frazier Lee Savage
E2018-01307-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob R. McGee

The Defendant, Frazier Lee Savage, was convicted by a Knox County Criminal Court jury of possession with intent to sell less than fifteen grams of heroin within 1,000 feet of a child care agency, a Class B felony; possession with intent to deliver less than fifteen grams of heroin within 1,000 feet of a child care agency, a Class B felony; possession with intent to sell alprazolam within 1,000 feet of a child care agency, a Class D felony; possession with intent to deliver alprazolam within 1,000 feet of a child care agency, a Class D felony, and possession of drug paraphernalia, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-417(a)(2) (2018) (possession with intent to deliver), 39-17-417(a)(3) (possession with intent to sell), 39-17-425 (2018) (possession of drug paraphernalia), 39- 17-432 (2018) (providing enhanced penalties for drug offenses committed in Drug-Free School Zones). After a sentencing hearing, the trial court merged the two heroin counts and the two alprazolam counts and imposed an effective twelve-year sentence at 100% service. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the evidence obtained from a warrantless search of a motel room. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/19
Rachel Kay Bond v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01324-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Petitioner, Rachel Kay Bond, appeals the Lawrence County Circuit Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from her conviction of first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that she was denied the effective assistance of counsel based on trial counsel’s failure to: 1) request a change of venue; 2) strike three potential jurors; 3) investigate the existence of text messages stored in the Petitioner’s cell phone; 4) adequately cross-examine a witness; and 5) challenge the Petitioner’s competency. The Petitioner also alleges that trial counsel was ineffective because he allowed her to testify. Following a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/19
Cordricus Arnold v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01187-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The petitioner, Cordricus Arnold, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/18/19
State of Tennessee v. Victor Wise
W2018-01343-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James Lammey, Jr.

The defendant, Victor Wise, appeals his Shelby County Circuit Court jury convictions of two counts of aggravated robbery, one count of attempted aggravated robbery, and two counts of aggravated assault, challenging the exclusion of certain evidence, the sufficiency of the convicting evidence, and the propriety of the 44-year effective sentence. We affirm the defendant’s convictions but conclude that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentences. Accordingly, the defendant’s total effective sentence is modified to 12 years.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/18/19
State of Tennessee v. David William Gary
E2018-00194-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

A Knox County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, David William Gary, of rape, and the trial court sentenced him to ten years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction, that the trial court erred by allowing testimony regarding his expressed interest in a specific type of sexual activity, and that the trial court erred by refusing to allow him to present evidence that a police investigator improperly influenced the victim’s preliminary hearing testimony. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/18/19
Harold Francis Butler, III v. State of Tennessee
E2018-00914-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The Petitioner, Harold Francis Butler, III, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of first degree felony murder, attempted first degree premeditated murder, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony and resulting sentence of life plus thirty-one years. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the State violated his constitutional rights by conducting an unduly suggestive identification procedure that rendered the identification unreliable and by eliciting false testimony from a key witness at trial. He also raises numerous allegations of ineffective assistance of trial counsel and contends that he is entitled to a new trial under the cumulative error doctrine. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/18/19
State of Tennessee v. Johnthony K. Walker
E2018-00936-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

Defendant, Johnthony K. Walker, was convicted of six counts of criminally negligent homicide, eleven counts of reckless aggravated assault, seven counts of assault, one count of reckless endangerment, one count of reckless driving, and one count of the use of a portable electronic device by a school bus driver after a school bus he was driving crashed leaving six children dead and numerous other children injured. The trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of four years for the convictions and denied judicial diversion after a sentencing hearing. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court improperly denied judicial diversion and/or an alternative sentence. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/17/19
State of Tennessee v. Helen Ruth Kirby
E2019-00122-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffery Hill Wicks

Petitioner, Helen Ruth Kirby, appeals from the summary denial of her petition for writ of habeas corpus challenging her guilty-pleaded conviction for second degree murder. Because Petitioner failed to state a cognizable claim for habeas corpus relief, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Roane County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/17/19