Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/06/2020
Format: 06/06/2020
Rudolph Munn v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02240-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

In 1999, a jury convicted the Petitioner, Rudolph Munn, of killing his college roommate, Andrew Poklemba. State v. Munn, 56 S.W.3d 486, 489 (Tenn. 2001). This court affirmed his conviction of first-degree premeditated murder, see State v. Rudolph Munn, No. 01C01-9801-CCA-00007, 1999 WL 177341, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 1, 1999); however, a dissenting judge would have remanded the matter for a new sentencing hearing. Id. (Tipton, dissenting). The Tennessee Supreme Court agreed that a new sentencing hearing was necessary and held, inter alia, that the Petitioner had a lawful expectation of privacy, and thus, police secret videotaping of the Petitioner’s communications with his parents constituted an illegal seizure under the federal and state constitutions, as well as under the federal and state wiretapping statutes. Munn, 56 S.W.3d 486. Upon remand in 2002, the Petitioner received a sentence of life without parole. Sixteen years later, on November 13, 2018, the Petitioner filed a petition for writ of error coram nobis, arguing that one of his trial counsel was “slightly biased” based upon his “unequivocal ties” to the university attended by the Petitioner and the victim at the time of the offense. The Petitioner further alleged that he was entitled to due process tolling of the statute of limitations because he became aware of these ties on or about November 17, 2017. Two days after the petition was filed, it was summarily dismissed by the coram nobis court as untimely and unsupported by due process considerations to toll the statute of limitations. The Petitioner now appeals, and upon our review, we affirm.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Wayne Keith Wallen
E2019-01218-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy M. Harrington

The defendant, Wayne Keith Wallen, appeals the denial of his Rule 36.1 motion. Though conceding the challenged sentence has expired, the defendant, relying on Summers v. State, 212 S.W.3d 251 (Tenn. 2007), argues the trial court erred in dismissing his petition. The trial court, relying on State v. Brown, 479 S.W.3d 200 (Tenn. 2015), found that the defendant’s sentence had expired and that the defendant’s claim required relitigating the case in order to determine whether the sentence was illegal which is not proper under Rule 36.1. Thus, the trial court denied the defendant’s motion. Upon our review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Michael Wayman
E2019-01357-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The defendant, Michael Wayman, pleaded guilty to sale of a Schedule II controlled substance (Count 1) and delivery of a Schedule II controlled substance (Count 2). The trial court merged the two counts and imposed a sentence of nine years’ incarceration. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erroneously denied his request for alternative sentencing. Following our review, we affirm the judgements of the trial court.

Union County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Gerald Sluder
E2019-01321-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Defendant, Gerald Sluder, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the parties agreed to a five-year sentence with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant to serve one year in confinement and the remainder on supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred in imposing a sentence of split confinement. Upon review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Jay Aaron Jackson
M2019-01128-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Defendant, Jay Aaron Jackson, was convicted by a Davidson County jury of one count of coercion of a witness, two counts of domestic assault, and one count of domestic assault by extremely offensive or provocative physical contact. The trial court sentenced Defendant, as a Range II multiple offender, to an effective sentence of seven years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days’ incarceration. On appeal, Defendant asserts that: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss the indictment based on a violation of Rule 16 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure and Brady v. Maryland; (2) the trial court erred by permitting the State to elicit impermissible and prejudicial evidence in violation of Rule 404(b) of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support Defendant’s convictions for coercion of a witness and one count of domestic assault; (4) the trial court erred in sentencing Defendant as a Range II multiple offender; and (5) the trial court erred by instructing the jury on flight. Following a thorough review, we affirm the convictions for coercion of a witness (Count 1), domestic assault (Count 3), and domestic assault by extremely offensive or provocative physical contact (Count 4) and reverse the conviction for domestic assault (Count 2). Because the sentence in Count 2 was ordered to be served concurrently with Count 1, we affirm the effective sentence of seven years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days’ incarceration.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
Henry Floyd Sanders v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00397-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

In 2011, a Davidson County jury convicted the Petitioner, Henry Floyd Sanders, of five counts of aggravated sexual battery and four counts of rape of a child, and the trial court sentenced him to forty years of incarceration. The Petitioner appealed his convictions to this court, and this court and our supreme court affirmed the judgments. State v. Sanders, 452 S.W.3d 300 (Tenn. 2014); State v. Henry Floyd Sanders, No. M2011-00962-CCA-R3-CD, 2012 WL 4841545 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, Oct. 9, 2012). Subsequently, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel, which the
post-conviction court denied after a hearing. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Antwon Young
W2019-00090-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Defendant, Antwon Young, was convicted after a jury trial of two counts of first degree felony murder; two counts of attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony; two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony; one count of attempted especially aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; eight counts of attempted aggravated robbery, a Class C felony; and one count of aggravated assault, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39 12-101, -13-102, -13-202, -13-210, -13-402, -13-403, -17-1324(b), -17-1324(i)(1). The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of life, to be served partially consecutively to the Defendant’s sentence in Shelby County case numbers 15-05135 and 15-109300. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions; (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial after a reference was made to the Defendant’s being previously incarcerated; (3) the trial court erred by not allowing evidence of a witness’s gang affiliation; and (4) the trial court erred by sustaining the State’s objection during counsel’s closing argument. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court, but remand for the correction of clerical errors in the judgments in Counts 1, 2, 5 and 15.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Bryan James Nicholas Milam
M2019-00656-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Defendant, Bryan James Nicholas Milam, pleaded guilty to multiple offenses over the course of three years, and in each case the trial court sentenced him to alternative sentences, including Community Corrections. Following multiple violations of the terms of his release, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s Community Corrections sentence and ordered him to serve the remainder of his total effective fifteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion when it revoked his Community Corrections sentence and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Lawrence County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/20
Casey Colbert v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00383-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Petitioner, Casey Colbert, challenges the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he attacked his jury convictions for first degree felony murder and attempted aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner raises numerous grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel, including that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to conduct reasonable investigation; failing to call various witnesses; failing to impeach and thoroughly cross-examine the State’s witnesses; failing to present viable alibi and third-party perpetrator theories of defense; failing to object to the co-defendant’s surprise testimony placing the Petitioner at the scene when notice of alibi had been given; and failing to object to improper closing argument by the State at trial. In addition, he raises allegations of newly discovered evidence and prosecutorial misconduct. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we are constrained to agree with the Petitioner that the post-conviction court failed to make sufficient findings of fact and conclusions of law to enable appellate review of his claims. According, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand this case for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/20
State of Tennessee v. Clarence William Groves
M2019-00536-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Davidson County Grand Jury indicted the defendant, Clarence William Groves, for aggravated child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury (Count 1), aggravated child abuse by use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrumentality (Count 2), aggravated child neglect (Count 3), and criminal impersonation (Count 4). On the first day of trial, the defendant entered a guilty plea to the misdemeanor criminal impersonation charge in Count 4. Following a jury trial, the defendant was convicted as charged in Counts 1 and 2 and was convicted of the lesser included offense of child neglect in Count 3. Thereafter, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of twenty-one years for all four counts. On appeal, the defendant argues: (1) the State violated his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent; (2) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its closing arguments; and (3) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court in Counts 1, 2, and 3; however, because the record shows that the defendant entered a guilty plea to the criminal impersonation charge in Count 4, we dismiss for lack of jurisdiction the portion of the defendant’s appeal challenging the sufficiency of the evidence supporting that conviction.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/12/20
Merle Aaron Degroat v. State of Tennessee
M2018-01490-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

Petitioner, Merle Aaron Degroat, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition. Petitioner argues that he was denied effective assistance of counsel when his trial counsel failed to adequately consult with him prior to his guilty pleas to initiation of a process intended to result in the manufacture of methamphetamine and burglary of a motor vehicle. Following a review of the briefs of the parties and the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/20
Freddie Lewis Osborne v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00284-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jill B. Ayers

A jury convicted the Petitioner, Freddie Lewis Osborne, of sale of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a Drug-Free School Zone (“DFSZ”), and the trial court sentenced him as a Range II, multiple offender to thirty-two and a half years of incarceration. The Petitioner contested his conviction by direct appeal, post-conviction petition, and by petition for habeas corpus relief. Subsequently, he filed a “Petition for Sentencing Relief,” which the trial court denied by written order. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the trial court erred because the Petitioner had: (1) sufficiently stated a claim for re-opening his petition for post-conviction relief; (2) stated a claim that the application of the DFSZ Act violated his right to equal protection; and (3) sufficiently stated a claim for the correction of an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/11/20
Robert Simmons v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00580-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Robert Simmons, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his pro se petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner maintains that he timely filed his petition and is entitled to a hearing. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the post-conviction court’s summary dismissal of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/20
State of Tennessee v. Chad Everette Henry
W2018-02084-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles C. McGinley

The Defendant, Chad Everette Henry, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and driving under the influence (“DUI”). Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed consecutive sentences of twelve years for the voluntary manslaughter conviction and eleven months and twenty-nine days with forty-five days’ confinement for the conviction of DUI, second offense. The Defendant argues on appeal that the trial court imposed an improper sentence and that his plea to DUI was not knowingly and voluntarily entered. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Decatur County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/20
Torrance Johnson v. State of Tennessee
W2018-02260-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Petitioner, Torrance Johnson, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis in which he challenged his 1997 conviction for first-degree felony murder in the perpetration of a robbery. After a review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/20
State of Tennessee v. Deangelo Love
W2018-02095-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant-Appellant, Deangelo Love, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of first degree felony murder and criminal attempt aggravated robbery, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s challenge under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986); (2) whether the trial court erred in allowing the State to bolster a witness’s testimony with a prior consistent statement; (3) whether the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s request for an alibi instruction; and (4) whether the Defendant is entitled to relief under the cumulative error doctrine. After a thorough review of the relevant facts and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/20
State of Tennessee v. Jamarian Cortez Jordan
W2019-01230-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Madison County Grand Jury indicted Defendant, Jamarian Cortez Jordan, for aggravated robbery, and a jury convicted Defendant as charged. The trial court sentenced Defendant to ten years’ incarceration with an eighty-five percent release eligibility. On appeal, Defendant argues (1) that the trial court erred by failing to suppress Defendant’s confession, (2) that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, (3) that Defendant did not have a fair and impartial jury, (4) that the trial court erred in refusing to allow Defendant’s mother to testify at trial as to Defendant’s disability, (5) that Defendant should have received the minimum sentence, and (6) that the trial court erred in denying Defendant’s motion for new trial. After a thorough review of the record and applicable case law, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/08/20
State of Tennessee v. Richard L. Jerger, Jr.
E2019-00429-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

Defendant, Richard L. Jerger, Jr., appeals the order of the Bradley County Criminal Court revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the remainder of his six-year sentence in confinement. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/07/20
State of Tennessee v. Marty Lynn Ray
E2019-00362-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Defendant, Marty Lynn Ray, was convicted of four counts of rape of a child, a Class A felony, and sentenced to an effective ninety years in confinement. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-522. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by (1) denying his motion for a mistrial after the victim testified about a number of instances of sexual abuse exceeding the nine counts of the indictment; and (2) declining to dismiss a prospective juror for cause based upon her level of English proficiency. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/20
Mario Hernandez Castillo v. State of Tennessee
E2018-00748-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge O. Duane Slone

Petitioner, Mario Hernandez Castillo, appeals the denial of his petition for postconviction relief in which he challenged his convictions for first degree premeditated murder, felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, and theft of property valued at less than $500, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, Petitioner contends that he is entitled to a new post-conviction hearing based upon the unconstitutional delay in the post-conviction proceedings and the inadequacy of interpreter services. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Grainger County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/06/20
State of Tennessee v. Juan Dewayne Hall
E2019-00024-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

On December 3, 2018, the Defendant, Juan Dewayne Hall, entered an Alford plea to the offense of possession with intent to deliver over 26 grams of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance. As a condition of his plea, the Defendant expressly preserved two certified questions of law pursuant to Rule 37(b)(2)(A) of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, stemming from his denied motion to suppress. After thorough review, we conclude that the certified questions do not meet the requirements of Rule 37(b)(2)(A) and State v. Preston, 759 S.W.2d 647 (Tenn. 1988), and, as a result, this court is without jurisdiction to consider the appeal. Accordingly, the appeal is dismissed.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/05/20
State of Tennessee v. Alfred Maron Williams, Eric Martel Abrams and Jamie Paul Click
E2018-00670-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

A Knox County jury convicted the defendants, Alfred Maron Williams, Eric Martel Abrams, and Jamie Paul Click, of twelve counts of conspiracy to possess with the intent to sell heroin within 1000 feet of a drug-free school zone. The trial court merged these twelve convictions into one conviction for each defendant. The jury additionally convicted Defendant Williams of multiple other drug and firearms-related offenses. The trial court sentenced Defendant Williams and Defendant Click to effective sentences of twenty-five years of incarceration each, and it sentenced Defendant Abrams to twentyone years of incarceration. All three defendants appeal. Defendants Williams and Click contend that the trial court erred when it failed to hold a pretrial hearing to determine whether a conspiracy existed. All three defendants contend that the evidence is insufficient to sustain their convictions for conspiracy. Defendant Click additionally contends that the trial court erred when it allowed him to be convicted of the common law crime of conspiracy. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/04/20
Anton Carlton v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00711-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

The Appellant, Anton Carlton, is appealing the trial court’s summary dismissal of his third post-conviction petition. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/20
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Caldwell
M2019-01250-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl Blackburn

On April 21, 2016, the Defendant, Christopher Caldwell, was convicted of three felony offenses in Davidson County and sentenced to fifteen years in Community Corrections. On October 20, 2016, he was convicted in Sumner County of two felony offenses and sentenced to twelve years in Community Corrections, consecutive to the Davidson County sentences. The Defendant violated the terms of his Davidson County sentence and was ordered to serve one year and then return to Community Corrections. More than eight months later, after learning that the Defendant had also violated the terms of his Sumner County sentence and had been ordered to serve that sentence in the Tennessee Department of Correction, the Davidson County trial court ordered the Defendant to serve his Davidson County sentences in the Tennessee Department of Correction. Because the Davidson County trial court’s original disposition of the Community Corrections violation was final, and no additional warrant alleging a new violation of Community Corrections had been filed, the Davidson County trial court lacked jurisdiction to order the service of the Davidson County sentences in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The State concedes this point. Accordingly, we reverse and vacate the Davidson County trial court’s June 21, 2019 order requiring service of the Defendant’s Davidson County sentences in the Tennessee Department of Correction.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/01/20
State of Tennessee v. Jawara Jones
M2017-01666-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge David L. Allen

A jury convicted the Appellant, Jawara Jones, of possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana, driving on a revoked license, and tampering with evidence. He received a total effective sentence of fifteen years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. On appeal, he contends (1) that the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce proof of a prior unindicted sale of cocaine, (2) that the trial court erred by allowing a police officer to testify as an expert witness, and (3) that the trial court erred in sentencing the Appellant. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/30/20