Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/07/2020
Format: 07/07/2020
Christopher S. Mayberry v. State of Tennessee
M2018-02109-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Suzanne M. Lockert-Mash

Following a bench trial, the trial court found the Petitioner, Christopher S. Mayberry, guilty of two counts of the sale of methamphetamine. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to concurrent sentences of ten years for each count, to run consecutively to a prior sentence. The Petitioner timely filed a post-conviction petition, alleging the ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that his attorney was ineffective and also asserts that the post-conviction court erred by “delaying the [post-conviction] hearing.” After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Humphreys County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/26/20
Kamonie Ector v. State of Tennessee
E2019-01414-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The petitioner, Kamonie Ector, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel prior to and during his guilty plea hearing. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/22/20
State of Tennessee v. Jason Bradley Walters
W2019-00420-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

The State appeals as of right from the trial court’s order granting the motion to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of an unconstitutional stop of the vehicle driven by Defendant, Jason Bradley Walters. The basis of the stop was the arresting deputy’s observation that Defendant violated Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-9-407, which requires a driver to dim headlights within 500 feet of an approaching vehicle. In its order, the trial court granted the motion solely based upon its determination that a violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-9-407 is not a crime. On appeal the State argues it is a Class C misdemeanor pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated section 55-10-301(a), and that the trial court’s judgment should be reversed. On this point, we agree with the State. However, we remand for the trial court to make specific findings of fact based upon the trial court’s credibility determinations of the witnesses, and any other evidence, direct or circumstantial, viewed in light of the trial court’s credibility of the testimony. The trial court must then issue a new order either granting the motion to suppress or denying the motion.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/22/20
Courtney Knowles v. State of Tennessee
W2018-00739-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Petitioner, Courtney Knowles, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which challenged his 2012 conviction for rape of a child. In this appeal, Petitioner asserts that his trial counsel was ineffective and that he was denied a full and fair hearing on his post-conviction petition. After a review of the entire record, we conclude that Petitioner was not afforded a full and fair hearing on his petition. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the post-conviction court and remand this matter for a new evidentiary hearing. Furthermore, the interests of justice require that under the circumstances of this case, and to insure the public perception of a fair and impartial hearing, the post-conviction proceedings be heard by a different judge than the judge who previously heard the proceedings. In light of our conclusion and disposition in this case, we need not address Petitioner’s claims of ineffective assistance of trial counsel at this time.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/22/20
Dan E. Durell v. State of Tennessee
E2019-01393-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The pro se petitioner, Dan E. Durell, appeals for the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Criminal Court for Knox County, arguing the habeas court erred in summarily dismissing his petition. The petitioner asserts he is entitled to habeas corpus relief because the State withheld evidence favorable to the petitioner’s sentencing, his convictions violated double jeopardy protections, and the trial court relied on “improper, inaccurate, and mistaken information” in sentencing him. However, as noted by the State in its brief, the petitioner’s appeal is untimely, and our review of the record and the petitioner’s claims does not support a finding that the interest of justice supports the waiver of the petitioner’s untimely notice of appeal. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/22/20
State of Tennessee v. Benjamin Keith Franklin
E2019-01047-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Justin C. Angel

The Defendant, Benjamin Keith Franklin, was convicted by the Rhea County Circuit Court jury of sexual battery by an authority figure, a Class C felony, and was sentenced to four years and six months in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that his conviction violates principles of double jeopardy and the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/21/20
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Wayne Wethington
E2018-02140-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James L. Gass

The defendant, Joseph Wayne Wethington, appeals his Grainger County Circuit Court jury convictions of attempted rape of a child, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction, that the trial court admitted certain testimony in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b), and that his sentence was excessive. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Grainger County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/21/20
Michael John Stitts v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00867-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner was convicted by a Madison County jury of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, aggravated burglary, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, for which he received an effective sentence of sixty-one years’ imprisonment. State v. Michael John Stitts, No. W2017-00209-CCA-R3-CD, 2018 WL 2065043, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 27, 2018), appeal denied (Aug. 8, 2018). After his convictions were affirmed by this Court, the Petitioner filed a petition for postconviction relief alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel based on various grounds, which was denied following a hearing. In this appeal, the Petitioner raises the same issues and contends that trial counsel was ineffective in (1) failing to conduct a proper investigation into the facts of the case; (2) failing to object to improper witness testimony; (3) failing to adequately cross-examine witnesses; (4) failing to file certain pre-trial motions; and (5) failing to ensure juror impartiality. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/20
State of Tennessee v. Paul Kolb
W2019-01075-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell

Paul Kolb, Movant, pled guilty on November 18, 2011, to rape of a child, rape, incest, and aggravated sexual battery. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of twenty-five years at one hundred percent service. On April 10, 2018, Movant filed a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct what he claimed was an illegal sentence in Count 1, rape of a child. The trial court determined the sentence was not illegal and dismissed the motion. We affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/20
State of Tennessee v. James Greenlee Davis, Jr.
E2019-00682-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Defendant, James Greenlee Davis, Jr., was convicted by a jury of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell within a
drug-free zone, possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver within a drug-free zone, and criminal trespass. The trial court sentenced Defendant to twenty-year sentences for each of the drug convictions and to a thirty-day sentence for the criminal trespass conviction. The trial court merged the drug convictions, and ordered the trespass sentence to be served concurrently to the drug sentence. The trial court denied Defendant’s motion for new trial. Defendant argues the trial court erred by (1) denying the motion to suppress; (2) certifying Donna Roach as an expert; and (3) admitting the Knoxville-Knox County KUB Geographic Information Systems (”KGIS”) map in to evidence. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/20
State of Tennessee v. Ricky Lakino Covington
E2019-00359-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas C. Greenholtz

Defendant, Ricky Lakino Covington, appeals from the trial court’s revocation of his probation. Upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/20/20
Wali Muhammad v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01198-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett

The petitioner, Wali Muhammad, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2017 Shelby County Criminal Court guilty-pleaded convictions of aggravated assault and aggravated robbery. In this appeal, the petitioner claims, as he did below, that he is entitled to post-conviction relief because his guilty pleas were not knowingly, voluntarily, or intelligently entered. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/19/20
State of Tennessee v. Antony Olivo
W2019-00530-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Defendant, Anthony Olivo, was convicted, after a jury trial, of first degree murder during the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate a theft, first degree murder during the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate a robbery, attempted especially aggravated robbery, felon in possession of a firearm, and felon in possession of a handgun. The trial court merged the two first degree murder convictions and sentenced Defendant to life in prison. The trial court sentenced Defendant to twelve-years for the attempted especially aggravated robbery, eight-years for the felon in possession of a firearm conviction, and to four-years for the felon in possession of a handgun conviction. The two possession convictions were merged. The trial court ordered that the sentences be served consecutively for a total effective sentence of life in prison plus twenty years. Defendant filed a motion for a new trial which was subsequently denied. Defendant appeals the judgment of the trial court by arguing that the trial court erred in denying the motion in limine regarding prejudicial statements made by Mario Brodnax, that the trial court erred in denying the motion to bifurcate the felon in possession of a handgun charge, and that the evidence was insufficient to support Defendant’s convictions. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Jocquez Parham
W2019-00868-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant, Jocquez Parham, of second-degree murder (Count 1), seven counts of attempted second-degree murder (Counts 2-8), and possession of a firearm during the commission of attempted second-degree murder (Count 9), for which the trial court imposed an effective sentence of eighty-eight years. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions and argues the trial court erred in failing to designate Antonio Tibbs as an accomplice and in failing to charge the jury accordingly. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
Richard Hatchel v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00098-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Richard Hatchel, appeals as of right from the Tipton County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. The Petitioner contends that he received ineffective assistance of trial counsel due to trial counsel’s failure to file a motion to suppress his two police statements. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
Courtney R. Logan v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01215-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The Petitioner appeals the summary denial of his third petition for writ of habeas corpus, in which he challenged his extradition to Mississippi. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
Robert G. Thornton, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
M2019-01259-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James G. Martin, III

In 2014, a Hickman County jury convicted the Petitioner, Robert G. Thornton, Jr., of two counts of rape, and the trial court merged his convictions and sentenced him to twelve years of incarceration. The Petitioner appealed his convictions to this court, and we affirmed the judgments. State v. Robert G. Thornton, Jr., No. M2015-01895-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL 2704123 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Nashville, June 22, 2017), no perm. app. filed. The Petitioner then 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. We affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Kurt Douglas Brown
E2019-01068-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Defendant, Kurt Douglas Brown, was convicted by a Campbell County Criminal Court jury of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-1307 (2014) (subsequently amended). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II offender to eight years’ confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred (1) by admitting as evidence the 9-1-1 recording and his previous voluntary manslaughter conviction and (2) by determining that his previous aggravated assault conviction was a crime of violence. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Johnny James Parrish
E2019-00664-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The Defendant, Johnny James Parrish, was convicted by a Greene County Criminal Court Jury of two counts of aggravated assault, a Class C felony, for which he is serving an effective fifteen-year sentence as a Range III, persistent offender. See T.C.A. § 39-13- 102(a)(1) (2014) (subsequently amended). On appeal, he contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the State made an inadequate election of offenses, (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion for a mistrial based upon the victim’s not having been sequestered before he testified, (4) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting evidence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b) regarding a prior bad act of the Defendant toward the victim, and (5) he is entitled to a new trial due to cumulative errors. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Derrick Darnell Moore and Demichael Tyrone Moore
M2018-01764-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendants, Derrick Darnell Moore and Demichael Tyrone Moore, were convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202 (2018) (first degree murder); 39-13-403 (2018) (especially aggravated robbery). Defendant Derrick Moore was also convicted of criminally negligent homicide, which the trial court merged into the felony murder conviction. See id. § 39-13-212 (2018) (criminally negligent homicide). Defendant Demichael Moore was also convicted of second degree murder, which the trial court likewise merged into the felony murder conviction. See id. § 39-13-210 (2018) (second degree murder). The trial court sentenced Defendant Derrick Moore to concurrent terms of life imprisonment for felony murder and twenty years for especially aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced Defendant Demichael Moore to consecutive terms of life imprisonment for felony murder and thirty-two years for especially aggravated robbery. On appeal, the Defendants contend that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support their convictions, (2) the trial court violated the rules of evidence and their confrontation rights by admitting as substantive evidence a recording of a conversation in which the Defendants were implicated in the offenses, and (3) the State engaged in prosecutorial misconduct during its rebuttal closing argument. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/15/20
State of Tennessee v. Ashley Carver
W2019-01727-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell

Ashley Carver, Movant, appeals from the summary dismissal of her Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion to correct what she claims is a clerical error concerning pretrial jail credits. In a one sentence order, the trial court summarily dismissed the “Motion to Correct Illegal Sentence” without making any findings. Because this was a Rule 36 motion to correct an alleged clerical error, not a Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence, we vacate the order dismissing the motion and remand for further consideration by the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Bruce D. Mendenhall
M2018-02089-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John D. Wootten, Jr.

The Defendant, Bruce D. Mendenhall, was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder and abuse of a corpse, for which he received sentences of life and two years, respectively. His sentences were ordered to be served consecutively to one another, as well as to two prior consecutive sentences from Davidson County of life imprisonment for murder and thirty years for three counts of solicitation to commit murder. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the following: (1) the trial court’s reliance on the doctrine of collateral estoppel to deny his various motions to suppress certain evidence, wherein he raised threshold constitutional issues; (2) the trial court’s denial of his motion to exclude 404(b) evidence and the failure to redact his police statement accordingly; (3) the trial court’s denial of his motion to continue based upon the State’s late disclosure of surveillance footage from the truck stop; (4) the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions; and (5) the imposition of consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
State of Tennessee v. Glen Allen Donaldson
E2019-00543-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

The defendant, Glen Allen Donaldson, appeals his Hamilton County Criminal Court jury conviction of second degree murder, arguing that the trial court erred by excluding certain evidence, admitting into evidence a life photograph of the victim, and denying the defendant’s requested jury instructions on self-defense and provocation; that he was prejudiced by the cumulative effect of trial errors; that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; and that his sentence was excessive. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
William E. Eakes, III v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00050-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Seth W. Norman

The petitioner, William E. Eakes, III, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis by the Davidson County Criminal Court, arguing the trial court erred in dismissing the petition because newly discovered evidence exists in his case. After our review, we conclude the petition is untimely and does not present a cognizable claim for coram nobis relief. Accordingly, we affirm the denial of the petition.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/14/20
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