Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/07/2020
Format: 06/07/2020
William Langston v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01354-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

William Langston, Petitioner, was initially indicted for voluntary manslaughter. The State obtained a superseding indictment charging Petitioner with first degree murder. Following a jury trial, Petitioner was convicted of second degree murder. This court affirmed his conviction on direct appeal, and the Tennessee Supreme Court denied further review. State v. William Langston, No. W2015-02359-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL 1968827, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 12, 2017), perm app denied (Tenn. Sept. 22, 2017). Petitioner filed for post-conviction relief claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of his first retained counsel (“trial counsel”). Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, Petitioner asserts that trial counsel failed to convey to him a four-year settlement offer before the State obtained the superseding indictment. After a thorough review of the facts and applicable case law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/20
State of Tennessee v. John David Hudson
W2019-00337-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, John D. Hudson, of evading arrest (motor vehicle flight) (count one), criminal impersonation (count two), driving with a revoked license (count three), a first offense seat-belt infraction (count four), and failure to obey a traffic control device (count five). Following a hearing, the trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II multiple offender to four years for evading arrest, six months for criminal impersonation, six months for driving on a revoked license, thirty days for the seat belt infraction, and thirty days for the failure to obey a traffic control device. The trial court ordered counts one, two, and three to be served consecutively, and a concurrent term of thirty days for the remaining counts, for an effective sentence of five years imprisonment. The sole issue presented on appeal is whether the trial court abused its discretion in imposing partial consecutive sentencing. Upon review, we affirm.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/20
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Wallace
W2019-01175-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Anthony Wallace (“Defendant”), pro se, appeals the summary dismissal of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion to correct what he claims were errors in his judgments of conviction. Defendant filed an untimely notice of appeal. Because we can find no errors in the judgments of conviction, the interest of justice does not warrant waiver of timely filing. The appeal is dismissed.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/20
State of Tennessee v. Tyshon Booker
E2018-01439-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

During a botched robbery, sixteen-year-old Tyshon Booker, the Defendant-Appellant, shot and killed the victim, G’Metrick Caldwell. Following extensive hearings in juvenile court, the Defendant was transferred to criminal court to be tried as an adult.  At trial, the Defendant admitted that he shot the victim several times in the back while seated in the backseat of the victim’s car; however, he claimed self-defense. A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant of two counts of first-degree felony murder and two counts of especially 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 process of transferring a juvenile to criminal court after a finding of three statutory factors by the juvenile court judge violates the Defendant’s rights under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000); (2) whether the State’s suppression of alleged eyewitness identifications prior to the juvenile transfer hearing constitutes a Brady violation, requiring remand for a new juvenile transfer hearing; (3) whether the juvenile court erred in transferring the Defendant to criminal court given defense expert testimony that the Defendant suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was amenable to treatment; (4) whether the trial court erred in finding that the Defendant was engaged in unlawful activity at the time of the offense and in instructing the jury that the Defendant had a duty to retreat before engaging in self-defense; (5) whether an improper argument by the State in closing arguments constitutes prosecutorial misconduct requiring a new trial; (6) whether evidence of juror misconduct warrants a new trial and whether the trial court erred in refusing to subpoena an additional juror; and  (7) whether a sentence of life imprisonment for a Tennessee juvenile violates the United States and Tennessee Constitutions. Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/20
State of Tennessee v. Shonique Nechelle Smith
E2019-01400-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

Shonique Nechelle Smith, Defendant, appeals from the trial court’s judgment revoking community corrections and requiring her to serve the balance of her sentence in incarceration. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/20
State of Tennessee v. Stephen Damian Ledet
E2019-00909-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Ray Elledge

Stephen Damian Ledet, Defendant, was convicted by a jury of possession of a Schedule II controlled substance for resale and tampering with evidence. On appeal, Defendant claims the evidence was insufficient to sustain the convictions. After review of the record and briefs, we affirm the convictions.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/20
Jason Matthew Wyatt v. State of Tennessee
M2019-00250-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Petitioner, Jason Matthew Wyatt, appeals the Sumner County Criminal Court’s order summarily denying relief pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 and summarily dismissing post-conviction relief. The Petitioner argues the trial court erred in (1) holding that the Criminal Savings Statute in Code section 39-11-112 did not apply to the amendments to the theft grading statute in Code section 39-14-105 and (2) dismissing his Rule 36.1 motion/post-conviction petition without appointing counsel. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand for further proceedings in accordance with this opinion.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/20
Leonard Edward Smith v. State of Tennessee
E2019-00596-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas J. Wright

In 1985, a Hamblen County jury convicted the Petitioner, Leonard Edward Smith, of the first degree felony murder of victim Pierce and the first degree premeditated murder of victim Webb. Multiple appeals and remands ensued, following which the Petitioner was ultimately sentenced to two consecutive life terms. In 2017, the Petitioner filed a motion to reopen post-conviction proceedings and a petition for a writ of error coram nobis. The trial court held a hearing and denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that his motion to reopen should have been granted based on newly discovered evidence, which deprived him of a fair trial, and that he is entitled to coram nobis relief based upon the newly discovered evidence. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/20
State of Tennessee v. Benjamin Scott Brewer
E2019-00355-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

Benjamin Scott Brewer, Defendant, was convicted after a jury trial of six counts of vehicular homicide by intoxication, four counts of reckless aggravated assault, driving under the influence, violation of motor carrier regulations, and speeding. As a result, Defendant was sentenced to an effective sentence of 55 years in incarceration. Defendant appeals his convictions and sentences, arguing on appeal that the State violated Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83, 87 (1963); that the trial court improperly certified a witness as a drug recognition expert; that the evidence was insufficient to show intoxication; and that the trial court improperly sentenced Defendant to consecutive sentences. Following our review, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/20
Jeremy Cooper v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01080-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

Petitioner, Jeremy Cooper, pled guilty to possession with intent to sell or deliver methamphetamine in an amount over .5 grams. Petitioner was sentenced to twelve-years’ incarceration to be served concurrently with a ten-year, Madison County, sentence he was already serving. Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel. The
post-conviction court denied relief. After a reviewing the record, we affirm the judgement of the post-conviction court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/03/20
Roy L.Crawford v. Georgia Crowell, Warden
E2019-01199-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

The Petitioner, Roy L. Crawford, appeals the Johnson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus for the alleged unlawful detainment related to an escape charge, for which he was not convicted, and to his second degree murder conviction, for which he received a life sentence.  The Petitioner contends that the habeas corpus court erred by summarily dismissing his petition.  We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/20
Carlos Rice v. Jonathan Lebo, Warden
W2019-01753-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The pro se petitioner, Carlos Rice, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus by the Circuit Court for Lauderdale County, arguing the habeas corpus court erred in summarily dismissing the petition. The petitioner asserts that his sentence has expired and that he is being held past his release date. Following our review, we affirm the habeas court’s dismissal of the petition because the petitioner has failed to show he is entitled to relief.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/20
State of Tennessee v. Quintin Brittenum
W2019-00521-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The Defendant-Appellant, Quintin Brittenum, was convicted by a Shelby County jury of rape of a child and two counts of aggravated sexual battery, for which he received an effective sentence of fifty-five years’ imprisonment. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-504, -522. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant’s sole issue for our review is whether the evidence is sufficient to support each of his convictions. Upon our review, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/02/20
David Black v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00308-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Petitioner, David Black, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of attempted rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery and resulting twelve-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel because trial counsel failed to object to the trial court’s jury instruction on aggravated sexual battery and failed to argue in his motion for new trial that the instruction was erroneous, trial counsel advised him not to testify at trial, and appellate counsel failed to argue on direct appeal of his convictions that the proof did not meet the elements of aggravated sexual battery. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/20
William Lanier v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01434-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey, Jr.

The Petitioner, William Lanier, appeals from the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his jury conviction for premeditated first degree murder. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that his two attorneys provided ineffective assistance of counsel relating to the following: (1) original counsel’s investigation and preservation of an alibi witness’s testimony; (2) trial counsel’s investigation and presentation of a third-party defense at trial; (3) trial counsel’s decision to call or not call certain witnesses; (4) trial counsel’s failure to object to false or prejudicial testimony and statements by the State in closing; (5) trial counsel’s failure to impeach a witness’s reason for changing her statement; (6) trial counsel’s failure to request a special jury instruction; (7) trial counsel’s failure to object to testimony about a theft ring and counsel’s eliciting testimony about the same; and (8) original counsel’s failure to argue the motion to dismiss for lack of corpus delicti. The Petitioner also requests a new post-conviction hearing because the post-conviction court failed to make findings of fact related to two of his issues. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/20
State of Tennessee v. Markist Kantrell Cole
W2019-00079-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant, Markist Kantrell Cole, appeals his convictions for attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and reckless endangerment, alleging that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court erred by issuing a jury instruction on flight. Following our review, we affirm.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/20
State of Tennessee v. Marcellus Hurt Dissent in Part/Concur in Part
W2017-02179-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Respectfully, I disagree with the majority opinion’s conclusions that the victim’s testimony regarding the cost of the repairs to his car was inadmissible hearsay and that admission of this evidence necessitates a new trial for the vandalism conviction.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/20
State of Tennessee v. Marcellus Hurt
W2017-02179-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Marcellus Hurt, of aggravated assault, vandalism, and domestic assault. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of sixteen years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the Appellant contends that: (1) the trial court erred by allowing the State to argue a new theory during rebuttal, (2) the trial court erred by allowing the victim to testify regarding the cost of the repairs to his car; (3) the evidence was not sufficient to sustain his convictions of aggravated assault and felony vandalism; and (4) the trial court erred by sentencing the Appellant for a Class D felony for the vandalism conviction, by erroneously applying enhancement factors, and by imposing consecutive sentencing. Upon review, we agree that the trial court erred by admitting hearsay testimony regarding the amount of the damages. Therefore, we must reverse the Appellant’s vandalism conviction and remand for a new trial on that charge. The Appellant’s judgments are affirmed in all other respects.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/20
Michael Shane McCullough v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00629-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffery W. Parham

The Petitioner, Michael Shane McCullough, challenges the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief attacking his jury convictions for criminal littering, initiation of a process to manufacture methamphetamine, and promotion of methamphetamine manufacture. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges that he received ineffective assistance due to (1) trial counsel’s failure to interview the arresting officer and investigate the case, especially as it related to the weather conditions on the night of the Petitioner’s traffic stop; (2) trial counsel’s failure to adequately cross-examine the State’s witnesses at trial about the substance found in the ditch; and (3) trial counsel’s (who was also appellate counsel) failure to challenge the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his Class B misdemeanor conviction for criminal littering. After our review, we conclude that the Petitioner received ineffective assistance with regard to the appropriate classification of his criminal littering conviction; however, the Petitioner’s other allegations of ineffective assistance are without merit. We must reverse the post-conviction court’s judgment and remand the case for correction of the Petitioner’s mitigated criminal littering conviction judgment form to reflect the appropriate Class C misdemeanor classification and a corresponding thirty-day sentence.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/20
State of Tennessee v. Jay Hathaway
M2019-00540-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Deanna B. Johnson

The Defendant, Jay Hathaway, appeals the probation revocation order from a February 25, 2019 probation violation hearing. The trial court determined that the Defendant had violated the terms of his probation sentence, applied eighty-five days of time served toward the revocation sentence, and ordered an additional sixty days to serve in jail before the Defendant would be reinstated to a sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that he was denied due process because he was not provided an expert on the issue of drug patch testing. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/20
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Ricardo Bonds
W2018-01954-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma Mcgee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

A Dyer County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Christopher Ricardo Bonds, of evading arrest, a Class A misdemeanor. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that he serve nine months in jail at seventy-five percent release eligibility. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court arbitrarily imposed the percentage of the sentence to be served in confinement. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/31/20
Dontavious Hendrix v. State of Tennessee
W2019-00171-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Petitioner, Dontavious Hendrix, was convicted of second-degree murder and subsequently sentenced to twenty-five years. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-210(a)(1). Following denial of his direct appeal, the Petitioner filed a petition seeking postconviction relief, alleging that trial counsel was ineffective based on the following grounds: (1) implementing an inappropriate trial strategy by allowing Monderrius Miller to testify on behalf of the defense; (2) failing to properly advise the Petitioner of his right to testify on his own behalf; and (3) failing to interview potential witnesses. Following our review, we affirm.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/20
Eugene Spivey v. Shawn Phillips, Warden
W2019-00932-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The pro se petitioner, Eugene Spivey, appeals from the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Following our review, we affirm the ruling of the trial court.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/26/20
State of Tennessee v. LaDarius Berry
W2019-00310-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County grand jury indicted the defendant, LaDarius Berry, for attempted second degree murder (count 1), aggravated assault (count 2), employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony (count 3), and reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon (count 4). After trial, a jury convicted the defendant as charged in counts 2, 3, and 4 and found him guilty of the
lesser-included offense of attempted voluntary manslaughter in count 1. The trial court merged the defendant’s convictions in counts 1 and 2 and imposed an effective twelve-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions and the sentencing imposed by the trial court. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court, but remand the case for the specific purposes of entry of amended judgments as to counts 1 and 2 to reflect the non-merger of the offenses as well as the determination by the trial court as to whether the sentences in counts 1 and 2 should be served consecutively or concurrently.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/26/20
State of Tennessee v. Antwon Young
W2019-00492-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant, Antwon Young, of aggravated robbery and especially aggravated kidnapping, for which he received an effective sentence of thirty years. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions and asserts the State made two improper statements during closing argument. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/26/20