Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/16/2019
Format: 07/16/2019
State of Tennessee v. Chew Cornelius Sawyer
W2018-01267-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant, Chew Cornelius Sawyer, was convicted by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of aggravated assault, a Class C felony; attempted aggravated burglary, a Class D felony; and convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a Class C felony, and was sentenced to an effective term of five years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/19
State of Tennessee v. Michael Austin
W2017-02171-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Defendant, Michael Austin, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of aggravated robbery, a Class B felony; convicted felon in possession of a firearm, a Class C felony; and driving with a revoked, suspended or cancelled license, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to eight years for the aggravated robbery conviction, three years for the firearm conviction and six months for the driving conviction and ordered that the felony sentences be served consecutively to each other, for a total effective sentence of eleven years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence for his felony convictions and argues that the trial court erred in ordering consecutive sentences. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/19
Juan A. Hill v. State of Tennessee
E2018-00955-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stacy L. Street

Petitioner, Juan A. Hill, appeals from the summary dismissal of his fourth petition for writ of habeas corpus relief. Petitioner was convicted in March, 1996, of one count of rape of a child. The trial court sentenced Defendant to 35 years in confinement. On appeal, Petitioner asserts that the judgment of conviction is void because he was convicted of a crime that was not in effect at the time of the offense. Following our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/19
David Wi v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00671-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Petitioner, David Wi, pled guilty to aggravated burglary, felony murder, attempted first degree felony murder, attempted first degree premeditated murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, and aggravated assault in exchange for a sentence of life plus twenty-five years. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief and alleged that he received ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were not knowing and voluntary. The post-conviction court denied relief. After a review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court on the issues of ineffective assistance of counsel and the knowing and voluntary nature of Petitioner’s guilty plea. However, we must reverse Petitioner’s conviction for attempted first degree felony murder and dismiss Count Five of the indictment because Count Five of the indictment fails to state an offense.

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/19
State of Tennessee v. Malcolm Wade Frazier
M2017-02486-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

Defendant, Malcolm Wade Frazier, pleaded guilty to one count of possessing more than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine with intent to deliver after the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress. Defendant received an eight-year sentence. Pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37, Defendant attempted to reserve two certified questions of law. Because the certified questions fail to identify the scope and limits of the legal issue reserved, we conclude that we are without jurisdiction to consider this appeal, and therefore it is dismissed.

Van Buren County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/10/19
State of Tennessee v. Darrell Adams
W2018-00543-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Appellant, Darrell Adams, is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant to Court of Criminal Appeals Rule 20. Said motion is hereby granted.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Terrance L. Brown
W2018-00584-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The Appellant, Terrance L. Brown, is appealing the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence. The State has filed a motion asking this Court to affirm pursuant Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals. Said motion is hereby granted.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Charles Burrow
W2018-00374-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant, Charles Burrow, of three counts of second degree murder, one count of first degree murder, one count of attempted first degree murder, one count of aggravated criminal trespass, and one count of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of life imprisonment plus six years. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions. The defendant also contends the jury’s verdicts are inconsistent and requests plain error review of improper statements by the prosecutor. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. However, we remand the case for corrected judgment forms in Counts one, two, three, four, and five.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Aaron Long
W2018-01387-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The defendant, Aaron Long, appeals the denial of his request for judicial diversion by the Fayette County Circuit Court. The defendant contends the trial court erred in denying his request for diversion by improperly relying on two previous misdemeanor convictions for which he served no jail time. After our review, we affirm the trial court’s denial and imposition of an effective three-year sentence of supervised probation. The judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

Fayette County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Derrick K. Garrin
W2018-01186-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The defendant, Derrick K. Garrin, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Dustin Herring
E2018-00972-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex H. Ogle

The Defendant-Appellant, Dustin Herring, appeals from the order of the Sevier County Circuit Court revoking his probation and ordering him to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. In this appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in doing so because the new arrests supporting the violation of probation had been dismissed in general sessions court. Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Eric Foster
E2018-01205-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

A Knox County jury convicted the Defendant, Eric Foster, as charged of one count of aggravated rape, two counts of rape, one count of statutory rape, and one count of exhibition of harmful material to a minor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-502, 39-13-503(a)(2), 39-13-503(a)(3), 39-13-506(b)(2), 39-17-911(a)(1). The trial court merged the two rape convictions with the aggravated rape conviction before sentencing the Defendant to an effective sentence of fifteen years. On appeal, the Defendant argues (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion in limine to exclude his oral and written statements to police, and (2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Kristie Lea Crafton
M2018-00094-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Binkley

Kristie Lea Crafton, Defendant, was sentenced to drug court after she violated the terms of probation. After she was expelled from drug court, the trial court revoked her probation and ordered Defendant to serve her sentence in confinement. We affirm.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/19
State of Tennessee v. Brandon Otis Johnson
M2018-01051-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Defendant, Brandon Otis Johnson, appeals from the trial court’s revocation of his probation. Defendant argues that the trial court improperly relied on hearsay evidence without making the required findings of reliability and good cause justifying its admission over his objections. After a full review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/19
Bill Shannon Wilson v. State of Tennessee
E2018-00299-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The petitioner, Bill Shannon Wilson, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his Campbell County Criminal Court jury convictions of rape of a child. In this appeal, the petitioner reiterates his claim that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel and that the cumulative effect of the errors of his counsel, when combined with errors committed by the trial court and this court, deprived him of the right to a fair trial. Because the petitioner has failed to establish that he is entitled to post-conviction relief, we affirm.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/19
Anthony Blake Wisdom v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00641-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve Dozier

The Petitioner, Anthony Blake Wisdom, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of aggravated robbery and resulting fourteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/19
State of Tennessee v. Timothy Leron Brown
M2017-00904-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant, Timothy Leron Brown, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder, unlawful possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, attempted first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony while having prior felony convictions, theft of property valued less than $500, and failure to appear. The Defendant received an effective sentence of life plus thirty-one years. On appeal, the Defendant challenges (1) the sufficiency of the evidence of his convictions for first degree premeditated murder and theft, (2) the trial court’s denial of his motion to sever the offenses for trial, (3) the admission of bad act evidence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b), (4) the admission of evidence that the murder victim was a police informant, (5) the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress his cell phone records obtained pursuant to a judicial subpoena, (6) the trial court’s denial of his motion to exclude cell tower evidence as unreliable expert proof, (7) the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress evidence obtained from the search of his cell phone, (8) the admission of text messages from the Defendant’s cell phone, (9) the admission of photographs from the Defendant’s cell phone, and (10) the trial court’s imposition of partial consecutive sentences. We conclude that the evidence is insufficient to support the Defendant’s theft conviction, and we, therefore, reverse and dismiss the theft conviction. We also conclude that the trial court erred in failing to sever the offenses and that the error was not harmless as to the Defendant’s conviction for first degree premeditated murder. Accordingly, we reverse the Defendant’s conviction for first degree premeditated murder and remand the case to the trial court for a new trial. We otherwise affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/19
Demario Lawon Fisher v. State of Tennessee
M2018-00131-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

Petitioner, Demario Lawon Fisher, pled guilty to attempted especially aggravated robbery, two counts of attempted first degree murder, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony in exchange for a total effective sentence of twenty-five years. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for post-conviction relief, alleging that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and that his guilty plea was not knowing and voluntary. The post-conviction court denied relief, and upon our review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/05/19
State of Tennessee v. Mandon Rogers
W2018-01599-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

Mandon Rogers, Defendant, was convicted of attempted first degree murder (resulting in serious bodily injury), employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Defendant claims the evidence was insufficient to show that he intended to kill the victim or that the victim suffered serious bodily injury and that, if the attempted murder conviction is reversed, his conviction for employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony should also be reversed. After a review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/19
State of Tennessee v. Trimon Pruitt
W2018-00039-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

Defendant, Trimon Pruitt, was indicted by the Madison County Grand Jury for first degree murder. Following a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of second degree murder. The trial court sentenced Defendant to 24 years’ imprisonment with 100 percent release eligibility. In this appeal as of right, Defendant contends: 1) the evidence at trial was insufficient to support his conviction; 2) the trial court erred by admitting into evidence a statement made by Defendant; 3) the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing Defendant. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we find no error. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/19
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Gantt
W2018-01158-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

On March 26, 2018, the Defendant, Kevin Gantt, pleaded guilty to soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor. The trial court sentenced him as a Range I, standard offender to two years at 30% in the Department of Correction and required that he register as a sex offender. The Defendant argues on appeal that the trial court erred in sentencing him to the maximum sentence of two years and in denying his request for judicial diversion. After thorough review, we affirm the sentencing decision of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/04/19
State of Tennessee v. Rad Mandela Kellar
E2018-00313-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas C. Greenholtz

The Defendant, Rad Mandela Kellar, appeals as of right from the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his request for judicial diversion. The Defendant pled guilty to possession of not less than ten pounds, one gram of marijuana nor more than seventy pounds of marijuana with intent to sell, and he was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by denying judicial diversion. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/03/19
State of Tennessee v. Robert William Ward
M2017-02269-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The Defendant, Robert William Ward, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of attempted first degree murder with serious bodily injury, a Class A felony, and possession of a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony, a Class C felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-12-101 (2018) (criminal attempt), 39-13-202 (2014) (first degree murder), 40-35-501(k)(5) (2014) (amended 2015, 2016) (sentencing for attempted first degree murder with serious bodily injury), 39-17-1324 (2014) (firearms possession). He received an effective thirty-five-year sentence, to be served consecutively to his sentence in another case. On appeal, he contends that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his attempted first degree murder with serious bodily injury conviction, (2) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of the Defendant’s prior conduct, (3) the court erred in failing to strike hearsay testimony from the record, (4) the court erred in admitting a State’s witness’s prior statement, (5) the court erred in limiting his cross-examination of a State’s witness, (6) cumulative trial error requires relief, and (7) his attempted first degree murder sentence is excessive. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/01/19
State of Tennessee v. Jocelin Williams
W2018-00797-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Jocelin Williams, of firstdegree, premeditated murder of Delvin Brown, the victim in this case. She was also convicted of murder during the perpetration of robbery, especially aggravated robbery, and theft of property valued over $500. The trial court merged the murder convictions and imposed an effective sentence of life plus twenty years’ imprisonment. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant presents the following issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress a statement which was given while she was alleged to have been impaired; and (2) whether the evidence adduced at trial was sufficient to support her convictions of first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery. Upon our review, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/19
State of Tennessee v. Robert Belt
W2018-00785-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant-Appellant, Robert Belt, of first-degree, premeditated murder of Delvin Brown, the victim in this case. He was also convicted of murder during the perpetration of robbery and especially aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the murder convictions and imposed an effective sentence of life plus twenty-five years’ imprisonment. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant presents the following issues for our review: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying the Defendant’s motion to suppress; (2) whether the evidence is sufficient to convict the Defendant of first-degree murder; and (3) whether the trial court erred in ordering the sentences to be served consecutively. Upon our review, we affirm.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/19