Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 07/17/2019
Format: 07/17/2019
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
State of Tennessee v. Derrick Settles
W2018-01560-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The pro se Defendant, Derrick Settles, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion to correct an illegal sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. After thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/19
State of Tennessee v. Germaine Markques Long
W2018-01203-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan

The Defendant, Germaine Markques Long, was found guilty by a Madison County Circuit Court jury of two counts of identity theft, a Class D felony, and theft of property valued at $1000 or less, a Class A misdemeanor. See T.C.A. §§ 39-14-150 (2018) (identity theft); 39-14-103 (2018) (theft); 39-14-105 (2018) (grading of theft). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range I, standard offender to concurrent terms of four years for each identity theft conviction and eleven months, twenty-nine days for the misdemeanor theft conviction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions and (2) the trial court erred by denying his motion for a mistrial. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/19
State of Tennessee v. Craig Markeem Taylor
W2018-00242-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The Defendant, Craig Markeem Taylor, was convicted by a Madison County jury of first degree premeditated murder, two counts of first degree felony murder, attempted aggravated burglary, and two counts of attempted aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the felony murder convictions into the first degree premeditated murder conviction and sentenced the Defendant to life for the murder conviction, five years for each of the attempted aggravated robbery convictions, and three years for the attempted aggravated burglary conviction. The court ordered the attempted robbery sentences to be served concurrently with each other but consecutively to the sentence for first degree murder. The court ordered that the sentence for attempted aggravated burglary be served consecutively to the sentences for attempted aggravated robbery, for a total effective sentence of life plus eight years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and argues that the trial court committed reversible error by excluding proposed witness testimony on the erroneous basis that it constituted alibi testimony for which the State had not received prior notice. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand for entry of a corrected judgment in count five in order for the “Jury Verdict” box to be checked to reflect that the Defendant was convicted of the indicted offense pursuant to a jury verdict.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/19
State of Tennessee v. Marick Pettis
W2018-00102-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Appellant, Marick Pettis, pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and identity theft and received a total effective sentence of ten years. Thereafter, the Appellant filed a “Petition for Suspension of Sentence,” which was denied by the trial court. The Appellant appeals. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/19
Nicos Broadnax v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01503-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer S. Nichols

The Petitioner, Nicos Broadnax, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that trial counsel’s admitting that the Petitioner was guilty of robbery in opening statement was “ineffective and prejudicial.” Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/19
Peter D. Billington v. Shawn Phillips, Warden
W2018-01915-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

The pro se Petitioner, Peter D. Billington, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Following our review, we affirm the dismissal of the petition.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/19
State of Tennessee v. Shawna N. Henson
E2018-01266-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Defendant-Appellant, Shawna N. Henson, was indicted by a Campbell County grand jury for tampering with evidence and possession of drug paraphernalia in Case No. 17592, and for theft over $500 in Case No. 17593. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-14-103; 39-16-503; 39-17-425. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant pled guilty to all three charges. The trial court sentenced her as a Range II, multiple offender to an effective term of nine years’ imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant challenges her sentence as inconsistent with the purposes and principles of sentencing under Tennessee Code Annotated sections 40-35-102 and 103. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Campbell County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/29/19
Brenda Woods v. State of Tennessee
W2017-02345-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Brenda Woods, appeals the McNairy County Circuit Court’s denial of her petition for post-conviction relief, seeking relief from her convictions for three counts of procuring an illegal vote and resulting effective two-year sentence to be served on community corrections. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of the petition.

McNairy County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/28/19
State of Tennessee v. Roddarous Marcus Bond
W2018-00107-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The Defendant, Roddarous Bond, was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to commit first degree murder. The trial court merged the two convictions and imposed a twentythree-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the offenses; (2) the trial court erred in allowing witnesses to refer to letters that had been destroyed; and (3) the trial court erred in allowing the State to impeach the Defendant with a prior statement that the trial court had excluded. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/28/19
State of Tennessee v. Makyle Love
W2018-00738-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Defendant, Makyle Love, was convicted of aggravated rape and was sentenced to twenty-three years of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. Upon review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the Defendant’s conviction.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/28/19
State of Tennessee v. David Lassiter
W2018-01020-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, David Lassiter, pled guilty to four counts of theft of property valued at $2,500 or more and four counts of theft of property valued at more than $1,000. He received an effective sentence of sixteen years. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of alternative sentencing and the imposition of partial consecutive sentences. Upon review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/28/19
State of Tennessee v. Linda Anne Dunavant
W2018-00031-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph H. Walker, III

The Defendant, Linda Anne Dunavant, was convicted by a jury of aggravated assault and two counts each of first degree felony murder, aggravated child neglect, and aggravated arson. She challenges her convictions on appeal, arguing that (1) the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions, specifically that the State did not negate her expert’s testimony that “the fire rekindled by accident,” and (2) the trial court erred in refusing to issue an instruction on setting fire to personal property or land, and its attempt, as a lesser-included offense of aggravated arson. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/28/19
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Swift
W2018-00054-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James C. Beasley, Jr.

The Defendant, Christopher Swift, was convicted by a jury of first degree premeditated murder; attempted first degree murder, a Class A felony; and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony; a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-12-101, -13-202, -17-1324. The trial court later imposed a total effective sentence of life plus twenty-six years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence was insufficient to sustain the Defendant’s conviction for first degree premeditated murder; (2) the trial court abused its discretion in denying the Defendant’s motion to disqualify one of the prosecutors; (3) African-Americans were improperly excluded from the jury venire; (4) the State “intentionally mislead [the] jury” during the examination of one of its witnesses; (5) the trial court erred by allowing the admission of hearsay; (6) the trial court erred by allowing the jury to review transcripts of recorded jail phone calls as those recordings were played; (7) the State improperly displayed photographic exhibits during its closing argument; (8) the State withheld evidence; and (9) a new trial is warranted due to cumulative error. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/28/19
State of Tennessee v. Perry Avram March
M2018-00660-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

Defendant, Perry Avram March, was convicted in Case No. 2004-D-3113 of second degree murder, abuse of a corpse, and destruction of evidence for his role in the death of his wife and in Case No. 2005-D-2854 of conspiracy to commit first degree murder for his plan to kill his in-laws. Defendant was sentenced to a total effective sentence of fifty-six years. Defendant’s direct appeals were unsuccessful. See State v. March, 494 S.W.3d 52 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2010) (“the conspiracy case”); State v. March, 395 S.W.3d 738 (Tenn. Crim. App. 2011) (“the murder case”). Subsequently, Defendant sought relief by filing a motion pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36, arguing that there was an error in one of the judgment forms with regard to the manner of service of the sentence. The trial court denied relief. On appeal, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/28/19
Dane Sayles, Alias Bradley Harper v. State of Tennessee
E2018-00141-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas C. Greenholtz

The Petitioner, Dane Sayles, appeals the Hamilton County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his conviction of possession of three hundred grams or more of cocaine for resale and resulting forty-year sentence as a Range II, multiple offender. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by refusing to apply Riley v. California, 134 S. Ct. 2473 (2014), which prohibits the warrantless search of an arrestee’s cellular telephone incident to arrest, retroactively. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/28/19
State of Tennessee v. Kevin McDougle
W2018-00996-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

The defendant, Kevin McDougle, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence. Upon our review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/19
Marty Holland v. State of Tennessee
W2018-01517-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

The Petitioner, Marty Holland, appeals from the Hardeman County Circuit Court’s denial of post-conviction relief. On appeal, the Petitioner argues generally that “the postconviction court erred in finding [the Petitioner] received effective assistance of counsel.” Based on the issues developed at the post-conviction hearing and the order of the post-conviction court, the issue presented is whether the Petitioner’s guilty pleas are constitutionally infirm due to trial counsel’s failure to investigate (1) a coerced confession; (2) the validity of a bench warrant concerning an unrelated offense; and (3) a search warrant executed at the Petitioner’s home concerning an unrelated case. Following our review, we deem it necessary to remand this matter to the post-conviction court for a hearing to determine whether the Petitioner was advised of the circumstances attendant to entering a guilty plea based upon an agreement that his state sentence would be served concurrently to a previously imposed federal sentence. In all other respects, the judgment of the post-conviction court it affirmed.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Arbra Allen Sims III
M2018-01296-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

Defendant, Arbra Allen Sims III, pled guilty to two counts of accessory after the fact to aggravated robbery. Defendant agreed to serve four years on each count concurrently with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered Defendant to serve the sentence in custody with the possibility of release pending the completion of a rehabilitative program. On appeal, Defendant argues that he should have been granted probation and that the trial court abused its discretion by relying solely on Defendant’s perceived untruthfulness about his participation in the underlying crime. We hold that the trial court did not abuse its discretion, and we affirm the trial court’s decision to deny probation.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/19
Aurelio Garcia Sanchez v. State of Tennessee
M2017-02253-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Brody N. Kane

The Petitioner, Aurelio Garcia Sanchez, appeals the Macon County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions of five counts of rape of a child and resulting effective sentence of one hundred twenty-five years to be served at one hundred percent. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Macon County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/19
State of Tennessee v. Donalson Wells Carter, AKA Donaldson W. Carter
M2017-02057-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant, Donalson Wells Carter, was convicted of the sale of fentanyl, simple possession or casual exchange of fentanyl, possession with intent to sell or deliver 0.5 grams or more of cocaine, and possession with intent to sell or deliver 0.5 grams or more of methamphetamine. He received an effective sentence of thirty years. The Defendant raises three issues on appeal, arguing that: (1) the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce evidence of prior bad acts; (2) the trial court erred by failing to require the State to disclose favorable treatment of witnesses; and (3) his sentence is excessive. Upon reviewing the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/27/19
Ricky Benson v. State of Tennessee
W2018-00967-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

A Shelby County grand jury indicted the Petitioner for two counts of burglary of a building. In March 2018, before being convicted of the charges, the Petitioner filed a habeas corpus petition seeking appointment of counsel and “an updated trial in another courtroom.” The habeas corpus court denied the petition because the Petitioner had not yet been convicted of the charged offenses and based upon the numerous procedural deficiencies in the petition. The Petitioner appeals the habeas corpus court’s denial. After review, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/26/19
Ramone Lawson v. State of Tennessee
W2017-00929-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Thomas T. Woodall
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Petitioner, Ramone Lawson, appeals from the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner asserts that he was denied effective assistance of counsel which led to his convictions of one count of first degree murder, two counts of attempted first degree murder, and two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. After reviewing the briefs of the parties and the entire record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 03/26/19