Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 06/18/2021
Format: 06/18/2021
State of Tennessee v. Glenn Brown and Thomas Byrd
E2019-01618-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

The Defendants, Glenn Brown and Thomas Byrd, were jointly tried before a Knox County Criminal Court jury on a number of drug and gun-related offenses. At the conclusion of the trial, both Defendants were convicted of possession with the intent to sell/deliver 0.5 grams or more of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school, possession with the intent to sell/deliver a controlled substance analogue, and possession of marijuana. Defendant Brown was alone convicted of the various gun-related charges, including employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony having been previously convicted of a felony. In this consolidated appeal, Defendant Byrd challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his felony convictions and argues that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of his failure to contest the forfeiture of the large amount of cash seized from him. Defendant Brown challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his felony drug and employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony convictions and argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the results of the traffic stop and in issuing inconsistent oral and written jury instructions that prevented unanimity of the verdicts. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/17/21
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Williams
E2019-01995-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

The Defendant, Joshua Williams, was convicted of two counts of especially aggravated burglary, four counts of attempted first degree murder, twelve counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, four counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm and was given a total effective sentence of sixty-eight years. On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions of attempted first degree murder. After thorough review, we disagree and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
Steven Dare Steelman, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2020-00696-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Petitioner, Steven Dare Steelman, Jr., appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s order dismissing his petition for
post-conviction relief as untimely. The Petitioner’s counsel has filed a motion to withdraw pursuant to Rule 22 of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. We conclude that counsel’s motion is well-taken and, in accordance with Rule 22(F), affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
State of Tennessee v. Javaris Wilson
M2019-01317-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant, Javaris Wilson, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder and second degree murder under alternate theories of guilt for the same killing. The second degree murder conviction was merged into the first degree murder conviction, for which the Defendant received a life sentence. The sole issue the Defendant raises on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to establish his identity as the perpetrator. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
State of Tennessee v. Demetrie Darnell Owens
M2020-00132-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forrest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Demetrie Darnell Owens, was convicted by a Marshall County Circuit Court jury of two counts of simple possession of cocaine, Class A misdemeanors; possession of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school or park with intent to sell, a Class B felony; attempted possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, a Class C felony; two counts of simple possession of Xanax, Class A misdemeanors; two counts of simple possession of methamphetamine, Class A misdemeanors; simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; and simple possession of Suboxone, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to an effective term of twenty years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in allowing a State’s witness to testify concerning statements and text messages made by an unavailable witness; (2) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument; (3) the trial court’s instruction that two individuals were accomplices as a matter of law amounted to a comment on the proof; and (4) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.   

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
Jeffery Combs v. State of Tennessee
E2020-00239-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The Petitioner, Jeffery Combs, was found guilty by a jury of eighteen counts of forgery and one count of theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, and he received a twelve-year sentence in confinement. After this court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions on direct appeal, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief contending that trial counsel was ineffective because trial counsel failed to: consult a handwriting expert and properly advise the Petitioner of the cost of retaining one; thoroughly investigate or pursue a misidentification defense by seeking professional assistance to enhance the surveillance video and interviewing witnesses; consult with the Petitioner prior to trial; and convey a plea offer. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. We affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/14/21
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Donald McIntire
E2020-01483-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The defendant, Joseph Donald McIntire, pled guilty to attempted introduction of contraband into a penal facility and, after a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of eight years in confinement. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in enhancing his sentence to eight years and requiring that he serve the entirety of his sentence in confinement. Upon our review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/14/21
State of Tennessee v. Blaze Valentino Burkett
M2019-02143-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Russell Parkes

The Defendant, Blaze Valentino Burkett, appeals as of right from the Wayne County Circuit Court’s revocation of his probation and his being ordered to serve the remainder of his ten-year sentence for possession of 0.5 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to sell. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by fully revoking his probationary sentence and that an alternative to full incarceration should have been imposed to allow him to seek treatment for his methamphetamine addiction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/14/21
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Anthony Perry
E2020-00911-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge. J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa Rice

A Johnson County jury convicted the defendant, Mathew Anthony Perry, of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and the trial court imposed a sentence of fifteen years’ confinement. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erred in sentencing him as a Range II offender, asserting the State’s notice of enhanced punishment was deficient. The defendant also argues the trial court erred in failing to grant a mistrial based upon alleged improper testimony. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, we remand the matter for the sole purpose of ensuring that judgment forms were entered for each count of the indictment.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/21
State of Tennessee v. Jason Burchfield
E2020-01369-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy Harrington

The trial court revoked the community corrections sentence of the defendant, Jason Burchfield, and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the defendant contends that, while he did violate the terms and conditions of his alternative sentence, the trial court’s full revocation of his sentence was excessive and constituted an abuse of discretion. After a thorough review of the record, the applicable law, and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/21
Kristin M. Myers v. State of Tennessee
E2020-01401-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffery Hill Wicks

The petitioner, Kristin M. Myers, appeals the denial of her post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding she received the effective assistance of counsel at trial. After our review of the record, briefs, and applicable law, we affirm the denial of the petition. 

Loudon County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/21
State of Tennessee v. Shanthony Mays
W2020-00201-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald E. Parish

The Petitioner, Shanthony Mays, filed a petition for post-conviction relief challenging his convictions for aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and unlawful possession of a weapon and the resulting twelve-year sentence. The post-conviction court denied relief, and the Petitioner appeals. On appeal, the Petitioner alleges the following: (1) that he provided new evidence establishing an improper jury venire; (2) that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to provide statistical information to show the systematic exclusion of African-Americans in the jury venire of Obion County; (3) that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to properly examine the State’s witnesses regarding the admissibility of evidence and impeachment; (4) that trial counsel was ineffective by failing to file a pretrial motion regarding the chain of custody for “tainted evidence”; and (5) that the post-conviction court should have given more weight to the co-defendant’s recantation of his trial testimony. After our review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court denying the Petitioner relief.

Obion County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/21
State of Tennessee v. Douglas M. Ferguson
E2020-00400-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The Sullivan County Grand Jury indicted Douglas M. Ferguson, Defendant, for attempted first degree premeditated murder in count one, aggravated assault in count two, and reckless endangerment in count three. Following a trial, the jury convicted Defendant of misdemeanor reckless endangerment in count one, aggravated assault in count two, and felony reckless endangerment in count three. The trial court merged counts one and three into count two, sentenced Defendant to five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction with a thirty percent release eligibility, and imposed a fine of $10,000. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying alternative sentencing and by ordering Defendant to pay an excessive fine. Upon a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/21
State of Tennessee v. James Michael Martin
E2020-00097-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex Pearson

The defendant, James Michael Martin, appeals his Greene County Criminal Court jury conviction of driving under the influence (“DUI”), arguing that the trial court erred by denying his motions to dismiss and suppress and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/10/21
Tracy Roberson v. State of Tennessee
E2020-00643-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas C. Greenholtz

Tracy Roberson, Petitioner, was convicted of one count of aggravated burglary, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated robbery, two counts of aggravated rape, and three counts of theft. The trial court sentenced Petitioner to an effective sentence of sixty years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On direct appeal, this court modified one of the theft counts and merged the three theft convictions, affirming all other judgments. Petitioner filed a pro se post-conviction petition and three amended petitions through counsel. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, Petitioner argues that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel and due process. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/09/21
State of Tennessee v. Ricky Allen Davis
E2019-01819-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

The Appellant, Ricky Allen Davis, was convicted in the Knox County Criminal Court of first degree premediated murder and unlawful possession of a firearm and received concurrent sentences of life and eight years, respectively. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions and that the trial court committed plain error by admitting a witness’s hearsay statement into evidence, by allowing a witness to testify that she saw the Appellant with a gun prior to the shooting when there was no evidence that it was the same gun used in the shooting, and by allowing a witness to testify that low-income people often shared cellular telephones and did not help the police due to fear of retribution. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/07/21
State of Tennessee v. Desmond Price
W2020-00952-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

Desmond Price, Defendant, entered a guilty plea to one count of attempted conspiracy to possess more than 150 grams of heroin in exchange for a nine-year sentence and the dismissal of the remaining three counts of the indictment. The parties agreed that Defendant would serve his sentence consecutively to the sentence for another unrelated conviction. Subsequently, Defendant filed a motion pursuant to Rule 35 of the Tennessee Rules of Criminal Procedure, arguing that he was a candidate for split confinement. The trial court denied the motion. This appeal followed. After our review, we determine that the trial court properly denied the relief sought by Defendant in the Rule 35 motion. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed. The matter is remanded to the trial court for entry of judgments dismissing the remaining three counts of the indictment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/04/21
State of Tennessee v. Crystal Michelle Rickman
W2020-00882-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, Crystal Rickman, was convicted by a jury of aggravated assault by strangulation or attempted strangulation and domestic assault. The trial court imposed an effective fifteen-year sentence, as a Range III persistent offender, to be served in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues: that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions; that she was denied a fair and impartial trial because of inadmissible hearsay; that she was denied the right to a fair and impartial trial because neither the State nor the defense called the victim to testify at trial; that the trial court erred by failing to instruct the jury as to the missing witness rule; that the trial court erred by not allowing her to call witnesses to testify at the motion for new trial hearing; and that her sentence was excessive. Following our review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/21
State of Tennessee v. Eric Manzenberger
E2020-00218-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everette Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James L. Gass

A jury convicted the Defendant of driving under the influence of an intoxicant, driving in excess of the speed limit, and violating the light law, and he received an effective sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days, with the sentence to be suspended after fourteen days in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress certain statements made to law enforcement. After a review of the record, we conclude that the Defendant was not in custody under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and we affirm the judgments.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/03/21
Calvin Jones v. State of Tennessee
W2020-00372-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Calvin Jones, Petitioner, filed a pro se petition seeking post-conviction relief from his 2012 convictions for aggravated child abuse and first degree felony murder. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/21
Rico Huey v. State of Tennessee
W2020-00928-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Glenn Ivy Wright

Rico Huey, Petitioner, filed a pro se petition seeking post-conviction relief from his 2016 aggravated robbery conviction. Appointed counsel filed an amended petition. Following an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/21
State of Tennessee v. Bobby Wayne Centers
M2019-02285-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Wesley Thomas Bray

The Appellant, Bobby Wayne Centers, was convicted by a jury in the White County Criminal Court of the sale of 26 grams or more of methamphetamine, the delivery of 26 grams or more of methamphetamine, the possession of 26 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to sell; and the possession of 26 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to deliver. The trial court merged the sale of methamphetamine conviction and the possession with intent to sell methamphetamine conviction into a single conviction and merged the delivery of methamphetamine conviction and the possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine conviction into a single conviction. The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of eighteen years as a Range II, multiple offender with release eligibility after service of thirty-five percent of the sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the trial court erred by allowing Agent Eaton to narrate the video of the drug transaction. Upon review, we conclude that the case must be remanded to the trial court for the correction of the judgments to reflect the merger of all of the convictions into the sale of methamphetamine conviction. The judgments of the trial court are affirmed in all other respects.

White County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/02/21
State of Tennessee v. Tyrone E. Murphy
E2020-00658-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

The Hamilton County Grand Jury indicted Defendant, Tyrone E. Murphy, with one count of first degree premeditated murder and one count of tampering with evidence in the death of Ashley Cates, the victim. The State proceeded solely on the count of first degree premeditated murder. The jury convicted Defendant as charged, and the trial court sentenced Defendant to life imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant argues that the trial court erred by denying his motion in limine to exclude post-mortem photographs of the victim and that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/01/21
State of Tennessee v. Gregory Gilliam
W2020-00203-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Gregory Gilliam, of four counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective sentence of forty-two years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/28/21
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Lynn Inman
W2020-00452-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

Defendant, Christopher Lynn Inman, was convicted by a jury of introduction of contraband into a penal facility and possession of marijuana. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant as a Range II multiple offender to an effective sentence of six years’ incarceration. In this direct appeal, Defendant asserts that the trial court erred by admitting the marijuana into evidence because the State failed to establish a proper chain of custody and that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for introduction of contraband into a penal facility. Following our review of the record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 05/28/21