COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS OPINIONS

Shaun Alexander Hodge v. State of Tennessee
E2023-00676-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The Petitioner, Shaun Alexander Hodge, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for
writ of error coram nobis based on alleged newly discovered evidence of a trial witness’s
criminal history. Based on our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition.

Knox Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Justin McDowell
E2024-00478-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

In 2020, the Defendant, Justin McDowell, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to sell
or deliver less than .5 grams of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a Drug Free Zone, a park. The
trial court imposed an effective sentence of five years of incarceration. The Defendant
filed a motion for resentencing pursuant to an amendment to the Drug Free Zone Act. See
T.C.A. § 39-17-432. The trial court held a hearing and denied relief. On appeal, the
Petitioner contends that his motion for resentencing should have been granted. After
review, we dismiss the appeal.

Knox Court of Criminal Appeals

Fred Birchfield v. State of Tennessee
E2023-00385-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey Wicks

A Morgan County jury convicted the Petitioner, Fred Birchfield, of second degree murder
and reckless homicide. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to serve consecutive
sentences of eighteen years for his second degree murder conviction and three years for his
reckless homicide conviction. The Petitioner appealed, and this court affirmed the
Petitioner’s convictions. State v. Birchfield, No. E2016-00493-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL
758515, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Feb. 27, 2017), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Jun. 7, 2017).
The Petitioner timely filed a post-conviction petition, alleging that he received the
ineffective assistance of counsel. After a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief.
After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Morgan Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Hunter Lowery
W2023-00415-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark L. Hayes

Hunter Lowery, Defendant, entered an open plea of guilty to aggravated assault, and
following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an eight-year sentence to be served
in confinement. Defendant claims that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied
his request for alternative sentencing without placing sufficient findings on the record.
Following a de novo review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Dyer Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Marshawn Brakefield
W2023-00766-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Johnson Mitchell

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Marshawn Brakefield, of attempted first degree murder involving serious bodily injury and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to serve an effective sentence of twenty-eight years. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the legal sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions, arguing that the only proof at trial was the testimony of a single witness who was not credible. Upon our review, we respectfully affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Tandrea Laquise Sanders
M2023-01148-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Adrienne Gilliam Fry

The Defendant, Tandrea Laquise Sanders, pled guilty to assault and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed concurrent sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days. The sentences were suspended to probation after service of six months in custody. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in ordering a sentence of split confinement and failed to properly fix a percentage of the sentence to be served before consideration of rehabilitative programs. Upon our review, we respectfully affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Montgomery Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. James Leon Parker
E2023-00149-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

Defendant, James Leon Parker, appeals the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s summary
dismissal of his motion for resentencing pursuant to the Drug Free Zone Act (“DFZA”).
Defendant was convicted in 2008 of several drug-related offenses, including one count of
sale of .5 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school (Count 6) and one count
of delivery of .5 grams or more of cocaine within 1,000 feet of a school (Count 7). The
trial court merged Counts 6 and 7 and imposed a sentence of 25 years on those counts,
which the court ordered to run consecutively to his effective eight-year sentence in the
other counts, for a total effective sentence of 33 years. In 2022, Defendant filed a pro se
motion for resentencing under Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-432(h), and the
trial court appointed counsel. While Defendant’s motion was pending in the trial court,
Governor Bill Lee granted Defendant executive clemency, ordering that Defendant’s 25-
year sentence in Counts 6 and 7 be commuted, which allowed Defendant to immediately
become parole eligible on those counts. Based on Governor Lee’s commutation order, the
trial court determined that Defendant was ineligible for resentencing and dismissed
Defendant’s motion “without a hearing due to that ineligibility.” Defendant appeals that
dismissal and asks this Court to review it under as a writ of certiorari. Following our
review, we grant certiorari and reverse and remand for a hearing on Defendant’s motion.

Sullivan Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Shane Dwight Bingham
M2022-01644-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant, Shane Dwight Bingham, appeals from his convictions for attempted second degree murder, aggravated assault, and employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence was insufficient to establish his identity as the perpetrator of the offenses; (2) the trial court erred by admitting evidence of the Defendant’s flight from police; and (3) the trial court erred by instructing the jury on flight. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

Mack Mandrell Loyde v. State of Tennessee
M2023-00858-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Smith

In 2016, the Petitioner, Mack Mandrell Loyde, was convicted of aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, for which he received an effective sentence of life without parole. In 2018, this court affirmed his convictions and remanded for resentencing. State v. Loyde, No. M2017- 01002-CCA-R3-CD, 2018 WL 1907336, at *1-3 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 23, 2018), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Aug. 8, 2018). In 2019, the Petitioner filed a petition seeking post-conviction relief based on ineffective assistance of counsel, the denial of which was affirmed on appeal. Loyde v. State, No. M2022-01132-CCA-R3-PC, 2023 WL 5447386, at *3 (Tenn. Crim. App. Aug. 24, 2023). In 2023, five years after his convictions and sentence became final, the Petitioner, acting pro se, filed the instant petition for writ of error coram nobis, which was summarily dismissed as beyond the one-year statute of limitations. In this appeal, the Petitioner contends he is entitled to equitable tolling of the limitations period based on an affidavit from an individual, Brandy Oldaker, who claimed to have been involved in the underlying offenses and who denied the Petitioner was involved. The Petitioner claims the affidavit is newly discovered evidence of his innocence.1 Upon review, we affirm.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Michael Taylor
W2023-00115-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

A Shelby County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant, Michael Taylor, for first degree
premeditated murder, unlawful possession of a weapon, and violation of an order of
protection. The Defendant, at his jury trial, was convicted of the lesser included offense of
second degree murder as well as the charged offenses of unlawful possession of a weapon
and violation of an order of protection. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court
imposed an effective twenty-five year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant argues the trial
court provided an incomplete and misleading jury instruction on self-defense that
prevented him from receiving a fair trial. Because the self-defense instruction was error
and this error was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt given the particular facts of this
case, we reverse the Defendant’s convictions and remand this case to the trial court for a
new trial on all counts.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Eugene Smith
M2023-00367-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Matthew J. Wilson
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

Eugene Smith, Defendant, entered best interest pleas to two counts of attempted aggravated sexual battery with sentencing left open to the trial court. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective sentence of twelve years in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues the trial court erred in imposing the maximum sentence of six years on each count, imposing consecutive sentences, and denying alternative sentencing. After reviewing the record and applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Montgomery Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Benjamin Cloe Byrer
W2023-00483-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don R. Ash

The Defendant, Benjamin Cloe Byrer, was convicted by a Gibson County Circuit Court jury of second degree murder, a Class A felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-210 (2018). The Defendant was sentenced to nineteen years’ incarceration. On appeal, he contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Gibson Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Malik DeWayne Hardin
E2023-00456-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Defendant, Malik DeWayne Hardin, appeals the denial of his motion for resentencing
for his guilty-pleaded conviction of possession with the intent to sell less than .5 grams of
cocaine in a drug free school zone, which resulted in a sentence of twelve years at 100%
as a Range II offender. The Defendant asserts that the trial court issued a fundamentally
illegal ruling and palpably abused its discretion by comparing the sentence the Defendant
received pursuant to his negotiated plea agreement to the sentence he faced if convicted of
the greater charged offense and concluding that he would not receive a lesser sentence
under the 2022 amendment to the Drug-Free School Zone Act. The Defendant therefore
requests that this court, in the interest of justice, convert his improperly filed Rule 3 appeal
into a common law writ of certiorari and reverse the ruling of the trial court. Because the
Defendant has not shown that his case warrants review pursuant to a writ of certiorari, we
dismiss the appeal.

Knox Court of Criminal Appeals

Carlos Stokes v. State of Tennessee
W2023-00421-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Carlyn Addison

The Petitioner, Carlos Stokes, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis from his convictions for first degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, reckless endangerment, two counts of attempted first degree murder, and two counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, for which he received a sentence of life imprisonment plus fifty-four years. He contends that he is entitled to equitable tolling of the statute of limitations and requests that this court appoint a special judge to preside over this case on remand. We conclude that the Petitioner is entitled to due process tolling of the statute of limitations. As a result, the judgment of the coram nobis court is reversed, and the case is remanded to the court for an evidentiary hearing on the merits of the petition. We decline to appoint a special judge for subsequent proceedings.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

Larry B. Sexton v. State of Tennessee
M2023-00320-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Chancellor Christopher V. Sockwell

Petitioner, Larry B. Sexton, appeals as of right from the Lawrence County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his conviction for aggravated statutory rape, for which he received a sentence of twelve years’ incarceration. On appeal, Petitioner contends that, during trial, his right to due process of law was violated when the trial court permitted the State to reopen proof following his motion for judgment of acquittal. Additionally, Petitioner asserts that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel based upon trial counsel’s failure to: (1) communicate the State’s plea offer to him; (2) request a trial continuance following the issuance of an amended indictment; (3) prepare a mistake of fact defense and interview potential witnesses to support this defense; (4) request a jury instruction on mistake of fact; (5) argue at sentencing and on direct appeal that NCIC entries are not “reliable hearsay” for purposes of sentencing; (6) object during sentencing when the trial court failed to comply with Tennessee Code Annotated section 40-35-106(b)(5) and raise the issue on appeal; and (7) adequately argue during trial and on appeal the issue of the reopening of proof. Following a thorough review, we affirm.

Lawrence Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Brittany Linda Lou Davis
M2023-00225-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

The defendant, Brittany Linda Lou Davis, appeals her Lincoln County Circuit Court jury convictions of delivering and selling .5 grams or more of methamphetamine, arguing that the trial court erred by admitting a recording of the controlled buy, that the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions, and that the trial court erred by sentencing her as a Range III offender. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Lincoln Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Torrian Seantel Bishop
W2023-00713-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffrey Parham

The Defendant, Torrian Seantel Bishop, pleaded guilty in the Obion County Circuit Court to the unlawful possession of a weapon, a Class B felony, and theft of property, a Class E felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-17-1307(b)(1) (Supp. 2023) (unlawful possession of a weapon), 39-14-103 (2018) (theft of property). The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective twelve-year sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant presents a certified question of law regarding the legality of the search of his car. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Obion Court of Criminal Appeals

Quartes Williams v. Brandon Watwood, Warden
W2023-01330-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark L. Hayes

The Petitioner, Quartes Williams, appeals the Lake County Circuit Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of habeas corpus from his convictions for first degree murder during the perpetration of a robbery and facilitation of especially aggravated robbery. The Petitioner contends that the habeas corpus court erred by summarily dismissing his petition. We affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Lake Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Marcus Terrell Bradford
E2023-00922-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

The Defendant, Marcus Terrell Bradford, was convicted by a Bradley County Criminal Court Jury of assault, a Class A misdemeanor; and disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor, and was sentenced by the trial court to consecutive terms of 11 months, 29 days for the assault conviction and 30 days for the disorderly conduct conviction, to be served at 75% in the county jail. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court erred by imposing the maximum sentences for the offenses, by ordering that the sentences run consecutively, and by not allowing any alternative sentencing options. Based on our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bradley Court of Criminal Appeals

Antonio Benson v. State of Tennessee
W2023-00668-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Antonio Benson, appeals the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief challenging his conviction for first degree premeditated murder. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred by denying relief on his claim alleging that his attorneys were ineffective for failing to meaningfully present the Petitioner’s self-defense claim. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Anthony Lynn Taylor
E2023-00791-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The Defendant, Anthony Lynn Taylor, appeals the Sullivan County Criminal Court’s revoking his probation and ordering him to serve his effective four-year sentence in confinement. On appeal the Defendant claims that the trial court abused its discretion by finding that he absconded from probation and that the trial court failed to place sufficient findings on the record to justify placing his sentence into effect. Based on our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Dashawn Patrick Sloan and Demetrius Trevon Higgins
M2023-00331-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Matthew J. Wilson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Smith

A Davidson County Jury convicted DaShawn Patrick Slone1 and Demetrius Trevon Higgins, Defendants, of first degree premeditated murder and abuse of a corpse. The trial court imposed effective sentences of life plus six years for Defendant Slone and life plus four years for Defendant Higgins. On appeal, Defendants contend that the evidence is insufficient to support their convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Andrew Neal Davis
M2023-00065-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Cheryl A. Blackburn

The defendant appeals from the trial court’s denial of his motion for access to the sealed Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) juvenile records relating to the victim’s mother’s records which were sealed to public inspection but provided to the parties prior to the defendant’s trial. Upon our review of the record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we conclude the defendant does not have an appeal as of right from the denial of his motion. Additionally, the defendant has failed to establish review as a petition for writ of certiorari is appropriate. Therefore, the instant appeal is dismissed.

Davidson Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Phennix Givens
W2023-00633-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

A Shelby County jury convicted Defendant, Phennix Givens, of three counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated rape, two counts of aggravated assault, and one count of aggravated cruelty to animals. The trial court sentenced Defendant to an effective forty-six-year sentence. Defendant appeals, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing consecutive sentencing. Following our review of the entire record, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby Court of Criminal Appeals

State of Tennessee v. Timothy Whitby
E2023-00371-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffery H. Wicks

Following a bench trial, the trial court found the Defendant, Timothy Whitby, guilty of:
vandalism under $1,000, a Class A misdemeanor; disorderly conduct, a Class C
misdemeanor; and assault, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced the
Defendant to concurrent sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days on each count,
suspended to supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency
of the evidence supporting his assault conviction, and the trial court’s sentence of eleven
months and twenty-nine days for his disorderly conduct conviction. After review, we
conclude that the trial court erred when it sentenced the Defendant to eleven months and
twenty-nine days for his Class C misdemeanor disorderly conduct conviction. Thus, we
remand for entry of a sentence within the appropriate sentencing range. We affirm the
judgments in all other respects.

Morgan Court of Criminal Appeals