Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 04/16/2021
Format: 04/16/2021
State of Tennessee v. Jimmie Dean Roy
E2019-02263-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don W. Poole

Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant, Jimmie Dean Roy, pled guilty to five counts of identity theft and one count of identity theft trafficking, and he conceded that he violated the terms of his probation with respect to his prior convictions for three counts of burglary of an automobile and one count of theft of property valued over $1,000. The Defendant received an effective eight-year sentence to be served in confinement, and the trial court stayed the execution of the sentence and granted the Defendant a furlough to the drug court program. The Defendant subsequently fled the state. Following his arrest, the drug court removed him from the program, and the trial court ordered his sentences into execution. On appeal, the Defendant challenges his removal from the drug court program and argues that he was not afforded due process protections during the removal hearing. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/16/21
State of Tennessee v. Jamarcus Dequan Murdock
W2020-00244-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

Aggrieved of his Hardeman County Circuit Court jury convictions of aggravated robbery, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence for two of his convictions and the total effective sentence. We affirm the defendant’s convictions but, because the trial court failed to make the requisite findings to support consecutive sentences based upon the dangerous offender category, we vacate the imposition of consecutive sentences and remand the case for the limited purpose of making the appropriate findings on this issue. Upon remand, the trial court should also correct the minor clerical error in the judgment form for Count 3.

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/21
State of Tennessee v. Russell Wheeler, Jr.
W2020-00030-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

A Madison County jury convicted the defendant, Russell Wheeler, Jr., of attempted aggravated statutory rape, attempted solicitation of a minor, and disorderly conduct. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed an effective sentence of six years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days in confinement. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his attempted aggravated statutory rape and attempted solicitation of a minor convictions. The defendant also contends the trial court erred in failing to merge his convictions and in ordering a sentence of confinement without requiring a psychosexual evaluation or properly considering the appropriate factors. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court with respect to the defendant’s convictions for attempted aggravated statutory rape and disorderly conduct. However, we vacate the defendant’s conviction for attempted solicitation of a minor because the defendant was convicted of a crime which does not exist. Consequently, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/21
James Eggleston v. State of Tennessee
W2019-02080-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

The petitioner, James Eggleston, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel at trial. Following our thorough review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/15/21
State of Tennessee v. Christopher Aaron Hodges
E2019-01049-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

A Sullivan County Criminal Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Christopher Aaron Hodges, of sexual battery by an authority figure, and the trial court sentenced the Appellant to five years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Appellant challenges the denial of his motion for a judgment of acquittal at the close of the State’s proof pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 29, the trial court’s ruling as a thirteenth juror pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 33(d), the trial court’s refusal to grant a continuance, the trial court’s failure to allow defense counsel to make closing argument before instructing the jury, and the trial court’s failure to grant a motion for new trial. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/14/21
State of Tennessee v. Mario Myers
W2020-00337-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

A Shelby County jury convicted the defendant, Mario Myers, of aggravated sexual battery for which he received a twelve-year sentence. On appeal, the defendant asserts the trial court erred in denying his right to self-representation and challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/14/21
State of Tennessee v. Andre Bowen
W2019-01210-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

A Shelby County grand jury indicted the defendant, Andre Bowen, and his co-defendant, Anthony Olivo, for two counts of first-degree, felony murder (Counts 1 and 2) and attempted especially aggravated robbery (Count 3). The grand jury also indicted the defendant for two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm  by a convicted felon (Counts 4 and 5). After a joint trial, the jury acquitted the defendant on Count 1 but found him guilty of the lesser-included offense of facilitation of first-degree, felony murder in Count 2, attempted especially aggravated robbery in Count 3, and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in Counts 4 and 5, for which the trial court imposed an effective sentence of seventy-two years. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions and argues the trial court erred in sentencing. After our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/21
State of Tennessee v. Kevin Caprice Smith
M2020-00181-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Monte Watkins

The Defendant, Kevin Caprice Smith, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of premeditated first-degree murder, a Class A felony; attempted first-degree murder, a Class A felony; employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, a Class C felony; possession of cocaine with intent to sell or deliver, a Class B felony; possession of heroin with intent to sell or deliver, a Class B felony; possession of a firearm by a felon with a prior felony drug conviction, a Class D felony; and possession of oxycodone, a Class A misdemeanor, and was sentenced to an effective term of life imprisonment plus ten years. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/21
Larry Brown v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01803-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge John Wheeler Campbell

Petitioner, Larry Brown, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to “ensure the enforcement of a plea agreement promising concurrent service of Petitioner’s state and federal sentences.” Upon review, we conclude that the petition was filed outside the one-year statute of limitations applicable to post-conviction proceedings. However, because we are unable to determine from the record whether due process requires the tolling of the statute of limitations, we vacate the post-conviction court’s order and remand the case to the
post-conviction court for a determination of whether due process tolling applies.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/21
State of Tennessee v. Deandre Montavis Outlaw
W2020-00436-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Following a trial, a Madison County jury found Defendant, Deandre Montavis Outlaw, guilty of theft of property valued under $1,000. The trial court sentenced Defendant to eleven months and twenty-nine days’ incarceration. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for theft of property valued under $1,000. Following a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/21
State of Tennessee v. Tandy Tomlin
M2019-00274-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Royce Taylor

The Appellant, Tandy Tomlin, was convicted by a Rutherford County Circuit Court Jury of eight counts of rape of a child, two counts of aggravated sexual battery, one count of solicitation to commit rape of a child, and one count of solicitation to commit aggravated sexual battery. The trial court merged two of the rape of a child convictions and sentenced the Appellant to consecutive sentences of thirty years for each rape of a child conviction, ten years for each aggravated sexual battery conviction, ten years for the solicitation of rape of a child conviction, and five years for the solicitation of aggravated sexual battery conviction, for a total effective sentence of 245 years. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the evidence was insufficient to sustain his convictions, that the trial court erred in sentencing, and that his right to a fair trial was violated when he was escorted into the courtroom through a security door by a uniformed officer in view of the jury pool. Upon review, we conclude that the State adduced insufficient evidence to sustain the Appellant’s conviction of rape of a child in count 7 and reduce the conviction to aggravated sexual battery with an accompanying sentence of ten years to be served consecutively to the remaining sentences. The trial court’s judgments are affirmed in all other respects.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/21
Antonio Smith v. State of Tennessee
E2020-00601-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The petitioner, Antonio Smith, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2016 Knox County Criminal Court Jury convictions of the sale of heroin in a school zone, the possession with intent to sell or deliver heroin in a school zone, possession of marijuana, and the possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony. He argues that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/21
State of Tennessee v. Nicholas Grassia
E2020-00627-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The defendant, Nicholas Grassia, appeals the trial court’s denial of his motion, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32, to withdraw his guilty pleas to charges of aggravated kidnapping and unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, arguing that the pleas were the product of the ineffective assistance of counsel. Because the defendant failed to establish manifest injustice requiring that he be allowed to withdraw his pleas, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/13/21
State of Tennessee v. Johnvya T. Smith
E2020-00409-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant, Johnvya T. Smith, appeals from the trial court’s judgment granting him partial relief based on his 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence, arguing that the trial court should have allowed him to withdraw the guilty plea that resulted in the illegal sentence rather than merely amending the sentence. The State disagrees, arguing that the trial court appropriately denied the Defendant’s request to withdraw his guilty plea because the illegal aspect of his sentence was not a material component of the Defendant’s plea agreement. We agree with the State. Accordingly, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/21
State of Tennessee v. William Henry Smith, Jr.
M2020-00125-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard

Petitioner, William Henry Smith Jr., was convicted of conspiracy to sell and deliver .5 grams or more of cocaine and received a fifteen-year sentence of imprisonment. The Petitioner filed a Rule 36.1 motion to correct an illegal sentence, which was summarily dismissed by the trial court. Petitioner raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether Petitioner’s allegation that he was erroneously classified as a career offender fails to state a colorable claim that his sentence is illegal; and (2) whether Petitioner’s right to due process of law was violated by the imposition of a sentence longer than what is required for a persistent offender. Upon review, we affirm the summary dismissal by the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/21
State of Tennessee v. James Andrew Weidekamp
M2020-00736-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Wesley Thomas Bray

The Petitioner, James Andrew Weidekamp, appeals the summary denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that due process considerations should toll the statute of limitations. After review, we affirm the denial of the petition as time-barred.

Putnam County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/21
State of Tennessee v. Crystal Renae McCroskey
E2019-02293-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

Defendant-Appellant, Crystal Renae McCroskey, was indicted by a Knox County grand jury for one count of especially aggravated assault, three counts of aggravated kidnapping, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of domestic assault in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated sections 39-13-305, 39-13-304, 39-13-102, and 39-13-111. Pursuant to a plea agreement, the Defendant pled guilty to one count of aggravated assault as a Range II, Multiple Offender for an agreed sentence of eight years, with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court. As part of the agreement, the State dismissed the five remaining counts. Following a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered the Defendant’s sentence to be served in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in denying her an alternative sentence. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/12/21
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Hurt
E2020-00236-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The Defendant-Appellant, Joshua Hurt, was convicted by a Knox County jury of attempted voluntary manslaughter (Count 1), in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39- 13-211, as a lesser included offense of attempted first-degree murder, employment of a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony (Count 2), possession of a firearm with the intent to go armed during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony (Count 3), in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-17-1324, and two counts of especially aggravated robbery (Counts 4 and 5), in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-403. The trial court merged Counts 4 and 5 and sentenced the Defendant to seventeen years’ imprisonment for these counts, merged Count 3 into Count 1 and sentenced the Defendant to four years’ imprisonment for these counts to run concurrently to Count 4, and six years’ imprisonment for Count 2 to run consecutively to Count 1, for a total effective sentence of seventeen years’ imprisonment. In this appeal as of right, the Defendant raises the following issues for our review: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient to sustain the Defendant’s convictions for especially aggravated robbery, and (2) whether the trial court erred in (a) not giving the appropriate definition of serious bodily injury and (b) instructing the jury on flight. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/21
State of Tennessee v. McKinnley McGee
E2020-00015-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald Ray Elledge

Defendant-Appellant, McKinnley McGee, was indicted by an Anderson County grand jury of attempted second degree murder in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39- 13-210 and 39-12-101, a Class B felony, and two counts of aggravated assault in violation of Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-13-102, a Class C felony. Following a jury trial, the Defendant was convicted as charged. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, Multiple Offender to an effective sentence of twenty-years’ imprisonment. The sole issue presented for our review is whether the evidence was sufficient to support the Defendant’s conviction for attempted second degree murder. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Anderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/21
David Sanders v. State of Tennesse
M2020-00457-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge David M. Bragg

The Petitioner, David Sanders, appeals the Rutherford County Circuit Court’s denial of post-conviction relief from his conviction of rape, for which he received a ten-year sentence of imprisonment. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-503. In his appeal, the Petitioner argues that his guilty plea was unknowingly and involuntarily entered based on the ineffective assistance of trial counsel. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/21
Grandon P. Day v. Kevin Genovese
M2020-00373-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael E. Spitzer

In a procedurally complex case, the Petitioner, Grandon P. Day, pleaded guilty in Davidson County Criminal Court in July 2004 to two sets of offenses that occurred on April 3, 2003, and July 9, 2003. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to a total effective sentence of sixteen years of incarceration for these offenses. In December 2005, a Williamson County Circuit Court jury convicted the Petitioner of twenty additional offenses, all of which occurred in July 2003. The trial court sentenced the Petitioner to a total effective sentence of 84 years of incarceration, to be served consecutively to his other offenses. Fourteen years later, the Petitioner filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, in which he alleged that the trial court erred when it ordered that his sentences run concurrently when consecutive sentences were statutorily required. The habeas corpus court summarily dismissed the petition, and we affirm its judgment.

Hickman County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/09/21
State of Tennessee v. Jamauri Ransom
W2019-02310-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant, Jamauri Ransom, was convicted by a jury of aggravated robbery and first-degree felony murder, and he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his felony murder conviction, asserting that this court should apply to the present case our supreme court’s rejection of the “continuous offense theory” for robbery as discussed in State v. Owens, 20 S.W.3d 634 (Tenn. 2000); that the aggravated robbery and felony murder were separated by intervening circumstances; and that the State failed to negate his theory of self-defense. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/21
State of Tennessee v. Victor Valle
W2019-01767-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

A jury convicted the Defendant, Victor Valle, of rape of a child, and he received a sentence of twenty-two years of incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and the trial court’s ruling admitting the victim’s testimony that the Defendant had abused her outside of the time period specified in the indictment. We conclude that the evidence is sufficient and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in admitting evidence of prior bad acts, and we affirm the judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/08/21
State of Tennessee v. Erick Eugene Jones, Jr.
E2019-01737-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John F. Dugger, Jr.

The Defendant, Erick Eugene Jones, Jr., was convicted by a Greene County Criminal Court jury of two counts each of facilitation of felony murder in the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, facilitation of felony murder in the perpetration of aggravated child neglect, Class B felonies; aggravated child neglect, a Class A felony; one count of aggravated assault, a Class C felony; and one count of facilitation of aggravated assault, a Class D felony. See T.C.A. §§ 39-11-403 (2018) (facilitation of a felony); 39-13-102 (2014) (subsequently amended) (aggravated assault); 39-13-202 (2018) (felony murder); 39-15- 402 (2014) (subsequently amended) (aggravated child abuse and child neglect). He received an effective sentence of fifty years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence does not support his convictions, (2) the trial court erred by allowing autopsy photographs of the victims into evidence, and (3) the trial court erred by sentencing the Defendant to serve his sentences consecutively. We affirm the Defendant’s convictions related to the victim T.T.1 for facilitation of felony murder in the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, facilitation of aggravated assault, and aggravated child neglect. We reverse the Defendant’s convictions related to K.E. for facilitation of felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child abuse, facilitation of felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect, aggravated assault, and aggravated child neglect. We reverse the Defendant’s conviction related to the victim T.T. for facilitation of felony murder during the perpetration of aggravated child neglect.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/07/21
Larry Michael Berkley v. State of Tennessee
W2019-02215-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph Walker

The petitioner, Larry Michael Berkley, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his multiple convictions of rape, aggravated statutory rape, sexual battery by an authority figure, and statutory rape by an authority figure, alleging that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. Discerning no error, we affirm the post-conviction court’s denial of post-conviction relief.

Lauderdale County Court of Criminal Appeals 04/06/21