Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 11/28/2022
Format: 11/28/2022
State of Tennessee v. Jason Steven Molthan
M2021-01108-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

The Defendant, Jason Steven Molthan, was convicted by a Williamson County Circuit Court jury of one count of stalking and one count of harassment. The trial court imposed consecutive sentences of eleven months and twenty-nine days at seventy-five percent service. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the trial court should have merged his convictions and that the trial court erred by failing to file a consecutive sentencing order pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 32(c). Upon our review, we conclude that the Defendant has failed to provide this Court with an adequate appellate record and has not prepared a sufficient brief. Because we cannot conduct a meaningful appellate review of his issues, we conclude that the issues are waived. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/28/22
Martigous Malone v. State of Tennessee
W2022-00018-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The petitioner, Martigous Malone, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court erred in finding he received the effective assistance of counsel and entered a voluntary guilty plea. Following our review, we affirm the postconviction court’s denial of the petition.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/22
State of Tennessee v. Betty Sparks
W2021-01213-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Webber McCraw

A Hardeman County jury convicted the defendant, Betty Sparks, of first-degree premeditated murder, first-degree felony murder, attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, and attempted especially aggravated robbery, for which she received an effective sentence of life imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erred in denying her motion to suppress. She also contends the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support her convictions. 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 and two

Hardeman County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/22
Roddarous Marcus Bond v. State of Tennessee
W2022-00221-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

The pro se petitioner, Roddarous Marcus Bond, appeals the summary denial of his petition for post-conviction relief by the Madison County Circuit Court, arguing the trial court erred in dismissing his petition because his sentence is illegal. After our review, we affirm the summary dismissal of the petition pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/22
State of Tennessee v. Courtney Watkins
W2022-00411-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The petitioner, Courtney Watkins, appeals from the summary dismissal of his petition for post-conviction DNA analysis. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/23/22
State of Tennessee v. Tony Dale Crass
M2021-00528-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

The Williamson County Grand Jury indicted Tony Dale Crass, Defendant, with driving under the influence (DUI), DUI per se, and possession of a firearm while under the influence. Defendant moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the State did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop and that video evidence of Defendant’s driving was erased and deleted as a result of a malfunctioning recording system in Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Trooper Joey Story’s patrol car. The trial court concluded that the loss of video evidence constituted a violation of the State’s duty to preserve potentially exculpatory evidence recognized in State v. Ferguson, 2 S.W.3d 912 (Tenn. 1999), and deprived Defendant of the right to a fair trial. The trial court granted the motion to suppress and dismissed the indictment, and the State appealed. We conclude that the video was not lost or destroyed by the State, (2) that a Ferguson violation is not applicable to a suppression hearing based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause for a traffic stop, (3) that the trial court misapplied the “degree of negligence” Ferguson factor by equating perceived public policy decisions on the part of the State to negligence, and (4) that Defendant’s right to a fair trial can be protected without dismissal of the indictment. We reverse the judgment of the trial court, reinstate the indictment, and remand for further proceedings.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/22/22
Darin Woods v. State of Tennessee
W2021-01332-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Paula L. Skahan

The Petitioner, Darin Woods, appeals from the Shelby County Criminal Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief from his convictions for attempted second degree murder, attempted aggravated robbery, aggravated robbery, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, for which he is serving an effective twenty-seven year sentence. On appeal, the Petitioner contends that the post-conviction court erred in denying relief on his ineffective assistance of counsel claim. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/22/22
State of Tennessee v. Larry Dale Pitts
M2021-01334-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry R. Tidwell

Larry Dale Pitts, Defendant, was convicted of aggravated assault after a jury trial. The trial court denied his request for judicial diversion and sentenced him to split confinement, with one year of incarceration, and the remainder on supervised probation. He now appeals the sentencing determinations of the trial court, arguing that it abused its discretion in denying judicial diversion, denying full probation, and sentencing him to the maximum within-range sentence of six years. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Rutherford County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/22/22
State of Tennessee v. Robert Lancaster Steed, Jr.
E2022-00145-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

In 2019, the Defendant, Robert Lancaster Steed, Jr., pleaded guilty to evading arrest, false imprisonment, domestic assault, and theft. The trial court sentenced the Defendant, by agreement of the parties, to an effective sentence of six years of probation. After several violations, the trial court ultimately revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve his sentence in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that his poor performance on probation was due to his drug addiction, so the trial court should have ordered a period of confinement followed by intensive outpatient substance abuse and mental health treatment. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/21/22
Brandon Nathaniel Merritt v. State of Tennessee
W2021-01448-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lee V. Coffee

The Petitioner, Brandon Nathaniel Merritt, pled guilty to attempted rape and sexual battery and agreed to an effective sentence of six years. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the trial court was to determine how the sentence would be served. After the trial court imposed a sentence of full confinement, the Petitioner timely filed a petition for post-conviction relief asserting that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel regarding his guilty pleas and at his sentencing hearing. He also asserted that his guilty pleas were not knowingly and voluntarily entered. After an evidentiary hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, we affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/22
State of Tennessee v. Aaron Dewayne Troutt
M2021-01248-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson
Trial Court Judge: Judge Vanessa A. Jackson

The Defendant, Aaron Dewayne Troutt, appeals as of right from the trial court’s dismissal of his Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36 motion to correct a clerical error. The Defendant contends that the trial court erred by concluding it was without jurisdiction to modify a final judgment to award behavioral and pretrial jail credit. After review, we affirm the trial court’s decision in part, reverse in part, and remand for findings on whether a clerical error exists regarding the Defendant’s pretrial jail credit.

Coffee County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/18/22
State of Tennessee v. Marlon J. Johnson, Jr.
E2022-00098-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, Marlon J. Johnson, Jr., appeals the revocation of his six-year probationary sentence for two counts of aggravated burglary, domestic assault, misdemeanor assault, misdemeanor theft, and misdemeanor false imprisonment. The Defendant conceded the probation violation before the trial court and on appeal. Accordingly, the sole issue presented for our review is whether the trial court erred in ordering the Defendant to serve the balance of his sentence in confinement. Upon review, we affirm.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/16/22
Donta Lamar Weir v. State of Tennessee
M2021-01254-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Larry B. Stanley, Jr.

The petitioner, Donta Lamar Weir, appeals the summary dismissal of his petition for postconviction relief, which petition challenged his 2021 guilty-pleaded convictions of delivery of cocaine in a drug-free school zone, delivery of cocaine, and delivery of a counterfeit controlled substance. He argues that the post-conviction court erred by concluding that he failed to state a colorable claim for relief. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Warren County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/15/22
State of Tennessee v. Thomas Adam Blackwell
M2020-01171-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay
Thomas Adam Blackwell, Defendant, claims that the trial court abused its discretion by
revoking his probation, denying an alternative sentence, and ordering his three-year
sentence for fourth offense driving under the influence (“DUI”) to be served consecutively
to the seven-year sentence that he was serving on community corrections when he was
arrested for the DUI. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm.
Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/15/22
Christopher Brown v. State of Tennessee
W2021-01331-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Petitioner, Christopher Brown, was convicted of one count of first degree murder and three counts of aggravated assault by a Shelby County jury. The Petitioner later filed a petition for post-conviction relief alleging that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel when trial counsel failed to disclose discovery materials and failed to call particular witnesses. The post-conviction court denied the petition after an evidentiary hearing. On appeal, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/22
State of Tennessee v. Demarcus Wooten
W2022-00315-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Tom Greenholtz
Trial Court Judge: Judge W. Mark Ward

A Shelby County jury found the Defendant, Demarcus Wooten, guilty of the offenses of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. The trial court imposed a total effective sentence of life plus twenty-nine years. On appeal, the Defendant argues that the evidence is insufficient to sustain his murder and attempted murder convictions, arguing principally that the proof did not establish the elements of intent and premeditation. We respectfully disagree, and we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/22
State of Tennessee v. Marcus Davis
W2021-01147-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

The Defendant, Marcus Davis, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of attempted first degree premeditated murder, a Class A felony, and employing a firearm during the attempt to commit a dangerous felony, a Class C felony, and was sentenced by the trial court to an effective term of twenty-one years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, he argues that the evidence is insufficient to show premeditation and that the trial court erred by denying his request for a jury instruction on self-defense. Based on our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/22
State of Tennessee v. Stephen Hampton and Margaret Hampton
W2021-00938-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John w. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Stephen Paul Hampton and Margaret Mary Hampton were charged in the Madison County Circuit Court with drug and weapon offenses, but the charges were dismissed after the trial court granted their motions to suppress statements made to a police officer and evidence found in their vehicle. On appeal, the State contends that the trial court erred by granting the motions to suppress because the statements were not made during a custodial interrogation and because the police officer had probable cause to search the vehicle. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we reverse the trial court’s orders granting the motions to suppress, vacate the order dismissing the indictment, and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/22
State of Tennessee v. Jeremy Lynn Thornton
W2021-01127-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell, Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Charles C. McGinley

The Defendant, Jeremy Lynn Thornton, was convicted in the Benton County Circuit Court of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver, possession of heroin with intent to sell or deliver, simple possession of alprazolam, simple possession of marijuana, possession of drug paraphernalia, and simple possession of diazepam and received an effective ten-year sentence to be served as one year in confinement followed by nine years on community corrections. The State appealed the Defendant’s community corrections sentence, and this court reversed the decision of the trial court and remanded the case for a new sentencing hearing. On remand, the trial court again imposed an effective ten-year sentence to be served as one year in confinement followed by community corrections. The State appeals, claiming that the Defendant is not eligible for community corrections due to his past pattern of behavior indicating violence and pattern of committing violent offenses. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Benton County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/14/22
State of Tennessee v. Terry James Lee
M2021-01084-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph Woodruff

Aggrieved of his Williamson County Circuit Court jury convictions of aggravated kidnapping, simple possession, violating the financial responsibility law, speeding, and the improper use of a vehicle registration, the defendant, Terry James Lee, appeals. In this appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence, the admission of evidence of certain uncharged conduct, and the admission of certain of his pretrial statements to the police. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/22
Jacob Tate v. State of Tennessee
E2022-00147-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

The petitioner, Jacob Tate, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, which petition challenged his 2018 guilty-pleaded convictions of especially aggravated kidnapping and rape, arguing that he was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel and that his guilty pleas were not knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently entered. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/10/22
State of Tennessee v. Jacquiz McBee
E2021-01048-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson

Defendant, Jacquiz McBee, was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder and received a life sentence to be served consecutively to his prior three-year sentence for aggravated assault. On appeal, Defendant argues: that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction; that the trial court erred by excluding the victim and Defendant’s minor child’s statement to a forensic interviewer; that the trial court erred by failing to redact the words “on probation” from searches made on the internet from Defendant’s cell phone; that the trial court erred by admitting the results of a Google search conducted by Detective McFarland consistent with a search made by Defendant; that the trial court erred by ordering consecutive sentencing; and that cumulative error entitles him to relief. Following our review of the entire record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/09/22
State of Tennessee v. Eric R. Wright
W2021-01270-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge John W. Campbell

The Defendant, Eric R. Wright, was convicted by a Shelby County Criminal Court jury of robbery committed by the use of a deadly weapon and two counts of assault with the intent to commit first degree murder, for which he is serving an effective 150-year sentence as a Range III, persistent offender. He filed a Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1, which the trial court denied. On appeal, he contends that the trial court erred in denying relief without appointing counsel and conducting a hearing. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/09/22
Thomas N. Allen v. State of Tennessee
E2022-00373-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The pro se Petitioner, Thomas N. Allen, appeals from the summary dismissal of his petition filed pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001 (“the Act”), wherein he sought DNA testing of evidence related to his first degree murder conviction. After reviewing the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Hamblen County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/08/22
State of Tennessee v. Espiridion Evangelista Kolimlim, III
M2020-01363-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Michael Wayne Collins

Defendant, Espiridion Evangelista Kolimlim, III, appeals the criminal court’s dismissal of his general sessions appeal from payment of a traffic citation after he filed a motion to withdraw payment of the citation. Following our review of the entire record, oral arguments, and the parties’ briefs, we dismiss the appeal.

Wilson County Court of Criminal Appeals 11/07/22