Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 10/07/2022
Format: 10/07/2022
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Mac Richmond
M2021-01025-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

The Defendant, Douglas Mac Richmond, pled guilty in the Sumner County Criminal Court to nine counts of sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means, a Class B felony. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he received an effective sixteen-year sentence as a Range I, standard offender with the trial court to determine the manner of service of the sentence. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered that he serve the sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant claims that he was denied due process at sentencing because the trial court allowed unreliable hearsay testimony, “infused” the court’s religious beliefs into the court’s sentencing decision, failed to consider required statistical information from the Administrative Office of the Courts (“AOC”), and considered information outside the Defendant’s actual criminal conduct. The Defendant also claims that we should review the trial court’s sentencing decision de novo because the court did not follow the purposes and principles of sentencing and that we should grant his request for full probation or split confinement. Based on the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we conclude that the Defendant has not shown a violation of due process by the trial court but that a de novo review of the denial of alternative sentencing is warranted. Upon our de novo review, we conclude that the trial court properly ordered that the Defendant serve his effective sixteen-year sentence in confinement.

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/22/22
Mark Brian Dobson v. State of Tennessee
M2021-00949-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. FIshburn

Petitioner, Mark Brian Dobson, appeals the denial of his post-conviction petition. Specifically, Petitioner alleges that trial counsel was ineffective for: failing to investigate the facts of the case or interview witnesses; failing to “prepare cross examination of State’s proof;” failing to file pretrial motion to redact from jail phone calls statements made by Petitioner’s mother referring to a gun; failing to “preserve a defense pursuant to State v. White, 382 S.W.3d 559 (Tenn. 2012);” failing to discuss mandatory consecutive sentencing with Petitioner; advising Petitioner to plead guilty “to a single count during the trial” and by failing to inform Petitioner of the consequences of his plea; failing to preserve issues for appeal; and failing to advise Petitioner to testify at trial in support of his claim of self-defense. Petitioner also claims that he is entitled to post-conviction relief due to the cumulative effect of the errors of counsel. Following our review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/22
State of Tennessee v. Jessica Hartle Lumpkins
M2021-01144-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Montee Watkins

The State of Tennessee appeals the trial court’s dismissal of two counts of animal cruelty on the basis that an emu met the statutory definition of livestock under Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-14-201, that the animal control officer was not a statutorily qualified livestock examiner and that the animal control officer’s consultation with a licensed veterinarian failed to satisfy the requirements of the livestock examination statute. See T.C.A. § 39-14-211. We conclude that the emu was not livestock under the plain language of the statute and thus no livestock examination was required to proceed with charges under the animal cruelty statute. See T.C.A. § 39-14-202(2). Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s dismissal of counts one and two and remand for further proceedings.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/21/22
Leon Denton v. State of Tennessee
W2021-01289-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

Petitioner, Leon Denton, appeals the post-conviction court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief. On appeal, Petitioner raises several claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/22
State of Tennessee v. Horatio Derelle Burford
E2021-00655-CCA-R#-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

A Bradley County jury convicted the Defendant, Horatio Derelle Burford, of aggravated assault. The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range III offender to serve twelve years in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court failed to: (1) properly limit the State’s evidence about prior injuries to the victim; and (2) preclude the State from introducing improper photographic evidence during opening argument. After review, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/22
Deangelo Monteze Moody v. State of Tennessee
M2021-00605-CCA-R3-ENC
Authoring Judge: Judge John W. Campbell Sr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Petitioner, Deangelo Monteze Moody, appeals the denial of his petition for writ of error coram nobis and the summary dismissal of his amended petition for post-conviction relief. Based on our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/20/22
State of Tennessee v. Zaciaro Moore
W2021-01352-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

A Shelby County jury convicted the Defendant, Zaciaro Moore, of especially aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and theft of property valued at more than $1,000. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to a total effective sentence of eighteen years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction for especially aggravated robbery based upon the State’s failure to prove the element of serious bodily injury. Following our review, we conclude that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury’s verdict, and we affirm the Defendant’s convictions. However, we must remand for a clerical error in the judgment form for theft of property in Count 3.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/22
State of Tennessee v. Charles Person-Gibson
W2021-01094-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

Charles Person-Gibson, Defendant, was indicted in a five-count indictment for first degree murder, felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, attempted aggravated robbery, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. During trial, Defendant sought a mistrial on the basis that the State elicited improper testimony about Defendant’s criminal record. The trial court denied the motion. The jury found Defendant guilty of first degree murder, felony murder, attempted especially aggravated robbery, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Defendant was found not guilty of attempted aggravated robbery. The trial court merged the felony murder conviction with the first degree murder conviction. Defendant was sentenced to an effective sentence of life in prison plus twenty years. After the denial of a motion for new trial, Defendant appeals. On appeal, Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and the trial court’s refusal to grant a mistrial. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand the matter to the trial court for amendment of the judgment forms to reflect the sentence as announced by the trial court at the sentencing hearing.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/19/22
State of Tennessee v. Ryan Benito Calderon Sotelo
M2021-01269-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

Defendant, Ryan Benito Calderon Sotelo, was convicted after a jury trial of the sale of twenty-six grams or more of cocaine and subsequently sentenced to twelve years in confinement. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction and that his sentence is excessive. After a thorough review of the record, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/16/22
Jenelle Leigh Potter v. State of Tennessee
E2021-01063-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge William B. Acree

The Petitioner, Jenelle Leigh Potter, appeals the denial of her petition for post-conviction relief, wherein she challenged her convictions for two counts of first degree premeditated murder and one count of conspiracy to commit first degree murder. She claims that trial counsel was ineffective due to trial counsel’s failure to timely file a motion for new trial. After review, we affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Washington County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/15/22
Dwight Twarn Champion v. State of Tennessee
W2021-01392-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Petitioner, Dwight Twarn Champion, was tried jointly with his co-defendant and was convicted of facilitation of criminal attempt of possession of cocaine with a weight of 0.5 grams or more with intent to sell, facilitation of criminal attempt of possession of cocaine with a weight of 0.5 grams or more with intent to deliver, and possession of marijuana, for which he received an effective twelve-year sentence. The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, claiming that trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to file a motion to suppress, interview one of the State’s witnesses, investigate the precise location of a black plastic bag containing drugs found outside the home, cross-examine one of the State’s witnesses, and file a motion to sever the Petitioner’s trial from his co-defendant’s trial. The post-conviction court denied the petition. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/15/22
State of Tennessee v. Sarioglo Serghei
M2021-00776-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Sarioglo Serghei, Defendant, was issued a citation alleging that he “failed to move over for officer traffic stop (lights on).” Following a bench trial, the trial court found Defendant guilty of violating Tennessee Code Annotated Section 55-8-132(b), a Class B misdemeanor, and imposed a sentence of thirty days suspended to unsupervised probation and a fine of one hundred dollars. Following a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we determine that Defendant had limited English proficiency, that the trial court failed to comply with Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 42, and that proceeding with the trial when Defendant did not have the necessary means to communicate violated his constitutional right to testify and to be heard. We reverse the judgment of conviction and remand for a new trial consistent with this opinion

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/15/22
Johnny Lorenzo Wade v. State of Tennessee
W2021-01419-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle C. Atkins

After being convicted of first degree murder, felony murder, especially aggravated robbery, attempted first degree murder, and aggravated assault, Johnny Lorenzo Wade, Petitioner, was sentenced to an effective sentence of life plus 40 years. State v. Johnny Lorenzo Wade, No. W2017-00933-CCA-R3-CD, 2018 WL 3414471, at *1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr. 3, 2018), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 15, 2018). Petitioner’s convictions and sentences were affirmed on direct appeal, and Petitioner subsequently sought post-conviction relief. He now appeals from the dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged ineffective assistance of counsel, among other issues. Because Petitioner filed an untimely notice of appeal and the interests of justice do not merit waiver of the timely filing of the notice of appeal, we dismiss the appeal.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/09/22
Terry Wayne Henson v. State of Tennessee
W2021-01432-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Weber McCraw

A McNairy County jury convicted the Petitioner, Terry Wayne Henson, of two counts of rape of a child, one count of incest, and one count of violating the sex offender registry requirements. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of thirty-five years of incarceration. This court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions on direct appeal. State v. Terry Wayne Henson, No. W2019-00462-SC-R11-CD, 2020 WL 6317113 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Oct. 28, 2020), Tenn. R. App. P. 11 application denied (Tenn. Mar. 23, 2021). The Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief in which he alleged that his trial counsel was ineffective in several regards. The post-conviction court held a hearing, after which it denied the petition. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

McNairy County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/09/22
Marico Vales v. State of Tennessee
W2021-01076-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Robert Carter, Jr.

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Marico Vales, of first degree felony murder and especially aggravated robbery. The Petitioner appealed, and this court affirmed the convictions and sentence. See State v. Marico Vales, No. W2018-00424-CCA-R3-CD, 2019 WL 328436 at *1, (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Jan. 23, 2019), perm. app. denied (Tenn. May 20, 2019). The Petitioner then filed a post-conviction petition, claiming he received the ineffective assistance of counsel and, following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied relief. On appeal, the Petitioner maintains that Counsel was ineffective because he failed to object to inadmissible evidence and evidence admitted without the proper foundation. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgement.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/09/22
State of Tennessee v. Zachary Rye Adams
W2020-01208-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge C. Creed McGinley

The Defendant, Zachary Rye Adams, was convicted of first degree premeditated murder; two counts of first degree felony murder; two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping, a Class A felony; and three counts of aggravated rape, a Class A felony, by a Hardin County Circuit Court jury after a change of venue. See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-202 (2018) (subsequently amended) (first degree murder); 39-13-305 (2018) (especially aggravated kidnapping); 39- 13-502 (2018) (subsequently amended) (aggravated rape). The State sought the death penalty. However, after the jury returned guilty verdicts, the parties agreed to consecutive sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for first degree murder, twenty-five years for especially aggravated kidnapping, and twenty-five years for aggravated rape, for an effective sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole plus fifty years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions, (2) the trial court erred by denying a motion to recuse, (3) the trial court erred by granting the State’s motion to disqualify an attorney from the defense team, (4) the trial court erred by admitting evidence in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b), (5) the trial court erred by excluding a prior inconsistent statement, (6) the trial court erred by admitting hearsay evidence, (7) the trial court erred by excluding impeachment evidence, (8) the trial court erred by excluding “witness reactive conduct evidence,” (9) the trial court erred by failing to strike testimony from an undisclosed witness, and (10) the cumulative error doctrine entitles him to relief. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Hardin County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/09/22
State of Tennessee v. Dominique Jamal Nichols
W2021-00792-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joe H. Walker, III

The Defendant-Appellant, Dominique Jamal Nichols, was convicted by a Tipton County Circuit Court jury of two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, one count of evading arrest, and two counts of driving on a suspended license. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-1307(b)(1)(A) (possession of a firearm by a convicted felon); 39-16-603 (evading arrest); 55-50-504 (driving on a suspended license). The trial court imposed concurrent sentences of 12 years for each of the firearm convictions, 11 months and 29 days for the evading arrest conviction, and 6 months for each driving on a suspended license conviction, for a total effective sentence of 12 years to be served in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress “the stop and subsequent seizure of [the Defendant]’s vehicle[,]” and (2) the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Tipton County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/08/22
State of Tennessee v. Randall Lee Pruitt
E2021-01118-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew M. Freiberg

The Defendant, Randall Lee Pruitt, pleaded guilty in the Monroe County Criminal Court to three counts of rape, a Class A felony. See T.C.A. § 39-13-503 (2018). After a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed nine and one-half years for each conviction and ordered consecutive service, for an effective twenty-eight-and-one-half-year sentence. On appeal, he contends that the court erred by ordering consecutive service. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Monroe County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/02/22
State of Tennessee v. Ebony Robinson
M2021-01539-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

Defendant, Ebony Robinson, pled guilty to vehicular homicide by intoxication, aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and driving without a license.  The trial court imposed an effective ten-year sentence to be served on probation with periodic confinement each year near Christmas and each victim’s birthday.  On appeal, the State argues that the trial court erred by granting probation because Defendant was not statutorily eligible.  Following our review of the entire record, oral arguments, and briefs of the parties, we reverse the trial court’s imposition of probation and remand for execution of Defendant’s sentence and entry of amended judgments of conviction. 

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/02/22
State of Tennessee v. Billy Wayne Locke
E2021-00482-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Andrew Freiberg

The Defendant, Billy Wayne Locke, was convicted in two McMinn County Criminal Court bench trials of two counts of evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle, a Class E felony; driving while his license was revoked, a Class B misdemeanor; and reckless endangerment, a Class A misdemeanor. T.C.A. §§ 39-16-603(b) (2018) (subsequently amended) (evading arrest); 55-50-504 (2020) (driving while license revoked), 39-13-103 (2018) (subsequently amended) (reckless endangerment). The Defendant, a career offender, is serving an effective twelve-year sentence, consisting of six years in the Department of Correction and six years on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his evading arrest convictions. Because the Defendant waived his right to an appeal of his convictions, we dismiss the appeal.

McMinn County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/01/22
Patrick Lamar Moore v. Mike Parris, Warden
E2021-01310-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jeffery Hill Wicks

The pro se Petitioner, Patrick Lamar Moore, appeals the summary denial of his petition for writ of habeas corpus. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgment of the habeas corpus court.

Morgan County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/22
State of Tennessee v. Dustin Russell
E2021-01389-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt
Trial Court Judge: Judge Thomas Graham

The defendant, Dustin Russell, appeals the trial court’s imposition of a fully incarcerative sentence for his guilty-pleaded convictions of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Rhea County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/22
State of Tennessee v. Jason Albert Hayes
E2021-01123-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge G. Scott Green

Jason Albert Hayes, Defendant, was charged with aggravated assault, resisting arrest, and assault. He pled guilty in exchange for an effective sentence of three years. After the denial of judicial diversion, Defendant appeals. Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion, we affirm the denial of judicial diversion.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/22
State of Tennessee v. David Allen Donton, Jr.
E2021-00721-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle A. Hixson

Defendant, David Allen Donton, Jr., was indicted by the Knox County Grand Jury for one count of observation without consent, involving an eight-year-old female victim. Defendant pleaded guilty as charged and agreed to serve one year as a Range I offender with the manner of service to be determined by the trial court after a sentencing hearing. Following a hearing, the trial court denied Defendant’s request for probation and imposed a sentence of confinement. Defendant filed an untimely notice of appeal, and this Court granted his motion to waive the timely filing. Defendant contends that the trial court departed from the principles and purposes of sentencing in several ways. After review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/22
State of Tennessee v. Conner Lewis Bell
E2021-01120-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Barry A. Steelman

Defendant, Conner Lewis Bell, was indicted by the Hamilton County Grand Jury for one count of attempted first degree murder, one count of aggravated assault, and one count of aggravated robbery. Defendant pleaded guilty to the lesser-included offense of reckless aggravated assault, and the remaining counts were dismissed. Pursuant to the plea agreement, Defendant received a sentence of three years as a Range I offender to be suspended on probation. Defendant requested judicial diversion, which the trial court denied following a hearing. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the trial court’s denial of diversion.

Hamilton County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/29/22