Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 10/16/2021
Format: 10/16/2021
James Morrow v. State of Tennessee
W2019-01488-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

In 1998, the Petitioner, James Morrow, was convicted of two counts of first-degree premeditated murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. The Petitioner appealed his convictions to this court, and we affirmed the judgments. State v. James Morrow, No. W1998-0583-CCA-R3-CD, 1999 WL 1529719 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Dec. 29, 1999), perm. app. denied (Tenn. June 26, 2000). Subsequently, the Petitioner filed a petition for post-conviction relief, which the post-conviction court dismissed after multiple hearings. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/07/21
State of Tennessee v. Paul D. Page
M2020-01096-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The defendant, Paul D. Page, pleaded guilty to two counts of sale of 0.5 grams or less of methamphetamine, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of nine years’ incarceration in the Tennessee Department of Correction. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erred in denying his request to serve his sentence on probation. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court. 

Clay County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/07/21
State of Tennessee v. Frederick Dean Givens
M2020-01431-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Dee David Gay

Following the denial of a suppression motion, the defendant, Frederick Dean Givens, pled guilty to possession of more than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine with the intent to sell or deliver, simple possession of marijuana, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. As a condition of his plea agreement, the defendant reserved the right to appeal two certified questions of law pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2)(A). Upon our review, we conclude the issues are not dispositive of the defendant’s case, and the appeal is dismissed. Additionally, we remand the case for entry of judgment forms in counts 3 and 4. 

Sumner County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/07/21
Robert Derrick Johnson v. State of Tennessee
M2019-01849-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Wyatt Burk

The Petitioner, Robert Derrick Johnson, appeals as of right from the Bedford County Circuit Court’s denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, wherein he challenged his conviction for robbery. On appeal, the Petitioner asserts that he received the ineffective assistance of trial counsel because counsel failed to (1) advise him of a statutory right to at least fourteen days to prepare for trial, see Tennessee Code Annotated § 40-14-105; (2) file a motion to continue the trial; (3) suppress the victim’s in-court identification of the Petitioner; (4) file a motion or object at trial to the destruction of video-recorded evidence; and (5) challenge the Petitioner’s second trial as violative of double jeopardy. The Petitioner also contends that the post-conviction court erred by striking his pro se amendment to the post-conviction petition. Following our review, we affirm.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/03/21
State of Tennessee v. Quindarius Lamonta Jordan
M2020-00714-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer Smith

The Defendant, Quindarius Lamonta Jordan, pleaded guilty in the Davidson County Criminal Court to attempted second degree murder, a Class B felony, aggravated assault, a Class C felony, and unlawful possession of a firearm, a Class A misdemeanor See T.C.A. §§ 39-13-210 (2018) (second degree murder); 39-12-101 (2018) (criminal attempt); 39-13102 (2018) (aggravated assault); 39-17-1307 (2018) (unlawful weapon possession). The trial court imposed eleven years for attempted second degree murder, five years for aggravated assault, and eleven months, twenty-nine days for the firearm violation. The court imposed partial consecutive service, for an effective sixteen-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred by ordering confinement and consecutive service. Although we affirm the judgments of the trial court, we remand the case for the entry of judgment forms reflecting a dismissal of the charges in indictment Counts 1, 4, 5, and 6.  

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/02/21
State of Tennessee v. Terrance F. Arnold
W2020-00149-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Appellant, Terrance F. Arnold, appeals the Henderson County Circuit Court’s revocation of his probation, arguing that there was no “substantial evidence” that he violated his probation. Based upon the record and the parties’ briefs, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 09/02/21
State of Tennessee v. Darious Fitzpatrick
M2018-02178-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Robert L. Jones

The Defendant, Darious Fitzpatrick, appeals as of right from his convictions for first degree felony murder, second degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery, for which the trial court imposed an effective sentence of life plus twenty years. The Defendant’s sole issue on appeal is whether his sentence is unconstitutional in light of his status as a juvenile at the time of the offenses. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/21
State of Tennessee v. Robert Joseph McBride
M2020-00765-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forest A. Durard, Jr.

Defendant, Robert Joseph McBride, was indicted by the Bedford County Grand Jury for one count of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor involving a number of materials exceeding 25; eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, each involving a number of materials exceeding 100; and one count of sexual exploitation of a minor involving a number of materials exceeding 50. Following the trial court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a warrant to search Defendant’s house and computer, Defendant entered guilty pleas to eight counts of sexual exploitation of a minor involving materials exceeding 100, all Class B felonies. The agreed upon sentence was 12 years on each count, to be served concurrently. Defendant reserved for our review eight certified questions of law. We conclude that only Defendant’s question regarding the staleness of the information supporting the search warrant, is dispositive. After reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/21
State of Tennessee v. Thomas McLaughlin
E2020-01434-CCA-R3- CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge E. Shayne Sexton

The Defendant-Appellant, Thomas McLaughlin, was convicted by a Union County jury of vehicular homicide. See Tenn. Code Ann.
§ 39-13-213. The Defendant also pleaded guilty to one count each of driving on a revoked license, violating the financial responsibility law, driving without registration, and driving without registration plates. The trial court classified the Defendant as a persistent offender and imposed a total effective sentence of 15 years. On appeal, the Defendant contends that: 1) he was unfairly prejudiced by the introduction of evidence of his toxicology reports and license status; 2) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his conviction for vehicular homicide; and 3) his sentence is unlawful because the trial court erroneously applied aggravating factors.1 Upon our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Union County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/31/21
State of Tennessee v. James Howard Harmon, Jr.
E2019-02044-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy Harrington

The defendant, James Howard Harmon, Jr., appeals his Blount County Circuit Court jury convictions of second degree murder, especially aggravated kidnapping, theft of property valued at $500 or less, arson, and abuse of a corpse, arguing that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence his statement of April 10, 2012, and by admitting evidence in violation of Tennessee Rule of Evidence 404(b). Discerning no reversible error, we affirm.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/21
Frederick Tucker v. State of Tennessee
M2020-00810-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Don R. Ash

The Petitioner, Fredrick L. Tucker, appeals the Davidson County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his petition for a writ of error coram nobis from his rape of a child conviction, for which he received a twenty-one-year sentence. We affirm the judgment of the coram nobis court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/30/21
State of Tennessee v. Will Vaughn
W2020-00366-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert L. Holloway, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judg John Wheeler Campbell

In a consolidated trial of Case No. 18-04092 and Case No. 18-04093, a Shelby County jury convicted Will Vaughn (“Defendant”) of fifteen counts of Class C felony facilitation of attempted second degree murder, fifteen counts of Class C felony employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, and two counts of Class A misdemeanor facilitation of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon. The trial court sentenced Defendant to six years for each of the thirty felony counts and to eleven months and
twenty-nine days for each count of facilitation of reckless endangerment counts. The trial court aligned some convictions concurrently and others consecutively in each case. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court stated that it was imposing an effective thirty-year sentence in Case No. 18-04092 and an effective thirty-year sentence in Case No. 18-04093 and ordered the two sentences to be run consecutively for a total effective sentence of sixty years. The “special conditions” section of the thirty-two judgment forms signed by the trial court state that the total effective sentence is fifty-four years. Also, the judgment forms for some of the counts do not match the consecutive/concurrent alignment announced by the trial court. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions and that the trial court erred by imposing consecutive sentencing. After a thorough review, we affirm the convictions and consecutive sentencing but remand for trial court resentencing in two counts and for entry of the proper judgments.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/21
Ed Henry Loyde v. State of Tennessee
W2020-01310-CCA-R3-HC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert W. Wedemeyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge R. Lee Moore, Jr.

A Shelby County jury convicted the Petitioner, Ed Henry Loyde, of rape of a child and aggravated sexual battery. The trial court sentenced him to an effective sentence of thirty-five years. This Court affirmed the judgments on appeal. State v. Ed Loyde, No. W2014-01055-CCA-R3-CD, 2015 WL 1598121 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Apr. 6, 2015), perm. app. denied (Tenn. July 21, 2015). After unsuccessfully filing a petition for post-conviction relief, Ed Loyde v. State No. W2018-01740-CCA-R3-PC, 2020 WL 918602 (Tenn. Crim. App., at Jackson, Feb. 25, 2020), perm. app. denied (Tenn. July 22, 2020), the Petitioner filed for a writ of habeas corpus, which the habeas corpus court summarily dismissed. After a thorough review of the record and relevant authorities, we affirm the habeas corpus court’s judgment.

Lake County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/21
State of Tennessee v. Darnell Treshawn Wiggins
M2019-02086-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

A Maury County jury convicted the defendant, Darnell Treshawn Wiggins1, of second degree murder, first degree felony murder, and kidnapping, for which he received an effective sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. On appeal, the defendant argues the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his convictions, the jury improperly weighed the aggravating and mitigating circumstances, and the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during its opening statement. The defendant also argues the trial court erred in admitting Officer Dalton’s testimony during the penalty phase, in denying his motion for mistrial, and in denying his motion to dismiss for lack of a speedy trial. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Maury County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/21
State of Tennessee v. Keontis Dontrell Cunningham
M2020-00874-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Wyatt Burk

A Bedford County jury convicted the defendant, Keontis Dontrell Cunningham, of two counts of aggravated assault, and the trial court imposed an effective sentence of five years’ incarceration. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions and argues the trial court erred in instructing the jury on selfdefense.  Following our review of the briefs, the record, and the applicable law, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/21
State of Tennessee v. Demetrious Tommy Lee
M2020-00914-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Jennifer L. Smith
In 2018, a Davidson County Grand Jury indicted the Defendant, Demetrious Tommy Lee, for attempted first degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, reckless endangerment, evading arrest while operating a motor vehicle, and domestic assault. In 2019, a superseding indictment was returned, elevating the Defendant’s kidnapping charge to especially aggravated kidnapping and adding a charge for employment of a firearm during the commission of or attempt to commit a dangerous felony but keeping all other charges the same. One week prior to trial, the Defendant filed a motion for a continuance, which the trial court denied following a hearing. At trial, the jury found the Defendant guilty of the lesser included offense of attempted second degree murder as well as the charged offenses of especially aggravated kidnapping and employment of a firearm but found the Defendant not guilty of evading arrest. The charges of reckless endangerment and domestic assault were dismissed. Thereafter, the trial court imposed an effective eighteen-year sentence to be served at 100% for these convictions. On appeal, the Defendant argues: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to continue his trial after the State superseded the indictment and presented him with additional discovery shortly before trial; (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to exclude evidence that violated State v. Ferguson, 2 S.W.3d 912 (Tenn. 1999); (3) the trial court committed plain error in not requiring the State to make an election of offenses with regard to the especially aggravated kidnapping count; and (4) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions for attempted second degree murder and especially aggravated kidnapping. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.
 
Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/21
State of Tennessee v. Jody Alan Hughes
E2019-01185-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge Sandra Donaghy

The Appellant, Jody Alan Hughes, was convicted in the Bradley County Criminal Court of first degree premeditated murder; kidnapping, a Class C felony; tampering with evidence, a Class C felony; and conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence, a Class D felony. After a sentencing hearing, he received an effective sentence of life plus fourteen years. On appeal, the Appellant contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support the convictions; (2) the trial court erred by denying his “numerous” requests to represent himself; (3) the trial court erred by not allowing defense counsel to comment about the codefendants’ exposure to prison sentences during counsel’s opening statement; (4) the trial court erred in its wording of a curative instruction to the jury; (5) the trial court erred by limiting a codefendant’s cross-examination about a false statement the codefendant made in a previous criminal case; (6) the trial court erred by limiting a detective’s testimony regarding the codefendants’ inconsistent statements; and (7) the trial court erred by not allowing testimony about a codefendant’s pretrial statement to impeach the codefendant. Based upon the oral arguments, the record, and the parties’ briefs, we find no reversible error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Bradley County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/27/21
State of Tennessee v. David Yost, Jr.
E2020-01115-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven W. Sword

The pro se petitioner, David Yost, Jr., appeals the Knox County Criminal Court’s summary dismissal of his motion to correct an illegal sentence, filed pursuant to Tennessee Rule of Criminal Procedure 36.1. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/26/21
State of Tennessee v. James McClain
W2019-01217-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Kyle Atkins

The defendant, James McClain, appeals his Madison County Circuit Court jury convictions of aggravated assault and witness coercion, claiming that the trial court erred by permitting him to represent himself at trial, by permitting the State to proceed on an amended indictment, and by imposing consecutive sentences. Because the record establishes that the defendant knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waived his right to counsel, that the indictment was not amended, and that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by imposing consecutive sentences, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/26/21
James Black v. State of Tennessee
E2020-01008-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Alex E. Pearson

The Petitioner, James Black, was convicted of two counts each of first-degree premeditated murder and first-degree felony murder and was sentenced to a concurrent life sentence by the trial court. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel stemming from trial counsel’s legal use of prescribed opioids during his trial, specifically asserting that 1) the prescribed opioids caused him to perform deficiently at trial; 2) that trial counsel’s offering of the Petitioner’s criminal history tainted the jury; and 3) that trial counsel’s use of prescribed opioids combined with his severe back pain created a conflict of interest. After review, we affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment.

Greene County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/25/21
Zachary Gale Rattler v. State of Tennessee
E2020-01533-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James L. Gass

The Petitioner, Zachary Gale Rattler, appeals the denial of his petition for post-conviction relief, arguing that he was deprived of a fair and impartial jury and received ineffective assistance of counsel. We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/24/21
State of Tennessee v. Devin L. Legon
M2020-00866-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove
The Defendant, Devin L. Legon, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft of property valued over $60,000, aggravated burglary, and theft of property valued over $60,000. He agreed to pay $60,000 in restitution and to serve an effective ten-year sentence on probation. A revocation warrant was issued, and following a hearing, the trial court revoked the Defendant’s probation and ordered him to serve his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by ordering him to serve his sentence in confinement. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court pursuant to Rule 20 of the Rules of the Court of Criminal Appeals.
 
Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/23/21
State of Tennessee v. Kavasia S. Bonds and Charles Allen Jones
M2020-00323-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Timothy L. Easter
Trial Court Judge: Judge Angelita Blackshear Dalton

Defendants, Kavasia S. Bonds and Charles Allen Jones, along with a co-defendant Brian Davis, were indicted by the Davidson County Grand Jury for aggravated assault while acting in concert with two or more other persons. Following a jury trial, Defendants Bonds and Jones were convicted as charged, and the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict as to Defendant Davis. For their convictions, Defendant Bonds was sentenced to 16 years’ incarceration, and Defendant Jones was sentenced to 14 years. In this appeal as of right, Defendants Bonds and Jones both challenge the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Defendant Bonds also asserts that the trial court erred by admitting into evidence a photograph of the victim’s eye and that the prosecutor improperly commented on Defendant Bonds’ silence at trial during closing arguments. Having reviewed the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we find no error and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/23/21
State of Tennessee v. Frank Layman Glavin
M2020-01125-CCA-R3-CO
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge M. Wyatt Burk
Petitioner, Frank Layman Glavin, appeals the denial of his petition to expunge his evading arrest conviction claiming that the trial court misapplied the expunction statute. See T.C.A.§ 40-32-101(k)(Supp. 2020). We conclude that Petitioner does not meet the plain language requirements of section 40-32-101(k) of the Tennessee Code, and accordingly affirm the trial court’s order.
 
Bedford County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/21
Karla Chase v. Ober Gatlinburg, Inc.
E2020-00649-COA-R3-CV
Authoring Judge: Judge Kristi M. Davis
Trial Court Judge: Judge Rex Henry Ogle

This action arises from a snowboarding accident at Defendant Ober Gatlinburg’s ski resort. Plaintiff Karla Chase, attempting to avoid a collision with another skier, crashed face-first into a 4x4 post supporting a warning fence marking the edge of the slope’s navigable terrain. She alleged that Defendant negligently created an unreasonably dangerous condition by not using rounded and/or padded fence posts. The jury returned a verdict finding Defendant not at fault. After returning the verdict form, one of the jurors requested and was allowed to read a statement saying, “we find the defendant not guilty. We, the jury, are in one accord that Ober and the ski industry should look into using materials for posts with rounded corners or more padding.” Plaintiff filed a motion for new trial, but died before the hearing and the trial court’s ruling denying the motion. Plaintiff’s counsel filed a notice of appeal in the deceased Plaintiff’s name. We hold that Plaintiff’s personal representative may be substituted for her on appeal pursuant to Tenn. R. App. P. 19(a) even though no motion for substitution was made, because Defendant did not request the trial court to dismiss the action pursuant to Tenn. R. Civ. P. 25.01. We affirm the trial court’s judgment approving the jury verdict in favor of Defendant.

Sevier County Court of Criminal Appeals 08/20/21