Court of Criminal Appeals Opinions

Format: 10/16/2021
Format: 10/16/2021
State of Tennessee v. Byron Sidney Doss
M2020-00934-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Mark J. Fishburn

The Defendant, Byron Sidney Doss, was convicted after a bench trial of false imprisonment, a Class A misdemeanor, and aggravated assault involving strangulation, a Class C felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-13-102(A)(iv), -13-302. The trial court imposed an effective sentence of five years, suspended to time served plus five years on supervised probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court imposed an excessively long five-year sentence. After our review, we affirm and remand the case for the entry of corrected judgment forms.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/28/21
State of Tennessee v. Cedrick Leroy Shelton
W2020-00897-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Jill Bartee Ayers
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant, Cedrick Leroy Shelton, was convicted by a jury of simple possession of marijuana, possession of more than 0.5 ounces of marijuana with intent to deliver, possession of a firearm with intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony, possession of drug paraphernalia, and improper display of a license plate. Defendant also pled guilty to two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The trial court imposed an effective fourteen-year sentence, as a Range II multiple offender, to be served in the Department of Correction. On appeal, Defendant argues: that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions for possession of more than 0.5 ounces of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of a firearm with intent to go armed during the commission of a dangerous felony; that the jury rendered inconsistent verdicts; and that his sentence was excessive. Following our review of the entire record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgments of the trial court but remand for correction of a clerical error on the judgment forms for counts seven and eight to reflect that Defendant pled guilty to those counts rather than being found guilty by a jury. Additionally, the judgment form in count eight should reflect that it is merged with count seven.

Chester County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/21
Jared Scott Aguilar v. State of Tennessee
M2019-01814-CCA-R3-ECN
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

The Petitioner, Jared Scott Aguilar, appeals the Montgomery County Circuit Court’s determination that his coram nobis petition, wherein he challenged his multiple child pornography convictions, failed to state a cognizable claim for relief. On appeal, the Petitioner argues that the coram nobis court erred by finding that he had not presented newly discovered evidence entitling him to relief, specifically, evidence that the search warrant affidavit was deficient due to the investigating officer’s allegedly untrue statement therein that he discovered three child pornography files in the Petitioner’s shared computer folder, that the detective who performed a forensic examination of the Petitioner’s laptop allegedly committed perjury at trial by stating that he found the incriminating files in the Petitioner’s shared folder, and that the investigating officer had undisclosed contact with the Petitioner’s wife. Following our review, we affirm the denial of relief because the Petitioner is merely presenting “repackaged claims” that have been previously determined and which do not state a cognizable claim for relief in the coram nobis context.  

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/21
State of Tennessee v. Paul Steven Murphy
M2019-01786-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Norma McGee Ogle
Trial Court Judge: Judge William R. Goodman, III

A Montgomery County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant, Paul Steven Murphy, of rape and incest. The trial court ordered the Appellant to serve concurrent sentences of ten years for the rape conviction and four years for the incest conviction. On appeal, the Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence sustaining his convictions and the length of the sentences imposed by the trial court. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.  

Montgomery County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/25/21
State of Tennessee v. George H. Person
W2020-00937-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant, George H. Person, pled guilty to two counts of driving after having been declared a motor vehicle habitual offender (“MVHO”), two counts of driving on a canceled, suspended, or revoked license, and a violation of the light law. The Defendant’s sentencing took place after an amendment to the statute that was the basis of his MVHO conviction went into effect, so that the Defendant’s conduct was no longer criminalized and, concomitantly, triggered no penalty. The trial court ruled that the Defendant was entitled to the lesser penalty of the amended statute under Tennessee Code Annotated section 39-11-112, and the State appeals. We conclude that the savings statute applies and that the Legislature’s act of removing punishment for the offense constitutes a lesser penalty. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s judgments.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/23/21
Montez Adams v. State of Tennessee
W2020-00885-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

In 1997, a jury convicted the Petitioner, Montez Adams, of first degree felony murder, especially aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit especially aggravated burglary, and theft over $500, and he received an effective life sentence. On appeal, this court vacated the conviction for especially aggravated burglary and ordered the entry of a conviction for aggravated burglary and an accompanying ten-year sentence. State v. Montez Antuan Adams, et. al., No. 02C01-9709-CC-00352, 1998 WL 556174, at *1, 2 n.1 (Tenn. Crim. App. Sept. 1, 1998), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Apr. 5, 1999). In the following years, the Petitioner litigated post-judgment motions, including a petition for post-conviction relief. It appears that a new judgment form reflecting the Petitioner’s conviction for aggravated burglary rather than especially aggravated burglary was not entered until 2019. Subsequently, the Petitioner filed this instant second petition for post-conviction relief, asserting that the new judgment form reset the statute of limitations with regard to his claims of post-conviction relief. The post-conviction court dismissed the petition, concluding that it was not timely and that the claims had been either previously determined or waived. We conclude that the delayed entry of the corrected judgment, as mandated by this court in 1998, does not permit the Petitioner to relitigate the post-conviction claims raised in his petition. Accordingly, the dismissal is affirmed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/23/21
State of Tennessee v. Quinton Devon Perry
W2019-01553-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

Defendant-Appellant, Quinton Devon Perry, entered guilty pleas to eighteen counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor, a Class C felony, and six counts of aggravated sexual exploitation of a minor where the number of exploitive materials exceeded twenty-five, a Class B felony under Tennessee Code Annotated sections 39-17-1004(a)(1) and (2).  The trial court ordered partial consecutive sentencing and imposed an effective sentence of eighteen years’ imprisonment.  In this appeal as of right, the Defendant argues the trial court erred in applying certain enhancement factors and in imposing partial consecutive sentencing.  Upon review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/21
State of Tennessee v. Lashawn Shannon
W2020-00501-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James M. Lammey

The Defendant, Lashawn Shannon, appeals his convictions for aggravated robbery and facilitation of aggravated kidnapping, for which he received an effective sentence of nine years’ incarceration. On appeal, the Defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/21
State of Tennessee v. Anthony Lee Carter
W2019-02278-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Donald H. Allen

The Defendant, Anthony Lee Carter, appeals from his Madison County Circuit Court conviction for driving as a motor vehicle habitual offender (“MVHO”), for which he received a six-year sentence. On appeal, the Defendant argues that after his arrest and before his trial, our legislature amended the Motor Vehicle Habitual Offenders Act such that the Defendant was entitled to the benefit of a lesser penalty under our criminal savings statute. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-11-112 (savings statute), 55-10-601 (MVHO Act). Following our review, we conclude that when the legislature removed the offense of driving as a MVHO and the associated penalty and replaced it with a mechanism for MVHOs to petition for reinstatement of their driver’s licenses, the legislature enacted a lesser penalty. As a result, the Defendant should benefit from the lesser penalty pursuant to the criminal savings statute.

Madison County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/21
State of Tennessee v. Stanley Jefferson
W2020-00578-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Chris Craft

A jury convicted the Defendant, Stanley Jefferson, of aggravated rape, two counts of especially aggravated burglary, aggravated assault, and theft of property valued at more than $1,000, and he received an effective sentence of fifty-eight years. The sole issue raised on appeal is the sufficiency of the convicting evidence for the aggravated rape conviction. We conclude that the evidence is sufficient to support the jury’s verdict, and we affirm the convictions. We remand for any further proceedings necessary to correct an error in the sentence related to the Defendant’s theft conviction.

Shelby County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/21
State of Tennessee v. Douglas Eugene Horton
W2019-00948-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Camille R. McMullen
Trial Court Judge: Judge Roy B. Morgan, Jr.

The Defendant-Appellant, Douglas Eugene Horton, was convicted by a Henderson County jury of nineteen counts of various drug related offenses, for which he received a total effective sentence of fifteen years’ imprisonment. On appeal, the Defendant argues that (1) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions, (2) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing arguments, and (3) the trial court abused its discretion in ordering partial consecutive sentencing. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court in Counts 3, 4, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, and 26; we reverse the judgments of the trial court in Counts 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 31 due to insufficient evidence, and we vacate these convictions; and we remand the case to the trial court for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Henderson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/21
State of Tennessee v. Jay W. Edwards
E2019-02176-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge James Curwood Witt, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bob McGee

Aggrieved of his Knox County Criminal Court jury convictions of aggravated kidnapping, assault, domestic assault, and interfering with an emergency call, the defendant, Jay W. Edwards, appeals. The defendant challenges the trial court’s denial of his motion to suppress the evidence seized following his arrest, the propriety of the jury instructions, and the sufficiency of the convicting evidence. Following our review, we affirm the defendant’s convictions but remand the case for the entry of corrected judgment forms reflecting the merger of the defendant’s convictions in Counts 4, 5, 6, and 8.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/21
State of Tennessee v. Riley Christopher Wilburn - Concurring
M2020-00130-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Presiding Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

I agree with the majority’s opinion that based upon the current status of caselaw, the indictment was not duplicitous and the resulting verdict did not violate the Defendant’s right to a unanimous jury. However, I write separately to emphasize that while the language in the indictment and the resulting verdict were not unconstitutional, the practice employed by the State in drafting the indictment and by the trial court in failing to provide an enhanced unanimity instruction also is not advisable.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/21
State of Tennessee v. Riley Christopher Wilburn
M2020-00130-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery
Trial Court Judge: Judge Stella L. Hargrove

The Defendant, Riley Christopher Wilburn, was convicted of driving under the influence, a Class A misdemeanor, by a Giles County Circuit Court jury. See T.C.A. § 55-10-401 (2020). The trial court sentenced him to eleven months, twenty-nine days, with thirty days to be served in jail and the balance to be served on probation. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to dismiss on the basis that the indictment was fatally flawed because it alleged two offenses in a single count. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Giles County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/22/21
Robert Jason Burdick v. State of Tennessee
M2020-00141-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Joseph A. Woodruff

In this consolidated appeal, the Petitioner, Robert Jason Burdick, appeals the denial of his two post-conviction petitions and dismissal of his petition for writ of error coram nobis. With regard to his post-conviction petitions, the Petitioner argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel due to counsel’s failure to challenge the trial court’s enhancement of his sentence and failure to file a motion to suppress the State’s warrantless attachment of a GPS tracking device to his vehicle. With regard to the petition for writ of error coram nobis, the Petitioner argues that the coram nobis court erred in summarily dismissing his petition and that he is entitled to due process tolling of the statute of limitations. After review, we affirm the judgments of the lower court.      

Williamson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/18/21
State of Tennessee v. Glenn Brown and Thomas Byrd
E2019-01618-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

The Defendants, Glenn Brown and Thomas Byrd, were jointly tried before a Knox County Criminal Court jury on a number of drug and gun-related offenses. At the conclusion of the trial, both Defendants were convicted of possession with the intent to sell/deliver 0.5 grams or more of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school, possession with the intent to sell/deliver a controlled substance analogue, and possession of marijuana. Defendant Brown was alone convicted of the various gun-related charges, including employment of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony having been previously convicted of a felony. In this consolidated appeal, Defendant Byrd challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his felony convictions and argues that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of his failure to contest the forfeiture of the large amount of cash seized from him. Defendant Brown challenges the sufficiency of the evidence in support of his felony drug and employment of a firearm during a dangerous felony convictions and argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the results of the traffic stop and in issuing inconsistent oral and written jury instructions that prevented unanimity of the verdicts. Following our review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/17/21
State of Tennessee v. Joshua Williams
E2019-01995-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Bobby R. McGee

The Defendant, Joshua Williams, was convicted of two counts of especially aggravated burglary, four counts of attempted first degree murder, twelve counts of employing a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony, four counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm and was given a total effective sentence of sixty-eight years. On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his convictions of attempted first degree murder. After thorough review, we disagree and affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
Steven Dare Steelman, Jr. v. State of Tennessee
E2020-00696-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steven Wayne Sword

The Petitioner, Steven Dare Steelman, Jr., appeals from the Knox County Criminal Court’s order dismissing his petition for
post-conviction relief as untimely. The Petitioner’s counsel has filed a motion to withdraw pursuant to Rule 22 of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. We conclude that counsel’s motion is well-taken and, in accordance with Rule 22(F), affirm the post-conviction court’s judgment pursuant to Rule 20 of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.

Knox County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
State of Tennessee v. Javaris Wilson
M2019-01317-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Steve R. Dozier

The Defendant, Javaris Wilson, was convicted by a Davidson County Criminal Court jury of first degree premeditated murder and second degree murder under alternate theories of guilt for the same killing. The second degree murder conviction was merged into the first degree murder conviction, for which the Defendant received a life sentence. The sole issue the Defendant raises on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to establish his identity as the perpetrator. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Davidson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
State of Tennessee v. Demetrie Darnell Owens
M2020-00132-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Alan E. Glenn
Trial Court Judge: Judge Forrest A. Durard, Jr.

The Defendant, Demetrie Darnell Owens, was convicted by a Marshall County Circuit Court jury of two counts of simple possession of cocaine, Class A misdemeanors; possession of cocaine within 1000 feet of a school or park with intent to sell, a Class B felony; attempted possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, a Class C felony; two counts of simple possession of Xanax, Class A misdemeanors; two counts of simple possession of methamphetamine, Class A misdemeanors; simple possession of marijuana, a Class A misdemeanor; and simple possession of Suboxone, a Class A misdemeanor. He was sentenced to an effective term of twenty years in the Department of Correction. On appeal, the Defendant argues that: (1) the trial court erred in allowing a State’s witness to testify concerning statements and text messages made by an unavailable witness; (2) the State committed prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument; (3) the trial court’s instruction that two individuals were accomplices as a matter of law amounted to a comment on the proof; and (4) the evidence is insufficient to sustain his convictions. After review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.   

Marshall County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/16/21
Jeffery Combs v. State of Tennessee
E2020-00239-CCA-R3-PC
Authoring Judge: Judge John Everett Williams
Trial Court Judge: Judge James F. Goodwin, Jr.

The Petitioner, Jeffery Combs, was found guilty by a jury of eighteen counts of forgery and one count of theft of property valued at more than $1,000 but less than $10,000, and he received a twelve-year sentence in confinement. After this court affirmed the Petitioner’s convictions on direct appeal, he filed a petition for post-conviction relief contending that trial counsel was ineffective because trial counsel failed to: consult a handwriting expert and properly advise the Petitioner of the cost of retaining one; thoroughly investigate or pursue a misidentification defense by seeking professional assistance to enhance the surveillance video and interviewing witnesses; consult with the Petitioner prior to trial; and convey a plea offer. Following a hearing, the post-conviction court denied the petition, and the Petitioner appeals. We affirm the judgment of the postconviction court.

Sullivan County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/14/21
State of Tennessee v. Joseph Donald McIntire
E2020-01483-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Gary McKenzie

The defendant, Joseph Donald McIntire, pled guilty to attempted introduction of contraband into a penal facility and, after a sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed a sentence of eight years in confinement. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial court abused its discretion in enhancing his sentence to eight years and requiring that he serve the entirety of his sentence in confinement. Upon our review of the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Cumberland County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/14/21
State of Tennessee v. Blaze Valentino Burkett
M2019-02143-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.
Trial Court Judge: Judge J. Russell Parkes

The Defendant, Blaze Valentino Burkett, appeals as of right from the Wayne County Circuit Court’s revocation of his probation and his being ordered to serve the remainder of his ten-year sentence for possession of 0.5 grams or more of methamphetamine with the intent to sell. The Defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by fully revoking his probationary sentence and that an alternative to full incarceration should have been imposed to allow him to seek treatment for his methamphetamine addiction. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Wayne County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/14/21
State of Tennessee v. Matthew Anthony Perry
E2020-00911-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge. J. Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Lisa Rice

A Johnson County jury convicted the defendant, Mathew Anthony Perry, of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and the trial court imposed a sentence of fifteen years’ confinement. On appeal, the defendant argues the trial court erred in sentencing him as a Range II offender, asserting the State’s notice of enhanced punishment was deficient. The defendant also argues the trial court erred in failing to grant a mistrial based upon alleged improper testimony. After reviewing the record and considering the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court. However, we remand the matter for the sole purpose of ensuring that judgment forms were entered for each count of the indictment.

Johnson County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/21
State of Tennessee v. Jason Burchfield
E2020-01369-CCA-R3-CD
Authoring Judge: Judge Ross Dyer
Trial Court Judge: Judge Tammy Harrington

The trial court revoked the community corrections sentence of the defendant, Jason Burchfield, and ordered him to serve the remainder of his sentence in confinement. On appeal, the defendant contends that, while he did violate the terms and conditions of his alternative sentence, the trial court’s full revocation of his sentence was excessive and constituted an abuse of discretion. After a thorough review of the record, the applicable law, and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Blount County Court of Criminal Appeals 06/11/21