Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Assigned on Briefs July 26, 2016
from the Criminal Court for Washington County No. 39410 Stacy
L. Street, Judge
Ryan James Howard, appeals from the post-conviction
court's dismissal of Petitioner's post-conviction
petition following an evidentiary hearing. Petitioner asserts
that he is entitled to relief because he received ineffective
assistance of counsel in the proceedings leading to his
convictions for one count of second degree murder and one
count of voluntary manslaughter. After a thorough review, we
affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Patrick Denton, Johnson City, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Ryan James Howard.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy
Wilber, Senior Counsel; Anthony Wade Clark, District Attorney
General; and Dennis Brooks, Assistant District Attorney
General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
T. Woodall, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which CAMILLE R. McMullen and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ.,
T. WOODALL, PRESIDING JUDGE
a jury trial in the Washington County Criminal Court,
Petitioner was found guilty of the second degree murder of
Ted Gregg and the voluntary manslaughter of Robert Brown.
Both victims were stabbed to death. There was evidence
presented at trial that Petitioner had committed premeditated
murder of one victim and felony murder of the other victim,
and there was also evidence that Petitioner acted in
self-defense. On direct appeal Petitioner's convictions
were affirmed. State v. Ryan James Howard, No.
E2011-01571-CCA-R3-CD, 2013 WL 132665 at *8 (Tenn. Crim. App.
Jan. 10, 2013). Petitioner filed a petition for
post-conviction relief, and after appointment of counsel, the
filing of an amended petition, and an answer filed by the
State, an evidentiary hearing was held, following which the
post-conviction court filed an order denying relief.
Petitioner has timely appealed to this court.
from Petitioner, his two trial attorneys (hereinafter
"lead trial counsel" and "co-counsel"),
the landlord of the duplex where Petitioner resided, and
Petitioner's sister was presented by Petitioner. Several
alleged grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel were
asserted by Petitioner in the post-conviction court. However,
on appeal Petitioner has argued only one specific ground of
ineffective assistance of counsel. Grounds not presented in
Petitioner's brief are waived. See Tenn. R. App.
P. 27(a); Tenn. R. Crim. App. 10(b). Accordingly, we will
review and summarize only the relevant testimony and exhibits
from the evidentiary hearing and excerpts from the trial
transcript pertaining to the sole issue raised on appeal.
statement of the issue presented for review, taken verbatim
from his brief, is as follows:
Trial counsel's failure to object to a flagrantly
improper portion of the prosecutor's closing argument - -
specifically that "self defense is a get out of jail
free card" - - and failure to object to a verbatim
reiteration of this improper ...