Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville
Session Date: December 19, 2017
from the Criminal Court for Hamilton County No. 289273 Don W.
Petitioner, Kenneth Alan Steele, appeals from the Hamilton
County Criminal Court's denial of relief for his petition
pursuant to the Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act. The
post-conviction court granted his petition for analysis but
denied further relief based upon the results of the analysis.
The Petitioner contends that the court failed to afford him a
hearing and erred in denying relief after interpreting the
DNA analysis reports. We affirm the judgment of the
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
D. Stone (on appeal), Knoxville, Tennessee; and Zak Newman
(at hearing), Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Kenneth Alan Steele.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; M. Neal
Pinkston, District Attorney General; Cameron Williams,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr.,
H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE
Petitioner was convicted of twenty-one counts of burglary,
robbery, theft, rape, and assault offenses perpetrated
against eight victims. State v. Kenneth Alan Steele,
No. 03C01-9207-CR-233, 1993 WL 415836 (Tenn. Crim. App. Oct.
13, 1993) (Steele I). The State's evidence at
the trial included DNA evidence identifying the Petitioner as
the perpetrator relative to two of the victims. The DNA
evidence had been analyzed using the Restriction Fragment
Length Polymorphism (RFLP) process. Id. at *2. The
Petitioner's fingerprints were found at all eight
victims' homes. Id. The perpetrator's
modus operandi and the crimes were similar relative
to each victim. Id.
Following this court's opinion affirming his convictions
and modifying his sentence, the Petitioner attacked his
convictions in several actions. He filed two petitions for
the writ of habeas corpus, but the petitions proved
unsuccessful. See Kenneth Steele v. State, No.
01C01-9512-CC-00409, 1997 WL 211265 (Tenn. Crim. App. Apr.
30, 1997) (Steele II) (attacking the
constitutionality of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1989 as
violating the separation of powers doctrine); Kenneth A.
Steele v. State, No. 01C01-9708-CC-00105, 1998 WL 120308
(Tenn. Crim. App. Mar. 18, 1998) (Steele III)
(attacking the sufficiency of the indictments), perm.
app. denied (Tenn. Nov. 22, 1999). The Petitioner filed
a petition for post-conviction relief, which was also
unsuccessful. Kenneth Alan Steele v. State, No.
03C01-9701-CR-00012, 1999 WL 512053 (Tenn. Crim. App. July
21, 1999) (Steele IV), perm. app. denied
(Tenn. Nov. 22, 1999). Later, he filed a petition for the
writ of error coram nobis, in which he alleged the discovery
of new DNA evidence. The coram nobis court denied relief, and
this court affirmed its ruling. Kenneth Alan Steele v.
State, No. E2009-02376-CCA-R3-PC, 2011 WL 882998 (Tenn.
Crim. App. Mar. 10, 2011) (Steele V), perm. app.
denied (Tenn. July 14, 2011).
Petitioner filed the present action pursuant to the
Post-Conviction DNA Analysis Act of 2001. See T.C.A.
§§ 40-30-301 to -313 (2012). He sought additional
testing of evidence in the State's possession relative to
four of his victims: P.M., J.P., C.M., and E.S. The
post-conviction court granted the Petitioner's motion for
DNA testing, and the testing was completed for three of the
four requested victims. No test results appear in the record
relative to C.M. The Petitioner alleged in his petition that
a State's witness testified at his trial that a sample
from C.M. was not stored properly and was not amenable to
testing. The State alleged in a pleading filed in
the trial court that certain evidence, including that
relative to C.M., was "available for DNA analysis"
and in the custody of the court clerk. Counsel for the
Petitioner argued at the hearing on the petition for DNA
analysis that relief should be granted for "the evidence
[that was] lost or destroyed." The Petitioner states in
his appellate brief, "[I]t appears that not all samples
have been tested consistent with the Trial Court's
order" but does not request appellate relief on this
testing ordered by the post-conviction court showed the
The sperm fraction showed a partial DNA profile matching the
Petitioner's sample. The partial profile did not meet the