Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
COY J. COTHAM, JR., AKA CORY J. COTHAM
STATE OF TENNESSEE
Assigned on Briefs January 17, 2019
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2010-C-2636
Cheryl A. Blackburn, Judge
Coy J. Cotham, Jr., appeals the denial of his petition for
post-conviction relief, in which he alleged that his trial
counsel was ineffective. Petitioner contends that the
post-conviction court erred by denying his pro se
motion to relieve post-conviction counsel, or in the
alternative, his motion to continue the post-conviction
hearing; that his post-conviction counsel was ineffective for
failing to adequately present his claims for post-conviction
relief; and that the post-conviction court erred by denying
his petition for post-conviction relief. Having reviewed the
record and the briefs of the parties, we affirm the judgment
of the post-conviction court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Cotham, Jr., Only, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark
B. Thornton, Senior Assistant Attorney General; and Glenn R.
Funk, District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
T. Woodall, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Robert L. Holloway, Jr. and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.
T. WOODALL, JUDGE
was convicted of premeditated first degree murder and
especially aggravated robbery. The trial court sentenced
Petitioner to life without parole plus 25 years'
incarceration. Petitioner's conviction and sentence were
affirmed on direct appeal. State v. Coy J. Cotham, Jr.,
aka Cory J. Cotham, No. M2012-01150-CCA-R3-CD, 2014 WL
3778613 (Tenn. Crim. App. July 31, 2014), perm. app.
denied (Tenn. Jan. 15, 2015).
The crimes for which [Petitioner] was convicted stem from the
August 29, 2010 shooting death of the victim, Veronica Bozza,
at her home in Hermitage, Tennessee. The victim's
estranged husband, Timothy Roy Bozza, who testified as a
State's witness during [Petitioner]'s trial, also was
indicted for first degree premeditated murder and tried
Id. at *1.
Robinson, the victim's boyfriend, discovered the victim
shot to death inside her home. Id. at *3. Police
found no evidence of a robbery. The victim's purse was
found inside her vehicle, but her cell phone was missing.
Cell phone records, including "numerous calls between
Mr. Bozza and [Petitioner] on the day of the murder"
helped the police to establish Petitioner as a person of
interest. Cell phone records also showed that the
victim's cell phone was being used after the time of her
death, and her cell phone was using the same towers as
Petitioner's cell phone. Petitioner was interviewed by
police, and his statements were inconsistent with the cell
phone records the police possessed.
casings recovered from the crime scene linked the murder
weapon, which was never found, to Petitioner's
girlfriend. Police also found a photograph of an identical
gun on Petitioner's cell phone. Mr. Bozza testified at
trial and implicated Petitioner. Petitioner also testified
and denied any involvement in the killing. Id.
outset of the hearing, Petitioner's counsel stated that
Petitioner "would like to address the Court about [his]
representation." The following exchange occurred:
[PETITIONER]: Your Honor, I filed a motion to remove counsel
in a timely manner. It was filed by the court clerk's
office on February 9th. Because in the past eighteen months,
[post-conviction counsel] has - there's multiple things
he hasn't done for me. I've asked him to track down
witnesses. He said he's had a problem finding some of
them. I've also asked him and told him I needed certain
things to prove some of my issues like copies of DVDs and
stuff. I've brought a copy of all the letters I've
written to him. In the motion - I'm not sure, did the
Court get a copy of it?
THE COURT: No, because you're represented by counsel,
[PETITIONER]: Okay. Well, I mean, do I fire him on the spot?
THE COURT: You can't fire him, [Petitioner].
[PETITIONER]: Okay. Well, the thing is he failed to do
anything within the standards of proof, 28 subsection 6C. He
[ ] hasn't interviewed all of the relevant witnesses.
He's just now telling me probably a week ago that he
couldn't find some of them and he's -
THE COURT: You can't interview somebody you can't
[PETITIONER]: But that's something he should have talked
to me about months ago. The thing is - there is a copy right
there. But all the issues listed on said motion is all the
problems I've had. I've detailed every time we've
talked. I was going to file the motion in October.
[Post-conviction counsel] asked me not to. He was like, hold
on, give me - he explained to me that he was so busy, he had
all these clients. I told [counsel], I said, if my case is
too much for you, relieve yourself and let me get new
counsel. He said - the month of December, he promised me the
month of December I'll focus on your case, I'll come
out there and see you, we'll talk about the case,
we'll go over everything together. He's never even
discussed the amended petition with me. He just filed it on
his own. He didn't even discuss it. He's never asked
me one question on my case. And you yourself, Your Honor,
know that my case is pretty complex.
THE COURT: All right. [Petitioner], we're going to go
forward. I'm not going to relieve [post-conviction
THE COURT: If we need to do it in sections, we will if
there's witnesses that need to be called other than what
your grounds are. So I'm not relieving [post-conviction
counsel]. So have a seat [Petitioner].
[PETITIONER]: So, I mean, you're violating my due process
rights right now.
THE COURT: No, I'm not, [Petitioner]. Have a seat.
[PETITIONER]: At the point I've got counsel failing to ...