Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs May 15, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Williamson County No. CR170296
Joseph A. Woodruff, Judge.
Petitioner, John Burley Alberts, appeals the Williamson
County Circuit Court's denial of his petition for
post-conviction relief from his convictions for four counts
of rape of a child, for which he is serving an effective
100-year sentence. He contends that the post-conviction court
erred in denying his ineffective assistance of counsel claim.
We affirm the judgment of the post-conviction court.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Elizabeth A. Russell, Franklin, Tennessee, for the Appellant,
John Burley Alberts.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent
C. Cherry, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Kim R. Helper,
District Attorney General; Mary Katherine White, Assistant
District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of
H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which Norma McGee Ogle and Camille R. McMullen, JJ.,
H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE.
Petitioner's convictions relate to his sexual abuse of an
eight-year-old child. He was charged with additional offenses
related to other victims, but those counts were severed from
the present case. After allegations of sexual misconduct
surfaced, law enforcement officers determined that the
Defendant, who had a prior conviction for a sexual offense,
was in violation of the sex offender registry. The Defendant
was arrested. After his arrest, investigators reviewed images
on computers to which the Defendant had access. One such
computer, a laptop, had been recovered from the trunk of the
Defendant's car. The images on this computer provided a
significant portion of the evidence which led to the
convictions in the present case. See State v. John
Burley Alberts, No. M2015-00248-CCA-R3-CD, 2016
WL 349913 (Tenn. Crim. App. Jan. 28, 2016), perm. app.
denied (Tenn. June 23, 2016).
authorities obtained a warrant to search the car. The defense
filed a motion to suppress the search of the car based upon
insufficiency of the search warrant affidavit and sought
suppression of the evidence obtained from the search of the
computer as "fruit of the poisonous tree."
court has previously summarized the evidence related to the
discovery of the Defendant's offenses:
Detective Tameka Sanders testified that she was employed by
the Williamson County Sheriff's Office ("WCSO")
and that she was the lead detective on the Defendant's
case. Det. Sanders began investigating the Defendant after
several parents reported that the Defendant had sexually
abused their children. According to Det. Sanders, the abuse
was reported on January 19, 2007. Det. Sanders "pulled
[the Defendant's] records" and learned that he had
been previously convicted of sexual abuse of a minor female.
Det. Grant Benedict, also with the WCSO, testified that he
"handle[d]" registered sex offenders in the county.
After learning about the Defendant's prior record from
Det. Sanders, Det. Benedict searched the county's sex
offender registry for the Defendant's name and discovered
that the Defendant had been living in Williamson County
without registering as required. Accordingly, on January 31,
2007, Det. Benedict arrested the Defendant for violating the
sex offender registry. While attempting to locate the
Defendant prior to his arrest, Det. Benedict called one of
the Defendant's former employers, who informed Det.
Benedict that the Defendant had spent a lot of time on one of
the computers at work.
Timothy Pratt testified that he and the Defendant "grew
up together" and that in 2007, he was living on Sweet
Gum Lane in Lawrence County. He testified that the Defendant
sometimes "stayed" at the house next door to his,
which Mr. Pratt also owned. He recalled that the
Defendant's car was "setting [sic] in [his] driveway
when [he] came home one night." More specifically, the
Defendant's car was located "in between" the
driveway of the house where the Defendant had been staying
and the driveway of Mr. Pratt's home. According to Mr.
Pratt, the Defendant had already been arrested at that point,
and he was not sure how the car came to be parked there. Mr.
Pratt was aware of the Defendant's arrest because the
Defendant was working for Mr. Pratt's brother at the
time, and the Defendant was arrested at a "job
site." Mr. Pratt opined that someone from the