Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs November 14, 2019
from the Criminal Court for White County No. 2011-CR-5205
David A. Patterson, Judge
petitioner, Joshua Iceman, appeals the denial of his
post-conviction petition, arguing the post-conviction court
erred in finding he received the effective assistance of
counsel at trial. Following our review, we affirm the denial
of the petition.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
Michael J. Rocco (on appeal) and Daniel J. Barnes (at trial),
Sparta, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joshua Taylor Iceman.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Garrett D. Ward, Assistant Attorney General; Bryant C.
Dunaway, District Attorney General; and Philip A. Hatch,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Norma McGee Ogle, and Alan E. Glenn, JJ., joined.
ROSS DYER, JUDGE
and Procedural History
petitioner was convicted of aggravated child abuse and first
degree felony murder. State v. Joshua Iceman, No.
M2016-00975-CCA-R3-CD, 2017 WL 4805118 (Tenn. Crim. App.
October 24, 2017), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Feb. 14,
2018). He received concurrent terms of eighteen years for the
aggravated child abuse conviction and life imprisonment for
the felony murder conviction, resulting in an effective life
sentence. Id. at *19. This Court affirmed his
convictions and sentence on appeal. Id. Because the
testimony from trial was extensive, the following is a
summary of the relevant proof presented at trial as it
relates to the petitioner's post-conviction claims.
evening of September 2, 2011, the petitioner was home alone
with his eight-week-old daughter, the victim, while the
victim's mother was working night shift. According to the
petitioner, the child had been crying all evening. Shortly
after midnight, September 3, the petitioner realized the
victim was not breathing, and he took her to White County
Hospital in Sparta, Tennessee. The victim died on the evening
of September 5, 2011, after suffering extensive injuries to
her head, ribs, and legs. Her autopsy revealed she suffered
"both subdural and subgaleal hematomas,"
"subarachonoid hemorrhaging," bruising on the head
and ears, bleeding underneath the scalp, in the back of the
neck, in the brain and in the spinal cord,
"extensive" retinal hemorrhaging, "global
cerebral ischemic changes," fractures of the ribs, and
"metaphysical fractures, both legs." When
questioned by law enforcement, the petitioner admitted to
being frustrated with the victim because she would not stop
crying, and he shook the child at one point during the
State's theory at trial was that the victim died as a
result of shaken-baby syndrome and/or physical abuse. The
State presented two medical experts to corroborate this
theory. Dr. Adele Lewis, who conducted the victim's
autopsy, testified as an expert in the field of forensic
psychology. Dr. Lewis opined that the victim's rib
fractures were "very suspicious for abuse," and
that within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the
victim's cause of death was homicide due to
"multiple blunt force injuries," with many injuries
being indicative of shaking. Dr. Annamaria Church, an expert
in pediatrics and pediatric trauma, testified the primary
cause of retinal hemorrhaging in infants is non-accidental
trauma or abusive head trauma. Dr. Church opined that within
a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the victim suffered
major head trauma as a result of physical abuse.
addition to the medical proof, the State introduced a
statement given by the petitioner on September 13, 2011, to
Agent Dan Friel of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
After being properly advised of his
Miranda rights, the petitioner signed a
Miranda waiver and spoke with Agent Friel for
approximately one hour and seven minutes. At the conclusion
of the interview, Agent Friel provided a written summary of
the petitioner's statement, which the petitioner
reviewed, edited, initialed throughout, and signed. The
statement read as follows:
It was an accident, [the victim] was crying all night, and
when [her mother] left to go to work [the victim] was still
crying. I got upset with [the victim] and put her in her
swing in the back bedroom. [The victim] was still crying, so
I went on the balcony to cool off. I was out on the balcony
for about [thirty] minutes, long enough to smoke two
cigarettes, when I went back inside [the victim] was still
crying. I was frustrated I did not know what to do to make
[the victim] stop crying. I picked [the victim] up out of her
swing and held her by her shoulders. I ...