Criminal Cases – Opinions Released in Calendar Year 2022

State of Tennessee v. Tyler Ward Enix (Robbery and Murder Appeal; Closing Argument, Photographs, Change of Venue, and Jury Instructions) DECIDED SEPTEMBER 13, 2022

Style: State of Tennessee v. Tyler Ward Enix

TSC Docket Number: E2020-00231-SC-R11-CD

Link to Court of Appeals Opinion:

Court of Criminal Appeals Summary:

Tyler Ward Enix, Defendant, was indicted for three counts of first degree felony murder, one count of premeditated first degree murder, one count of especially aggravated robbery, one count of especially aggravated kidnapping, and one count of carjacking. The trial court dismissed the kidnapping and carjacking counts at the State’s request. After a jury trial, Defendant was found not guilty of felony murder. The jury found Defendant guilty of first degree premeditated murder and especially aggravated robbery. After the jury deadlocked on a sentence for first degree murder, the trial court imposed a life sentence. After a separate sentencing hearing, the trial court ordered Defendant to serve a consecutive twenty-five-year sentence for especially aggravated robbery. The trial court denied a motion for new trial and this appeal followed. On appeal, Defendant raises the following issues: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions for first degree murder and especially aggravated robbery; (2) the State made improper statements during closing argument; (3) the State made improper statements during opening statements; (4) the trial court improperly admitted hearsay evidence; (5) the trial court abused its discretion in admitting multiple photographs of the victim’s body; (6) the trial court erred by denying a motion for change of venue; (7) the trial court erred in refusing to give a definition of passion to the jury; and (8) cumulative errors After a thorough review of the record and applicable authorities, we affirm Defendant’s convictions and sentences.

Permission to Appeal Granted: October 13, 2021

Appellants’ Briefs Filed: December 20, 2021

Appellees’ Briefs Filed: January 18, 2022

Appellants’ Reply Brief Filed: January 24, 2022

Appellees’ Reply Brief Filed:

Amicus Briefs Permitted:  None

Oral Argument Date: January 26, 2022

Date of TSC Opinion: September 13, 2022

Link to Oral Argument Video:

Opinion of the TSC:

TSC Summary of the Opinion:

In this appeal, we clarify the appropriate standard of review for claims of prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument when a defendant fails to contemporaneously object but later raises the claim in a motion for a new trial. Tyler Ward Enix was convicted of premeditated first-degree murder and especially aggravated robbery for the 2015 killing of Kimberly Enix. Mr. Enix filed a motion for a new trial challenging his convictions. As relevant to this appeal, he alleged that four instances of improper prosecutorial closing argument, which were not contemporaneously objected to at trial, constitute reversible error. The trial court denied his motion for new trial. The Court of Criminal Appeals, reviewing the claims under the plain error doctrine, affirmed the trial court’s judgment. Mr. Enix sought permission to appeal, arguing that this Court should employ plenary review to address his claims because they were included in his motion for a new trial. We granted permission to appeal and now hold that plain error review is the appropriate standard, and, furthermore, that Mr. Enix is not entitled to relief. Accordingly, we affirm the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeals for the separate reasons stated herein.


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