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State v. Barker

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

September 2, 2014

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
STEVEN GREGG BARKER

Session July 22, 2014

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Bradley County No. 13-CR-258 Amy F. Reedy, Judge

Larry Wright, Assistant Public Defender, Cleveland, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Steven Gregg Barker.

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Assistant Attorney General Counsel; Stephen Crump, District Attorney General; and Monte Hatchett, Assistant District Attorney General for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

Timothy L. Easter, Sp. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Robert W. Wedemeyer, J.J., joined.

OPINION

Timothy L. Easter, Special Judge

Facts

Appellant was indicted by a Bradley County grand jury on July 17, 2013, on 23 counts of the initiation of the process to manufacture methamphetamine, one count of possession of less than .5 grams of methamphetamine with the intent to resell, and one count of tampering with evidence. Prior to trial, Appellant filed a motion to suppress all evidence discovered as a result of an illegal search and seizure of the Appellant's residence that the state sought to introduce at trial.

Subsequently, the trial court held a hearing on the motion to suppress, at which the following evidence was presented:

Detective Robby Hair of the Bradley County Sheriff's Department testified that on May 15, 2013, he went to the Appellant's residence after being contacted by the Department of Children Services (DCS) regarding a drug-exposed child complaint. His presence was needed as a safety precaution for the DCS worker.

Upon arrival, Detective Hair and the DCS worker were met by a child who was "unclear" as to whether his parents were at home. Detective Hair testified that he felt that someone was inside based upon "the way the child was acting."

During the suppression hearing, Detective Hair identified photographs of the residence's driveway and garage doors as well as other areas around the exterior of the Appellant's residence. The photographs depict that the Appellant's garage is located underneath the residence with its doors facing the driveway. The sidewalk to the front door is parallel to the front side of the Appellant's residence passing directly beside the garage doors, which are located on the east side of the residence. Sitting directly outside the garage door, Detective Hair observed clear tubing, a Mason jar and a white paper bag.[1] Detective Hair testified that in his training and experience such items are indicative of the manufacturing of methamphetamine. He testified that Mason jars are commonly used to mix Coleman fuel with ammonia nitrates and pseudoephedrine. Additionally, clear tubing is used to "gas off" the product after certain stages.

Just around the rear corner of the house by the driveway, Detective Hair observed a few milk crates containing Coleman fuel and cold packs, among other things. Detective Hair testified that these items are also used in the manufacture of methamphetamine. All of these items to the rear of the house could be seen standing in the Appellant's driveway, according to Detective Hair.

After viewing these items outside of the Appellant's residence, Detective Hair "secured the house pending a search warrant and also for safety." Upon entering the house, Detective Hair found the Appellant and a female in a back bathroom after knocking and announcing his presence.

On cross-examination, Detective Hair testified that upon arriving at the Appellant's residence, he parked in the driveway beside the sidewalk that goes in front of the house. He testified that the purpose for his being on the property was to make sure the DCS worker was not harmed. After the child said that he did not think his parents were at home, Detective Hair went to check if he could see a parked vehicle in the garage. It was at that time the detective saw what he believed to be methamphetamine manufacturing components just outside the garage door.

Detective Hair testified that he walked about seven more feet to where he could observe the back of the house. He could not go further because of a dog ...


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