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State v. McNair

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville, Knoxville

February 25, 2015

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
JOSEPH SANFORD McNAIR, JR.

Assigned on Briefs January 22, 2015

Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 94084 Bob R. McGee, Judge

J. Liddell Kirk (on appeal and motion for new trial) and Cameron D. Bell (at trial), Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Joseph Sanford McNair, Jr.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Lacy Wilber, Senior Counsel; Randall E. Nichols, District Attorney General; and Sean F. McDermott and Joanie Stewart, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.

OPINION

ROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE

This case relates to the seizure of approximately 36 grams of crack cocaine during a police encounter with the Defendant. At the trial, Knoxville Police Officer Brian Baldwin testified that on December 8, 2009, at 1:30 p.m., he and Officer Brandon Stryker were parked in their respective police cruisers at the corner of Minnesota and Sherman Avenues near a park when he saw an Oldsmobile with very dark windows traveling eastbound. The entire front windshield was tinted. Officer Baldwin followed the Oldsmobile and saw it turn left into a residence on Minnesota Avenue, and he "pulled [his] police car all the way in." Officer Stryker parked his police cruiser beside Officer's Baldwin's police cruiser. As Officer Baldwin exited his car, the Defendant exited the driver's door of the Oldsmobile. Officer Baldwin and the Defendant made eye contact, and the Defendant removed a leather jacket he was wearing, placed it inside the car, and closed the door. The Defendant walked toward Officer Baldwin, and Officer Baldwin identified himself and told the Defendant he stopped him because of excessive window tint. The Defendant was unable to provide identification, and Officer Baldwin went to his cruiser to verify the Defendant's identity while Officer Stryker remained with the Defendant.

Officer Baldwin testified that he returned to the Defendant and Officer Stryker and that he asked the Defendant if anything illegal was inside the car and requested permission to search the car. The Defendant consented to a search of the car, unlocked the passenger-side door, and offered to unlock the trunk. During the search, Officer Baldwin found two bags of what he believed was crack cocaine and one bag of marijuana inside a pocket of the leather jacket the Defendant removed previously. He placed the Defendant under arrest and continued the search. Inside the trunk, Officer Baldwin found digital scales with what he believed was cocaine residue. Officer Baldwin said the Defendant did not display any signs of being a cocaine user and was not intoxicated, and he did not request the Defendant perform field sobriety tests. He found no pipes, syringes, or other paraphernalia used to ingest crack cocaine inside the car.

Officer Baldwin described photographs taken at the scene, which depicted the Oldsmobile, the crack cocaine, the marijuana, the scales, and the leather jacket. Relative to the photograph of the car driven by the Defendant, Officer Baldwin noted that Sam E. Hill Preschool was in the background. Officer Baldwin weighed the crack cocaine at the scene, and a photograph of the police-issued scales showed a total weight of 36.2 grams. Officer Baldwin weighed the marijuana at the scene, and a photograph of the police-issued scales showed a total weight of 1.9 grams. A photograph of the scales found inside the trunk showed a white residue. Another photograph showed $233 in cash in the Defendant's possession. Another photograph showed a comparison between the car door window tint and the state-issued tint card. Officer Baldwin stated that he measured the distance between the Defendant's car and the preschool property, which was 74 feet.

On cross-examination, Officer Baldwin testified that he overheard the Defendant talking to Officer Stryker about going inside the residence and that he learned at the suppression hearing that Officer Stryker and the Defendant entered the residence. He agreed nothing illegal was found inside. He agreed Aaron Roper was the registered owner of the car. He identified photographs of the police department's arrest report and the general property, currency, and narcotics envelopes. He acknowledged that at the preliminary hearing, he stated the incorrect address, that a clerical error was made relative to the address, and that the error was corrected on the day of the Defendant's arrest.

On redirect examination, Officer Baldwin testified relative to the address of the residence that he made a clerical error when he completed the envelopes and that the error was corrected on the day of the Defendant's arrest. Relative to the where his police cruiser was parked, he stated he was parked between Texas and Minnesota Avenues.

Knoxville Police Officer Brandon Stryker, an expert in the field of drug trafficking investigations, testified that on December 8, 2009, he and Officer Baldwin were parked in their respective police cruisers near Brittany Daniels Park at the intersection of Sherman and Minnesota Avenues. He observed the car driven by the Defendant turn onto Minnesota Avenue and said that Officer Baldwin followed the car and that he followed Officer Baldwin. Officer Baldwin stopped the car, and Officer Stryker provided assistance. Officer Stryker said the Defendant parked the car at 1715 Minnesota Avenue.

Officer Stryker testified that the Defendant consented to a search of the car. Officer Stryker identified the white substance found inside the car as crack cocaine. He said the two large chunks of crack cocaine found were known as a "crack cookie." He believed the crack cocaine had been made in a Pyrex measuring cup because of its shape. He said crack cocaine was commonly sold in small pieces weighing about 0.2 grams and valued at $20. He agreed the crack cocaine found inside the Defendant's jacket weighed 36.2 grams, and he stated that amount could produce about 181 doses of 0.2 grams and had a "street" value of $3620. He explained that crack cocaine was usually smoked using a "crack pipe" and said no pipe was found in the Defendant's possession or inside his car.

Officer Stryker testified that the toxicology report showed the crack cocaine weighed 35.9 grams. He explained that a portion of the substance was used by analysts for identification purposes and that water contained in the crack cocaine evaporated over time causing the substance to weigh less. He said a small ...


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