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State v. Wilkerson

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

May 5, 2015

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
DANNY STEVE WILKERSON

Assigned on Briefs Date: March 3, 2015

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hardin County No. 9687 C. Creed McGinley, Judge

Chadwick G. Hunt, Savannah, Tennessee, for the appellant, Danny Steve Wilkerson.

Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Tracy L. Alcock, Assistant Attorney General; Hansel L. McCadams, District Attorney General; R. Adam Jowers, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

OPINION

TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE

Factual and Procedural Background

This is a direct appeal by Appellant of his jury convictions and sentences from the Circuit Court for Hardin County. On February 23, 2012, an affidavit of complaint was sworn out against Appellant in the General Sessions Court of Hardin County for promotion of methamphetamine manufacture, initiation of methamphetamine manufacture, unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, and possession of a firearm during the commission of a dangerous felony. An arrest warrant was issued for Appellant on the same day. Appellant waived his right to a preliminary hearing, and his case was bound over to the Hardin County Grand Jury. The grand jury indicted Appellant on all four counts, [1] and he was arraigned on November 27, 2012. Appellant was tried on July 30, 2013.

At trial, Investigator Keith Amos testified that he worked for Hardin County Sheriff's Department and had done so for twelve years. He was certified in detection and identification of methamphetamine and had prior experience with investigations involving methamphetamine.

On February 22, 2012, Investigator Amos, accompanied by Agent James Frazier of the McNairy County Sheriff's Department, went to Appellant's residence on Cherry Chapel Loop in Savannah, Tennessee. Both officers were investigating different individuals for the purchase of pseudoephedrine. Upon arrival, the officers approached the front of the trailer. The door was open so Investigator Amos knocked on the side of the trailer. Appellant's wife, Tina Wilkerson, went to the doorway, and Investigator Amos asked to speak with Appellant. Mrs. Wilkerson retrieved Appellant from outside behind the trailer, and he came to the doorway. Appellant was wearing a pair of latex gloves.

Investigator Amos asked Appellant about his purchase of pseudoephedrine the day before in Florence, Alabama. Appellant produced a thirty-count box of Claritin D and a prescription receipt from a prescription bag. The National Precursor Log Exchange ("NPLEx") is a nationwide database that contains records of pseudoephedrine purchases across the country. Investigator Amos knew from the NPLEx that Appellant had only purchased a fifteen-count box the previous day.

Investigator Amos asked Appellant for consent to search the residence, and Appellant verbally consented. Investigator Amos and Appellant waited inside the residence while Agent Frazier went behind the residence and investigated. Investigator Amos then began searching the inside of the trailer. Appellant showed his bedroom to Investigator Amos, where Investigator Amos discovered a set of digital scales in one of the drawers. Investigator Amos also discovered an unloaded .22 caliber "long gun" inside the closet of the bedroom. Appellant stated that the gun was in the closet because it did not work. No ammunition was ever found for this gun.

After searching the bedroom, Investigator Amos joined Agent Frazier outside. Appellant followed. Agent Frazier indicated that he had discovered items used for manufacturing methamphetamine in a pickup truck about ten feet behind the trailer. Among other things, a black garbage bag was in the bed of the truck. Inside the bag, Agent Frazier found "some cooked-off bottles" and other items that had been used to manufacture methamphetamine. Among the other items were plastic bottles with contents inside that constituted an "active meth lab." A black and white plastic container in the bed of the truck also contained items for manufacturing methamphetamine. After discovering these materials, the officers arrested Appellant and called the Meth Task Force to clean up the location.

At the sheriff's office, Investigator Amos read Appellant his Miranda rights. Appellant signed a waiver of rights form and provided a signed, written statement on the form: "I take responsibility for what's found on my property."[2]

On cross-examination, Investigator Amos acknowledged that there were two separate "outbuildings" and another trailer located behind Appellant's trailer. Regarding the Wilkersons' relationship, he stated, "I know they live together. I mean, that's his wife. . . . They live in the same trailer; place of residence, the same mailing address, same last name." He did not recall either of them indicating that they did not live in the same trailer.

The pickup truck was registered to Appellant's daughter, Brandy Wilkerson. Investigator Amos expounded on the items discovered in the bed of the truck. There were ten "cooked-off bottles" in the garbage bag and a black bag that had a bottle that was "already active at making meth. It already [had] been cooked, just waiting to be gassed off." He explained that "cooked" meant "it had formed a copper beading around th[e] bottle, which is pseudoephedrine. And you have to take [a] gas generator to gas this pseudoephedrine to make a product." Investigator Amos explained that these liquid materials cannot be sent to an investigatory lab for forensic testing because the materials are unsafe. Accordingly, none of that material was tested for the presence of methamphetamine. However, Investigator Amos ...


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