Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs October 4, 2016
from the Circuit Court for Maury County No. 21156 Stella L.
Defendant, Jamichael Polk Armstrong, was convicted by a Maury
County jury of facilitation of sale of cocaine over 0.5 grams
in a drug-free school zone and sentenced to ten years in the
Tennessee Department of Correction, with the first eight
years to be served at one hundred percent release eligibility
pursuant to the Drug-Free School Zone Act (hereinafter
"the Act"). On appeal, the Defendant claims that
the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction and
that the trial court erred by applying the Act to his
facilitation conviction. Following our review, we affirm the
Defendant's conviction but remand for resentencing.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
Court Affirmed and Remanded for Resentencing
Samuel Patterson, Columbia, Tennessee, for the
Defendant-Appellant, Jamichael Polk Armstrong.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark
B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; and Brent Cooper, District
Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.
Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court,
in which Alan E. Glenn and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.
CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE.
appeal stems from a controlled drug purchase completed by an
informant working for the Columbia Police Department. The
Defendant was indicted by a grand jury for the sale of
cocaine over 0.5 grams within 1, 000 feet of a drug-free
school zone. A jury trial began on October 10, 2013, at which
time the following evidence was adduced.
A confidential informant (CI) working for the Columbia Police
Department (CPD) testified that he had purchased cocaine from
a man named Michael or "Al" Harding in the past and
that he agreed to help the CPD set up a controlled purchase
at Harding's house on June 17, 2011. The CI said that
Harding did not always have cocaine to sell but that
"there was always somebody around that had it." The
CI could not remember whether he spoke with Harding on the
day of the purchase, but he testified that he "usually
did" and that he knew he would be purchasing the drugs
from an unknown "black male."
met with officers before the purchase, and he was searched
and supplied with a listening device and hidden camera. He
then drove to Harding's house in a police-supplied
vehicle. There were at least three or four other adults
present at the house when the CI arrived. The CI told Harding
that he wanted $100 worth of cocaine, and Harding "made
the phone call." After the call, the CI "saw the
[Defendant] walking up." The CI handed the money to the
Defendant, and the Defendant handed the CI the drugs in a
cigarette cellophane wrapper. The CI identified a still
photograph from the hidden camera, which he said showed the
drugs in the Defendant's hand. The CI testified that
Harding was sitting next to him during the purchase but that
Harding did not participate in the purchase between the CI
and the Defendant. The CI identified several other still
photographs from the hidden camera, including photographs of
the Defendant's face and a photograph of the drugs in the
CI's hand. The CI then left Harding's house and drove
back to meet the officers. The CI was paid around $120 or
$125 for the purchase.
cross-examination, the CI admitted that he had been charged
with possession of crack cocaine a few months before the
undercover purchase. He confirmed that his criminal record
included convictions for the sale of cocaine, burglary,
theft, vandalism, forgery, and probation violation. He had
been using cocaine for probably fifteen or twenty years but
had been sober since June 2011. The CI also testified that he
had mental health issues and struggled with major depression
and manic depressive bipolar disorders. He had been paid for
participating in between ten and fifteen paid undercover drug
purchases with the CPD. He also admitted to using the money
to occasionally buy drugs for himself in the past. The CI
acknowledged that the video did not show him placing the
money into the Defendant's hand.
Jason Dark testified that the CI was used to conduct the
undercover drug purchase at Harding's house on June 17,
2011. Officer Dark followed the CI to the area surrounding
Harding's house before the purchase, and after the
purchase was completed, he followed the CI back to the police
department where the officers recovered the drugs the CI had
purchased. Officer Dark testified that, before a purchase,
officers would search an informant, photocopy any currency
they planned to use for the purchase, and provide an
electronic listening device and a camera for the informant.
Officer Dark confirmed that if an informant participated in
an undercover purchase to help with his own charges he would
not also be paid. Officer Dark also testified that he used a
computer program developed by the Planning Department of the
City of Columbia to determine the distance between the
undercover purchase location and the nearby College Hill
School,  which was 747 feet.
cross-examination, Officer Dark confirmed that the CI had
worked with the CPD in the past as a confidential informant,
including a case in May 2011, a few months before the
undercover purchase, in which Harding sold to the CI. Officer
Dark also confirmed that he was not able to physically
observe the transaction between the CI and the Defendant.
Officer Dark testified ...