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State v. Smith

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

January 13, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs November 8, 2016

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Bedford County No. 18080 Forest Durard, Judge

         A Bedford County jury convicted the Defendant, William Henry Smith, Jr., of conspiracy to sell and deliver a Schedule II drug, and the trial court sentenced him to fifteen years of confinement. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the evidence against him is insufficient to support his conviction. After review, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit Court Affirmed

          Andrew Jackson Dearing, III, Shelbyville, Tennessee, for the appellant, William Henry Smith, Jr.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; James E. Gaylord, Senior Counsel; Robert J. Carter, District Attorney General; and Michale D. Randles, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Alan E. Glenn, J., joined.



         I. Facts

         A Bedford County grand jury indicted the Defendant for conspiracy to sell and deliver a Schedule II drug. At trial, the parties presented the following evidence: Jose Ramirez, a Marshall County Sheriff's Department deputy, testified that he was assigned to the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force. During the course of his work with the Task Force, Agent Ramirez became familiar with the Defendant. He said that the Defendant was also known by the street name, "Rat." Deputy Ramirez identified the Defendant in court.

          Agent Ramirez testified that on March 20, 2014, he participated in a Drug Task Force investigation that targeted the Defendant and another individual, Kavaris Kelso. For this operation, the officers worked with a female confidential informant ("CI"). The CI arranged to purchase an ounce and a half of cocaine for $2, 200 from the Defendant and Mr. Kelso. Agent Ramirez, while at the CI's motel room in Shelbyville, searched the CI's person, room, and vehicle for contraband, large sums of money, and weapons before the drug transaction, and found none.

         Agent Ramirez testified that a controlled buy is an illegal drug transaction that is monitored by the law enforcement. Normally, a CI is searched, wired for recording or audio monitoring of the drug transaction, and provided with recorded money for later identification. In this case, the Drug Task Force altered the normal course of a controlled buy and elected to do a "bust." Agent Ramirez explained that a "bust" is when officers interrupt the transaction before the actual sale occurs and take the parties into custody. Based upon the decision to intercede in the drug transaction before its completion, the CI was not provided with money; however, she was still provided with a recording device.

         Agent Ramirez testified that, while still at the CI's motel room before the transaction, officers instructed the CI to place a telephone call to the Defendant to confirm the drug transaction. Officers recorded this phone call, and the State played the recording for the jury. Agent Ramirez identified the CI's and the Defendant's voices on the recording. In the recording, the CI can be heard asking whether she needed to come and get the Defendant or if he planned to meet her at her motel room. The Defendant responded that he would come to the motel room where he would "dial him up." The CI understood the Defendant's reference to "him" to be Mr. Kelso.

         Agent Ramirez testified that officers placed a recording device on the CI so that Assistant Director Miller could monitor the transaction in real time. Agent Ramirez, along with other officers, conducted surveillance of the transaction. Agent Ramirez drove his vehicle across the street where he could view the CI's motel room and the "general area." Agent Ramirez observed the Defendant walk down North Main, turn into the motel property, and then enter the CI's motel room. After a period of time the CI and the Defendant exited the CI's room and entered the CI's vehicle. Law enforcement officers monitored the CI and Defendant's route as they drove around "town." The CI drove and they took a circuitous route, for approximately thirty minutes, to the Bedford Manor Apartments in Shelbyville, Tennessee. These apartments were approximately two miles from the CI's motel.

         Agent Ramirez testified that the CI parked the vehicle at the Bedford Manor Apartments, and, a short time later, the CI departed alone in the vehicle. Agent Ramirez followed the CI while the other officers remained in position near the Bedford Manor Apartments. After a short distance, Agent Ramirez flagged the CI over to find out why she had left. While speaking with the CI, Agent Ramirez observed a cell phone in the vehicle that the CI indicated was the Defendant's phone. The phone began ringing, and the CI answered the phone. ...

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