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State v. Ford

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 3, 2017


          Assigned on Briefs February 7, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Shelby County No. 14-03603 W. Mark Ward, Judge

         A Shelby County Criminal Court jury convicted the defendant, Humphre Ford, of unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, unlawful possession of a handgun by a convicted felon, and two counts of simple possession of marijuana. Due to his extensive criminal history, the trial court imposed a within-range consecutive sentence of twelve years, eleven months, and twenty-nine days. On appeal, the defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of a handgun convictions and the imposition of consecutive sentences. Discerning no error, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Criminal Court Affirmed

          Errol Harmon, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Humphre Ford.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith W. Bowen, Assistant Attorney General; Amy P. Weirich, District Attorney General; and Jose Leon, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          J. Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and Camille R. McMullen, J., joined.


          J. ROSS DYER, JUDGE

         Facts and Procedural History

         The morning of January 3, 2014, the Memphis Police Department ("MPD") surveilled a house located at 889 Belvedere in Memphis, Tennessee in response to two anonymous complaints regarding the sale of drugs from the residence. The police noted a car leaving the residence but saw no other activity. Around 10:00 a.m., the MPD officers initiated a "knock and talk" investigation. The defendant answered the door, indicated he lived there with his children and their mother, and initially identified himself as "Gino Walker, " though he later gave the officers his real name. The investigating officers explained why they were present, and the defendant gave them both oral and written permission to search the residence.

         Two minor children were home with the defendant at the time of the "knock and talk" - an infant and a female child. There were no other adults present, so Detective Jewel Yancey Claxton kept the children calm and held the infant while other officers searched the residence and talked to the defendant. According to Detective Claxton, at some point during the investigation the defendant's girlfriend, later identified as Angela Collins Gunn, entered the residence. Ms. Gunn appeared irritated and took the infant from Detective Claxton.

         Detective Roshundra Jackson was one of the MPD officers tasked with searching the residence. She searched a bedroom the defendant identified as his. This bedroom contained male clothing and shoes, giving it the appearance a male resided there. Detective Jackson discovered a Mason jar of marijuana and a gun box under a queen-sized bed in the room. The gun box was closed but not locked and contained a loaded handgun. There were eleven rounds in the gun, including one in the chamber.

         Detective Patrick Fox, also with the MPD, searched the defendant and recovered $1, 885.00 in cash from his front pocket and a small amount of marijuana. The cash consisted of eighty-seven twenty-dollar-bills, nine ten-dollar-bills, and fifty-five one-dollar-bills. Detective Fox testified that the presence of a large sum of cash comprised of smaller bills combined with the discovery of the larger amount of marijuana stored in a Mason jar were indicative of the sale of illegal drugs by the defendant. According to Detective Fox, the marijuana found under the bed was high-grade and packaged in a manner to preserve the quality and aroma of the narcotic. Detective Fox admitted baggies were not found on the premises. The presence of baggies would also have been an indicator that drugs were being sold in the residence.

         Detective Dewayne Smith collected and tagged the evidence at the scene and transported it to the MPD property room. Eventually, the narcotics were transported in sealed envelopes to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) lab for testing. Special Agent Brock Sain identified the green-leafy substance recovered from the defendant as marijuana weighing 0.9 ...

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