Session October 4, 2016
from the Circuit Court for Carroll County No. 15-CR-78 Donald
E. Parish, Judge
the trial court denied an interlocutory appeal pursuant to
Rule 9 of the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure, the
State sought an extraordinary appeal pursuant to Rule 10 of
the Tennessee Rules of Appellate Procedure. This Court
granted the State's application. On appeal, the State
argues that the trial court erred in excluding the evidence
seized from Defendant because the arresting officer had
probable cause to arrest him for a felony drug offense and
search him incident to that arrest. Following our review, we
reverse the judgment of the trial court.
R. App. P. 10 Extraordinary Appeal; Judgment of the Circuit
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Rachel
E. Willis, Senior Counsel; Matthew F. Stowe, District
Attorney General; and R. Adam Jowers, Assistant District
Attorney General, for the appellant, State of Tennessee.
Benjamin S. Dempsey, Huntingdon, Tennessee, for the appellee,
Christopher Douglas Smith.
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Alan E. Glenn, J., joined. Camille R. McMullen, J.,
filed a dissenting opinion.
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE
4, 2015, the Carroll County Grand Jury returned an
eight-count indictment charging the Defendant, Christopher
Douglas Smith, with possession of methamphetamine with intent
to deliver in Counts 1 and 5, possession of drug
paraphernalia in Counts 2 and 8, unlawful possession of a
weapon by a convicted felon in Count 3, possession of a
weapon during the commission of a dangerous felony in Count
4, possession of hydrocodone with intent to deliver in Count
6, and possession of less than 0.5 grams of marijuana in
Count 7. Counts 1 through 4 were alleged to have occurred on
December 14, 2014, and Counts 5 through 8 were alleged to
have occurred on March 12, 2015. On June 19, 2015, Defendant
filed a motion to suppress evidence seized during his March
12, 2015 arrest, specifically, approximately 30.2 grams of
methamphetamine, seven-hundred dollars in cash, a small bag
of marijuana, an LG smart phone, and eighteen hydrocodone
pills. The Carroll County Circuit Court held an evidentiary
hearing on July 2, 2015.
Joey Hedge testified that, on March 12, 2015, he obtained a
search warrant for Defendant's house. The search warrant
was based on information received from a confidential
informant ("CI") who informed Investigator Hedge
that methamphetamine was being sold out of Defendant's
house by Defendant and his girlfriend, Tonya Swafford.
Investigator Hedge testified that the CI had provided
reliable information in the past that led to other search
warrants and convictions. Investigator Hedge also stated that
he "was getting information all over the place"
that Defendant was selling drugs. Investigator Hedge had been
to Defendant's house three months prior in December 2014
to execute another search warrant where he recovered
methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. Investigator Hedge
included information about the prior search warrant and items
found at Defendant's house in December 2014 in the
affidavit supporting his March 2015 search warrant.
search warrant for Defendant's house was obtained at 2:15
p.m. on March 12, 2015. Before executing the search warrant,
Investigator Hedge called the CI and asked him to go back to
Defendant's house to "see if there [were] any drugs
in the residence." The CI confirmed that there were and
that Defendant "had, in his pocket, approximately a golf
ball size of [m]ethamphetamine." Investigator Hedge
drove to Defendant's house to execute the warrant,
however, Defendant and Ms. Swafford were not home.
Investigator Hedge testified that he then "circled
through town" and "[saw] both parties traveling
[e]ast on Main Street in [their] vehicle." Investigator
Hedge said that he was "very familiar" with
Defendant, Ms. Swafford, and the car they drove because he
had stopped them in the car before and had "seen it
around." After seeing Defendant and Ms. Swafford drive
by, Investigator Hedge called another officer he was working
with, Officer Drake Whitworth, "to let him know that
[Investigator Hedge] was looking for the vehicle."
Investigator Hedge proceeded to the Huntingdon Police
Department where he met Commander Johnny Hill and got in an
unmarked patrol car. Officer Whitworth then called
Investigator Hedge and informed him that Defendant and Ms.
Swafford were in the parking lot of Prater's Taters, a
local business on Main Street.
Hedge and Commander Hill drove to the parking lot where they
saw Defendant "leaning over in a vehicle." The
officers pulled into the parking lot and parked in front of
Defendant and Ms. Swafford's car but did not turn on the
blue lights of the patrol car. Investigator Hedge testified
that, once he pulled in, he saw Defendant talking to two
other individuals in a car parked beside Defendant's car.
Investigator Hedge said that he was familiar with one of the
individuals because she was "known for drugs" and
he received information in the past regarding her involvement
with methamphetamine. Investigator Hedge then confronted
Defendant to inform him that the officers had a search
warrant for his house. Investigator Hedge recalled that, when
he first confronted Defendant, he "was getting a little
antsy" and "acted as if he was going to run."
Investigator Hedge testified that he "went ahead and put
cuffs on [Defendant], and told him he wasn't under
arrest, but he was being detained." Next, Investigator
Hedge performed "a slight pat down" of Defendant to
check for weapons, but did not feel anything that appeared to
be a weapon. At some point, Investigator Hedge learned that
Ms. Swafford was in a nearby store, and he entered the store
to also inform her that officers had a search warrant for her
house. Investigator Hedge confronted Ms. Swafford inside the
store and testified that she told him, "I've got
what you want" or "what you're looking
for" and that it was in her purse. Investigator Hedge
escorted Ms. Swafford outside where he searched her purse and
found approximately 2.8 grams of methamphetamine.
Investigator Hedge returned to the parking lot, he performed
a second pat down of Defendant "[s]ince [the officers]
had received information of [Defendant] having
[m]ethamphetamine in his pocket." Investigator Hedge
testified that he felt money in Defendant's pocket as
well as "a bulge that had a gritty feeling, "
which, in his experience as an officer, felt like
methamphetamine. Investigator Hedge seized the items from
Defendant, which included 30.2 grams of methamphetamine,
cash, a cell phone, and a small amount of marijuana.
Investigator Hedge clarified that, before he performed the
second pat down of Defendant and seized the items from
Defendant, he read both Defendant and Ms. Swafford their
Miranda rights. Investigator Hedge also testified that
Ms. Swafford signed a written consent to search both her
house and the car, which was titled in her name. In the car,
officers found a ledger with names and numbers and an
unmarked bottle in the console containing eighteen
hydrocodone pills. After searching Defendant's house,
officers found a plate with white ...