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State v. Stanfield

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

March 31, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
JANET MICHELLE STANFIELD, TONY ALAN WINSETT and JUSTIN BRADLEY STANFIELD

          Session Date: October 4, 2016

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Obion County No. CC-15-CR-84 Jeff Parham, Judge

         The Defendants, Janet Michelle Stanfield, Tony Alan Winsett, and Justin Bradley Stanfield, were indicted by the Obion County Grand Jury for various drug and firearm offenses following a warrantless search of their house. The Defendants filed motions to suppress the evidence seized, and the trial court granted the motions and dismissed the case. The State appeals, asserting that the warrantless search was valid and the evidence was admissible. Upon review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jeffrey D. Zentner, Assistant Attorney General; Tommy A. Thomas, District Attorney General; and James T. Cannon, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellant, State of Tennessee.

          Beau E. Pemberton, Dresden, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Janet Michelle Stanfield. Charles S. Kelly, Sr., Dyersbug, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Tony Alan Winsett. Bruce B. Brown, Union City, Tennessee, for the Appellee, Justin Bradley Stanfield.

          Camille R. McMullen, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          CAMILLE R. McMULLEN, JUDGE

         This case arises from the warrantless search of the Defendants' house by officers conducting a parolee search. On June 2, 2015, Janet Michelle Stanfield, a probationer, and Tony Alan Winsett, a parolee, were indicted for possession of more than 0.5 grams of methamphetamine with intent to deliver or sell, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Additionally, Stanfield was indicted for unlawful possession of Alprazolam, and Winsett was indicted for evading arrest. Justin Bradley Stanfield, [1] Janet Stanfield's son, was indicted for possession of marijuana with intent to deliver or sell. Prior to trial, the Defendants moved to suppress evidence obtained from the search of their house, and Janet Stanfield moved to suppress the evidence discovered from a search of her person. An evidentiary hearing was held on November 2, 2015.

         Suppression Hearing.

         Officer Ben Yates of the Union City Police Department's Drug Task Force testified that on April 6, 2015, he planned to conduct a parole search of Winsett's house at 3089 Shady Grove Road in Union City. Officer Yates had received information that Winsett "was using methamphetamine and possibly injecting with needles" and he knew that Winsett was currently on parole. Officer Yates was accompanied by his partner, Investigator David Crocker, and Agent James Hall. Upon arriving at Winsett's house, Agent Hall observed a burn pile near the house. Agent Hall informed Officer Yates that he found "some clear plastic bags in the burn pile, " and because the bags were dry and it had been raining that day, the officers "knew the bags seemed to be pretty fresh." Officer Yates testified that the officers found marijuana residue in the bags. Officer Yates was aware that both Janet and Justin Stanfield lived in the house with Winsett.

         Officer Yates testified that he knocked on the front door, and Investigator Crocker knocked on the back door of the house, but there was no answer. Officer Yates knew from being at the house on "previous occasions" that there were security cameras facing towards the road, the yard, and the driveway. Officer Yates observed that there were no cars in the driveway. He also noticed that a window was open and a light was on inside the house. Officer Yates testified that, while the other two officers continued knocking on the front and back doors, he heard movement inside the house through the open window. Officer Yates testified that the other two officers also confirmed hearing the noise and that it "[s]ounded like a running noise" but that he "[c]ouldn't tell who it was, what it was[, ] or anything like that." Because of the security cameras and the plastic bags with marijuana residue found on the burn pile, Officer Yates and the officers "believed somebody was in the house destroying evidence."

         Agent Hall then used a pocket knife to open the front door of the house. Officer Yates testified that, once inside, he noticed a "very strong odor of marijuana" and a large pit bull dog in the living room, which was the first room the officers entered. The officers determined that the dog "was the only living thing inside the home when [they] made entry, " and they concluded that the dog was making the noises they heard from outside the house. However, the officers identified three bedrooms in the house and proceeded to search each bedroom. Officer Yates testified that the officers identified the first bedroom as that of Janet and Winsett and that the officers knew they "were in a relationship[] [and] had been for some time." Officer Yates identified Janet and Winsett's bedroom based on a jacket in the room that Officer Yates testified "Mr. Winsett had wore [sic] . . . on a previous occasion when [the officers] encountered him." The second bedroom was identified as Justin's room based on a work identification card containing his name and picture as well as a piece of mail with his name, both of which were found inside a nightstand drawer in his bedroom. Officer Yates testified that all three bedroom doors were open, that the third bedroom was being used as storage, and that this room had the open window he observed from outside the house.

         In Janet and Winsett's bedroom, officers found a black 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun with a scratched off serial number as well as thirty-five rounds of ammunition in the top drawer of a dresser. Officer Yates testified that the dresser was located behind the door of the bedroom and that the gun was "under clothes, socks and underwear." Under a computer table next to the bed, officers found a gray plastic container with several sets of clear plastic bags, digital scales, a marijuana pipe, and a small flashlight inside. After discovering that the flashlight did not work, Officer Yates unscrewed the back of the flashlight and found a small clear bag containing a crystal substance that he identified as methamphetamine. Inside the pocket of a jacket hanging on the bed post the officers also found a pill container with a plastic package inside containing what was later determined to be 13.14 grams of methamphetamine.

         Meanwhile, Agent Hall searched Justin's bedroom where he found a large glass container containing "approximately seven ounces of marijuana." The officers also found another handgun inside a nightstand in Justin's bedroom. Officer Yates testified that no evidence was seized from anywhere else inside the house besides the two bedrooms.

         In Janet and Winsett's bedroom, a television monitor provided live feed from the security cameras placed outside of the house. While still inside, the officers watched on the monitor as a red Mitsubishi Eclipse slowed down near the driveway of the home and then accelerated away "at a high rate of speed." Officer Yates testified that he knew that Justin drove a red Mitsubishi Eclipse, so the officers "exited the home in our patrol unit and did conduct a traffic stop of Mr. Stanfield." Officer Yates subsequently arrested Justin, but found no contraband on his person or in his car. Officer Yates asked Justin repeatedly whether he sold marijuana, which Justin denied. Officer Yates then informed Justin about the marijuana found in his bedroom, and Justin "stated that he did sell marijuana." Officer Yates next asked Justin "for verbal consent to search [his] cell phone, " which Justin granted. Officer Yates asked Justin to unlock the cell phone and when he did the screen indicated "something along the lines of deleting all messages." Officer Yates concluded that, during the traffic stop, Justin had attempted to erase his phone. However, as Officer Yates was holding Justin's cell phone, a new text message appeared from a contact named "Freezer Guy" requesting a meeting with Justin. Justin informed Officer Yates that he did not know "Freezer Guy's" real name, but that he drove a green Toyota car and was supposed to be meeting Justin to purchase one ounce of marijuana.

         After Justin was transported to the Obion County Jail, Officer Yates proceeded to meet "Freezer Guy" and subsequently identified and arrested him at the meeting location. While Officer Yates was arresting "Freezer Guy, " he observed a blue Buick car drive by which matched the description of the car he knew Winsett and Janet to drive. Although Officer Yates could not identify the driver or any passenger of the car, he called Agent Hall and advised him "that [he] had just observed a vehicle matching the description." Agent Hall then called and notified officers that he was in pursuit of the vehicle and that it was refusing to stop. Officer Yates left to assist Agent Hall, and, when he arrived on the scene, Agent Hall was detaining the front seat passenger, Janet. Agent Hall informed Officer Yates that he had already placed the driver, Winsett, in custody in his patrol car. The officers completed a search of the car and Agent ...


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