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State v. Alford

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

May 17, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
LUCY CAITLIN ALFORD AND JEREMIE ALFORD

          Assigned on Briefs March 21, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Franklin County Nos. 2016-CR-105-B, 2016-CR-105-C Thomas W. Graham, Judge.

         Following the denial of suppression motions, the defendants, Lucy Caitlin Alford and Jeremie Alford, entered guilty pleas in Franklin County Circuit Court to felony possession of methamphetamine and reserved the right to appeal certified questions of law relating to the sufficiency of the affidavit supporting the search warrant issued in this case. The defendants assert the affidavit, which was based on information provided by a confidential informant, failed to meet the two-pronged Aguilar-Spinelli test for probable cause, lacked independent police corroboration, and was materially misleading. The State contends the affidavit was sufficient. Following our review of the record and pertinent authorities, including the recent Tennessee Supreme Court decision of State v. Jerry Lewis Tuttle, S.W.3d, No. M2014-00566-SC-R11-CD, 2017 WL 1246855 (Tenn. Apr. 5, 2017), we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Glen A. Isbell, Winchester, Tennessee, for the appellant, Lucy Caitlin Alford.

          B. Jeffery Harmon, District Public Defender, and Kandi Nunley, Assistant Public Defender, for the appellant, Jeremie Jackson Alford.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Brent C. Cherry, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and Courtney C. Lynch, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          J. Ross Dyer, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which John Everett Williams and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          J. ROSS DYER, JUDGE.

         Facts and Procedural History

         The defendants were arrested following the execution of a search warrant obtained by Detective Kelly Gass with the Winchester Police Department. The supporting affidavit stated, in relevant part, as follows:

On September 15, 2015 Investigator James Sherrill with the Coffee County Sheriff's Department came to me advising he had spoken with an informant in reference to narcotic traffic involving Jeremie Alford. Investigator Sherrill has only known this informant for a short time, but advised he has had several conversations with this informant in reference to narcotic traffic. Investigator Sherrill advised the information given by this informant has been true and correct due to Investigator Sherrill's investigations into the informants (sic) information. The informant has also given information leading to an arrest and conviction in a marijuana case involving Investigator Chad Partin, former Coffee County Sheriff's Investigator.
Investigator Sherrill advised he spoke with this informant on September 15, 2015 and the informant advised he/she had been to the residence of Jeremie Alford at 500 South Jefferson [Street] in Winchester, TN and did see a quantity of methamphetamine within the past 48 hours. The informant advised he/she observed methamphetamine being weighed out. The informant knew this to be meth due to Jeremie Alford referring to it as meth and the informants (sic) past experience with meth use. The informant advised that he/she has purchased meth from Jeremie Alford in the past.

         A Franklin County Grand Jury returned a four count indictment charging the defendants and Jonathan Lynn Cornelison with: theft of a handgun valued at more than $1000 but less than $10, 000; possession of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance, with intent to sell or deliver; possession of Buprenorphine, a Schedule II controlled substance; and possession of drug paraphernalia. The defendants subsequently filed a motion to suppress the evidence collected after the execution of the warrant, arguing the warrant did ...


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