Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs November 8, 2016
from the Circuit Court for Maury County No. 24044 Robert L.
Taboris Jones, was convicted of possession with intent to
sell more than 0.5 grams of cocaine within 1, 000 feet of a
school, and the trial court applied the Drug Free School Zone
Act (the Act) to enhance Defendant's sentence. Defendant
also pleaded guilty to simple possession of marijuana and
improper display of registered license plate. The trial court
imposed concurrent sentences of fifteen years for the cocaine
charge, and ten days for simple possession of marijuana. The
trial court also imposed a $250.00 fine for the marijuana
charge and a $5.00 fee for improper display of a license
plate. On appeal, Defendant argues that the evidence was
insufficient to support his conviction for possession of more
than 0.5 grams of cocaine with intent to sell within 1, 000
feet of a school and that the Drug Free School Zone Act
should not apply to his cocaine conviction. After a thorough
review of the record, we affirm the judgments of the trial
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit
Samuel Patterson, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia
S. Lee, Senior Counsel; Brent A. Cooper, District Attorney
General; and Patrick Powell, Assistant District Attorney
General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
T. Woodall, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which Alan E. Glenn and Robert W. Wedemeyer, JJ., joined.
T. WOODALL, PRESIDING JUDGE.
approximately 8:30 p.m. on April 7, 2014, Officer Jason
Lovett of the Spring Hill Police Department was traveling
eastbound on West Seventeenth Street when he observed a black
Chevrolet truck at the four-way stop of the intersection of
West Seventeenth Street and Highland Avenue in Columbia.
Officer Lovett noted that Highland Park Elementary was in the
area of the intersection. The parties stipulated at trial
that Highland Park Elementary School met the statutory
definition of a school pursuant to the Drug Free School Zone
Act. At the time, Officer Lovett was driving an unmarked unit
and was assigned to the Maury County Drug Task Force. He had
been investigating illegal narcotics since 2007.
Lovett testified that the vehicle came to a complete stop at
the intersection and turned right onto West Seventeenth
Street which placed the truck in front of Officer Lovett. As
Officer Lovett followed the truck, he noticed that there was
no light illuminating the tag of the vehicle. Officer Lovett
radioed Deputy Joey Parks, his "backup" officer,
and initiated a traffic stop near the water tower across from
a mobile home park. Officer Lovett approached the vehicle and
asked the driver, identified as Defendant, for his
driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance.
Defendant gave Officer Lovett his driver's license, and
Officer Lovett took the license back to his patrol car to
check on its status, and he checked the status of
Defendant's license plate. As Officer Lovett was checking
the information, Deputy Parks walked up to Defendant's
truck and asked him to step out of the vehicle. Defendant got
out of his truck and stood in front of Officer Lovett's
car with Deputy Parks. Officer Lovett heard Deputy Parks
request consent to search Defendant truck, and Deputy Parks
asked Defendant if there was anything illegal inside the
vehicle. Officer Lovett testified that Defendant became
"extremely irate." He said that Defendant began
cursing and said that he was only pulled over because he was
asked if Defendant consented to a search of his vehicle,
Officer Lovett testified: "Not that I'm aware of. It
just got so bad the way he was acting and stuff. To me, it
was prolonging things." At that point, Officer Lovett
ran his canine dog Abbi, who is a certified narcotics
detection dog, around Defendant's truck. Abbi alerted on
the driver's side door seam by scratching at the door.
Officer Lovett placed Abbi back in his vehicle and informed
Defendant that he was going to search Defendant's truck
because the dog had detected a "narcotic odor" in
Officer Lovett began searching Defendant's truck he heard
Deputy Parks yell, "he's running." Officer
Lovett began chasing Defendant and eventually lost sight of
him near Chevy White's parking lot, and Officer Lovett
stopped running. Deputy Parks had returned to his vehicle and
alerted other officers to be on the lookout for Defendant. He
also drove around the area looking for Defendant. Officer
Lovett returned to Defendant's truck and continued his
search. Underneath the driver's seat, he found a green
pill bottle and a digital scale with a white powdered residue
on it. Officer Lovett also found a marijuana blunt in the
Officer Lovett returned to his office he field tested the
white residue on the scale, and it was presumptively positive
for "cocaine base." The pill bottle contained one
bag of "powder, " and there was a second bag in the
bottom of the bottle that "had a little bit of crumbs
stuck inside of it." Officer Lovett also field tested
residue in the pill bottle, and it was positive for
"cocaine base." He then sent everything but the
digital scale by Lieutenant Doelle to the Tennessee Bureau of
Investigation (TBI) Crime Lab for testing.
Lovett was tendered and qualified as an expert in the field
of narcotics investigation. He was familiar with the common
quantity of cocaine sold and purchased in the area and that
the commonly sold amount or used amount is "a 20, "
which is a "20 rock." Officer Lovett testified that
a 20 rock usually costs twenty dollars and weighs
approximately 0.1 grams. He said, "It's a very
minute amount. It just gives them enough fix. It's a
quick get [sic] is what it is."
Lovett testified that in reference to charging an individual
for possession of cocaine for sale, he looks for multiple
baggies, digital scales, and currency. He also checks the
individual's phone to see whom they have been talking to.
Officer Lovett testified that with respect to a "user,
" he looks for pipes. He said, "I'm actually
looking for pushers, char broil, which is actually an S.O.S.
pad." Officer Lovett testified that he found nothing in
Defendant's vehicle for the use of cocaine. However,
Defendant had everything that he needed to sell cocaine such
as the digital scales and what Officer Lovett estimated to be
three grams of cocaine. He did not know if Defendant had
currency on his person because Defendant ran. Officer Lovett
had never known of a cocaine user carrying a digital scale.
As to the marijuana blunt, Officer Lovett testified that he
seized it and charged Defendant with simple possession. He
noted that the blunt ...