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State v. Little

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

September 6, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
ADAM D. LITTLE, ALIAS

          Assigned on Briefs June 27, 2017

         Appeal from the Criminal Court for Knox County No. 98984 Steven W. Sword, Judge

         The Defendant, Adam D. Little, alias, appeals as of right from the Knox County Criminal Court's revocation of his probation and reinstatement of the remainder of his nine-year sentence for selling less than fifteen grams of heroin within 1, 000 feet of a public park. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that the trial court abused its discretion by revoking his probation because the State failed to establish that he violated the law by a preponderance of the evidence. Following our review, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Adam M. Elrod, Knoxville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Adam D. Little, alias.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Charme P. Allen, District Attorney General; and Kenneth F. Irvine, Jr., Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Camille R. McMullen and Robert L. Holloway, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On April 18, 2013, the Defendant pled guilty to selling less than fifteen grams of heroin within 1, 000 feet of a public park, a Class B felony. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-417, -432. In exchange for his plea, the Defendant received a nine-year sentence as a Range I, standard offender "to serve" in the Department of Correction, and this sentence was to run concurrently with a prior sentence. A second delivery count was dismissed.

         Thereafter, a violation of probation affidavit and warrant were filed against the Defendant on August 17, 2016. Specifically, it was alleged therein that the Defendant violated the conditions of his probation by failing "to obey the law" as a result of his August 14, 2016 arrest in Knox County for simple possession and by failing to report that charge to his probation officer.

         At the November 3, 2016 revocation hearing, Lieutenant Tony Willis with the Knoxville Police Department ("KPD") testified that he had been with the KPD for almost twenty-one years and that a large portion of his career had been devoted to working narcotics investigations. On August 14, 2016, Lt. Willis assisted with a 12:34 a.m. traffic stop on James Avenue near Wallace Street in Knoxville. Lt. Willis approached the passenger side of the vehicle and encountered the Defendant. Lt. Willis described the Defendant as "very cooperative" during the traffic stop.

         After approaching the passenger side, Lt. Willis immediately saw "a plastic cellophane baggie tied in a knot that appeared to contain a narcotic substance" in the Defendant's lap. At Lt. Willis's request, the Defendant handed him the bag. Lt. Willis then performed a "comparison of the [pills'] physical qualities, " like its markings, color, and size, and determined that the three pills inside the bag were oxymorphone, a Schedule II controlled substance. According to Lt. Willis, he had performed this type of analysis "many times in the past" and could not ever recall "a discrepancy" between his field analysis and subsequent laboratory testing.

         On cross-examination, Lt. Willis confirmed that he was "not a chemist" and had "not done a chemical analysis of any substance in [his] career[.]" Lt. Willis believed that the substance in this case was sent to the laboratory for testing, but he had not seen any report confirming that the pills were oxymorphone. Lt. ...


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