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State v. Whisnet

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

September 15, 2017

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
RICO CARTER WHISNET

          Assigned on Briefs at Knoxville July 25, 2017

         Appeal from the Circuit Court for Hardeman County No. 15-CR-156 J. Weber McCraw, Judge

         The Defendant, Rico Carter Whisnet, [1] was convicted by a Hardeman County Circuit Court jury of delivery of less than 0.5 gram cocaine, a Class C felony, and delivery of 0.5 gram or more of cocaine, a Class B felony. See T.C.A. § 39-17-417 (2014). The trial court sentenced the Defendant as a Range II, multiple offender to concurrent terms of eight and sixteen years in confinement. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the trial court erred in its application of the mitigating and enhancement factors and by imposing more than the minimum sentence. We affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Coleman W. Garrett and Claiborne H. Ferguson, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Rico Carter Whisnet.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Renee W. Turner, Senior Counsel; Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Joe VanDyke, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Alan E. Glenn and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE

         This case relates to two controlled drug purchases conducted by the Hardeman County Sheriff's Office on July 11 and July 14, 2014. At the trial, Hardeman County Sheriff's Office Narcotics Investigator Jason Wilson testified that he had been involved in about 100 narcotics cases during his career and had worked with confidential informants. Investigator Wilson and Captain Greg Moore had received complaints that the Defendant was selling drugs. Investigator Wilson arranged for controlled drug purchases by an experienced confidential informant. Investigator Wilson said that he had worked with this confidential informant on numerous other controlled drug purchases and that the confidential informant was reliable. The condfidential informant was paid for his assistance in each transaction.

         The officers gave the confidential informant a video camera, hidden in a keychain, to record the transactions. The video recordings are not included in the appellate record, however, the recordings of both transactions were played for the jury. During the viewing of the recordings, Investigator Wilson identified the Defendant's car, home, and voice. In the recording of the first transaction, the confidential informant identified the Defendant by name and greeted the Defendant's mother. The confidential informant returned to the investigators with a "baggie" of what appeared to be crack cocaine. Investigator Wilson said that during the second controlled drug purchase, the confidential informant met with the Defendant at a designated location. The confidential informant again returned with a baggie of what appeared to be crack cocaine. The substances were sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) laboratory for analysis. T he analyses concluded that the substances were cocaine base.

         On cross-examination, Investigator Wilson testified that Captain Moore searched the confidential informant before the first transaction occurred. Investigator Wilson acknowledged that the video recording of the first transaction did not show the exchange of drugs and money but said that the exchange was audible in the recording. Investigator Wilson admitted that the confidential informant stopped to purchase gas on the way to meet the Defendant and left the camera in the car while at the gas station. Investigator Wilson said that the confidential informant stopped a second time before meeting with the Defendant to "get his money right." Investigator Wilson admitted that the recording did not show the confidential informant during the second stop. Investigator Wilson said that the recording of the second controlled drug purchase did not show the exchange of drugs and money but that the exchange was audible in the recording.

         Hardeman County Sheriff's Office Captain Greg Moore testified that he had assisted Investigator Wilson during both controlled drug purchases. Captain Moore stated that he searched the confidential informant and the confidential informant's car before and after both transactions and that nothing was discovered during the searches.

         The confidential informant testified that he had worked as a confidential informant for approximately three or four years. He admitted that he had an extensive criminal history. The confidential informant said that he had participated in about seven or eight controlled drug purchases with Investigator Wilson. He said that he met with Investigator Wilson and Captain Moore before the first transaction. The confidential informant said that he travelled to the Defendant's home, that he purchased crack cocaine from the Defendant, and that he placed the crack cocaine in his pocket. The confidential informant said he gave the crack cocaine to Investigator Wilson.

         The confidential informant testified that he met the Defendant at the designated location for the second transaction. The confidential informant stated that the Defendant was sitting in a car when he arrived, that he got in the Defendant's car, and that he purchased crack cocaine. The ...


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