Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
October 17, 2017 Session
from the Criminal Court for Davidson County No. 2014-C-2231
Monte Watkins, Judge
Buford Cornell Williams, was convicted of selling 0.5 grams
or more of cocaine. He received a fourteen-year sentence. On
appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to
support his conviction. After review, we find that the
evidence was sufficient to support his conviction. The
judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal
B. Russ, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Buford
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Clark
B. Thornton, Senior Counsel; Glenn Funk, District Attorney
General; and Kristen Kyle-Castelli, Assistant District
Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Timothy L. Easter, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in
which D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr.,
TIMOTHY L. EASTER, JUDGE.
and Procedural History
Davidson County Grand Jury indicted Defendant for the sale of
0.5 grams or more of a substance containing cocaine.
Defendant waived a jury trial. A bench trial was conducted on
December 15, 2015, and the trial court found Defendant
guilty. Defendant received a sentence of fourteen years to
serve in the Tennessee Department of Correction. The
following facts were adduced at trial.
20, 2014, Detective Matthew Boguskie and his team of
Metropolitan-Nashville police officers orchestrated a
"buy-bust operation." These operations entailed a
confidential informant purchasing drugs in order to catch the
drug dealer during or immediately after the criminal conduct.
Detective Boguskie's "very reliable"
confidential informant made contact with William Thomas in
the parking lot of a carwash near the intersection of
Dickerson Road and Ewing Drive in Davidson County. Mr. Thomas
allegedly worked at Prince's Chicken, which is adjacent
to the carwash parking lot. From a distance of approximately
fifty feet, Detective Boguskie observed the confidential
informant strike up a conversation from his vehicle with Mr.
Thomas in the carwash parking lot. Next, Mr. Thomas took the
confidential informant's cellphone and made a phone call.
About twenty minutes after the phone call, Defendant drove
into the parking lot. Mr. Thomas approached the driver's
side of the vehicle driven by Defendant, and Detective
Boguskie "observed an interaction" between
Defendant and Mr. Thomas. After the "interaction, "
Mr. Thomas got inside the confidential informant's
vehicle. At that point, the confidential informant gave the
take down signal. Approximately two minutes elapsed between
the arrival of Defendant and the moment when the take down
signal was given. Defendant, Mr. Thomas, and the confidential
informant were arrested.
to the beginning of the operation, the confidential informant
and the vehicle driven by the confidential informant were
thoroughly searched to ensure that no contraband was in the
possession of the confidential informant. At that point, the
confidential informant was stripped of any personal funds and
provided with money that had been photocopied so that the
serial numbers could be tracked by the police officers. After
the take down signal was given, Sergeant Cary Briley arrested
the confidential informant. As soon as Sergeant Briley
approached the car, the confidential informant handed the
Sergeant a "white rock in plastic." Sergeant Briley
searched and handcuffed the confidential informant and
searched the confidential informant's car. No other drugs
or money were found. A field test indicated that the
substance recovered was 0.7 grams of cocaine base. Detective
Boguskie testified that in his experience 0.7 grams of
cocaine has a street value of around fifty dollars. When the
substance was tested in a laboratory, Laura Adams, a forensic
scientist at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, found it
to be 0.64 grams of cocaine base.
Forrest Drake took Defendant into custody and
Mirandized him. Defendant told Detective Drake that
he was in the parking lot to get some chicken from Mr.
Thomas. No chicken was found in the possession of Defendant,
but fifty dollars was recovered from Defendant's right
front pocket. The serial numbers on the money recovered from
Defendant matched the money provided to the confidential
informant to make the drug purchase.
chose to testify on his own behalf. He maintained that he was
present in the carwash parking lot only to get some chicken
from Mr. Thomas and to give Mr. Thomas a ride home.
Defendant's explanation for not having any chicken in his
possession at the time of his arrest was that "the
officer didn't give [Defendant] a chance to pull around
to the front of Prince's Chicken." He testified that
he picked up Mr. Thomas in the carwash parking lot from time
to time in order to give Mr. Thomas a ride home. On this
particular occasion, Defendant pulled into the carwash
parking lot, and Mr. Thomas approached his vehicle. Defendant
asked Mr. Thomas, "Well, where my chicken at?"
According to Defendant, Mr. Thomas responded,
"'I'm going to get you your chicken, but here,
I'm going to pay you the fifty that I owe you.'"
At that point, Mr. Thomas showed Defendant some
"dope" which he had concealed in his sock.
Defendant recounted Mr. Thomas saying, "'Dude over
there want a fifty. . . . I'm going to make this sale,
but I don't really trust him.'" At that point,
Mr. Thomas shut the door to Defendant's car and told
Defendant to pull around to the front of Prince's