Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs, at Knoxville, November 28, 2017
from the Circuit Court for Lawrence County No. 33441 J.
Russell Parkes, Judge
2016, the Defendant, Timothy Mark Hartsfield, entered a best
interest plea to possession of methamphetamine, possession of
synthetic marijuana, and unlawful possession of a firearm
during the commission of a dangerous felony. The Defendant
reserved a certified question of law pursuant to Tennessee
Rule of Criminal Procedure 37(b)(2) as to whether the search
of the Defendant's residence was valid based on
statements made by the investigating officer in the search
warrant application. The trial court sentenced the Defendant
to ten years of incarceration. After a thorough review of the
record and relevant authorities, we affirm the trial
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Circuit
B. McVeigh, Spring Hill, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Timothy Mark Hartsfield.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter;
Alexander C. Vey, Assistant Attorney General; Brent A.
Cooper, District Attorney General; and Christi L. Thompson,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in
which Thomas T. Woodall, P.J., and J. Ross Dyer, J., joined.
W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE
case arises from the Defendant selling drugs inside his home
to a confidential informant ("CI") while
investigators listened to the transaction over an audio
device. The CI wore a camera that recorded the transaction.
Following the controlled buy, the CI provided an affidavit
detailing the purchase of the drugs from the Defendant, as
well as the Defendant's possession of a firearm. Based on
the CI's affidavit, law enforcement officers applied for
a search warrant, and a magistrate approved the warrant.
Investigators subsequently searched the Defendant's home
and found drugs and a weapon.
Motion to Suppress
Defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained
during the search of his home, contending that the chain of
custody of the narcotics sold by the Defendant had been
broken and contending that sufficient probable cause did not
exist to support the search warrant. The trial court held a
hearing on the Defendant's motion, during which the
following evidence was presented: Investigator Todd Daniels
testified that he was employed by the Lawrence County
Sheriff's Department and assigned to the narcotics unit.
On March 23, 2015, Investigator Daniels met with the CI after
the CI contacted him about a potential narcotics purchase.
The men met at a grocery store and, after searching the CI,
the CI got inside the investigator's van. The CI told
Investigator Daniels that he was going to purchase from the
Defendant one gram of methamphetamine and a packet of
synthetic marijuana. Investigator Daniels installed a
recording device on the CI and gave him $175 in marked
currency. Investigator Daniels testified that this was done
in the situation of a "controlled buy."
then proceeded to the Defendant's residence in his
girlfriend's car, with his girlfriend present.
Investigator Daniels agreed that neither the girlfriend nor
her vehicle were searched. Once at the Defendant's house,
investigators heard over the audio device the CI enter the
home and speak with the Defendant. During their conversation,
the Defendant spoke of having a .380 caliber gun in his home.
The State offered the video recording of the CI and the
Defendant's interaction as evidence and then played it in
open court. Investigator Daniels confirmed he did not watch
the video before applying for the search warrant but relied
on what he heard over the audio transmission of the
video showed the CI and the Defendant inside the
Defendant's residence. A portion of the .380 caliber
weapon is visible on the recording. The video showed the CI
giving the Defendant the $175 in marked bills, and the
Defendant counting the money. The video recording shows the
CI displaying the synthetic marijuana and methamphetamine
packages. Investigator Daniels confirmed that the CI, as he
had been instructed to do, made the drugs clear in the video
recording so that they could be identified. Investigator
Daniels agreed that in the application for the search warrant
he stated that the video recording showed the drugs and money
being exchanged and that that statement was false; he
clarified that "counting money" could be heard on
the recording but the actual exchange was not recorded.
cross-examination, Investigator Daniels testified that he
field tested the drugs that the Defendant sold to the CI
before he applied for the search warrant. The drugs tested
positive for the substances the CI claimed they would be. He
stated that, having had prior dealings with the Defendant,
Investigator Daniels recognized the Defendant's voice on
the recording. Investigator Daniels denied putting any
information in the search warrant application that he knew to
redirect-examination, Investigator Daniels testified that he
did not intentionally make false statements in the search
warrant application but acknowledged ...