Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Webster

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

April 25, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
ROBERT LANDON WEBSTER

          Assigned on Briefs September 20, 2017

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Carter County No. 23390A Lisa Rice, Judge

         A Carter County Criminal Court Jury found the Appellant, Robert Landon Webster, guilty of three counts of selling .5 grams or more of cocaine, one of which was within a school zone. The trial court sentenced the Appellant to a total effective sentence of fifteen years. On appeal, the Appellant contends that his right to confrontation was violated because the State failed to call a confidential informant as a witness at trial and that the evidence was not sufficient to sustain his convictions. Upon review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

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

          Gregory S. Norris, Elizabethton, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Robert Landon Webster.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; James E. Gaylord, Senior Counsel; Anthony Wade Clark, District Attorney General; and Dennis Brooks, Assistant District Attorney General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Norma McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Robert W. Wedemeyer and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          NORMA MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE

         I. Factual Background

         The Appellant was charged with three counts of selling .5 grams or more of cocaine, one of which was within a school zone, based upon transactions with Phillip Williams who was working as a confidential informant with the Elizabethton Police Department.

         At trial, Corporal John Bulla with the Elizabethton Police Department testified as an expert in the field of narcotics investigations. Corporal Bulla said that after he arrested Mr. Williams, Mr. Williams agreed to work as a confidential informant in an attempt to gain consideration from the police and the district attorney general's office. Mr. Williams suggested that he purchase cocaine from the Appellant, and he did so on three occasions.

         Corporal Bulla said that the first transaction occurred on March 20, 2015. For weeks, Mr. Williams had been attempting to gain the Appellant's trust, and he told the Appellant that he was "down on his luck" and needed to make money. Immediately prior to the transaction, Corporal Bulla and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Task Force Agent Mike Commons met Mr. Williams at a predetermined location. The officers searched Mr. Williams, his vehicle, and his wife, Ashley Williams, who was accompanying him during the transaction, to ensure they had no contraband or money. Thereafter, Corporal Bulla gave Mr. Williams $240 in cash from the "drug fund" to make the purchase. The officers also equipped Mr. and Mrs. Williams with a device so they could record the transaction as it occurred. Mr. and Mrs. Williams drove to the Appellant's residence, and the officers followed them in a separate vehicle, stopping far enough from the residence to avoid being seen but close enough to monitor the transaction.

         Corporal Bulla recalled that Mr. and Mrs. Williams entered the Appellant's residence at 9:22 p.m. As he was monitoring the recording device, Corporal Bulla heard the Appellant explain he was giving Mr. Williams $5 in change because the crack cocaine cost only $235. After the transaction, Mr. and Mrs. Williams left the residence at 9:32 p.m. and met with Corporal Bulla and Agent Commons. The officers again searched Mr. and Mrs. Williams and their vehicle. Mr. Williams gave Corporal Bulla the $5 and a substance that appeared to be crack cocaine. The substance was tested by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), and it was determined to be .57 grams of crack cocaine. Corporal Bulla did not pay Mr. Williams for his work as a confidential informant.

         Corporal Bulla said that the next transaction occurred at the residence of the Appellant's mother on March 23, 2015. Corporal Bulla said the residence was located 758.6 feet "straight line distance" from Harold McCormick Elementary School. The Appellant chose the location of the transaction. Prior to the transaction, Corporal Bulla and Agent Commons met with Mr. and Mrs. Williams, searched them and their vehicle, and equipped them with a recording device. Corporal Bulla gave Mr. Williams $250 to make the purchase. Mr. and Mrs. Williams drove their vehicle to the prearranged location, and the officers followed. Mr. and Mrs. Williams arrived at the location at 7:52 p.m. As Corporal Bulla monitored the transaction, he heard Mr. Williams, Mrs. Williams, and the Appellant discussing the weight of the product that was being sold to Mr. Williams. Corporal Bulla heard the Appellant say "that when he re-ups, meaning when he gets more drugs, that he will sell [Mr. Williams] a ball, which is a determined amount of cocaine for $185." After the transaction, Mr. and Mrs. Williams left the residence at 7:59 p.m. and immediately met Corporal Bulla and Agent Commons. The officers searched them, and Mr. Williams gave Corporal Bulla the substance he had purchased from the Appellant. TBI testing revealed that the substance was .92 grams of crack cocaine.

         Corporal Bulla said that the final transaction between Mr. Williams and the Appellant occurred at the Appellant's South Second Street residence on March 28, 2015. Once again, Corporal Bulla and Agent Commons met with Mr. and Mrs. Williams before the transaction, searched them and their vehicle, and equipped them with a recording device. Corporal Bulla gave Mr. Williams $300 to make the purchase. Corporal Bulla and Agent Commons then followed Mr. and Mrs. Williams to the Appellant's residence. The informants arrived at the Appellant's residence at approximately 6:51 p.m. and left at approximately 7:02 p.m. After the transaction, Corporal Bulla and Agent Commons met Mr. and Mrs. Williams. Mr. Williams gave Corporal Bulla the substance he had purchased from the Appellant; the substance was in three separate bags. The officers searched Mr. and Mrs. Williams but found no other contraband. TBI testing revealed that the first bag obtained by Mr. Williams contained .88 grams of crack cocaine; the other two bags contained a total of .72 grams of "rock-like substance, " but no analysis was performed on the substance in those bags.

         On cross-examination, Corporal Bulla acknowledged that he was not present for the transactions, that he could not see the transactions, and that he only listened as the transactions took place. Corporal Bulla said that both Mr. and Mrs. Williams were working for the police as confidential informants. Corporal Bulla acknowledged that Mr. Williams' "case" was "still in the process but he has received some consideration . . . ."

         Corporal Bulla recalled that Mr. and Mrs. Williams drove "a green older model BMW." He thoroughly searched the vehicle for contraband before the transactions but did not dismantle the vehicle to search for any secret compartments. He also searched Mr. and Mrs. Williams prior to the transactions but did not strip search them. Corporal Bulla acknowledged that after each transaction, he weighed the crack cocaine immediately upon receipt from Mr. Williams. The field weights he reported, 2.1 grams, 2 grams, and approximately 3 grams, respectively, were heavier than the weights determined by the TBI. When asked about the discrepancy between the field weights and the weights determined by the TBI, Corporal Bulla explained that he weighed the crack cocaine while it was inside the packaging, that sometimes the packaging was large, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.