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State v. Madden

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Knoxville

June 5, 2018

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
RICHMOND LEBRON MADDEN, SR.

          Session February 27, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Rhea County No. 2014-CR-211 Thomas W. Graham, Judge

         The Defendant, Richmond Lebron Madden, Sr., was convicted by a jury of one count of possession of 0.5 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver. On appeal, the Defendant contends that (1) the evidence presented at trial was insufficient to support his conviction; (2) the trial court erred in allowing a witness to testify about the Defendant's relationship with his co-defendant and his living arrangements; (3) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress, which challenged the legality of the stop resulting in the Defendant's arrest; and (4) the trial court abused its discretion by denying the Defendant an alternative sentence and sentencing him to nine years and six months of incarceration.[1] Following our review, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed and remanded for entry of a corrected judgment.

         Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Criminal Court Affirmed; Case Remanded for Entry of Corrected Judgment

          Thomas K. Austin (on appeal), Dunlap, Tennessee; Larry Roddy (at trial), Dayton, Tennessee; and Philip Duval (at sentencing), Chattanooga, Tennessee, for the appellant, Richard Lebron Madden, Sr.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Katherine C. Redding, Assistant Attorney General; J. Michael Taylor, District Attorney General; and James W. Pope, III, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which James Curwood Witt, Jr., and Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          D. KELLY THOMAS, JR., JUDGE

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         On December 1, 2014, the Rhea County grand jury indicted the Defendant with one count of possession of 0.5 grams or more of methamphetamine with intent to sell or deliver. See Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 39-17-417, -434. Prior to trial, the Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained during the traffic stop, and a hearing was held on February 5, 2016.

         I. Suppression Hearing

         Rhea County Sheriff's Department Officer Charlie Jenkins testified that he was an investigator and that he was assigned to drug-related cases. Officer Jenkins said that he was working in this capacity on August 25, 2014, and that a confidential informant gave him information regarding the Defendant and a potential drug deal on that date. Officer Jenkins testified that on "several occasions" over the prior two years, this informant had supplied him with information regarding drug activity. Officer Jenkins said that the information he received from this informant was always reliable and that it had led to arrests and convictions.

         Officer Jenkins testified that on August 25, 2016, the informant called him and told him that a woman named Sherry Ewton would be driving a "blue four-door car with a dent in the front fender" and that her boyfriend, a black male, would be a passenger in the vehicle. Office Jenkins said that the informant also told him that the two "had been selling meth . . . at the Bi-Lo . . . [and] a gas station adjacent to the Bi-Lo." Officer Jenkins explained that the informant indicated "that they had actually seen what was going on."

         Officer Jenkins testified that upon receiving this information, he immediately drove to the Bi-Lo parking lot. He explained that as he arrived, he noticed the described vehicle at the Jiffy parking lot, which was located next to the Bi-Lo parking lot. Officer Jenkins described the vehicle he saw as a "blue four-door Camry with a dent in the front fender" and said that this matched the informant's description. When asked what he did after observing the vehicle, Officer Jenkins said,

I noticed it, again, at the Jiffy parking lot next door. The vehicle went up to the stop sign, turned south on Market Street and then turned into the Bi-Lo parking lot. It went down three aisles of the parking lot, passing up empty spots. As the vehicle turned to come back down, then I blocked it in front of it.

         Officer Jenkins said that after stopping the vehicle, he got out and walked around to the driver's side of the vehicle. He explained that Ms. Ewton was the driver and that the Defendant was seated in the front passenger seat. Officer Jenkins testified that he "could plainly see meth right there in [Ms. Ewton's] lap" and that when he opened the car door he found drugs "right there in the door jam of the vehicle." Officer Jenkins explained that the substance he observed was a crystal substance and that he suspected it was meth. Officer Jenkins stated that he had not observed any traffic violation and that "the purpose of the stop was . . . they were there to sell methamphetamines and I was there to intercept it."

         At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court denied the Defendant's motion to suppress, and a jury trial began on February 16, 2016.

         II. Jury Trial

         At trial, Officer Jenkins explained that he had previously participated in arresting individuals who were in the process of buying and selling drugs. Officer Jenkins explained that on August 25, 2014, he drove to the Bi-Lo parking lot and was looking for a "blue four-door Camry with a dent in the left front fender with a white female and a black male." He said that this was "in the noon hours." Officer Jenkins testified that the Bi-Lo was located in a shopping complex with multiple parking spaces and that across the street was a convenience store called Jiffy. Officer Jenkins testified that he was wearing his police uniform and driving an unmarked police car in the Bi-Lo parking lot when he noticed the vehicle he was searching for in the Jiffy parking lot. Officer Jenkins stated that the car he observed in the Jiffy parking lot "was a blue four-door Camry with the dent in the driver's side." The prosecutor showed Officer Jenkins a photograph, and Officer Jenkins identified it as the vehicle he stopped that day.

         Officer Jenkins explained that he observed the vehicle leave the Jiffy parking lot and then pull into the Bi-Lo parking lot. When asked what he saw after the vehicle entered the Bi-Lo parking lot, he said that the vehicle "started what [he] would call cruising or going up and down the lanes, the aisles of the parking lot." Officer Jenkins testified that he saw the vehicle travel up and down three lanes. Officer Jenkins said that there were several free spaces in which the vehicle could have parked, but the vehicle passed by each of these available spaces.

         Officer Jenkins said that after observing the vehicle in the Bi-Lo parking lot, he initiated a traffic stop. Officer Jenkins stated that he turned on the blue lights of his unmarked car and stopped in front of the vehicle. He testified that Ms. Ewton was driving and that the Defendant was a passenger seated in the front seat. Officer Jenkins explained that upon exiting his vehicle, he "moved as quickly as possible with [his] tazer drawn towards the front of the vehicle to the driver's side." Officer Jenkins said that he was worried the individuals in the car might have had weapons or been disposing of evidence. Officer Jenkins testified that as he approached the vehicle, Ms. Ewton raised her hands in the air. When asked what happened when he reached the driver's side door, Officer Jenkins said that he observed "a clear bag of crystal substance" in Ms. Ewton's lap. He also explained that as he "opened the door right at the door jam of the door by the floorboard and seat was another bag of crystal substance." Officer Jenkins instructed Ms. Ewton to exit the vehicle, and he said that she reached into her bra and pulled out another "clear bag of crystal substance" and handed it to him. Officer Jenkins explained that based upon experience from his employment as a police officer, the substance appeared to be crystal methamphetamine. Officer Jenkins said that he found no money when he searched Ms. Ewton.

         Officer Jenkins testified that he also instructed the Defendant to exit the vehicle. Officer Jenkins searched the Defendant and discovered $500. Officer Jenkins said that he found a "box of sandwich bags" in the passenger seat of the vehicle. Officer Jenkins also testified that based upon his experience performing "numerous undercover [drug] buys[, ]" he believed that the way the vehicle was being driven indicated that someone was "dealing in the drug trade." Officer Jenkins explained that "the vehicle [was moving] up and down the aisles" and "passing up parking spots that [he] would have thought a reasonable person would have" taken. He further explained that parking lots, such as the Bi-Lo parking lot, were typical places for drug deals to transpire. Officer Jenkins testified that he had specifically dealt with drug cases that had occurred in the Bi-Lo parking lot and explained typical drug transactions as follows:

[Individuals m]eet in the car. I've had experience of [the drug transaction] not lasting . . . more than [fifteen] seconds because it's - it's all done by texting, by the phone, and they pass and they exchange money for the drugs and they're gone. Sometimes [they] pull up and meet and get out, and do the exchange. One person will go to the other car, they'll weigh the drugs right there, [and] they'll leave.

         Officer Jenkins testified that drugs are normally packaged into plastic sandwich bags and that the "crystal meth" typically sold for one hundred dollars per gram. Officer Jenkins stated that based upon the information he had received, he placed both the Defendant and Ms. Ewton under arrest.

         Officer Jenkins also testified that the Defendant and Ms. Ewton were "[b]oyfriend and girlfriend" and that they resided at "White Beard Circle." Defense counsel objected and argued that there had "been no basis laid to show that [the Defendant] lived" at that location. The trial court responded, "He's saying that you can question him on or how he came about that, if he came about it."

         Officer Jenkins testified that he went to the address at White Beard Circle and conducted a search of the apartment. Inside, he located a "[m]eth pipe[, ]" scales, and some plastic baggies. After being shown a picture of the meth pipe found in the apartment, Officer Jenkins explained that such a device was used to ingest crystal methamphetamine. Officer Jenkins said that he also found "sandwich bag corners cut out[.]" Officer Jenkins testified that based on his experience as a police officer, these items were "used in the drug trade."

         On cross-examination, defense counsel questioned Officer Jenkins about his knowledge that the Defendant lived at White Beard Circle. Officer Jenkins said that he did not find any bills or newspaper or magazine subscriptions addressed to the Defendant at the apartment.

         Sharon Norman testified that she was employed with the chemistry division of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. She said that she performed forensic drug analysis, explaining that she "analyzed evidence submitted for the presence or absence of legally significan[t] substances." Ms. Norman testified that she tested .68 grams of a substance for this particular case and confirmed the presence of methamphetamine.

         At the conclusion of the trial, the Defendant was found guilty as charged.

         III. ...


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