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State v. Brown

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

May 16, 2019


          Assigned on Briefs April 2, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Tipton County No. 8805 J. Weber McCraw, Judge

         The Defendant, Keith Lamont Brown, appeals his conviction for the delivery of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine for which he received a sentence of twenty-five years as a persistent offender. On appeal, the Defendant contends that the evidence is insufficient to support his conviction. Upon reviewing the record and the applicable law, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.

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

          Frank Deslauriers, Covington, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Keith Lamont Brown.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Mark E. Davidson, District Attorney General; and Walt Freeland and Jason Poyner, Assistant District Attorneys General, for the Appellee, State of Tennessee.

          John Everett Williams, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Alan E. Glenn and Timothy L. Easter, JJ., joined.




         The Defendant was convicted of the delivery of more than 0.5 grams of cocaine as the result of a controlled buy with a confidential informant for the Twenty-Fifth Judicial District Drug Task Force in Covington, Tennessee, on February 25, 2016. Investigator Randal Robbins testified that Mr. Sean Browder, the confidential informant, contacted him and identified the Defendant as someone from whom he could purchase drugs. Investigator Robbins and Officer Tony Doss met with Mr. Browder prior to the drug transaction. Investigator Robbins patted down Mr. Browder and had Mr. Browder empty his pockets and turn them inside out. Investigator Robbins placed an audio/video recording device on Mr. Browder's person and gave him $150 in bills with recorded serial numbers to purchase drugs.

         Investigator Robbins testified that Mr. Browder engaged in a text message exchange with someone who was listed as "Key" in Mr. Browder's cell phone. Investigator Robbins stated that the Defendant was known as "KiKi," and Officer Doss testified that he was aware that the telephone number to which Mr. Browder sent text messages belonged to the Defendant. Mr. Browder sent the first text message to the Defendant at 2:17 p.m., and the final text message from the Defendant was received at 4:27 p.m. and stated, "My boy is meeting you. He's there." The drug transaction occurred within five minutes of the final text message. Mr. Browder sent screenshots of his text message exchange with the Defendant to Investigator Robbins.

         Investigator Robbins stated that the Defendant chose the location of the drug transaction and directed Mr. Browder to multiple locations before the drug transaction occurred. Investigator Robbins explained that drug dealers often conduct "counter surveillance" by instructing a buyer to go to multiple locations while someone who works for the dealer watches to ensure no one is following the buyer. Mr. Browder was walking down Highway 51 during a portion of the text message exchange with the Defendant, and Investigator Robbins and Officer Doss were able to maintain visual surveillance of Mr. Browder. However, the officers were unable to maintain visual surveillance of Mr. Browder once he began walking in a residential area. Investigator Robbins maintained contact with Mr. Browder through text messages and telephone conversations.

         At 4:15 p.m., Mr. Browder sent Investigator Robbins a text message, stating that the Defendant wanted to meet at Mr. Browder's home. Mr. Browder told Investigator Robbins that the Defendant refused to meet in a public setting. Investigator Robbins feared that the battery to the audio/visual recording device attached to Mr. Browder was low, so he met with Mr. Browder to replace the recording device. Shortly after Investigator Robbins replaced the recording device, Mr. Browder contacted him and stated that the Defendant was sending someone to complete the transaction. Investigator Robbins testified that to avoid arrest, drug dealers often have others perform the "leg work."

         The video recording of the transaction showed a white sport utility vehicle with two people inside drive up beside Mr. Browder, the passenger hand Mr. Browder an item in clear wrapping while Mr. Browder gave the passenger the money, and the vehicle drive away. Shortly after the transaction, Investigator Robbins met with Mr. Browder, who turned over the drugs that he had purchased. Investigator Robbins described the drugs as "a white, chalky-like substance" wrapped in cellophane. A field test of the substance indicated that the drugs were cocaine based. The drugs were sent to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation ("TBI") for ...

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