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Tennessee v. Ward

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Jackson

October 25, 2019

STATEOF TENNESSEE
v.
RANDALL RAY WARD

          Assigned on Briefs August 7, 2019

          Appeal from the Criminal Court for Madison County No. 17-282 Donald H. Allen, Judge.

         A Madison County jury convicted the Defendant, Randall Ray Ward, of possession of cocaine with the intent to sell, possession of cocaine with the intent to deliver, and possession of illegal drug paraphernalia. The trial court merged the cocaine convictions and ordered that the Defendant serve ten years in confinement as a Range II, multiple offender. The trial court imposed a consecutive sentence of eleven months and twenty-nine days for the paraphernalia conviction. On appeal, the Defendant asserts that: (1) the evidence is insufficient to support his convictions; (2) the trial court erred when it admitted the Defendant's statement to police; (3) the trial court erred when it instructed the jury regarding confessions; and (4) the trial court erred when it sentenced the Defendant. After a thorough review of the record and applicable law, we affirm the trial court's judgments.

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

          Kortney D. Simmons, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Randall Ray Ward.

          Herbert H. Slatery, III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulman, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Jody S. Pickens, District Attorney General; and Shaun A. Brown, Assistant District Attorney General for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert W. Wedemeyer, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT W. WEDEMEYER, JUDGE.

         I. Background and Facts

         This case arises from the execution of a search warrant for controlled substances at an apartment inside which law enforcement officers found the Defendant with two other individuals. Also inside the apartment, law enforcement officers found a crack pipe, multiple bags of crack cocaine, a digital scale, cash, and plastic baggies. Based on the search, they arrested the Defendant and later interviewed him, during which time he admitted to selling crack cocaine. Based on these events, a Madison County grand jury indicted the Defendant for possession of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to sell, possession of 0.5 grams or more of cocaine with the intent to deliver, and possession of illegal drug paraphernalia. The indictment was later amended upon motion of the State to redact the language "0.5 grams or more" from each of the cocaine counts resulting in these counts being classified as Class C felonies rather than Class B felonies.

         A. Trial

         Prior to trial, the State filed a notice of its intent to seek enhanced punishment based on the Defendant's prior criminal convictions, including three felonies and numerous misdemeanors. The following evidence was presented at the Defendant's trial: Investigator Dennis Infantis testified that he was an investigator with the Madison County Narcotics Unit and that, on June 20, 2016, he served a search warrant on an apartment on East Chester Street in Jackson, Tennessee. When Investigator Infantis arrived at the apartment with other law enforcement personnel, they knocked on the door to announce their presence, and, after no one answered, obtained a key for the apartment from the management. Using this key, the assembled law enforcement officers opened the apartment's door and placed the occupants in handcuffs for officer safety. The occupants were the Defendant, whom officers found in the bathroom, Stephanie Martinez, and Tiffany McBride. Another individual, James Simmons, to whom the apartment "belonged," arrived soon after and was also detained. An officer read aloud the search warrant to the suspects and then began searching the apartment.

         In the living room, Investigator Infantis found a clear crack pipe, as well as rocks of crack cocaine. Crack cocaine was also found in the kitchen in plain view. Ms. Martinez stated that she had crack cocaine hidden on her body. Investigator Infantis also found a digital scale in the bathroom trash can where the Defendant was found. There appeared to be crack cocaine residue on the surface of the scale.

         Investigator Infantis spoke to the Defendant while he was in custody; the Defendant signed a waiver of rights form after being advised of his Miranda rights. The Defendant told Investigator Infantis that he was unemployed and sold crack cocaine to make money. He also stated that he kept a third of an ounce of cocaine with him at any given time. Investigator Infantis ...


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