Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville
Assigned on Briefs July 16, 2019
from the Circuit Court for Lincoln County No. 17-CR-136
Forest A. Durard, Jr., Judge
Lincoln County Circuit Court Jury convicted the Appellant,
Walter Roy Chavez, Jr., of possession of one-half gram or
more of methamphetamine with intent to resell, possession of
one-half gram or more of methamphetamine with intent to
deliver, simple possession of marijuana, and driving on a
revoked license. After a sentencing hearing, the trial court
merged the convictions of possession of methamphetamine and
ordered that he serve an effective twelve years in
confinement. On appeal, the Appellant contends that the
evidence is insufficient to support his convictions of
possession of methamphetamine and that the trial court erred
by ordering an excessive sentence and by denying his request
for alternative sentencing. Based upon the record and the
parties' briefs, we affirm the judgments of the trial
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit
William J. Harold, Lewisburg, Tennessee, for the appellant,
Walter Roy Chavez, Jr.
Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Ruth
Anne Thompson, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Robert
James Carter, District Attorney General; and Ann L. Filer,
Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State
McGee Ogle, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which
Thomas T. Woodall and Alan E. Glenn, JJ., joined.
MCGEE OGLE, JUDGE
Jesse Mills, an officer with the Narcotics Unit of the
Lincoln County Sheriff's Department (LCSD), testified
that on the night of March 18, 2017, he and Sergeant Mike
Pitts were working in the southwest area of the county. As
they were traveling on Cheatham Road in Sergeant Pitts'
unmarked police vehicle, they saw a white pickup truck pull
out of a driveway and "[take] off" at a high rate
of speed. The driver was driving erratically on Cheatham Road
and was not wearing a seatbelt, so Sergeant Pitts activated
his vehicle's blue lights to stop the truck.
Mills testified that the driver turned left onto Old Elkton
Pike and pulled onto the left shoulder of the road instead of
the right shoulder. The truck slowed, the driver's door
opened four to six inches, and a clear plastic container
dropped out of the bottom of the door. The door shut, and the
truck continued moving forward on the left side of the
roadway for another twelve to fifteen feet before it came to
a stop. Sergeant Pitts stopped behind the pickup.
Mills testified that he approached the passenger side and
that the Appellant was the driver and the only person in the
truck. Investigator Mills asked for the Appellant's
driver's license and informed him that the police had
stopped him for "no seatbelt and erratic driving."
The Appellant handed Investigator Mills a Tennessee
identification card, and Investigator Mills recognized the
Appellant and knew his license had been revoked. At that
point, Sergeant Pitts approached the driver's side of the
pickup and asked the Appellant to get out of the truck.
Investigator Mills noticed that Sergeant Pitts was holding
the clear plastic container they had seen drop from the
driver's door. Sergeant Pitts arrested the Appellant, and
Investigator Mills handcuffed him.
Mills testified that he had the Appellant sit on the
truck's tailgate. He looked into the clear plastic
container and saw "a couple of plastic baggies
containing methamphetamine ice," which looked like ice
crystals. Investigator Mills read Miranda warnings
to the Appellant, searched him, and found $166 on his person.
Investigator Mills then searched the truck and found
additional plastic containers. Some of the containers
contained marijuana, and some of the containers contained
baggies of what appeared to be methamphetamine ice residue.
Investigator Mills stated, "Through my training and
experience I have seen having the baggies where you have one
large quantity of a drug you break that large quantity down
to smaller quantities to be able to distribute or sell."
Investigator Mills described the amount of marijuana as
"small." He said that some of the marijuana was
"raw" and that some of it was in "roach"
cigarettes. Investigator Mills also found a glass marijuana
pipe with burnt marijuana residue inside the bowl of the
Mills testified that the LCSD seized the Appellant's
money and truck and that the Appellant did not challenge the
seizure. While Investigator Mills was explaining the seizure
paperwork to the Appellant at the jail, he asked if the
Appellant was employed. The Appellant said yes but that he
"had to sell drugs to help make ends meet."
cross-examination, Investigator Mills acknowledged that the
drugs in the baggies could have been for the Appellant's
personal use. Marijuana residue in the glass pipe suggested
personal use of the marijuana.
Mike Pitts of the LCSD's Narcotics Unit testified that
about 10:00 p.m. on March 18, 2017, he and Investigator Mills
were traveling on Cheatham Road. They saw a white pickup
truck exit a driveway and turn left in front of them. The
officers followed the truck and noticed that it was
"traveling at a high[er] rate of speed than the posted
speed limit." Sergeant Pitts estimated that the truck
was traveling sixty-five to seventy miles per hour and said
that the truck also was "traveling in the wrong lanes,
taking up both lanes." Sergeant Pitts got "right up
behind" the truck. He said that his headlights were
shining into the pickup truck, that the driver was not
wearing a seatbelt, and that he activated his blue lights for
a traffic stop.
Pitts testified that the driver turned left onto Old Elkton
Pike. However, instead of pulling onto the right shoulder,
the driver crossed the oncoming lane of traffic and drove the
pickup onto the left shoulder. Sergeant Pitts said that the
driver's door opened six to eight inches and that a clear
container was "tossed out." The truck pulled
forward ten to fifteen feet and came to a stop, and Sergeant
Pitts stopped behind it. Investigator Mills approached the
passenger side of the truck while Sergeant Pitts exited his
police vehicle. Sergeant Pitts said he "took about two
steps and observed a white clear container laying on the edge