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State v. Skillern

Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee, Nashville

December 5, 2019

STATE OF TENNESSEE
v.
KAYLA DANIELLE SKILLERN

          Assigned on Briefs at Knoxville June 25, 2019

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Wayne County No. 16044 Stella Hargrove, Judge.

         The Defendant, Kayla Danielle Skillern, was convicted by a Wayne County Circuit Court jury of the sale of 0.5 gram or more of methamphetamine. See T.C.A. § 39-17-434 (2018). She received a sentence of ten and one-half years' confinement. On appeal, she contends that (1) the evidence is insufficient to support her conviction, (2) the trial court erred in denying her motions for a judgment of acquittal, and (3) the trial court erred in admitting video evidence depicting the Defendant arguing with her codefendant in front of a child. We affirm the Defendant's conviction but remand the case to the trial court for the entry of a corrected judgment.

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

          Samuel W. Hinson, Lexington, Tennessee, for the appellant, Kayla Danielle Skillern.

          Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Jonathan H. Wardle, Assistant Attorney General; Brent Cooper, District Attorney General; and Beverly White, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.

          Robert H. Montgomery, Jr., J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and J. Ross Dyer, JJ., joined.

          OPINION

          ROBERT H. MONTGOMERY, JR., JUDGE

         This case arose from a drug transaction involving the Defendant, another individual, and a confidential informant. The Wayne County grand jury indicted the Defendant for one count of possession with intent to sell 0.5 gram or more of methamphetamine. Prior to the trial, the indictment was amended to one count of the sale of 0.5 gram or more of methamphetamine.

         At the trial, Wayne County Sheriff's Investigator Dusty Malugen testified that when investigating drug activity, he sometimes utilized a confidential informant (CI). He testified that a CI would call him, identify a potential seller, and explain which drugs were available for purchase. Investigator Malugen stated that he did not control from whom a CI bought drugs and that he investigated whoever sold drugs to a CI. Investigator Malugen said his practice was to meet with a CI, search the CI, and search the CI's vehicle. Investigator Malugen explained that the search ensured that a CI did not have any drugs. He explained that after searching a CI, he would give the CI a recording device.

         Investigator Malugen testified that he met the CI involved in this case after the CI told him that the CI could set up a drug transaction by calling the Defendant. Investigator Malugen said that he picked up the CI in an unmarked police car and that the CI called and spoke to the Defendant and turned on the phone's speaker. Investigator Malugen explained that he was familiar with the Defendant and recognized her voice. Investigator Malugen said that the CI informed the Defendant that the CI wanted to purchase drugs and that the Defendant agreed to meet at the CI's house. Investigator Malugen said that he drove the CI to a location where they met Investigator Retherford. Investigator Malugen explained that he gave the CI two recording devices and $100 with which to purchase one gram of methamphetamine.

         Investigator Malugen testified that after setting up the recording devices, he drove the CI to the CI's home. Investigator Malugen said he did not enter the home and had never been in the home. Investigator Malugen stated that after he dropped off the CI, he drove to a nearby park. Investigator Malugen said that he waited at the park until the CI called to inform him that the drug transaction was complete. Investigator Malugen said that he drove to the CI's house, that he picked up the CI, and that the CI gave him the purchased drugs. Investigator Malugen said he retrieved one of the recording devices and paid the CI $130.

         On cross-examination, Investigator Malugen testified that, based on his review of the video recording, the Defendant did not hand the CI any methamphetamine. Investigator Malugen said that codefendant Ashley Risner handed the methamphetamine to the Defendant. Investigator Malugen said that the CI called the Defendant, requested drugs, and scheduled a meeting at his home. Investigator Malugen testified that "a gram is always a hundred dollars" and that he did not remember if the CI and the Defendant discussed the price for the drugs.

         The CI testified that he knew the Defendant and that he met with her on September 21, 2016. The CI explained that he was working with Investigator Malugen and that he called the Defendant in order to purchase one gram of methamphetamine. The CI said he arranged during a phone call to have the Defendant come to his home for the drug transaction. He said that during the call, the Defendant informed him that a gram of methamphetamine cost $100. The CI said that after he set up the meeting with the Defendant, he informed Investigators Malugen and Retherford about the plan. He said that Investigator Malugen searched him and gave him $100 to purchase the drugs. The CI explained that Investigator Malugen gave him two recording devices and took the CI home to wait for the Defendant. The CI said that one recording device was a phone, which he held, and that the other was ...


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