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ALBERT CLEMONS AND NORMAN STEELE v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

DECEMBER 18, 1985

ALBERT CLEMONS AND NORMAN STEELE
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE PATTERSON, C.J.; PRATHER AND ROBERTSON, JJ.

ROBERTSON, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

I.

Today we are presented consolidated appeals by two young men arising from November 30, 1983, sale of cocaine to an undercover narcotics agent. Each Defendant has already been

 separately convicted and sentenced to substantial prison terms and fines for a similar cocaine sale a day earlier, November 29, 1983, and for conspiracy to sell cocaine.

 With respect to one of these Defendants, the evidence indicates without contradiction that he participated in the November 30 sale. The other, however, was nowhere to be found on November 30 and the conviction below is necessarily grounded in speculation, guesswork and surmise - if he was a part of the November 29 sale, he must have been a part of the November 30 sale. We affirm in the former instance. Emphasizing that nothing short of proof beyond a reasonable doubt may undergird a conviction of any crime, we reverse in the former.

 II.

 A.

 Shirlene Anderson, an investigator employed by the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, had been working undercover in the Starkville area purchasing drugs. On or about October 26, 1983, she met Chris Hoskin and Robert Griffin, two of the original co-indictees in this cause. During the course of this acquaintance, Anderson made arrangements with Hoskin and Griffin to purchase some drugs in November. On the 29th of said month, Anderson, one Reginald Gage (another undercover agent whom she had introduced to them as her brother), Hoskin and Griffin traveled to Philadelphia, Mississippi, to make the purchase. When they arrived at Philadelphia, Hoskin and Griffin led Anderson and Gage to the Hillcrest Apartment Complex where they met with Albert Clemmons and Norman Steele. This meeting took place in Apartment 24, the residence of Norman Steele and Gloria Griffin, a/k/a Bridget Griffin and on that occasion Anderson make a cocaine purchase from Clemmons and Steele. *fn1 The cocaine was in a clear plastic bag on the dresser located in the bedroom. Steele had supplied this packaging.

 On this same date, November 29, Anderson had a conversation with Albert Clemmons in the bedroom of said apartment about the possibility of a future cocaine purchase. Norman Steele was present during this conversation. Anderson inquired about buying the cocaine the next day. Clemmons quoted some prices to Anderson and told her to get in touch with him if she was interested.

 Anderson returned the next day, November 30, 1983, and present in the apartment when she arrived were Gloria a/k/a Bridget Griffin, Hoskins and Robert Griffin. Clemmons later

 joined them. Steele was nowhere to be found. Agent Gage was sitting in a car outside as he had done the previous day.

 Anderson, Clemmons and Hoskin again went into the bedroom. Anderson told them she was ready to buy the six ounces of cocaine. Clemmons removed a clear plastic bag containing the cocaine from a Bell Telephone envelope, gave it to Anderson to inspect and proceeded to weigh it. Clemmons told Anderson it was three grams more than she wanted and then proceeded to remove the three grams. After Anderson returned to the living room area, an unknown black female entered the apartment and informed them that there were cops in the area of the apartment complex. Anderson eventually left the apartment on the pretext of going to get the money from the car.

 Before she could get to the car, Hoskin came out of the apartment and told her to wait. He said that he had received information that there were law enforcement personnel in the area and, therefore, they should change locations to complete the transaction.

 Clemmons got into a black pickup truck and asked them to follow him. They drove for a while along a road in Philadelphia until they stopped and proceeded to effect the sale. Clemmons gave the package containing the cocaine to Reginald Gage. As Anderson was about to give Clemmons the money, Gage arrested him. The other alleged accomplices, including Norman Steele, were arrested at the apartment. At no time on ...


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