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JAMES ALFRED COYNE, JR. v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

FEBRUARY 26, 1986

JAMES ALFRED COYNE, JR.
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE WALKER, DAN LEE AND ROBERTSON

DAN LEE, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

James Alfred Coyne was indicted on August 12, 1983 with possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. Specifically, he was charged with possession of 2,468.4 grams of marijuana, in violation of 41-29-39 Miss., Code Ann. (1972). He was tried on August 14, 1984, the jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to ten years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

Coyne has appealed, and has assigned the following as error:

 I. The trial court erred in failing to dismiss the indictment against the defendant.

 II. The trial court erred in failing to grant defendant's motion for a directed verdict.

 STATEMENT OF FACTS

 Officers from the sheriff's department of Pearl River County received information from a reliable informant that a quantity of marijuana was stored at the trailer home of James Alfred Coyne. On July 5, 1983, Fred Rester and Bobby Milner, deputy sheriffs, executed an affidavit for a search warrant, in order to search Coyne's home. On that same day, the officers, accompanied by Reggie Smith, Constable of Pearl River County, went to Coyne's home and executed the warrant.

 Upon arriving at the home, Milner and Rester entered the trailer first, and found Coyne inside. Milner observed Coyne throwing a suitcase outside the back door of the trailer. After a search of the trailer, and the area - including a shed - immediately outside, Rester and Milner found the following items: (1) a brown paper bag containing 27 small plastic bags with a green leafy substance, believed to be marijuana and a small plastic bag with $60.00 cash, found in a clothes dryer; (2) a large brown suitcase containing a large plastic bag containing green leafy substance, believed to be marijuana, and a green cloth bag containing a set of scales, found on top of a tin building at back door of trailer; (3) a white paper bag containing one plastic bag containing a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana, found in a black El Camino parked in front of trailer; and (4) an aluminum pan with one plastic bag containing green leafy substance and one plastic marijuana pipe, found in the kitchen. The material seized from Coyne's trailer was brought back to the sheriff's office and secured. A photograph of it was later taken at the sheriff's office and introduced into evidence at trial. Rester originally put the marijuana in his police locker, and a deputy sheriff subsequently transported the marijuana to the Mississippi Crime Lab.

 Alyson Smith tested the substance at the Mississippi Crime Lab. She verified at trial that the sample which she tested contained marijuana, and that the total quantity of marijuana seized was 2,468.2 grams. (While it was not stated at trial, this amount appears to be about 5.4 pounds.)

 After testing had been completed at the Crime Lab, Sam Bodie, an investigator for the Pearl River County Sheriff's office, returned the marijuana to the sheriff's substation at the Picayune Criminal Justice Center on July 26, 1983. On October 5, 1983, Bodie noticed that his locker had been tampered with, and upon further examination, it appeared that all controlled substances had been removed from his locker. At the time of this trial, that theft was still under investigation by the City of Picayune.

 Before trial, counsel for the defendant moved to make the substance seized available for testing. Both parties stipulated that testing would be impossible, due to the absence of the substance. The court allowed the motion to be expanded to include a motion to dismiss for failure of the state to produce the substance. The motion to make the substance available for testing was ultimately sustained for record purposes only; however, the motion to dismiss was overruled.

 At trial, after the testimony from the state's witness,

 the defendant moved for a directed verdict, on grounds of failure to prove corpus delicti. That motion was overruled. The defense offered no testimony. The jury found the defendant ...


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