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ERNIE LESLIE DAVIS AND LINDA PEARL BANKS v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

MARCH 12, 1986

ERNIE LESLIE DAVIS AND LINDA PEARL BANKS
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



BEFORE PATTERSON, HAWKINS AND PRATHER

PRATHER, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

This appeal is from a conviction rendered in Circuit Court of Rankin County, wherein Ernie Davis and Linda Banks were found guilty of conspiracy to possess heroin. Davis was sentenced to a term of twenty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections and fined $20,000. Banks was sentenced to a term of ten years and fined $5,000. Both appellants appeal asserting that the verdict is against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. The conviction against Ernie Davis and Linda Banks is affirmed but remanded for resentencing.

I.

 On or about July 1, 1983, Ernie Davis, Linda Banks and nine other family and friends traveled from California to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Ernie Davis was allegedly moving from California to New Jersey, but stopped in Hattiesburg to visit with Banks' family for a few days.

 On July 9th, a white male identified as Sonny Koalani entered the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, Washington and took a package to the Delta Airlines counter. Koalani paid $47.00 to have the package sent to Jackson, Mississippi addressed to Ernie Davis. The flight bill listed a return address as 660 56th Street, San Diego, California. A telephone number in Hattiesburg, Mississippi was given on the air bill to call when the package arrived in Jackson Delta was to hold the package until Davis appeared to claim the package.

 Koalani first told Agent Nelson that the package contained a pair of socks. When questioned about this, he added that the package contained jewelry. Nelson took the package to an x-ray machine and discovered that the inside of the package was cigarette shaped and had a gray haze appearance, but no jewelry was apparent. The package was turned over to Officer Richardson. After relating the facts to a judge in Seattle, Richardson obtained a search warrant for the package. It was found to contain 27 grams of heroin surrounded by ten cellophane packages of pepper. After the discovery of the heroin, Richardson placed the name of Sonny Koalani on the National Narcotics Information System and discovered it was an alias for Wayne Leslie Durante.

 Richardson placed the package en route to Jackson via Delta Airlines for controlled delivery and notified Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

 On July 9th, Davis received a telephone call from Banks' home in Hattiesburg reporting that a package would arrive for

 him at Delta Airlines in Jackson on July 9. Davis and Banks drove to the airport. Davis was advised at Delta that the package would not arrive until the following day.

 Davis and Banks checked into the Airways Inn on Highway 80 in Rankin County to await the arrival of the package. The registration at the motel was in Banks' name and she paid the bill.

 On Sunday, July 10, Lt. Mallory and agents of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics went to the Jackson Airport having been notified about the package and positioned themselves awaiting Davis' arrival to claim the package.

 Davis returned to the Jackson Airport and obtained the package from Delta Airlines. As Davis approached his car, he motioned to appellant Linda Banks who turned the ignition key and pushed the button in the glove compartment to open the trunk. Davis placed the unopened package in the trunk and, upon seeing the narcotics agent approaching, slammed the trunk down and proceeded to the driver's side of the vehicle. Davis was stopped by Lt. Berry and Agent Norton. Mallory retrieved the package from the trunk and placed Davis under arrest.

 Agent Norton proceeded to the passenger side of the car. Banks was ordered out of the car. Norton reached inside the car and opened a white purse which was located on the passenger side. Unzipping the purse, Norton observed two bags of a powdery substance later determined to be mannitol, commonly used as a cutting agent for heroin. Banks was then placed under arrest.

 At trial Banks testified that her sole involvement was pushing the button that caused Davis' trunk to open and being physically present. She claimed she never used heroin, nor did she have any knowledge of the true contents of the package received by Davis. She claimed Davis told her the package was merely a set of keys. Banks has no criminal record. According to Banks the mannitol was prescribed as a dog laxative by a veterinarian in Tijuana, Mexico. Banks owned two Cockapoos that traveled with them from California to Hattiesburg. She claimed that mannitol was given to the dog three times a day with feeding for relief of constipation.

 Appellant Davis likewise denied knowledge of the true contents of the package. Davis testified that he met Sonny Koalani while laying carpet in California. They had disagreed over Koalani's treatment of a girlfriend. Davis

 claimed Koalani then stole his car. Davis alleges that on July 9, Koalani called Hattiesburg and advised Banks' sister that a package was being sent containing Davis' keys and could ...


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