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Brown v. State

June 30, 1998

BROWN
v.
STATE



Before Thomas, P.j., Coleman, And Hinkebein, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Coleman, J., For The Court:

96-KA-00974-COA

WILLIE M. BROWN A/K/A WILLIE MARZETT BROWN, APPELLANT v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

THIS OPINION IS NOT DESIGNATED FOR PUBLICATION AND MAY NOT BE CITED, PURSUANT TO M.R.A.P. 35-B

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 08/14/96

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. ROBERT WALTER BAILEY

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: LAUDERDALE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

BY: JEAN SMITH VAUGHAN

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: BILBO MITCHELL

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: ADJUDGED GUILTY OF SALE OF COCAINE; SENTENCED TO SERVE 60 YEARS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS WITHOUT SUSPENSION, REDUCTION, PROBATION, OR PAROLE AND ORDERED TO PAY A FINE OF $1,000.

A jury in the Circuit Court of Lauderdale County found Willie M. Brown guilty of the sale of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance. The trial court entered its judgment of conviction, and because Brown had been convicted of two previous felonies, the Judge sentenced Brown as an habitual offender to serve sixty years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections without suspension, reduction, probation, or parole pursuant to Section 41-29-147 and Section 99-19-81 of the Mississippi Code. In this appeal, Brown argues that the trial court erred by failing to grant his motions for a directed verdict, a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, or a new trial. We affirm nevertheless.

I. FACTS

On the evening of August 25, 1994, members of the Lauderdale County Drug Task Force set out to purchase crack cocaine in the Davis Court area of Meridian. Meridian Police Officer Lee Wilson, who had been assigned to work as an undercover officer for the Task Force, and confidential informant Joe Griffin met at the Task Force office that night with other members of the Task Force to prepare for the evening's activities. Wilson was fitted with a microphone attached to a body wire which was concealed beneath his clothing so that any drug transaction could be both heard and recorded on a tape recorder by other Task Force officers, who would position themselves nearby to monitor Wilson's and his CI's activities. Wilson received $40 of Task Force funds with which to purchase crack cocaine.

The CI drove in the CI's vehicle with undercover officer Wilson into the Davis Court area at approximately 9:30 p.m. They were followed by Meridian Police Officer J. C. Ford, a Meridian Police Department detective, and a Lieutenant Spears, who served as the surveillance officers for Wilson and his CI. Ford and Spears parked their vehicle close to Davis Court but out of sight from where the transaction might occur. As the CI drove into the designated area, he advised Wilson that he saw the appellant, Willie Brown. The CI drove through Davis Court once, circled around, came back through again, and stopped.

Brown approached the CI's vehicle from the passenger's side, where Wilson was sitting. The CI told Brown that Wilson wanted to buy "a 40," which Wilson later testified was street slang for two rocks of crack cocaine. Brown walked to the rear of the CI's vehicle out of Wilson's vision and returned about a minute later with two rocks of crack cocaine. Brown gave the cocaine to Wilson and Wilson, in turn, gave Brown the $40 which the Task Force had issued to him.

After Wilson and Brown concluded their transaction, Wilson and his CI returned to the Task Force office, where Wilson delivered the two rocks of crack cocaine and the audio tape of the transaction to the case agent, Jackie Abercrombie, an eleven-year veteran of the Meridian Police Department. Abercrombie "field-tested" the two rocks which Wilson had purchased from Brown, and the result indicated the presence of cocaine. As case agent, Abercrombie sealed the rocks in a plastic bag, tagged the bag as evidence, and locked it inside an evidence cabinet.

Yet another detective with the Meridian Police Department assigned to the Task Force, Karl Merchant, prepared a photographic line-up which consisted of four photographs of subjects of Brown's race and approximate height and weight. Among the four subjects whose pictures were in the line-up were Brown and Brown's brother, Kenny Ray Brown. According to Merchant's testimony, when Merchant showed the four-subject photographic line-up to Wilson after he returned to the Task Force office, Wilson readily identified Willie Brown as the purveyor of the crack cocaine. In his report to Abercrombie, Wilson identified Brown as a "black male, approximately 6 feet, 2 inches tall, 165 to 185 pounds." Wilson added that Brown's head was bald.

II. TRIAL

Pursuant to the grand jury's indictment for the felony of the sale of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, Brown was tried in the Lauderdale County Circuit Court. The State's first witness, Jamela Naron, a forensic scientist specializing in the field of drug identification, who was employed by the Mississippi Crime Laboratory at its laboratory in Meridian, described the three examinations which she made of the substances established to have been sold by Brown to Wilson. She opined that the substances were indeed crack cocaine. The State's second witness was Lee Wilson, the undercover officer who bought the crack cocaine from Brown. Our recitation of the facts reflects the substance ...


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