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Crosswhite v. State

December 31, 1998

MONTE CROSSWHITE
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



Before Pittman, P.j., Smith And Mills, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mills, Justice, For The Court:

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 1/24/97

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOHN M. MONTGOMERY

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: CLAY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: FORREST ALLGOOD

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

¶1. On April 5, 1996, Monte Crosswhite was indicted in the Circuit Court of Clay County for the unlawful manufacture of methamphetamine, a Schedule II drug, in violation of Miss. Code Ann. § § 41-29-139 and 41-29-115. Crosswhite was found guilty of manufacturing a controlled substance by a jury of his peers and was sentenced to pay a fine of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) and serve a period of five (5) years in the custody of the MDOC. Crosswhite subsequently filed a motion for acquittal or a new trial which was denied by the Circuit Court on January 24, 1997. Aggrieved, Crosswhite raises three issues on appeal:

I. WHETHER THE ACT OF BOILING VICKS INHALERS CONSTITUTES THE CRIME OF MANUFACTURING A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE PURSUANT TO MISS. CODE ANN. § § 41-29-139 AND 41-29-115.

II. WHETHER THE INTRODUCTION OF THE DEFENDANT'S PRIOR BAD ACTS AND SUBSEQUENT REFERENCE TO THESE ACTS DURING CLOSING ARGUMENT DENIED THE DEFENDANT A FAIR TRIAL.

III. WHETHER AN ENVELOPE ON WHICH THE INGREDIENTS USED TO MANUFACTURE METHAMPHETAMINE WERE WRITTEN WAS PROPERLY ADMITTED INTO EVIDENCE.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

¶2. Based upon knowledge of a previous sale of marijuana from the home of Summer Studdard, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics officers obtained a warrant to search the Studdard home for marijuana and any drug contraband contained therein. At approximately 11:30 p.m. on September 22, 1995, officer Joe Huffman and Deputy Chief Bill Gibson executed the search warrant and gained entry into the house. Upon entry, Huffman immediately smelled an odor in the house which burned his eyes and throat. He then entered the kitchen and found Monty Crosswhite standing over the stove holding a pair of pliers. On the stove they found a white bowl containing a clear liquid. Huffman immediately placed handcuffs on Crosswhite. As Huffman looked around the kitchen, he noticed approximately fifty (50) empty Vicks Inhaler containers lying on the stove, counter top, and in the garbage can next to the stove. After the liquid cooled, Huffman poured it from the white bowl into a plastic bag and later transferred it into a glass jar to be sent to the Mississippi Crime Lab for analysis.

¶3. During trial, Sheriff Huffman testified that the combination of heat and water cause the inert ingredients in the Vicks Inhaler to bond with water. The cotton swabs found within the inhaler are then placed in the liquid mixture. When the water eventually evaporates, a concentrated form of methamphetamine is squeezed from the cotton swabs using pliers. The result of this process is the formation of a narcotic substance commonly referred to as "kitchen crank", "bathtub meth", or "stove-top meth."

ΒΆ4. Grady Downy, a forensic scientist employed by the Mississippi Crime Lab, testified concerning the results reached by the lab after testing the liquid seized at the Studdard home. Methamphetamine was found in both the seized liquid and the cotton swabs. Downy explained that the active ingredient contained in the Vicks Inhaler, l-desoxyephedrine, is a form of methamphetamine. Each inhaler contains fifty (50) milligrams of l-desoxyephedrine combined with other ingredients. He further explained that the amount of l-desoxyephedrine found in the Vicks Inhaler is not changed by the process of boiling the contents in water. Rather, the amount of methamphetamine is simply concentrated when the other ingredients contained in the ...


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