Before Thomas, P.j., Coleman, And Diaz, JJ.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Diaz, J., For The Court
DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/10/1997
TRIAL JUDGE: HON. SAMAC S. RICHARDSON
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: RANKIN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT
NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY
TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION: JURY VERDICT OF GUILTY OF ONE CHARGE OF POSSESSION WITH INTENT TO SELL IN EXCESS OF ONE OUNCE, BUT LESS THAN ONE KILO OF MARIJUANA. SENTENCE OF 8 YRS.
DISPOSITION: AFFIRMED - 02/23/99
¶1. Tracy Alexander appeals the decision of the Rankin County Circuit Court convicting him of felony possession of marijuana. Alexander raises the following issues in his appeal: (1) whether the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to establish the crime of felony possession of marijuana under Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-139 (Rev. 1993) and whether the jury's verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, (2) whether his rights were violated under Miranda during questioning and therefore made his statement involuntary, (3) whether the circuit court erred in admitting the handgun into evidence and testimony regarding the same,(4) whether the circuit court erred in permitting the prosecution to make a "send a message" statement during closing arguments, and (5) whether the cumulative errors at the trial court level warrant a new trial. Finding no error, we affirm the ruling of the circuit court.
¶2. Tracy Alexander, the defendant, was convicted of possession of more than one ounce but less than one kilogram of marijuana with intent to sell under Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-139. Alexander was observed by a Flowood Police Department officer meeting vehicles near the property where he lived. At trial, the same officer testified that he saw Alexander hand "some type of object" into one of the vehicles. On the basis of this and information received from a confidential informant, a search warrant was obtained to search the two trailers located on the property in question. Officers then executed the search warrant and found marijuana concealed inside a cabinet above the kitchen stove.
¶3. Alexander was arrested and read his Miranda warnings. Although he was given a written Miranda warning during the booking procedure, he made incriminating statements about his involvement in the crime. During his trial, Alexander denied any knowledge of the presence of marijuana in the mobile home. Both the State and Alexander presented testimony that other individuals had access to the mobile home where the marijuana was found. Although defense counsel objected, the State introduced testimony of an officer regarding a loaded handgun that was registered to Alexander and recovered from underneath a pillow in a bedroom of the trailer. Later, the trial Judge allowed the pistol to be introduced into evidence to show Alexander's dominion and control over the mobile home where the marijuana was found.
¶4. During closing arguments, the prosecutor told the jury to "send a message" that drug dealing would not be tolerated in the community. After objection to the first remark, the trial Judge directed the jury to disregard the remark.
¶5. Thereafter, Alexander was convicted for possession of more than one ounce but less than one kilogram of marijuana with intent to sell in the Rankin County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to serve a term of eight years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Feeling aggrieved, he now perfects this appeal.
I. WHETHER THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED AT TRIAL WAS SUFFICIENT TO ESTABLISH THE CRIME OF FELONY POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA UNDER § 41-29-139 AND WHETHER THE JURY'S VERDICT WAS AGAINST THE OVERWHELMING WEIGHT OF THE EVIDENCE
A. Sufficiency of the Evidence
¶6. A challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence requires an analysis of the evidence by the trial Judge to determine whether a hypothetical juror could find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant is guilty. May v. State, 460 So. 2d 778, 781 (Miss. 1984). If the Judge determines that no reasonable juror could find the defendant guilty, then he must grant the motion for a directed verdict and JNOV. Id. If he concludes that a reasonable juror could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, then he must deny the motion. Id. This Court's scope of review is limited to the same examination as that of the trial court in reviewing the motions for directed verdict and JNOV; that is, if the facts point in favor of the defendant to the extent that reasonable jurors could not have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, viewing all facts in the light most favorable to the State, then it must sustain the assignment of error. Blanks v. State, 542 So. 2d 222, 225-26 (Miss. 1989). Of course, the opposite is ...