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Cooper v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

October 15, 2013

TAZARIUS COOPER A/K/A T.C., APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, APPELLEE

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 02/17/2012.

Page 1220

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1221

WASHINGTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. MARGARET CAREY-MCCRAY,  TRIAL JUDGE

FOR APPELLANT: GEORGE T. HOLMES, MICHAEL ANTHONY WILLIAMS, PHILLIP BROADHEAD.

FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: ELLIOTT GEORGE FLAGGS.

BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ. LEE, C.J., BARNES, ISHEE, CARLTON, FAIR AND JAMES, JJ., CONCUR.

OPINION

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GRIFFIS, P.J.

¶1. Tazarius Cooper appeals his conviction for possession of ecstasy with the intent to distribute, transfer, or sell. In this appeal, Cooper argues it was error for the court to: (1) deny his motion to suppress evidence, and (2) deny his motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, a new trial. We find no error and affirm.

FACTS

¶2. Cooper was indicted for the possession of ecstasy, a Schedule I controlled substance, with the intent to sell, barter, transfer, or deliver to another, in violation of Mississippi Code Annotated section 41-29-139(a)(1) (Rev. 2009).

¶3. The State presented three witnesses: Detectives Joe Edney and Charlton Smith of the Greenville Police Department, and Allison Conville, a forensic scientist for the Mississippi Crime Laboratory.

¶4. Det. Edney testified that on July 12, 2012, a concerned citizen phoned the Greenville Police Department's Special Operations Unit to complain about illegal-narcotics activity at the 500 block of Union Street in Greenville. This was an area known for heavy drug trafficking. Lieutenant Redmond received the complaint and communicated it to Det. Edney. Lt. Redmond stated that the caller complained that " young men, young black men, are standing out on sidewalks, corners, selling drugs." Det. Edney and Det. Smith went to investigate the tip. Det. Edney testified that they arrived at the scene in a black Ford F-250, flashed the blue lights, and exited the vehicle. He recognized the house and knew the owner of the house, who was not Cooper. According to Det. Edney, the house was very decrepit and had holes everywhere. Det. Edney had previously reported the house to the housing authority, and it was declared inhabitable.

¶5. Det. Edney testified that before he exited the vehicle, he saw Cooper and Cooper's friend, Dennis Wright, standing next to Cooper. After Det. Edney commanded the two individuals not to move, Wright complied. Cooper ran. Cooper then forced himself into the door of the house. Det. Edney followed in pursuit of Cooper. Det. Edney observed Cooper throw a clear bag with a blue substance into a hole in the wall from outside the front steps of the house. Det. Edney claimed that he could see into the living room and observe Cooper's actions, because the drywall was missing. Det. Edney then detained Cooper and field tested the twenty-one blue, dolphin-imprinted pills in the clear bag. The pills tested positive for ecstasy. Det. Edney arrested Cooper.

Page 1223

¶6. Det. Edney also testified that he charged Cooper with possession with intent to distribute. Det. Edney reasoned that, based on his knowledge, the number of pills found in Cooper's possession would be inconsistent with personal use. Det. Edney further testified, after being questioned by defense counsel, that items such as scales and plastic baggies were not necessary for the sale of ecstasy. Ecstasy pills are handed out individually when sold.

¶7. During a pretrial hearing on Cooper's motion to suppress the evidence of the ecstasy pills, which claimed the evidence was the fruit of an illegal search, Det. Edney gave similar testimony. Based on Det. Edney's testimony at the pretrial hearing, and after clearing up the factual dispute as to whether Det. Edney stood outside or inside the house when he witnessed Cooper throw the clear bag into the wall (he was outside of the house), the trial judge denied Cooper's motion to suppress the ecstasy pills. The court held that the pills were not the fruits of an illegal search by Det. Edney, due to a lack of a search warrant, an arrest warrant, or exigent circumstances.

¶8. Det. Smith testified at trial that he responded to the anonymous tip with Det. Edney on the day in question. He claimed, as Det. Edney testified, that they arrived at the scene in a black Ford F-250 and activated their blue police lights. As they exited the vehicle, Det. Edney commanded Cooper and Wright to stop. Det. Smith detained Wright, while Det. Edney pursued Cooper as he ran into the house. Det. Smith testified that he saw Cooper run into the house. However, he did not enter the house himself.

¶9. Conville testified that she performed a color test and instrumental-analysis test on the twenty-one pills recovered at the crime scene, and ...


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