Kenith Lamar ANDERSON a/k/a Kenith Anderson a/k/a Kenith L. Anderson, Appellant
STATE of Mississippi, Appellee.
Office of State Public Defender by George T. Holmes, Mollie Marie McMillin, attorneys for appellant.
Office of the Attorney General by Elliott George Flaggs, attorney for appellee.
Before IRVING, P.J., ROBERTS and JAMES, JJ.
¶ 1. Kenith Lamar Anderson was convicted in the Madison County Circuit Court of possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, while in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced to twenty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), with twenty years suspended and five years of supervised probation. Anderson filed a motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, in the alternative, for a new trial. The circuit court denied the motion, and Anderson timely filed the present appeal solely arguing that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to suppress. Finding no error, we affirm the
circuit court's denial of Anderson's motion to suppress.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶ 2. Anderson was indicted on one count of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, while in possession of a firearm. Anderson initially entered a guilty plea to the charge, and his guilty plea was accepted on the condition that he would be eligible for house arrest. It was later determined that Anderson was not eligible for house arrest; therefore, the circuit court allowed him to withdraw his guilty plea. Anderson withdrew his guilty plea, and he elected to proceed to trial. Prior to trial, Anderson filed a motion to suppress the evidence recovered from his vehicle, arguing the evidence was obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure. The following recitation of facts is based on evidence and testimony presented at Anderson's suppression hearing held on October 10, 2012.
¶ 3. On January 31, 2012, Master Sergeant John Harris and Communications Officer Keishawn McDonald of the Madison County Sheriff's Department were patrolling several Canton, Mississippi apartment complexes after the police department received complaints from the apartment management of loitering and possible drug deals occurring on the premises. Sergeant Harris testified he pulled into Madison Heights apartment complex and noticed a car " double parked," meaning the car was taking up two parking spaces. Sergeant Harris pulled alongside the car, and he got out of his vehicle to ask the car's driver, Anderson, why he was improperly parked. Neither Sergeant Harris nor Officer McDonald could remember whether the patrol car's blue lights were turned on at the time. Officer McDonald, who was still in the patrol car, testified that as Anderson got out of his car, Anderson dropped a clear plastic bag of a green leafy substance, later determined to be marijuana, back onto the driver's side floorboard. Officer McDonald exited the patrol car and relayed that information to Sergeant Harris, who then walked to the passenger-side window and was able to see the bag on the floorboard. Upon seeing the marijuana, Sergeant Harris forced Anderson to place his hands on the vehicle so he could search the car. Officer McDonald testified that Anderson was not handcuffed until the initial bag of marijuana was recovered. A search of Anderson's car resulted in the recovery of more bags of marijuana, digital scales, and a firearm.
¶ 4. Anderson presented a differing version of the events. Jericho Dortch, a resident of the Madison Heights apartment complex and Anderson's childhood friend, testified that he and Anderson had been riding around together earlier that day. He had left a bag of marijuana in Anderson's car and called Anderson on the telephone to ask him to bring it back to him. According to Dortch, Anderson returned to Madison Heights, pulled into one parking spot, exited the car, and was standing on the sidewalk before the patrol car pulled into the parking lot. The patrol car did not have the blue lights activated. Sergeant Harris proceeded to ask Anderson for his license and what he was doing. He then asked Anderson to put his hands on the hood of the car and handcuffed him. Dortch testified that Sergeant Harris then searched Anderson's car. Anderson's cousin, Erica Shields, testified that Anderson's car was parked only in one space. Lastly, Anderson testified. He stated he was already standing on the sidewalk talking to Dortch when the patrol car pulled up, without its blue lights on, and Deputy Harris asked Anderson what
he was doing. Sergeant Harris got out of the patrol car and asked Anderson for his license and asked him to put his hands on the hood of the car. According to Anderson, Sergeant Harris then handcuffed him and sat him on the curb, and he searched Anderson's car. Anderson stated that Officer McDonald did not exit the patrol car until after Sergeant Harris had handcuffed him.
¶ 5. The circuit court denied Anderson's motion to suppress. It stated that after hearing the conflicting testimony, it " found the credibility of the State's witnesses to exceed that of the Defense's witnesses[.]" Further, Officer McDonald's testimony that he witnessed Anderson drop a bag of marijuana onto the floorboard was sufficient probable cause to search Anderson's vehicle. Anderson's trial lasted two days and resulted in a jury convicting him as charged in the indictment. He was sentenced to twenty-five years in the custody of the MDOC, with twenty years ...