GREGORY STALLING HOPKINS a/k/a GREGORY S. HOPKINS a/k/a GREGORY HOPKINS a/k/a GREG HOPKINS
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. DATE OF JUDGMENT: 01/27/2013. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. LAWRENCE PAUL BOURGEOIS, JR.
FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES.
FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: BRAD A. SMITH.
BEFORE DICKINSON, P.J., LAMAR AND CHANDLER, JJ. WALLER, C.J., DICKINSON AND RANDOLPH, P.JJ., KITCHENS, CHANDLER, PIERCE, KING AND COLEMAN, JJ., CONCUR.
NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY
¶1. Gregory Stalling Hopkins was convicted as a habitual offender of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. In his appeal, he challenges the sufficiency and the weight of the evidence as well as the admission of evidence of his prior bad acts. Finding no error, we affirm.
¶2. On December 11, 2009, the Biloxi Police Department conducted an undercover drug operation at Hopkins's residence  located at 224 Bowen Street in Biloxi, Mississippi. The police enlisted the help of a confidential informant (CI) who called Hopkins and requested $50 worth of crack cocaine. Hopkins agreed to the sale. Officer Ricky Allen and Officer Mike Mason drove the CI to Hopkins's residence, searched her, wired her purse with audio surveillance equipment, and gave her $50 in prerecorded bills to complete the buy. Police officers stationed around the property watched the CI approach Hopkins's residence and lost sight of her only when she approached his door. After ten minutes, the CI returned with two purses, no money, and one rock of crack cocaine, which she handed directly to the investigator. The audio surveillance equipment recorded the entire transaction and revealed that Hopkins would not let the CI into his residence but brought her a second purse and the crack cocaine. Once the rock tested positive for crack cocaine, the investigator signaled to secure the house. Upon entering the house, the police found
Hopkins and a woman named Hope Black in the bathroom trying to stuff a crack pipe down the sink drain after flushingsomething down the toilet. A third person, Darryl Daniels, was found in the yard and brought inside. After securing the house, Sergeant Aldon Helmert prepared a search warrant requesting permission to search the house for crack cocaine, confidential funds, drug paraphernalia, and anything listed in Exhibit A of the warrant. Once the judge granted the warrant, the police began a search of the house.
¶3. In addition to the crack pipe found while securing the house, the police found: money, paperwork, and sandwich bags in the master bedroom; crack cocaine in the living room; crack cocaine and a digital scale in the kitchen; and $500 in Hopkins's pocket, fifty of which was from the CI. Each of these items was recorded on the search warrant.
¶4. The money found in the bedroom totaled $3,604 in cash and $38.56 in change. The money was found wrapped in a hat and concealed under other clothing in the bedroom dresser. Also in the bedroom dresser was a bank card with Hopkins's name on it and a car title certificate. The title had been issued to Hopkins three months before the undercover operation occurred and listed 224 Bowen Street as his address. The sandwich bags found in the bedroom were identified by an officer at trial, without objection, as the type typically used to package and distribute narcotics.
¶5. The rock found in the living room and the substance found in the kitchen were confirmed by a drug analyst with the Mississippi Crime Laboratory to be crack cocaine. The rock weighed .1 gram but the substance in the kitchen was only a trace amount, as it was in powder form and lacked weight. Additionally, the digital scale found in the kitchen was identified by an officer as the type of scale typically used to weigh out individual crack cocaine rocks.
¶6. The police arrested and charged Hopkins, Black, and Daniels. Hopkins was charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
¶7. A grand jury indicted Hopkins a little more than a month after the undercover operation and, on the same day, his attorney filed a motion to suppress evidence of his prior bad acts. One month later, his attorney filed a request for discovery, a demand for speedy trial, and additional motions to suppress.
¶8. Exactly one year after he was indicted, Hopkins went to trial. Defense counsel filed a motion to suppress/in limine under Mississippi Rule of Evidence 404(b) to keep out any evidence of prior bad acts to show conformity. Specifically, defense counsel sought to exclude three of Hopkins's prior convictions: a 2005 conviction for possession of a controlled substance; a 2003 conviction for transfer of a controlled substance ; and a 1989 conviction for two counts of possession of a controlled substance. The State claimed that it intended to use only the 2003 transfer conviction. After considering several cases and conducting a Rule 404(b) balancing test, the court denied the motion to suppress with
regard to Hopkins's 2003 transfer conviction. Testimony regarding the conviction was elicited by the State during its direct examination of Sergeant Freeman, and a certified copy of Hopkins's 2003 sentencing order was admitted into evidence.
¶9. The defense also sought to suppress the search warrant, alleging: 1) that the officer requesting the warrant relied solely on information from other officers and failed to conduct an independent investigation, and 2) that the warrant was based on hearsay and an audio recording of an unreliable CI. The judge denied the motion to suppress but limited Helmert's testimony to what brought the police to ...