OF JUDGMENT: 03/07/2013.
FROM WHICH APPEALED: ADAMS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. TRIAL JUDGE:
HON. FORREST A. JOHNSON JR. TRIAL COURT DISPOSITION:
CONVICTED OF COUNTS I, II, AND III, POSSESSION OF A WEAPON BY
A CONVICTED FELON, AND SENTENCED AS A HABITUAL OFFENDER TO
TEN YEARS FOR EACH COUNT, TO RUN CONSECUTIVELY; AND COUNT IV,
TRAFFICKING STOLEN FIREARMS, AND SENTENCED TO FIFTEEN YEARS,
TO RUN CONCURRENTLY TO THE SENTENCES IN COUNTS I, II, AND
III, ALL IN THE CUSTODY OF THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF
CORRECTIONS, WITHOUT ELIGIBILITY.
APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER, BY: ERIN
APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: BARBARA
IRVING, P.J., FAIR AND JAMES, JJ. LEE, C.J., IRVING AND
GRIFFIS, P.JJ., ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELLAND JAMES, JJ.,
CONCUR. BARNES, J., DISSENTS WITH SEPARATE OPINION, JOINED BY
Verenzo Green was convicted of three counts of possession of
a weapon by a convicted felon and one count of trafficking
stolen firearms. He was sentenced as a habitual offender to
ten years for each count of felon of possession of a firearm
in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections,
to run consecutively; he also received a concurrent sentence
of fifteen years for trafficking stolen firearms. On the day
of trial, Green filed a motion to suppress, arguing the
police discovered the firearms through an illegal search of
his vehicle. The trial court denied the motion. Green claims
on appeal that (1) the trial court erred in denying his
motion to suppress, and (2) his conviction for trafficking
stolen firearms was not supported by sufficient evidence.
Finding no error, we affirm.
On February 28, 2012, Agents George Pirkey and David
Washington of the Adams County Sheriff's Department
spotted Green outside of a grocery store. There was an
outstanding warrant for Green's arrest for a burglary
committed a month before. When the agents first saw him,
Green and several other men were standing by a vehicle with
its trunk open. As soon as Green noticed the agents, he
closed the trunk and walked towards the entrance to the
store. But instead of walking into the store, he threw a set
car keys down and ran into some nearby woods. Agent Pirkey
attempted to chase Green on foot, while Agent Washington took
the police car, but they were unable to catch him. The agents
returned to the store a few minutes after the chase began and
spoke with the store manager. After Agent Pirkey explained
the situation to the manager, she requested that the car be
towed. The police called a tow truck and ran the plate of the
vehicle, which identified Green as the owner. Additionally,
the police conducted an inventory search of the vehicle.
During the inventory search, Agent Pirkey used the car keys
left by Green to open the trunk of the vehicle. Agent Pirkey
discovered three guns on top of two large speakers; the guns
included a Colt .38 special revolver, a .22 caliber Ruger
revolver, and a .22 caliber Heritage Rough Rider. Green was
indicted on three counts of possession of a weapon and one
count of trafficking a firearm. He was found guilty at trial.
Additional facts pertaining to the trial will be discussed
below, as necessary.
Suppression of Evidence
The court denied Green's motion to suppress introduction
and testimony about the handguns found in the trunk, finding
that (1) Green abandoned his vehicle on private property, and
(2) the police were reasonable in conducting an inventory
search before impounding the vehicle. " When reviewing a
trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress, we must
assess whether substantial credible evidence supports the
trial court's finding considering the totality of the
circumstances." Shaw v. State, 938 So.2d 853,
859 (¶ 15) (Miss. Ct.App. 2005) (citing Price v.
State, 752 So.2d 1070, 1073 (¶ 9) (Miss. Ct.App.
1999)). " The standard of review for the admission or
suppression of evidence is abuse of discretion."
Hughes v. State, 90 So.3d 613, 631 (¶ 53)
The Fourth Amendment protects " the right of the people
to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,
against unreasonable searches and seizures." U.S. Const.
amend. IV. But a person has no standing to complain of a
search or seizure of property that he has abandoned.
United States v. Quiroz-Hernandez, 48 F.3d 858, 864
(5th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). The abandonment question
is one of intent, primarily " whether the person
prejudiced by the search had voluntarily discarded, left
behind, or otherwise relinquished his interest in the
property so that he could no longer retain a reasonable
expectation of privacy with regard to it at the time of the
search." United States v. Williams, 569 F.2d
823, 826 (5th Cir. 1978) (citation omitted). Further, "
intent may be inferred from words spoken, acts done, and
other objective facts . . . . All relevant circumstances
existing at the time of the alleged abandonment should be
considered." United States v. Colbert, 474 F.2d
174, 176 (5th Cir. 1973) (en banc).
In United States v. Edwards441 F.2d 749, 751 (5th
Cir. 1971), the Fifth Circuit held that a defendant abandoned
his vehicle, and therefore had no Fourth Amendment protection
in regard to the vehicle, when he left his keys in the
ignition and fled on foot from the police. The defendant,
Edwards, jumped out of his car during a high-speed chase.
Id. at 750. The police chased Edwards but were
unsuccessful in catching him. Id. Afterwards, the
police searched the trunk of his car and discovered untaxed
whiskey. Id. The Fifth Circuit ruled Edwards's
actions constituted ...