DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/14/2013.
COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: ATTALA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOSEPH H. LOPER
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: ROSALIND HAYDEN JORDAN.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, BY: JEFFREY A. KLINGFUSS.
BEFORE GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND ISHEE, JJ. LEE, C.J., GRIFFIS, P.J., ISHEE, ROBERTS, CARLTON, MAXWELL AND FAIR, JJ., CONCUR. JAMES, J., CONCURS IN PART WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION. IRVING, P.J., DISSENTS WITHOUT SEPARATE WRITTEN OPINION.
[¶1] Antonio Maurice Parks was convicted of possession of a schedule II controlled substance and sentenced to twenty-five years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC), with ten years suspended and fifteen years to serve, followed by five years of post-release supervision. Parks claims on appeal that the circuit court's admission of evidence obtained during an investigatory stop was an abuse of discretion, as the stop and subsequent search of his person violated his rights under the Fourth Amendment. Finding no error, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
[¶2] On the evening of August 3, 2012, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics Agent Clint Walker received information from a confidential informant that two African American males, traveling from Winston County, Mississippi, in a green SUV with a Holmes County license plate, were transporting approximately two ounces of crack cocaine. Approximately two hours later, Agent Walker spotted two African American males in a green SUV with a Holmes County license plate traveling through Ackerman, Mississippi. Following the vehicle in an unmarked car, Agent Walker observed the vehicle cross the center line of the road " a couple of times." Concerned about the potential for a high-speed pursuit, Agent Walker radioed the Attala County Sheriff's Department, requesting assistance in making a traffic stop. Law enforcement set up a fake safety checkpoint on Highway 12 in order to effectuate the traffic stop. As the green SUV stopped at the checkpoint, four sheriff's deputies and Agent Walker approached the car, with guns drawn.
[¶3] Parks was the driver of the vehicle. He and his passenger, Curtis Blackmon, were ordered from the vehicle and placed in handcuffs. Parks was taken to the rear of the vehicle, accompanied by Sheriff Tim Nail and, according to Parks, was given a Terry pat-down search at that time. Blackmon was taken to the front of the car and left in the custody of a deputy. Agent Walker did a quick search of the car to check for any weapons in plain sight. He then proceeded to search Blackmon, but he found nothing on Blackmon's person. After obtaining Parks's verbal consent, Agent Walker searched the vehicle a second time, but found no contraband. Then, Agent Walker went to the rear of the vehicle where Parks was being held. He lifted Parks's shirt to check for any concealed weapon or contraband and saw three to four inches of the top of a sealed plastic bag sticking up from the waistband of Parks's pants. Sheriff Nail removed the white opaque bag, which contained an off-white, hard, rock-like substance. It was later determined that the bag contained approximately forty grams of crack cocaine.
[¶4] Parks was subsequently convicted of possession of thirty grams or more of cocaine, a schedule II controlled substance. He was sentenced to twenty-five years in the custody of the MDOC, which was to run consecutively to any previously imposed sentence, with ten years suspended and fifteen years to serve, followed five years of post-release supervision, and a $5,000 fine. On March 27, 2013, Parks filed a motion for a new trial, or alternatively, for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, arguing that the circuit court erred in denying his motion to suppress the cocaine evidence, as it was obtained in violation of his rights under the Fourth Amendment. He also claimed the verdict was against the overwhelming weight of the evidence.
[¶5] The circuit court denied Parks's post-trial motion, and he now appeals, re-asserting his claim that the search and seizure violated his Fourth Amendment ...