MARTERIUS C. SANDERS A/K/A MARTERIUS SANDERS A/K/A MARTERIOUS SANDERS A/K/A GREG A/K/A "G" APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
of Judgment: 05/28/2015
FROM WHICH APPEALED: LEE COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. THOMAS J.
GARDNER III TRIAL JUDGE.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
GEORGE T. HOLMES.
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
BARBARA BYRD JASON L. DAVIS.
C.J., ISHEE AND GREENLEE, JJ.
On May 28, 2015, a jury impaneled in Lee County Circuit Court
found Marterius Sanders guilty on one count of transfer of a
controlled substance. Sanders was sentenced to eight years in
the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections
(MDOC), as a "nonviolent" habitual offender. The
large majority of the evidence presented against Sanders at
trial was the product of an undercover sting operation. On
appeal, Sanders contends that the video footage from the
sting operation contained inadmissible hearsay and was
erroneously admitted at trial, in violation of the
Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment to the United
States Constitution. Additionally, Sanders asserts a claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel. While we find that the
circuit court erred in admitting the hearsay evidence in
violation of the Confrontation Clause, we find that the error
was harmless. We further find that Sanders's claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel is without merit. Thus, we
On September 11, 2014, Chris Brown, a multijurisdictional
narcotics agent, mobilized James White, an undercover
confidential informant (CI), to purchase $200 worth of crack
cocaine from a female named Karashawanna Fields. White was
given the money to purchase the drugs and was fitted with an
audio-video recording device. When White called Fields to
verify their meeting location, Fields changed the rally point
to a nearby apartment complex instead. When White arrived at
the location, the video recording captured him interacting
with a black male-later identified as Sanders-and exchanging
the $200 for an item later confirmed to be 1.65 grams of
crack cocaine. The video showed Sanders approach White, give
him a clear plastic bag with a white substance inside, shake
White's hand, and walk away.
After the transaction was complete, White called and notified
Agent Brown and then traveled to Agent Brown's office.
Upon arriving at the office, White participated in the
postsale interview conducted by Agent Brown. The
video-recording device remained on and recorded White tell
Agent Brown that he purchased the cocaine from a man named
"G" or "Greg." Subsequently, Agent Brown
conducted an investigation, and through various statements
and identifications by other witnesses, including fellow
officer J.B. Long, he determined that "Greg" was
Before trial, Sanders's defense attorney moved for the
audio-video recording evidence to be suppressed, alleging
that it was inadmissible hearsay and a violation of the
Confrontation Clause. The circuit court denied Sanders's
motion in limine.
At trial, the prosecution admitted photographs taken from the
audio-video recording. The photographs depicted Sanders and
the white substance clearly. The prosecution also admitted
the audio-video recording into evidence over the
defense's contemporaneous hearsay, Confrontation Clause,
and unauthenticated-evidence objections. Agent Brown
testified that he "remained a block or two over"
from the "buy" spot, and he kept "loose
surveillance" on the area during the operation. Agent
Brown further testified, without an objection, that with help
from Officer Long he was able to determine that
"Greg" was Sanders.
Sanders testified in his own defense and confirmed that on
September 11, 2014, he was at the apartment where the CI
purchased the crack cocaine. He further testified that he was
visiting Fields, who he knew was a drug dealer, and that she
asked him to get a substance off the table and bring it to
her. He testified that he did so, but that he was not paying
attention to what was in the small plastic bag. Sanders
maintained that he gave the substance to Fields, not White,
and that Fields gave the substance to the CI. Sanders denied
being called "G" and denied receiving any money as
part of a transaction.
After a few hours of deliberation, the jury returned a guilty
verdict on one count of transfer of a controlled substance.
Sanders was sentenced as a nonviolent habitual offender and
received a sentence of eight ...