OF JUDGMENT: 07/25/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. JOHN HUEY EMFINGER TRIAL JUDGE.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: DONALD W. BOYKIN.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
ABBIE E. KOONCE.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: MICHAEL GUEST.
GRIFFIS, P.J., BARNES AND FAIR, JJ.
Hunter Lane Sarrett was convicted of Count I, sale of
cathinone within 1, 500 feet of a school; Count II,
conspiracy to sell cathinone; Count III, sale of alprazolam
within 1, 500 feet of a school; and Count IV, conspiracy to
sell alprazolam. He was sentenced to serve sixteen years,
with six years suspended, on Count I; twenty years, with ten
years suspended, on Count II; sixteen years, with six years
suspended, on Count III; and twenty years, with ten years
suspended, on Count IV. The sentences were ordered to run
concurrently with each other.
Upon release, Sarrett was ordered to serve five years on
probation under the direct supervision of the Mississippi
Department of Corrections. Sarrett was further ordered to pay
$756.50 in court costs, a $1, 000 fine, and $300 to the
Mississippi Crime Lab.
Sarrett now appeals and asserts numerous assignments of
error. Upon review, we find no error and affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On June 18, 2014, the Pearl Police Department arranged a
controlled buy in order for Katy Young, a confidential
informant, to purchase "molly" and Vicodin from
Sarrett. Prior to the drug transaction, Young's
car and person were searched and she was equipped with a key
fob camera and a body wire. Young was given cash in order to
purchase the drugs from Sarrett. The drug transaction
occurred at Young's house, where she lived with
Young and Sarrett exchanged text messages and spoke on the
phone earlier in the day to arrange the meeting. At
Sarrett's request, Young met Sarrett at her house,
underneath the carport. The drug transaction was recorded on
the key fob camera which, according to Young, was "a
camera that goes on your key chain . . . like a car
remote." For reasons unknown, the body wire placed under
Young's clothes did not record the transaction.
The key fob camera included both an audio and video recording
of the drug transaction. The audio and video recording was
admitted into evidence at trial as State's Exhibit 4 and
played for the jury. Although poor quality, the conversation
between Sarrett and Young can be heard. At the beginning of
the audio recording, Sarrett told Young that he had
"been to ten people's houses" and had to go to
"like eight more-business is picking up." Sarrett
advised Young that he had Xanax, not Vicodin. He asked Young
how many Xanax pills she wanted. When Young inquired as to
how many $20 would get her, Sarrett stated he would give her
"all of them."
Sarrett then confirmed that Young wanted "2
fifteens" and asked whether Young planned to take both
of them. When Young stated she intended to keep one and give
one to a friend, Sarrett stated that that was fine, and
explained that he was able to take two at a time, but likely
had a higher tolerance.
It is undisputed that the actual drug exchange did not appear
on the video. Young testified that Sarrett kept the drugs
under the hood of his truck. At the end of the video, Sarrett
can be seen standing at the front of his truck.
Young explained that she did not know how to turn the key fob
camera on or off. She stated that law enforcement turned on
the camera prior to the drug transaction. However, Young
acknowledged that the camera "died" after Sarrett
Following the drug transaction, Young met with
law-enforcement officers and gave them the drugs that she had
purchased from Sarrett. Law enforcement searched Young's
car and person and removed the recording devices. Moreover,
law enforcement showed Young a picture of Sarrett to confirm
that he was the individual from whom she had purchased the
Young testified that she did not go inside the house before
meeting with law enforcement. She further testified that she
had agreed to act as a confidential informant in hopes of
having various misdemeanor charges, including a
driving-under-the-influence charge, removed from her record.
Officer Zach Acy, a narcotics investigator with the Pearl
Police Department, conducted surveillance of the entire
transaction. Acy was parked approximately six houses down
from Young's house. He saw Young pull into the driveway,
and could see the front of the house as well as the carport.
Acy testified that he saw a silver Toyota pickup truck under
the carport, which came back registered to Gary Sarrett,
Sarrett's father. According to Acy, once Young arrived at
the house, the drug buy took approximately two to three
minutes. Acy stated he never saw Young enter the house.
Allison Conville, a chemist in the drug section of the
Mississippi Forensics Laboratory, was admitted as an expert
in forensic science specializing in drug identification.
Conville testified that she had received and tested two
submissions. The first submission contained two capsules of
ethylone, which is a substituted drug known as cathinone. The
second submission contained fourteen tablets of alprazolam,
which is also known as Xanax.
Sarrett's sister, Alyssa, testified on Sarrett's
behalf and stated that on June 18, 2014, she and Sarrett were
at her house, along with friends Matthew and Amy. According
to Alyssa, when Young showed up, Young and Matthew went into
the bedroom for about a minute. Young then walked out of the
house. However, Victoria May, custodian of records for the
Rankin County Sheriff's Department, testified that on
June 18, 2014, Matthew was actually in custody in the Rankin
County jail, and had been in custody since May 24, 2014.
A judgment of conviction was entered June 14, 2016.
Thereafter, on July 28, 2016, Sarrett was sentenced. On
August 4, 2016, Sarrett filed a motion for a judgment
notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) or, alternatively, a new
trial. The circuit court denied the motion as ...