GARRETT EUGENE RAY a/k/a GARRETT E. RAY a/k/a GARRETT RAY
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
OF JUDGMENT: 09/21/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. LAWRENCE PAUL BOURGEOIS, JR. TRIAL
COURT ATTORNEYS: THERESSIA AUDREY LYONS MATTHEW DRAKE BURRELL
JIM L. DAVIS, III
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF THE STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER
BY: ERIN ELIZABETH BRIGGS GEORGE T. HOLMES
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
KITCHENS, P.J., MAXWELL AND ISHEE, JJ.
Garrett Eugene Ray's appointed appellate counsel filed a
Lindsey brief, certifying she had thoroughly
examined the record and found no arguable issues supporting
Ray's appeal. Ray has opted to file a pro se brief. In
it, he argues the crack cocaine found in a cigarette pack he
tried to discard when approached by officers was unlawfully
obtained. He also insists the State violated his
constitutional right to confront an informant who provided
information to narcotics officers, leading to his drug
arrest. This Court disagrees with both of Ray's
Ray abandoned the cocaine by throwing it out of his
vehicle's window. Thus, the drugs were not seized in
violation of the Fourth Amendment. Furthermore, the informant
did not testify and was not an eyewitness to or a participant
in Ray's drug possession. Nor were the informant's
statements used against Ray. So the State was not obligated
to disclose his or her identity, and there is no Sixth
Amendment Confrontation Clause violation.
Facts and Procedural History
Investigators with a Stone County narcotics task force
received a tip from an informant about an unknown individual
offering to sell crack cocaine. On January 15, 2013,
Investigators Aaron Grob and Chris Ory met with the
informant. The investigators directed the informant to
arrange, by phone, a drug sale with this individual for later
that day. The drug sale would take place at a gas station on
Highway 49 in McHenry, Mississippi.
Testimony from a pretrial hearing showed the informant called
Grob and Ory and told them that a black male, driving a white
SUV, would be traveling from Harrison County into Stone
County. And the SUV would park on the north side of the gas
station's parking lot. Investigators Grob and Ory were
given the dealer's phone number. Grob and Ory left the
task force office and traveled to McHenry, Mississippi. The
informant was not with them.
The investigators set up surveillance at McDaniel's
Country Store across Highway 49 from the gas station. Less
than an hour later, they spotted a black male driving a white
Toyota Sequoia pull into the gas station parking lot. The
driver parked on the gas station's north side. The
vehicle had a Harrison County license plate, matching the
description the investigators had received.
Investigators Grob and Ory drove across Highway 49 from
McDaniel's to the gas station. Ory got out of the vehicle
and approached the SUV from the front. Meanwhile, Grob drove
around the gas station and parked behind the SUV. Grob called
the number provided by the informant. He then watched the
driver answer a cell phone and begin speaking. Ory also
observed Grob make the call and saw the driver answer a cell
phone and begin speaking.
At this point, Grob got out of his vehicle and approached the
SUV on the passenger's side. The investigators were in
plain clothes but had their badges visibly displayed around
their necks. Both identified themselves as law enforcement.
The driver's attention was focused on Grob. Not seeing
Ory approach from the front driver's side, the driver
threw a green Newport cigarette pack out the driver's
window. The cigarette pack hit Ory in the chest, and he
caught it in his hands.
The investigators then removed the driver from the SUV,
handcuffed him, and explained why they were detaining him. At
trial, both investigators identified Ray as the driver.
Ray initially claimed they had "the wrong guy." But
he immediately backtracked and said "you've got me,
sir." Once Ray was in handcuffs, Ory and Grob opened the
cigarette pack and found two individually wrapped, rock-like
substances, along with some cigarettes. A ...