SEDRIC SUTTON a/k/a CEDRIC SUTTON a/k/a SEDRIC QUINTORUS SUTTON
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
OF JUDGMENT: 06/01/2016
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. MARGARET CAREY-McCRAY JUDGE
ATTORNEYS: JOHN L. HERZOG TAKIYAH PERKINS E. TUCKER GORE
ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF THE STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER
BY: BENJAMIN A. SUBER GEORGE T. HOLMES
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
LISA L. BLOUNT DISTRICT
ATTORNEY: WILLIE DEWAYNE RICHARDSON
WALLER, C.J., COLEMAN AND CHAMBERLIN, JJ.
Sedric Sutton was indicted by a grand jury in Washington
County on two counts: (1) possession of a controlled
substance with intent to distribute and (2) possession of a
firearm by a convicted felon. After a trial by jury, Sutton
was convicted on the first count and acquitted on the second.
The trial court sentenced Sutton as a habitual offender to
fifteen years in the custody of the Mississippi Department of
Corrections. He now appeals his conviction and sentence.
All of the State's evidence in the case stemmed from an
unconstitutional search pursuant to an invalid warrant which
failed adequately to describe the property to be seized by
the executing officers. Pretrial, the court denied
Sutton's motion to suppress the evidence obtained from
the search. After review, we reverse Sutton's conviction
and sentence and remand the case to the trial court for
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On July 15, 2014, a confidential informant ("CI")
told law-enforcement officers at the Washington County
Sheriff's Office that "stolen items" were
located at 331 Muscadine Street in Greenville, Mississippi (
"Muscadine house"). Based on the information
provided by the CI, Officers Dwight Donham and Charlton Smith
prepared an Affidavit for Search Warrant and presented it to
Washington County Justice Court Judge Laverne Holmes-Carter.
Judge Holmes-Carter issued a search warrant for "stolen
items" in the Muscadine house at 331 Muscadine
Street in Greenville, Mississippi.
The same day, law-enforcement officers-including Officer
Smith-executed the warrant on the Muscadine house. Upon
entering, the officers detained and searched Sedric Sutton.
As a result of the search of Sutton and the Muscadine house,
the officers found sixty pills, $4,995 in cash, a handgun,
and two digital scales.
While conducting a safety check, Officer Christopher Surf
searched Sutton's right, front pocket and discovered
sixty small, yellow pills in a clear plastic bag. Sutton, who
testified in his own defense at trial, admitted to possession
of the pills but argued that he had them solely for his
Beyond the pills, the officers found additional evidence in
the Muscadine house. Officers discovered $4,995 in cash in
Sutton's black waist pack. Officer Smith also discovered
a 9 mm handgun in a black holster "located inside the
wall in between the threshold of the dining room and the
living room area." Investigator Cedric Adams testified
that the handgun was in plain view. Additionally, Officer
Smith found two digital scales-one small and one large-in the
After the officers completed the search, Sutton was taken
into custody and charged with possession of a controlled
substance under Mississippi Code Section 41-29-139(c)(3)(A)
-a misdemeanor, given that he had less than 100 pills. A
Washington County grand jury indicted Sutton as a habitual
offender for possession of a controlled substance with intent
under Mississippi Code Section 41-29-139(a)(1) and for
possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Pretrial, Sutton moved to suppress the evidence from the
execution of the warrant. Sutton attacked the warrant on two
separate grounds: (1) that the underlying facts and
circumstances on which the warrant was based were unreliable
and (2) that the warrant failed sufficiently to describe the
property to be seized. The trial court held a hearing on
At the hearing, Officer Donham testified that the CI had
informed him that the Muscadine house was a warehouse for
stolen goods and that he had sold stolen items there. The CI,
according to Donham, claimed that he had seen the stolen
items in the house two days before the arrest warrant was
executed. On cross-examination, Sutton's counsel engaged
in the following exchange with Officer Donham:
Q. Now, [the CI] did not give you any specific items
whatsoever at Mr. Sutton's address, did he? Isn't
A. He said there were numerous things there.
Q. Numerous things. A warehouse of stolen stuff?
Q. But he did not give you a single itemized piece of stolen
property, did he?
Donham also claimed the CI had given him reliable information
in the past and that the CI had personal knowledge-unknown to
the public-of a number of local, recent house burglaries.
Officer Donham recounted that the CI had told him of a
residence at which the CI had sold a "Barnett cross
bow." Upon visiting the residence, Officer Donham had
recovered the crossbow.
After consideration of the testimony and arguments of
counsel, the trial court denied the motion to suppress. From
the bench, the trial court explained its finding: "[T]he
[c]ourt, having reviewed the underlying facts and
circumstances, finds that there is sufficient factual basis
presented upon which the magistrate could have verified the
v[e]racity or the reliability of the confidential
informant." In its written order, the trial court found
that the information in the affidavit seeking the warrant
"described the things to be seized with sufficient
particularity to satisfy [the] Fourth Amendment."
Sutton was tried before a jury on May 26, 2016. At trial,
Sutton stipulated to his status as a felon. The jury found
Sutton guilty of the first count, possession with intent, and
acquitted him of the second count, possession of a firearm.
On June 1, 2016, the trial court sentenced Sutton to a term
of fifteen years in the custody of the Mississippi Department
of Corrections pursuant to Sections 41-29-139(b)(4)(C) and
Sutton now appeals. Sutton, pro se, and his counsel
raise a number of issues. Because our analysis of the
suppression issue is dispositive, we need ...