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Jones v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

March 27, 2018

LONNIE JONES A/K/A LONNIE JONES, JR. APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/02/2016

          MARION COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, HON. CLAIBORNE MCDONALD.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: GEORGE T. HOLMES.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LISA L. BLOUNT JOSEPH SCOTT HEMLEBEN.

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: HALDON J. KITTRELL.

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., FAIR AND WESTBROOKS, JJ.

          FAIR, J.

         ¶1. Lonnie Jones was convicted of possession of synthetic cannabinoids with intent to distribute. He was also convicted of child endangerment based on the presence of his four-year-old daughter in the home with the drugs. On appeal, Jones contends that the search warrant for his residence was issued without probable cause and that his convictions are unsupported by sufficient evidence. We find no merit to these contentions, and so we affirm.

         DISCUSSION

         1. Search Warrant/Probable Cause

         ¶2. The search warrant for Jones's residence stemmed from a police search for guns, magazines, and ammunition stolen in a local burglary approximately five days before. The warrant was issued based on an affidavit from a police investigator that stated a woman, Jessica Cochran, had been suspected of taking the guns based on her having been in the residence prior to their being stolen. The affidavit further noted that a "concerned citizen" had told a deputy that Cochran had said she took the guns to Jones's residence. A separate "proven confidential source" had told a different investigator that Jones was in possession of stolen guns at his residence.[1]

         ¶3. When the authorities executed the search warrant, they saw Jones toss a camera bag behind a couch he had been sitting on. A search of the camera bag revealed two small bags of synthetic marijuana, other small plastic bags, and a digital scale. The authorities found other drug paraphernalia in plain view, as well as four more small bags of synthetic marijuana in a pillowcase on Jones's bed. According to the officers, the bags fell out of the pillowcase when the bed was searched.

         ¶4. On appeal, Jones contends that the warrant was not supported by probable cause because it was based on accounts of confidential informants. The relevant test was outlined by the United States Supreme Court in Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213, 238 (1983), as follows:

The task of the issuing magistrate is simply to make a practical, common-sense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, including the "veracity" and "basis of knowledge" of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that contraband or ...

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