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Hollingsworth v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

June 19, 2018

EDDIE DWAYNE HOLLINGSWORTH A/K/A EDDIE HOLLINGSWORTH A/K/A EDDIE DEWAYNE HOLLINGSWORTH A/K/A EDDIE D. HOLLINGSWORTH A/K/A JOHN HOLLINGSWORTH APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/09/2017

          DESOTO COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JAMES MCCLURE III

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY: ERIN ELIZABETH BRIGGS

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: JEFFREY A. KLINGFUSS

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: JOHN W. CHAMPION

          BEFORE IRVING, P.J., WILSON AND TINDELL, JJ.

          TINDELL, J.

         ¶1. In Armstead v. State, 196 So.3d 913, 921 (¶20) (Miss. 2016), the Mississippi Supreme Court held that allowing testimony from a forensic-science expert who was "actively involved in the production of [a drug analysis] report and had intimate knowledge of the analysis even though she did not perform the tests first hand" did not violate the Confrontation Clause. Id. (quoting Jenkins v. State, 102 So.3d 1063, 1069 (¶17) (Miss. 2012)). The Armstead ruling is in line with and almost identical to other Mississippi cases: Hingle v. State, 153 So.3d 659, 665 (¶13) (Miss. 2014); Grim v. State, 102 So.3d 1073, 1081 (¶22) (Miss. 2012); and Jenkins, 102 So.3d at 1069 (¶17). In each of these cited cases, all of which involved the sale or possession of a controlled substance, a forensic report or an expert-forensic opinion regarding the testing or identification of the substance of concern was admitted through the testimony of a drug analyst, supervisor, or technical reviewer who did not personally conduct the underlying testing but was directly involved in the creation of the report. In these cases, someone other than the analyst who conducted the tests was allowed to testify as to the findings that the substances were controlled substances.

         ¶2. Here, Eddie Dwayne Hollingsworth argues that allowing that same form of testimony at his trial violated his Sixth Amendment right to cross-examination. We find Hollingsworth's appeal wholly meritless and affirm his convictions and sentences.

         FACTS

         ¶3. A DeSoto County grand jury indicted Hollingsworth on two counts of selling methamphetamine, one count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell, and one count of selling a substance falsely represented to be a controlled substance. See Miss. Code Ann. §§ 41-29-139(a)(1), 41-29-146(1) (Rev. 2013). After a trial on the merits, the jury found Hollingsworth guilty of all charges. The DeSoto County Circuit Court sentenced Hollingsworth as a habitual offender under Mississippi Code Annotated section 99-19-81 (Rev. 2015) to twenty years for each of the methamphetamine-related charges and five years for selling a substance he falsely represented to be a controlled substance. The trial court ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

         ¶4. At trial, Teresia Hickmon testified for the State. She was a forensic scientist who specialized in forensic-drug analysis. She worked for the Mississippi Crime Laboratory for twenty-eight years. The trial court accepted Hickmon as an expert witness in forensic-drug analysis without objection or voir dire from the defense. Hickmon testified she was a technical reviewer in the Hollingsworth case. She described the process of reviewing a drug analyst's work. She then testified that, as the technical reviewer, she followed the Mississippi Crime Laboratory's policies and procedures in her review of the crystal tested in Hollingsworth's case. Hickmon confirmed that the crystal, bagged and identified as lab number 15-001621, the third marked exhibit for trial (Exhibit 3), [1] was tested and found to be 2.588 grams of methamphetamine. Hickmon testified that she was also the technical reviewer for the substances bagged in two separate bags and identified as lab number 15-001622 (Exhibit 5).[2] She confirmed that she followed the Mississippi Crime Laboratory's policies and procedures in her review of the testing of the substances found in the two bags in Exhibit 5. Hickmon testified that one bag did not contain a controlled substance and that the other bag contained 0.496 grams of methamphetamine.

         ¶5. Thereafter, Gary Fernandez testified for the State. He served as lab manager of the Batesville Forensic Laboratory. Without objection or voir dire from the defense, the trial court accepted Fernandez as an expert witness in forensic testing. Fernandez testified he was the technical and administrative reviewer in Hollingsworth's case for lab number 14-023365 (Exhibit 2).[3] Fernandez described the policies and procedures of the Batesville Forensic Laboratory for testing of substances and the review of the analyst's testing. He then testified that, as the technical and administrative reviewer, he followed those policies and procedures in his review of the analysis of the substance in Exhibit 2. Fernandez confirmed that the substance, bagged and identified as trial Exhibit 2, was tested and found to be 2.1333 grams of methamphetamine.

         ¶6. The jury found Hollingsworth guilty of two counts of selling methamphetamine, one count of possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell, and one count of selling a substance falsely represented to be a controlled substance. See Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-139(a)(1); Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-146(1). Trial counsel filed a motion for new trial and motion for judgment notwithstanding ...


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