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Wallace v. State

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

April 23, 2019

CARL MAURICE WALLACE A/K/A CARL WALLACE APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/10/2017

          JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. LAMAR PICKARD TRIAL JUDGE

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: CYNTHIA ANN STEWART

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY: LAURA HOGAN TEDDER

          DISTRICT ATTORNEY: ALEXANDER C. MARTIN

          BEFORE WILSON, P.J., GREENLEE AND McCARTY, JJ.

          McCARTY, J.

         ¶1. After a call from a confidential informant led to his arrest, Carl Wallace was convicted of possession with the intent to distribute a variety of controlled substances and for possession of a firearm by a felon. His one claim on appeal is that the trial court should have suppressed the evidence presented against him because the initial traffic stop was not based on reasonable suspicion or probable cause. Because it was, the evidence was properly admitted, and we affirm.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2. This case began when Bobby Bailey, a deputy for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, received a direct phone call from a confidential informant. The informant told Deputy Bailey that there was an SUV parked at a gas station in Fayette, and it reeked so badly that it had a "loud odor" of what the caller believed to be marijuana. The informant was not sure of the exact make or model of the SUV but told the deputy that it was either a white Tahoe or a white Yukon and that there were three people inside.

         ¶3. Deputy Bailey immediately acted on the tip; he called four other deputies for backup and drove to the gas station. The deputy later testified he knew the informant personally and had found the person to be reliable, which led him to believe the tip was worth checking out. In his role as a drug-enforcement officer and investigator for Jefferson County, Deputy Bailey testified that he "get[s] th[e]se tips all the time and . . . act[s] on whatever [he] get[s] because there's a lot of dope in this county."

         ¶4. The deputy left the Sheriff's Department on Highway 33 and turned onto Main Street in the direction of the gas station. After turning onto Main Street, the deputy noticed a white SUV coming in his direction. The window of the SUV was down, and as he passed, the deputy clearly saw that the driver was not wearing a seatbelt.

         ¶5. The deputy radioed the other law enforcement officers, who were en route. He then turned his car around, followed the white SUV for 150 yards, and initiated a traffic stop. The deputy testified that only about 10 minutes had passed from the time he received the informant's tip until the time he pulled over the white SUV.

         ¶6. Like the confidential informant before him, Deputy Bailey immediately noticed the smell of marijuana coming from the SUV. He testified that "the scent was so immense . . . that there was no doubt that it was marijuana." As he approached, the deputy asked the driver, Carl Wallace, "Man, what is that scent coming from your vehicle?" Wallace responded, "Oh, you're talking about my personal stash?" Wallace then lifted the lid of the center console to display two small ...


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