OF JUDGMENT: 08/23/2018
COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. MARK SHELDON DUNCAN TRIAL JUDGE.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER
JUSTIN TAYLOR COOK.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
LISA L. BLOUNT.
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: STEVEN SIMEON KILGORE
J. WILSON, P.J., McDONALD AND McCARTY, JJ.
On June 1, 2018, a Newton County, Mississippi grand jury
indicted Chris Shawn Tullos for one count of possession of
methamphetamine. Key to this case was a small amount of
methamphetamine found in a bag that Tullos identified when
confronted by two conservation officers on his
grandmother's 90-acre property. Following a jury trial,
Tullos was convicted for one count of possession of
methamphetamine and sentenced to serve three years in the
custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Tullos
filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial court denied.
On appeal, Tullos argues that the conservation officers
violated his Fourth Amendment right when they impermissibly
entered onto private property without probable cause or
statutory authority. Finding no error, we affirm.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On September 2, 2017, the opening day of dove-hunting season,
Officers Tyler Robinson and Tyler Norman, of the Mississippi
Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, were patrolling
the fields and listening for dove hunters. The officers heard
shooting from a distance and pulled over to check the
circumstances. When they stopped, they heard voices across
the highway in a field near the south side of Highway 489.
After entering the land, the officers encountered Tullos and
Jackie Allen. The officers asked Tullos and Allen to
come talk to them. As Tullos and Allen were approaching,
Tullos threw a black bag behind a utility pole. When Tullos
was asked what was in the bag, he responded "meth."
Thereafter, Tullos and Allen were arrested for possession of
methamphetamine. On June 1, 2018, a Newton County grand jury
indicted Tullos for one count of possession of
On August 21, 2018, a trial was held. Officer Robinson
testified on behalf of the State. During his direct
examination, the defense objected to the admissibility of
Tullos's statement on the basis that Tullos was detained
and not informed of his Miranda rights.
Therefore, the defense moved to suppress any statements or
evidence that the officers obtained thereafter.
Outside of the presence of the jury, a suppression hearing
was held. During the suppression hearing, Officer Robinson
testified that he heard voices and that he did not know
whether Tullos and Allen were hunters or not, but he and
Officer Tyler Norman were just going to talk to them. On
cross-examination, Officer Robinson testified that he knew it
was private property that he entered. On re-direct
examination, Officer Robinson stated that he was simply going
to ask Tullos and Allen questions, and they were only
detained because Tullos dropped the bag and stated that it
Tullos also testified during the suppression hearing.
According to Tullos, he and Allen were on his
grandmother's private property looking for an area to set
up deer-food plots. He stated that his grandmother owned the
subject property where the officers approached him, which was
across the road from his home. Tullos's counsel offered
into evidence a deed of conveyance from Tullos's
grandmother to him for his home; Tullos's home was not
located where he was found with the meth. He stated that he
was unaware of anyone giving the game wardens permission to
be on his grandmother's private property. Further, he
stated that "there was no way that anyone could dove
hunt on the property because it is solid rocks."
At the close of both counsels' arguments, the court found
that Officer Robinson was in a place that he was entitled to
be, "he was acting within the course and scope of his
law enforcement job," and that no search had occurred.
Therefore, the court overruled Tullos's objection as to
the admissibility of the seized methamphetamine.
Continuing with the trial, and in the presence of the jury,
Officer Robinson resumed his testimony. Officer Robinson
testified that Tullos threw a black bag behind the utility
pole. He asked Tullos what was in the bag, and Tullos
responded "meth." At that point he arrested Tullos
and Allen and called the Newton County Sheriff's
Department. Deputy Sheriff Sammy Stevens came and took the
physical evidence. Deputy Stevens testified that he took the
crystal-like substance to the crime lab in Meridian,
Last, Jamie Johnson, a forensic scientist with the
Mississippi Forensics Laboratory, testified on the
State's behalf. Johnson stated that the bag Tullos had
thrown down contained two smaller plastic bags. Johnson
testified that after testing the substances in each bag, one
bag did not contain a controlled substance, but the smaller
plastic bag contained 0.178 gram of methamphetamine.
The State rested its case. Then, the defense moved for a
directed verdict and renewed the previous objection as to the
admissibility of the evidence seized by the officers. The
court denied the motion for a directed verdict and again
overruled Tullos's objection to the admissibility of the
evidence. The defense, calling no witnesses, rested its case.
On August 23, 2018, Tullos was convicted by a jury of his
peers, and the court sentenced him to serve three years in
the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. On
the same day, Tullos filed a motion for a new trial, arguing,
among other things,  that the court erred in allowing the
illegal search and seizure of the alleged methamphetamine
into evidence because it was the fruit of a ...