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Screwdriver wasn’t found in same place as methamphetamine

Facts

In 2015, Officer Stanley Perry of the Cleveland Police Department received a call regarding a suspicious vehicle located behind a house in Cleveland, Mississippi. Upon arriving at the address, a woman exited the residence and informed Perry that a blue truck was parked behind the house.

As Perry approached the truck, he shined his flashlight and could clearly observe Jeffery Cantrell coming from the side of the house and walking toward the blue truck. Perry testified that he tried to approach Cantrell, but Cantrell was trying to elude him or get away from him. Perry then observed two more people inside of the truck, so he drew his gun and ordered the two passengers and Cantrell to put their hands in the air.

Perry stated that at that time, Cantrell reached into his right pants pocket, removed something, and threw it on the ground. Perry maintained his attention on Cantrell and the two passengers in the truck and radioed for backup.

After Officer Smith arrived, Perry directed him to remove two passengers from the truck while Perry handcuffed Cantrell. Perry informed Smith that Cantrell had removed an item from his pants pocket and thrown it onto the ground approximately six to ten feet away from the truck.

Smith and Perry searched the area where Perry observed Cantrell throw the item from his pocket. The officers found two syringes, one of which contained a clear substance (.168 grams of methamphetamine). Perry testified that he also found a screwdriver with fresh paint on it located approximately twenty feet from the vehicle and approximately twenty-four feet away from the syringes.

Cantrell was convicted of possession of methamphetamine and sentenced to six years. On appeal, he argued Perry did not know what he threw to the ground. MCOA affirmed.

Analysis

Perry testified that he was able to clearly identify Cantrell at the scene. Perry observed Cantrell remove something from his pants pocket and throw it. Once backup arrived, and after Perry handcuffed Cantrell, Perry searched the area where he saw Cantrell throw the item, and he found two syringes.

Perry admitted to finding a screwdriver at the scene, but he testified that the screwdriver was not located in the same area as the syringes; rather, it was on the ground approximately twenty-four feet away from the syringes. Accordingly, the record reflects substantial evidence that Cantrell possessed the syringes, one of which contained methamphetamine.

Cantrell also argues that no physical evidence exists to show that he possessed the syringes. Cantrell submits that Officer Melton admitted at trial that he did not dust the syringes for fingerprints nor instruct the crime lab to dust the syringes for fingerprints. MSC has found that the testimony of a single uncorroborated witness is sufficient to sustain a conviction.

 

https://courts.ms.gov/Images/Opinions/CO122753.pdf