search of subject’s coat at jail was proper


In 2002, an anonymous person contacted the Morton Police Department and informed authorities that drug activity was taking place outside the Spring Lane Apartments in Morton, Mississippi. Officer Willie Anderson swore that when he arrived at the apartments, he found two vehicles, one parked behind the other. Anderson could not see inside the cars, but he smelled marijuana.

Having determined that the smell was distinctly coming from one of the two vehicles, Anderson drew his pistol and asked the occupants of a light blue four-door Ford if anyone inside had a weapon. Ollie Kennedy answered “I do” and gave Anderson a pistol.

Anderson asked Kennedy to get out of the car and Kennedy complied. Anderson put Kennedy in handcuffs and arrested Kennedy. Besides Kennedy, two additional people were inside the Ford. Because Anderson only had two sets of handcuffs — one set already on Kennedy — he restrained Cleotha White in his remaining set of handcuffs. Anderson could not restrain the remaining passenger, Laranda Jones, so Anderson searched her and found marijuana cigarettes in her possession. Anderson had Jones remain a distance from the Ford.

After Kennedy got out of the Ford, Anderson noticed a clear plastic bag lying on the driver’s side floorboard. Although the bag was empty, Anderson stated that marijuana residue was inside the bag (it was tested and there were no drugs inside this bag). Anderson searched the back seat and found another pink or red bag that had 1.5 grams of marijuana inside it.

Anderson took Kennedy to the jail and performed an inventory search of Kennedy’s belongings. The inventory search resulted in confiscation of five bags of marijuana, hidden inside the lining of Kennedy’s coat. Those five bags contained 48.9 grams of marijuana.

While in custody, Kennedy received a Miranda warning and later waived those rights and submitted a statement. Kennedy admitted that the Ford and all of the marijuana belonged to him. Since White was convicted of the marijuana in the pink or red bag, that was not used against Kennedy. He was convicted based upon what was found in his jacket.

Kennedy was convicted of possession of marijuana and sentenced to three years. On appeal, he argued the officer could not have determined that the smell of marijuana was coming from his car. MCOA affirmed.


In Moore, MSC said that cars, due to their mobility, can be searched without a warrant. Moore also allowed probable cause based on a totality of circumstances.

In Fultz, this court ruled that a law enforcement officer had probable cause to search a truck based on plain smell.

Anderson responded and confirmed the anonymous source’s information — that is, two cars were parked, one behind the other, and the occupants were using drugs. Anderson smelled marijuana when he approached the cars and determined that the smell was coming from Kennedy’s car. Anderson also found a gun on Kennedy, so Anderson, for his protection, asked Kennedy to get out of the car.

When Kennedy was out of the car, Anderson found, in plain view, a bag commonly used in drug transactions. The subsequent search revealed an additional pink bag of marijuana. Another occupant of Kennedy’s car had marijuana cigarettes in her purse. Accordingly, every person in Kennedy’s car had marijuana near them, thus Anderson lawfully arrested Kennedy and White, but chose not to arrest Laranda Jones.

The search incident to arrest was properly conducted in an effort to prevent the smuggling of weapons or drugs into the Morton Jail. Based on the totality of circumstances, there was a substantial basis for finding probable cause to arrest Kennedy and search his car.