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Rainey v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

September 6, 2017

THOMAS RAINEY APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE DALLAS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 20CR-10-26] HONORABLE DAVID CLINGER, JUDGE AFFIRMED

          Lightle, Raney, Streit & Streit, LLP, by: Jonathan R. Streit, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Christian Harris, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE

         Appellant Thomas Rainey appeals after a Dallas County jury found him guilty of possession of cocaine with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia. Appellant was sentenced to an aggregate term of 480 months' imprisonment. Appellant lists two points on appeal: (1) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence and (2) the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress statement. Because of briefing deficiencies, we previously ordered rebriefing and appointed new counsel. See Rainey v. State, 2016 Ark.App. 505; Rainey v. State, 2015 Ark.App. 341. Appellant has now filed a compliant substituted brief. We affirm.

         I. Relevant Facts

         In summary, appellant's fiancée, Elaine Meads, [1] was stopped by law enforcement with appellant sitting in the passenger seat. A search of the vehicle discovered cocaine and drug paraphernalia under appellant's seat. Appellant was arrested and subsequently signed a waiver-of-Miranda-rights form and gave a voluntary statement. In his voluntary statement, appellant stated that the drugs found in Meads's vehicle were his.

         Appellant was ultimately charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (cocaine), possession of drug paraphernalia, and a prior-conviction enhancement. Appellant filed two relevant pretrial motions: including a motion to suppress evidence and a motion to suppress statement. In his motion to suppress evidence, appellant argued that the evidence seized during the search of Meads's vehicle and any subsequent lab-analysis reports regarding the evidence must be suppressed because the search was in violation of his constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Appellant contended that the search was conducted without a search warrant or his consent and that law enforcement lacked probable cause to stop or search the vehicle. In his motion to suppress statement, appellant contended that his signed statement that was made after his arrest should be suppressed because it was taken in violation of his constitutional rights pursuant to Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and that "any statement the State attributes to [him was] a fabrication."

         The trial court held hearings on appellant's pretrial motions. Sergeant Chance Dodson, employed with the Fordyce Police Department, testified that he had received a call from a reliable informant, José Ross, stating that appellant would be a passenger in a late 1980s Buick LaSabre with narcotics in the vehicle. The informant further stated that the vehicle had rust on the hood and trunk and that a female would be driving the vehicle from Highway 8 to appellant's residence located off Highway 167. Sergeant Dodson testified that he had previously dealt with the informant and that he had found him to be reliable. Sergeant Dodson further testified that the informant did not receive anything for the information and that, although the informant had previous convictions, a background check did not indicate that he was on parole or probation. Consequently, Sergeant Dodson asked Chief Deputy Stan McGahee for his assistance in locating the vehicle.

         Sergeant Dodson testified that he had observed a vehicle matching the informant's description and that he knew appellant by sight based on previous contacts with appellant. Sergeant Dodson further testified that he had initiated a traffic stop only after he observed that the driver failed to use her turn signal. Sergeant Dodson stated that as soon as the vehicle had come to a stop, appellant jumped out of the vehicle on the passenger side into a ditch and that appellant began yelling that he had a warrant. Sergeant Dodson stated that he had told appellant to get back in the vehicle. However, because appellant's behavior made Sergeant Dodson nervous, Sergeant Dodson placed appellant in handcuffs and placed him in his patrol car for safety concerns. After running appellant's information, Sergeant Dodson later discovered that appellant was mistaken and that he did not have any active warrants for his arrest.

         Sergeant Dodson testified that while he had been interacting with appellant, Chief Deputy McGahee had been conversing with the driver, Elaine Meads. Chief Deputy McGahee told Sergeant Dodson that the driver had given her consent to search the vehicle. Sergeant Dodson testified that he thereafter independently received consent to search from Meads. Meads told Sergeant Dodson that appellant had a plastic bag when he entered her vehicle and that he had placed the plastic bag under his seat. Sergeant Dodson testified that he had found a plastic bag underneath the passenger seat as Meads had told him. The plastic bag contained two baggies of what appeared to be cocaine, electronic scales, and a Crown Royal bag containing additional items. As a result, appellant was arrested, and Sergeant Dodson transported appellant to the police station.

         Sergeant Dodson testified that he had advised appellant of his Miranda rights both orally as well as in writing. Appellant signed a form that he was willing to waive his rights and make a statement. Although Sergeant Dodson testified that he did not remember who wrote the actual statement, appellant signed the voluntary statement. Both the Miranda-rights form and the voluntary statement were admitted into evidence without objection at the suppression hearing. The pertinent language written on the voluntary statement was as follows:

ON THIS DATE 4-9-10 I, Thomas Rainey, DO HEREBY SWEAR THAT THE FACTS THAT I AM GIVING IN THIS STATEMENT ARE THE WHOLE TRUTH AS KNOWN TO ME AND HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF MY MIRANDA RIGHTS AND AM GIVING THIS STATEMENT OF MY OWN FREE ...

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