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Lockheart-Singleton v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

May 16, 2018



          Robert M. "Robby" Golden, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Adam Jackson, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          BART F. VIRDEN, Judge.

         A Pope County jury convicted appellant Andre Lockheart-Singleton of possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, and he was sentenced to twelve years' imprisonment. He argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion for a directed verdict. We disagree and affirm.

         I. Standard of Review

         An appeal from the denial of a motion for directed verdict is a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. Russell v. State, 2017 Ark.App. 667, 537 S.W.3d 279. Our test for determining the sufficiency of the evidence is whether the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or circumstantial. Id. Evidence is substantial if it is of sufficient force and character to compel reasonable minds to reach a conclusion and pass beyond suspicion and conjecture. Id. On appeal, the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the State, and only the evidence supporting the verdict is considered. Id. The credibility of witnesses is an issue for the jury and not the court. Medlock v. State, 2016 Ark.App. 282, 493 S.W.3d 789. The trier of fact is free to believe all or part of any witness's testimony and may resolve questions of conflicting testimony and inconsistent evidence. Id.

         II. Trial Testimony

         A jury trial was held on August 29, 2017. Chris Goodman testified that he had worked for the Russellville Police Department for six years and was then hired by the Arkansas State Police where he has been employed for the past fourteen years. He testified that he was also working for the highway-patrol division in Pope County on January 25, 2016, when he stopped a white pickup truck for following another vehicle too closely. Goodman said that he noticed the faint smell of marijuana coming from the passenger side window when he approached. He said that appellant was driving the truck and that there were two passengers, David Williford and Santos Carroll. Goodman testified that appellant told him that his brother-in-law owned the truck. According to Goodman, everyone in the truck seemed nervous in that they were "jittery and shaking." Goodman said that appellant told him that they were coming from Las Vegas where they had dropped off some "mixtapes" for Wiz Khalifa-appellant explained that Carroll is a rapper. Goodman asked whether anyone had smoked marijuana in the truck, which appellant adamantly denied.

         Goodman further testified that appellant was "fidgety and stretching, " which he said are signs of nervousness, and that appellant had beads of sweat on his forehead, even though it was January and he was wearing a light t-shirt with a long-sleeved shirt under it. Goodman further said that appellant struggled to recount the details of his trip; for example, Goodman asked where the men had stayed in Las Vegas. Someone initially said that they had stayed at one of the casinos, but appellant later said that they had stayed at "a Motel 6 or something like that." Appellant and his passengers denied going anywhere but Las Vegas. Goodman found one suitcase, which was claimed by Carroll. Inside the suitcase, there was a receipt from a Fairfield Inn & Suites in Turlock, California, reflecting a hotel stay from January 8 through January 10. Goodman stated that northern California is a "very high source area" for marijuana. Goodman testified that he asked appellant whether he could look around the truck and that appellant said that he could search it.

         Goodman stated that, once other officers arrived to assist, he found a large compartment under the truck-bed liner. He said that the compartment held multiple packages, which were later determined to contain a total of forty-one pounds of marijuana. Inside the cab of the truck, Goodman located a socket wrench that fit the bolts for the bed cover. He also found "a newly used glue/caulk gun that's still got fresh stuff all over it, " and he said that there were fresh "gobs" of glue between the bed liner and a heavy metal plate over the compartment in the middle of the truck bed. Goodman said that he found a screwdriver that fit the head of screws used to hold the bed liner in place. Goodman testified that a conservative estimate on the value of what he described as "high grade" domestic marijuana was approximately $65, 000.

         Michael Evans with the Russellville Police Department testified that he is currently assigned to the Fifth Drug Task Force and is a drug-abuse-recognition expert. He stated that he was asked to process evidence on January 25, 2016. Evans testified that thirty-four vacuum-sealed bags of marijuana were removed from a hidden compartment in the truck. Evans stated that each bag weighed approximately 1.2 pounds. He said that he took core samples from each bag and sent them to the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock where testing confirmed that the substance was marijuana.

         III. Possession with the Purpose to Deliver

         Marijuana is a Schedule VI controlled substance. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-64-215(a)(1) (Repl. 2016). It is unlawful if a person possesses a Schedule VI controlled substance with the purpose to deliver it. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-64-436(a). Purpose to deliver may be shown when, among other things, the controlled substance is separated and packaged in a manner to facilitate delivery. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-64-436(a)(3). A person who violates this section is, upon conviction, guilty of a Class B felony if the person possessed twenty-five pounds or more but ...

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