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Adway v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

October 30, 2019

ROGRICK ADWAY, JR. APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

          APPEAL FROM THE JEFFERSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 35CR-17-353] HONORABLE JODI RAINES DENNIS, JUDGE

          Potts Law Office, by: Gary W. Potts, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Chris R. Warthen, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          BRANDON J. HARRISON, JUDGE.

         In July 2017, Rogrick Adway, Jr., was charged with simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance with purpose to deliver, fleeing, and use or possession of drug paraphernalia. After a jury trial, Adway was found guilty of all counts and sentenced to an aggregate term of fifteen years' imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the circuit court erred in (1) denying his motion for directed verdict and (2) denying his request for a mistrial. We affirm the circuit court. Specific facts pertinent to each point on appeal will be discussed below.

         I. Directed Verdict

         At a jury trial on 17 September 2018, Detective Richard McCorvy with the Pine Bluff Police Department testified that on 2 June 2017, he and Detective Matthew Pate were surveilling the Piney Wood Apartments based on suspicion of drug activity. McCorvy saw Adway exit an apartment carrying a backpack on his shoulder and "looking from side to side suspiciously . . . to make sure nobody was looking while he was messing with the backpack." A second man, Jose Cirino, also left the apartment, locked the door, and got into a green Toyota Camry. Adway walked to the Camry, put the backpack inside the car through the window, then walked to a different apartment carrying some tissue paper. Adway returned a few minutes later, got into the passenger side of the car, and the two men left the apartment complex. McCorvy and Pate followed the car and made a traffic stop a short time later. Cirino did not stop the car immediately but instead drove slowly for another one hundred feet before stopping near a back gate in the apartment complex. As the car was still moving, McCorvy observed both men "reaching down," and it appeared that the men were "trying to hide something." When the car stopped, Adway exited the passenger side with the backpack and ran back into the apartment complex. McCorvy chased him, and as he went around the corner of a building, he saw Adway emerging from behind an AC unit-minus one backpack. McCorvy saw the backpack next to the AC unit but continued to chase Adway and took him into custody a short time later. As they walked back toward the cars, Detective Pate approached and continued to escort Adway while McCorvy went back and retrieved the backpack. Detective Pate also testified and corroborated McCorvy's account of what happened before, during, and after the traffic stop.

         Meghan Wells, a former employee of the Pine Bluff Police Department, testified that on 2 June 2017, she was dispatched to the Piney Wood Apartments and met Detective McCorvy, who gave her the backpack to process. Wells prepared an evidence log of all the items in the backpack, including Adway's identification, phone chargers, and plastic sandwich bags. The backpack contents also included two small mason jars containing marijuana, a half-full box of Blazer 9mm cartridges, a black digital scale, a Crown Royal bag containing two types of 9mm cartridges, a .38 Smith & Wesson revolver, and a 9mm handgun. Wells also identified another small bag of marijuana that had been found in the car's cup holder.

         After the State rested, Adway moved for a directed verdict as follows:

We believe that the State has failed to show sufficient evidence to go forward in this matter, that they have not sufficiently proven their cases on these various four charges. . . . The first one that I have is the simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms. The second one is 5-64-436, the purpose to deliver. And then the third charge is the possession of drug paraphernalia with purpose to use or manufacture. I'm not going to make the motion on the fleeing charge-it's a misdemeanor-but I would on the-the three felonies.

         Adway's motion was denied.[1]

         The defense presented the testimony of Ivy Alston, who rented the apartment that Adway and Cirino had been in and who owned the Toyota Camry driven by them on June 2. She said that she had known Adway approximately two months at the time of this incident, and she denied having ever seen Adway with guns, drugs, or the backpack.

         Adway testified that he was eighteen years old when this incident occurred and had just graduated from high school two weeks prior. He said that his girlfriend lived at Piney Woods Apartments and that he also visited Cirino at the apartments. He admitted that the backpack belonged to him but denied ever having firearms or illegal drugs in his possession. He explained that when he and Cirino left the apartment that day, the only things in his backpack were his identification, phone chargers, his keys, and some tissue. According to Adway, he put the backpack inside the car, took some tissue to his girlfriend's cousin's apartment, and returned approximately ten minutes later. He testified that after the car was pulled over by the officers, he got out of the car, "saw a gun," and became scared, so he "took off running." He said he was wearing the backpack but threw it off while running because it was slowing him down. He said the backpack felt heavier, but he did not know what was in it.

         After the defense rested, Adway renewed his motion for directed verdict, again arguing that the State had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any of the offenses charged. "The testimony, even taken in the light of the-to the State, which is what the statutory-the requirements are-is that there was a brief period of time in which my client had a backpack and then it was gone." The renewed ...


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