155 A.3d 937 (Md.App. 2017), 1942-2015, Simms v. State

Docket Nº:1942-2015
Citation:155 A.3d 937, 232 Md.App. 62
Opinion Judge:Nazarian, J.
Party Name:LEONARD LEE SIMMS v. STATE OF MARYLAND
Attorney:Submitted by: Rachel Simmonsen (Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender on the brief) all of Baltimore, MD for Appellant. Submitted by: Karinna M. Rossi (Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General on the brief) all of Baltimore, MD for Appellee.
Judge Panel:Kehoe, Nazarian, Eyler, James R. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned) JJ.
Case Date:March 03, 2017
Court:Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
 
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Page 937

155 A.3d 937 (Md.App. 2017)

LEONARD LEE SIMMS

v.

STATE OF MARYLAND

No. 1942-2015

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

March 3, 2017

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County. Paul Harris, Judge.

JUDGMENT OF THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY REVERSED. COSTS TO BE PAID BY ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY.

Submitted by: Rachel Simmonsen (Paul B. DeWolfe, Public Defender on the brief) all of Baltimore, MD for Appellant.

Submitted by: Karinna M. Rossi (Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General on the brief) all of Baltimore, MD for Appellee.

Kehoe, Nazarian, Eyler, James R. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned) JJ.

OPINION

Nazarian, J.

This seemingly straightforward drug case has morphed into a criminal procedure exam question. Leonard Lee Simms was charged in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County with theft of services from a hotel and with possession with intent to distribute heroin, possession of heroin, possession with intent to distribute ethylone,1 possession of ethylone, possession of cocaine, and conspiracy to distribute heroin (this last charge was later amended to conspiracy to distribute methylenedioxymethamphetamine (" MDMA" )). After an unsuccessful suppression hearing, Mr. Simms proceeded to trial on an agreed statement of facts on one count of conspiracy to distribute MDMA. The court found Mr. Simms guilty on that one count and the State entered a nolle prosequi (" nol pros " ) on the remainder.

Mr. Simms appealed, challenging the court's decision not to suppress the evidence collected from him and his colleague and arguing that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to convict him. While the appeal was pending, the State entered a new nol pros on the count for which Mr. Simms had been convicted, i.e., conspiracy to distribute MDMA. Mr. Simms was released from custody, and the State filed a Motion to Dismiss the appeal on the grounds that the nol pros rendered it moot. On the merits, the State argues that Mr. Simms lacks standing to challenge the search of his colleague's bag, which contained heroin and cocaine, and that the trial court correctly denied the motion to suppress. And although the State agrees with Mr. Simms that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction for conspiracy to distribute MDMA, it argues that the conviction should simply be vacated. We hold that the appeal is not moot and that the insufficiency of the evidence supporting Mr. Simms's conviction for conspiracy to distribute MDMA requires that we reverse it.

I. BACKGROUND

On February 9, 2015, around 4:00 PM, Corporal Chris Rajcsok of the Anne Arundel County Police Department responded to a call regarding a theft of services from the Sheraton Hotel in Annapolis. When he arrived, he met with two hotel employees who told him that guests had complained about people going in and out of one of the rooms. After investigating, the employees discovered that the room was one out of which guests had been ejected a few days earlier. The hotel employees went upstairs and saw four African-American males leaving the room and fleeing the hotel toward The Mall in Annapolis. The employees identified the men as the same individuals they had ejected from the hotel previously, and they gave the Corporal descriptions of two of the suspects: both were African-American men, one wore a black hoodie with gray accents, and the other was shorter and had face tattoos.

Corporal Rajcsok drove to the mall, parked, and went into the food court, where he saw two African-American men who fit the descriptions of the suspects. When the Corporal approached the two men, they were seated facing each other at two small adjoining tables, eating food from Chick-fil-A. Corporal Rajcsok asked to see identification. One of the men, Tahzay Brown, gave the Corporal his driver's license; the other, later identified as Mr. Simms, explained that he did not have ID. Mr. Simms continued to eat and spoke quietly in response to the Corporal's questions.

While the Corporal was attempting to get Mr. Simms's information, Mr. Brown ran out of the mall. The Corporal gave chase and eventually detained and handcuffed Mr. Brown just outside. Backup officers arrived shortly thereafter, and Corporal Rajcsok went back inside to see if Mr. Simms was still there.

In fact, Mr. Simms was seated exactly where he had been when the...

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