CHAMBERS v. State of Ala.

Decision Date01 May 2009
Docket NumberCR-07-0677.
Citation38 So.3d 105
PartiesPaul Gregory CHAMBERS v. STATE of Alabama.
CourtAlabama Court of Criminal Appeals



Matthew Patrick Teague, Montgomery, for appellant.

Troy King, atty. gen., and Michael G. Dean, asst. atty. gen., for appellee.

WISE, Presiding Judge.

The appellant, Paul Gregory Chambers, was convicted of third-degree burglary, a violation of § 13A-7-7, Ala.Code 1975; second-degree theft of property, a violation of § 13A-8-4(e), Ala.Code 1975; and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, a violation of § 13A-12-212(a)(1), Ala.Code 1975. On January 8, 2008, the trial court sentenced him, as a habitual offender, to serve concurrent terms of 123 months in prison on each conviction. See § 13A-5-9(c), Ala.Code 1975. On February 11, 2008, the trial court resentenced him to serve concurrent terms of 15 years in prison and also ordered that he serve them concurrently with his sentences on two previous convictions. Chambers filed a motion for a new trial, which the trial court denied. This appeal followed.

The State presented evidence that, on June 26, 2004, the Medicine Shoppe in Tuscaloosa was burglarized and that quite a bit of its inventory of controlled substances was taken. While they were investigating another crime involving a burglary of Adams Drugs in Montgomery, officers with the Montgomery Police Department recovered some of the stolen controlled substances and traced them back to the Medicine Shoppe. During both investigations, they obtained information that led them to Chambers. Ultimately, Chambers admitted that he dropped Kelly Garner off at the Medicine Shoppe in Tuscaloosa, that Garner burglarized it, and that he picked Garner up afterward.

During the hearing on the motion to suppress, the following occurred:

Corporal Rebecca Sparkman of the Montgomery Police Department testified that she first became aware of Chambers and the fact that he was also known as “Guido” during an investigation of a pharmaceutical burglary at Adams Drugs in Montgomery. Specifically, she testified that, on July 9, 2004, a female confidential informant in the county jail contacted detectives and wanted to provide information, that she watched the video of the burglary at Adams Drugs, and that she said she thought the person on the video was Guido.

Sparkman testified that, that same afternoon, another confidential informant contacted Detective Paul Hayes, told him Guido was in town, described his vehicle as a tan or yellowish truck, and provided a tag number for the vehicle. The tag was registered to Chambers. They went to hotels to look for the vehicle. Around 2:00 p.m., while they were doing so, the informant telephoned them and advised them that Guido was in a yellow truck and was on his way back to Birmingham. At that point, they advised other law enforcement officers to be on the lookout for Chambers because they wanted to question him.

Sparkman testified that Major J.C. West and Captain Mike Gant got onto Interstate 65 North and located Chambers in Autauga County. As they were looking for him, officers found that Chambers had pulled over on the side of the interstate and was out of his truck getting something out of the back of it. She indicated that she thought the location was in Autauga County. They checked his identification, placed him into investigative custody, and took him and his vehicle back to the Montgomery Police Department to question him for safety reasons. Sparkman testified that they performed an inventory search of his vehicle because they have a policy of doing that on a vehicle if they arrest someone or take someone into investigative custody. During that search, they found a crack pipe and a small amount of crack cocaine.

Sparkman testified that, while Chambers was at the police department, she, Sergeant Scott Tatum, and Detective Brad Bartlett talked to him about the burglary at Adams Drugs. She testified that Tatum read from a card and advised Chambers of his Miranda 1 rights, that no one threatened or coerced him, that no one promised him it would be better if he made a statement to them, that no one promised him anything in return for making a statement, and that he seemed to understand his rights. She also specifically stated that they did not tell Chambers they would not charge him with possession of the crack and the crack pipe if he talked to them. Sparkman testified that Chambers did not sign a rights waiver, but acknowledged that he understood his rights and was willing to talk to them. They questioned Chambers about the burglary at Adams Drugs, and they determined that he was not the person shown on the video of the burglary.

Sparkman testified that they also questioned Chambers about another case in which he had been mentioned. She explained that, after a Crime Stoppers video of a bank robbery was shown on television, a woman contacted the Montgomery Police Department and stated that she thought Garner was the robber. After investigating, officers found Garner in Kimberly Sullivan's motel room. During a search of Garner's vehicle and Sullivan's purse, officers found pill bottles from the Medicine Shoppe in Tuscaloosa. Sparkman testified that they attempted to question Garner about the burglary of the Medicine Shoppe, but he would not tell them anything. However, she testified that Sullivan told them that Garner would go to Birmingham, meet with someone she knew as Guido, and come back with pills.

Sparkman testified that Chambers stated that Kelly Garner, whom they had arrested on that day, had been in Birmingham the weekend before and picked him up, that they had driven to Tuscaloosa, and that he had dropped Garner off at a strip mall parking lot. Chambers also stated that Garner telephoned him about ten minutes later to pick him up, that Garner had a brown corduroy duffel bag with him, and that it sounded like pill bottles were in the bag when Garner put it into the vehicle. Finally, Chambers stated that Garner left him in Birmingham, returned a few days later, and paid him $500.

Sparkman testified that Chambers was in custody, but that they had not arrested him. She also testified that she contacted officials at the Tuscaloosa Police Department to find out if they wanted to speak to Chambers and that they sent officers to talk to him. She further testified that they asked him if there were any other incidents involving Garner and that he told them about two other incidents involving similar facts.

Sergeant A.S. Tatum of the Montgomery Police Department testified that the detective division received information about someone known as Guido on July 9, 2004. During the investigation, they learned that Guido's real name was Paul Chambers. Chambers was detained and transported to the police department. He stated that Chambers was not under arrest, but was placed in investigative detention.

Tatum testified that he advised Chambers of his Miranda rights, that he appeared to understand his rights, and that he agreed to talk to them. He also testified that they did not threaten or coerce him, that they did not tell him it would be better if he made a statement, and that they did not offer him any rewards if he made a statement. Finally, he testified that Chambers was coherent, appeared to know what he was saying and doing, and did not appear to be intoxicated in any form.

Sergeant Alan Kelly of the Tuscaloosa Police Department testified that, on July 9, 2004, he and Investigator Steve Rice went to the Montgomery Police Department and talked to Chambers. He also testified that he read Chambers his Miranda rights from a card, that he indicated that he understood his rights, and that he agreed to talk to them. Kelly stated that Chambers was lucid, spoke well, and did not appear to be intoxicated. He also stated that they did not threaten or coerce him, did not tell him it would be better if he made a statement, and did not promise any reward or hope of reward if he made a statement.

Kelly testified that Chambers stated that he and Garner had found the Medicine Shoppe in Tuscaloosa, that Garner got out of the vehicle and said he would telephone him when he wanted him to come back, that Garner got a duffel bag and walked toward the store, and that Garner telephoned him to pick him up 10 or 15 minutes later. Kelly also testified that he wrote down what Chambers said, but Chambers refused to sign the statement. Once they verified that there were not any charges in Montgomery, he and Rice arrested Chambers and transported him to Tuscaloosa.

Kelly testified that, after he got to the county jail, Chambers indicated that he wanted to change what he said. He did not advise Chambers of his Miranda rights, but reminded him that they were still in effect. At that time, Chambers stated that he had not been present when Garner committed the burglaries and that he had simply acted as a go-between for selling the drugs. Kelly testified that Chambers also indicated that the officers in Montgomery had been pressuring him for information, but that he did not believe him.

Chambers testified that, on July 9, 2004, he was traveling on Interstate 65 North in Autauga County and that he pulled over to the side of the road to get something that had fallen onto the floorboard. As he was about to get out of his vehicle, he saw officers behind him pointing guns at him and telling him to get on the ground. He testified that, at that time, he had been smoking crack for about three days. The officers asked his name, which he told them, and they handcuffed him and transported him to the police department.

Chambers testified that Tatum asked him if he knew anything about a burglary at Adams Drugs in Montgomery and that he said he did not. They also asked him about the burglary in Tuscaloosa, and he told them he did not know anything about it. Chambers testified that, when they asked him if he knew Garner, he said that he did and that they had met at a...

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  • Brooks v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • July 10, 2020
    ...added.) The phrase "reasonable cause" as it is used in § 15-10-7 is synonymous with the phrase "probable cause." Chambers v. State, 38 So. 3d 105, 113 (Ala. Crim. App. 2009)." ‘ " ‘Probable cause exists where "the facts and circumstances within [the arresting officers'] knowledge and of whi......

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