Harmon v. Com., No. 1956-90-1

Docket NºNo. 1956-90-1
Citation15 Va.App. 440, 425 S.E.2d 77
Case DateDecember 15, 1992
CourtCourt of Appeals of Virginia

Page 77

425 S.E.2d 77
15 Va.App. 440
Marcel Levatino HARMON
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.
Record No. 1956-90-1.
Court of Appeals of Virginia.
Dec. 15, 1992.

[15 Va.App. 441] Andrew M. Sacks, Norfolk, (Sacks, Sacks & Imprevento, on brief), for appellant.

Virginia B. Theisen, Asst. Atty. Gen. (Mary Sue Terry, Atty. Gen., on brief), for appellant.

Present: JOSEPH E. BAKER, BRAY and FITZPATRICK, JJ.

JOSEPH E. BAKER, Judge.

Marcel Levatino Harmon (appellant) appeals from his bench trial conviction by the Circuit Court of the City of Virginia Beach (trial court) for possession of cocaine. He asserts that the trial court erred in failing to suppress the evidence of cocaine found in his car pursuant to a warrantless search, and further alleges that the evidence was insufficient to prove that he knowingly and intentionally [15 Va.App. 442] possessed cocaine. Upon familiar principles, we state the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, granting to it all reasonable inferences fairly deductible therefrom. Higginbotham v. Commonwealth, 216 Va. 349, 352, 218 S.E.2d 534, 537 (1975).

On July 18, 1989, Tyrone Anthony Holland, a person familiar with illegal drug

Page 78

trafficking, received a telephone call from Kevin Ackiss, in which Ackiss advised him that he "could set up half a kilo deal." At the time, Holland was under indictment for unlawful distribution of drugs. Seeking favor from the police by cooperating with them, Holland called Detective Dennis Santos, a member of the Virginia Beach Police Department Special Investigating Unit (SIU), and advised him of the call from Ackiss. Holland agreed to be wired with a body transmitter, meet Ackiss and pretend to purchase the cocaine. Arrangements were then made with Ackiss to conduct the transaction from a Cadillac Seville in the parking lot of a Red Roof Inn in Virginia Beach.

Holland was fitted with the transmitter and taken to the lot, where several SIU officers, all experienced in narcotics investigations, were stationed in and around its perimeter. The Cadillac, with Ackiss as a passenger, was driven onto and around the lot several times before it was parked near the building. Holland walked to the Cadillac and had a brief conversation with Ackiss, during which Ackiss told Holland that "his boys was [sic] watching him in another car." When Ackiss displayed the cocaine, Holland gave the prearranged signal to the SIU detectives that the cocaine was present. Advising Ackiss that he would have to get the money to pay for the drugs, Holland left the area of the Cadillac, and as he walked away, he advised the police, over the wire, that there were two vehicles involved.

In response to the signal, Santos and Detective Lawrence moved to the Cadillac to arrest Ackiss. When they arrived, a third person, Emmett Jefferson, was standing at the side of the Cadillac leaning in the window. The driver, Ackiss and Jefferson were arrested. Jefferson had in his possession a digital pager and a large sum of money. Cocaine, weighing approximately seventeen ounces, was found inside the Cadillac.

Detective R.W. Bishop had been stationed in a wooded area adjacent to the parking lot. He had seen several cars come onto the lot and immediately park; however, when the Cadillac entered the lot, it was [15 Va.App. 443] driven around the lot several times before being parked. A few minutes after the Cadillac arrived, he saw an Oldsmobile with two men in it come onto the lot, drive around several times and then park. From his position, Bishop observed another man, later identified as Emmett Jefferson, exit the Oldsmobile, stand in the middle of the lot, look around, jog slowly through the lot, pass in the area of the Cadillac, look around again, run up to the second floor parking area, look around, return to the lower level lot and go over to the Cadillac, which was the "target vehicle." At this time, the "take-down signal" was received.

As Bishop and Detective Brown ran toward the Cadillac, Bishop observed the Oldsmobile start to depart the lot, its tires "squealing" as it went around the building. Appellant, then alone in the car, was its driver. When Bishop saw the Oldsmobile attempt to leave the lot as the "take-down" was about to occur, he instructed the other SIU members to stop the car. The passage of the Oldsmobile was blocked.

Bishop's brother, Tom, also a member of this SIU team, was outside the parking lot driving toward the target Cadillac when he was told the "take-down" signal had been given. Tom heard Bishop yell "get the vehicle" and point in the direction of the Oldsmobile. Tom saw appellant backing the Oldsmobile out of the lot and "squealing the tires" as it rounded the building. Its passage was blocked by a vehicle operated by Officer Mullins. Tom explained his actions which followed:

I walked over to the vehicle. He had his hands up, opened the car door and told him to step from the vehicle, grabbed his one arm to keep him from putting one arm down near his person. Right off the driver's side with the door still open, had him place his hands on the car.

As I got into the rest of the vehicle to grab his hands, I noticed a plastic bag--just a portional [sic] part of the plastic bag ...

It was sticking out from underneath the driver's back right where he was

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sitting. At that time Detective Zebley was right by me. At that time I advised Detective Zebley to cherk [sic] the vehicle for weapons plus also advised him I noticed a plastic baggie sticking out from underneath the seat. At that time I began to pat down for safety.

[15 Va.App. 444] Zebley made a "sweep" search, found no weapon and removed the plastic bag which was "sticking out from underneath the seat." The bag contained a "chunk substance," later determined to be cocaine. In a pat-down search of appellant, a digital pager and $589.89 were found. Appellant was the only occupant of the vehicle when it was stopped and he was listed as the owner on the car title.

No evidence was presented on behalf of appellant. He was found guilty of possession of...

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44 practice notes
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 29 Julio 2003
    ...omitted).2 Actual proof that "criminal activity is afoot is not necessary," only that it "may be afoot." Harmon v. Commonwealth, 15 Va.App. 440, 444, 425 S.E.2d 77, 79 (1992); see also United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 273, 122 S.Ct. 744, 750, 151 L.Ed.2d 740 (2002); Hamlin, 33 Va.App.......
  • Rudolph v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0240-07-1 (Va. App. 2/26/2008), Record No. 0240-07-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 26 Febrero 2008
    ...sufficient to allow a police officer to investigate does not arise only after the commission of a crime. Harmon v. Commonwealth, 15 Va. App. 440, 444, 425 S.E.2d 77, 79 (1992) ("Actual proof that criminal activity is afoot is not necessary; the record need only show that it may be afoot." (......
  • Lantion v. Commonwealth of Virginia, Record No. 2617-05-4 (Va. App. 12/18/2007), Record No. 2617-05-4
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 18 Diciembre 2007
    ...proof that criminal activity is afoot is Page 24 not necessary; the record need only show that it may be afoot." Harmon v. Commonwealth, 15 Va. App. 440, 444, 425 S.E.2d 77, 79 (1992) (emphasis in In the case at hand, at the hearing on the motion to suppress the cocaine, Officer Swartz arti......
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 4 Febrero 2003
    ...Actual 576 S.E.2d 212 proof that "criminal activity is afoot is not necessary," only that it "may be afoot." Harmon v. Commonwealth, 15 Va.App. 440, 444, 425 S.E.2d 77, 79 (1992); see also United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 273, 122 S.Ct. 744, 151 L.Ed.2d 740 (2002); Hamlin, 33 Va.App. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
45 cases
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 29 Julio 2003
    ...omitted).2 Actual proof that "criminal activity is afoot is not necessary," only that it "may be afoot." Harmon v. Commonwealth, 15 Va.App. 440, 444, 425 S.E.2d 77, 79 (1992); see also United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 273, 122 S.Ct. 744, 750, 151 L.Ed.2d 740 (2002); Hamlin, 33 Va.App.......
  • Rudolph v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0240-07-1 (Va. App. 2/26/2008), Record No. 0240-07-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 26 Febrero 2008
    ...sufficient to allow a police officer to investigate does not arise only after the commission of a crime. Harmon v. Commonwealth, 15 Va. App. 440, 444, 425 S.E.2d 77, 79 (1992) ("Actual proof that criminal activity is afoot is not necessary; the record need only show that it may be afoot." (......
  • Lantion v. Commonwealth of Virginia, Record No. 2617-05-4 (Va. App. 12/18/2007), Record No. 2617-05-4
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 18 Diciembre 2007
    ...proof that criminal activity is afoot is Page 24 not necessary; the record need only show that it may be afoot." Harmon v. Commonwealth, 15 Va. App. 440, 444, 425 S.E.2d 77, 79 (1992) (emphasis in In the case at hand, at the hearing on the motion to suppress the cocaine, Officer Swartz arti......
  • Jackson v. Com., Record No. 3238-01-1.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 4 Febrero 2003
    ...Actual 576 S.E.2d 212 proof that "criminal activity is afoot is not necessary," only that it "may be afoot." Harmon v. Commonwealth, 15 Va.App. 440, 444, 425 S.E.2d 77, 79 (1992); see also United States v. Arvizu, 534 U.S. 266, 273, 122 S.Ct. 744, 151 L.Ed.2d 740 (2002); Hamlin, 33 Va.App. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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