Shears v. Com., No. 1928-95-1

Docket NºNo. 1928-95-1
Citation477 S.E.2d 309, 23 Va.App. 394
Case DateNovember 05, 1996
CourtCourt of Appeals of Virginia

Page 309

477 S.E.2d 309
23 Va.App. 394
David S. SHEARS
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.
Record No. 1928-95-1.
Court of Appeals of Virginia,
Norfolk.
Nov. 5, 1996.

Page 310

[23 Va.App. 396] Oldric J. LaBell, Jr., Newport News, for appellant.

Eugene Murphy, Assistant Attorney General (James S. Gilmore, III, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: BAKER, WILLIS and OVERTON, JJ.

BAKER, Judge.

David S. Shears (defendant) was convicted in a bench trial on separate indictments charging two offenses of cocaine possession with intent to distribute, two related firearm charges and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. He complains on appeal that the trial court erroneously admitted evidence gathered during an unlawful search and seizure and wrongfully convicted him of the two cocaine offenses arising from a single act of possession. He also challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support the marijuana conviction. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court.

The Commonwealth's evidence is uncontradicted. Hampton Police Detective Olen Payne, assisted by Detectives John Decker and others, was pursuing an arrest of Clyde Boyce on "outstanding murder warrants." Planning to entice Boyce into custody, police enlisted an informant to telephone Boyce, a known narcotics dealer, and solicit a drug purchase [23 Va.App. 397] from him. After the informant confirmed the contact with Boyce, the detectives secreted themselves in and about the informant's mobile home and awaited Boyce's arrival to consummate the transaction. Boyce reputedly delivered drugs "moments" after a "call," and, within a "few minutes," an automobile arrived and defendant exited and entered the trailer.

Hidden in the rear of the residence, Detective Payne observed defendant and heard him declare, "This better not be no set up," to someone in the kitchen area. Although Payne had never before seen either Boyce or defendant, defendant's appearance was consistent with the physical description of Boyce which, together with the attendant circumstances, prompted Payne to mistakenly identify defendant as Boyce. Intending to then effect an arrest of Boyce, Payne, assisted by other officers, forced defendant to the floor and handcuffed him. Immediately thereafter, police discovered a "small bag" of cocaine on the kitchen floor, "right at that point where [defendant] initially was standing." A "similar bag" was found by Detective Burton in defendant's trouser pocket during a search incidental to arrest. 1

While still at the scene, Detective Burton advised defendant of his Miranda rights and asked, "how long had he been selling crack cocaine?" Defendant responded, "a couple of weeks," and provided Burton with the address of a residence which he shared with his uncle, Mollow Shears, the individual who had accompanied defendant to the informant's trailer. Based upon this information, Detective Decker then obtained and executed a search warrant for the Shears' residence.

The ensuing search revealed a large cache of narcotics and handguns, together with "personal papers" belonging to defendant, located in one of two bedrooms in the home. Documents related to defendant included his operator's license, birth certificate, GED diploma and current motor vehicle registration. [23 Va.App. 398] Also in this room, Decker found numerous "plastic bags" containing cocaine, plastic bags concealing twenty-eight individual packages of marijuana, aggregating 86.6 grams at analysis, a "pager," $1,517.50 in

Page 311

cash and coin, and several firearms. A "set" of scales was found in the kitchen area of the home. Additionally, a pistol "box" was discovered in the bedroom bearing the make, model and serial number of a firearm discovered in the car which brought defendant to the informant's trailer.
THE SEARCH

Defendant first contends that the trial court erroneously declined to suppress all evidence seized by police, arguing that it resulted from an "illegal" initial arrest.

Upon appeal from a trial court's denial of a motion to suppress, we must review the evidence in the light most favorable to the prevailing party, granting to it all reasonable inferences fairly deducible therefrom. Commonwealth v. Grimstead, 12 Va. App. 1066, 1067, 407 S.E.2d 47, 48 (1991); Reynolds v. Commonwealth, 9 Va.App. 430, 436, 388 S.E.2d 659, 663 (1990). Determinations of reasonable suspicion and probable cause require de novo review on appeal. Ornelas v. United States, --- U.S. ----, ----, 116 S.Ct. 1657, 1663, 134 L.Ed.2d 911 (1996). However, a trial court's "findings of historical fact" should be reviewed only for "clear error." Moreover, "due weight" must be given to "inferences drawn from those facts by resident judges and local law enforcement officers," and to "a trial court's finding that [an] officer was credible and [that his or her] inference was reasonable." Id.

Defendant's argument implicitly acknowledges the long recognized principle which permits warrantless searches of persons lawfully arrested. However, his assertion that the police lacked probable cause to arrest in this instance ignores the inherent authority of the outstanding felony warrant which generated the police action. Probable cause justifying the arrest of the person named in the warrant was established upon the issuance of that process. See Code § 19.2-72. [23 Va.App. 399] While the record does not confirm that Detective Payne actually possessed the warrant, he was, nevertheless, privy to its contents and existence and, therefore, both empowered and duty bound to arrest the named accused, Clyde Boyce. Crowder v. Commonwealth, 213 Va. 151, 152-53, 191 S.E.2d 239, 239-40 (1972); see Code § 19.2-81. The ruse employed by the detectives to lure Boyce to the trailer would not have tainted his arrest pursuant to the existing warrant. See Limonja v. Commonwealth, 8 Va.App. 532, 538-39, 383 S.E.2d 476, 480 (1989) (en banc ), cert. denied, 495 U.S. 905, 110...

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78 practice notes
  • Kyer v. Com., Record No. 2200-03-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 3 May 2005
    ...be disturbed on appeal absent clear and manifest error." Reynolds, 9 Va.App. at 437, 388 S.E.2d at 664; see also Shears v. Commonwealth, 23 Va.App. 394, 398, 477 S.E.2d 309, 311 (1996) (noting that this Court gives due weight to "a trial court's finding that [an] officer was credible and [t......
  • Ferguson v. Com., Record No. 0748-06-3.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 27 December 2007
    ...1067, 407 S.E.2d 47, 48 (1991). We review the trial court's findings of historical fact only for clear error. See Shears v. Commonwealth, 23 Va.App. 394, 398, 477 S.E.2d 309, 311 (1996). However, we review de novo the trial court's application of defined legal standards to the particular fa......
  • Washington v. Com., Record No. 0230-96-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 19 January 1999
    ...the only issue is whether the officers had a reasonable and good-faith belief that the defendant was Ford. See Shears v. Commonwealth, 23 Va.App. 394, 399, 477 S.E.2d 309, 311 (1996) (citing United States v. McEachern, 675 F.2d 618, 621 (4th The informant's tip was unsubstantiated informati......
  • Ferguson v. Com., Record No. 0748-06-3.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 22 July 2008
    ...1067, 407 S.E.2d 47, 48 (1991). We review the trial court's findings of historical fact only for clear error. See Shears v. Commonwealth, 23 Va.App. 394, 398, 477 S.E.2d 309, 311 (1996). However, we review de novo the trial court's application of defined legal standards to the particular fa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
77 cases
  • Ford v. Com., Record No. 0119-97-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 1 September 1998
    ...standards, such as "reasonable suspicion" and "custodial interrogation," to the particular facts of a case. See Shears v. Commonwealth, 23 Va.App. 394, 398, 477 S.E.2d 309, 311 (1996); see also Ornelas v. United States, 517 U.S. 690, 700, 116 S.Ct. 1657, 134 L.Ed.2d 911 A police officer may......
  • Kyer v. Com., Record No. 2200-03-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • 3 May 2005
    ...be disturbed on appeal absent clear and manifest error." Reynolds, 9 Va.App. at 437, 388 S.E.2d at 664; see also Shears v. Commonwealth, 23 Va.App. 394, 398, 477 S.E.2d 309, 311 (1996) (noting that this Court gives due weight to "a trial court's finding that [an] officer was credible and [t......
  • Ferguson v. Com., Record No. 0748-06-3.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 22 July 2008
    ...1067, 407 S.E.2d 47, 48 (1991). We review the trial court's findings of historical fact only for clear error. See Shears v. Commonwealth, 23 Va.App. 394, 398, 477 S.E.2d 309, 311 (1996). However, we review de novo the trial court's application of defined legal standards to the particular fa......
  • Washington v. Com., Record No. 0230-96-2.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • 19 January 1999
    ...the only issue is whether the officers had a reasonable and good-faith belief that the defendant was Ford. See Shears v. Commonwealth, 23 Va.App. 394, 399, 477 S.E.2d 309, 311 (1996) (citing United States v. McEachern, 675 F.2d 618, 621 (4th The informant's tip was unsubstantiated informati......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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