State v. Adkisson

Decision Date08 December 1994
Citation899 S.W.2d 626
PartiesSTATE of Tennessee, Appellee, v. James Wayne ADKISSON, Appellant.
CourtTennessee Court of Criminal Appeals

Charles W. Burson, Atty. Gen. & Reporter, Eugene J. Honea, Asst. Atty. Gen., Victor S. Johnson, III, Dist. Atty. Gen., Cheryl A. Blackburn, Asst. Dist. Atty. Gen., Nashville, for appellee.

Richard McGee (Appeal Only), R.N. "Bo" Taylor (Trial Only), Nashville, for appellant.


JONES, Judge.

The appellant, James Wayne Adkisson, was convicted of conspiring to sell, manufacture or deliver a Schedule VI controlled substance in excess of seventy pounds, a Class B felony, by a jury of his peers. The trial court found that the appellant was a standard offender and imposed a Range I sentence consisting of a fine in the sum of $100,000 and confinement for twelve (12) years in the Department of Correction.

Four issues are presented for review. The appellant contends that the evidence adduced during the trial is insufficient, as a matter of law, to support a finding by a rational trier of fact that he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He further contends that the trial court committed error of prejudicial dimensions by (a) permitting the assistant district attorney general to ask a defense witness about his prior drug dealings, (b) refusing to suppress evidence seized from his home, and (c) refusing to permit defense counsel to explore a witness's "substantial incentive" to testify favorably for the state.

The judgment of the trial court is reversed. This cause is remanded to the trial court for a new trial.

The appellant and John M. Kneisel met approximately three years prior to the dates in question. During the ensuing years, they engaged in numerous marijuana transactions. It appears that the largest sale involved five pounds. As a general rule, the parties engaged in a drug sale on a monthly basis. However, the intervals varied at times. Kneisel described his relationship with the appellant as an "ongoing business."

Grant Davis moved into the appellant's residence. Davis told the appellant about a telephone conversation that he had with David Shelton. According to Davis, Shelton wanted to know if he, Davis, knew someone capable of purchasing fifty pounds of marijuana. The appellant advised Davis that he knew someone who could make a purchase of this magnitude.

On April 5, 1990, Davis advised Shelton that he had someone interested in purchasing fifty pounds of marijuana. Shelton, who was living in Ohio, took Davis's telephone number and address. He advised Davis that a "local man," a resident of Nashville, would contact him regarding the sale. Shelton immediately called the Vice Division of the Metropolitan Police Department, advised an officer of Davis's interest in purchasing fifty pounds of marijuana, and he furnished the officer with the information Davis had given him. The next day, Officer Allen Mitchell called Davis and discussed selling one hundred pounds of marijuana to Davis. Mitchell told Davis that the price would be $800 per pound.

The appellant called Kneisel and attempted to negotiate the sale of fifty pounds of marijuana for $1,050 per pound. Kneisel advised the appellant that the price was too high. Later, the appellant advised Kneisel that he could purchase the marijuana at the price quoted to Davis, $800 per pound, if Kneisel would give him eight pounds for arranging the sale. Kneisel agreed. 1

Davis contacted Mitchell on April 17, 1990. They agreed to meet in the parking lot of a grocery store the following morning to consummate the sale of the marijuana. The appellant advised Kneisel that the "deal" had been arranged and that Kneisel was to meet with the appellant the following morning. Kneisel was advised to bring his pistol.

On the morning of April 18, 1990, Kneisel went to the appellant's residence, where he met Grant Davis for the first time. The three men discussed the sale as well as the precautions that should be taken. It was agreed that Davis and Kneisel, who had brought $38,950 in a paper sack, would meet Mitchell. When they left to make the exchange, the appellant followed in his vehicle.

When Mitchell met Davis and Kneisel, Davis took the sack containing the money, sat in Mitchell's vehicle, and showed Mitchell the money. Mitchell told Davis to keep the money as he was going to get the marijuana. Davis rejoined Kneisel in the other vehicle. As Mitchell pulled from his parking space, he told the officers in the area that he had seen the money and that the officers should converge on the parking lot. Both Davis and Kneisel were arrested. Adkisson was arrested at his home a short time later.


When an accused challenges the sufficiency of the convicting evidence, this Court must review the record to determine if the evidence adduced at the trial is sufficient "to support the finding by the trier of fact of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt." 2 This rule is applicable to findings of guilt based upon direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, or a combination of direct and circumstantial evidence.

In determining the sufficiency of the evidence, this Court does not reweigh or reevaluate the evidence. 3 Nor may this Court substitute its inferences for those drawn by the trier of fact from circumstantial evidence. 4 To the contrary, this Court is required to afford the State of Tennessee the strongest legitimate view of the evidence contained in the record as well as all reasonable and legitimate inferences which may be drawn from the evidence. 5

Questions concerning the credibility of the witnesses, the weight and value to be given to evidence, and all factual issues raised by the evidence are resolved by the trier of fact, not this Court. 6 In State v. Grace, 7 our Supreme Court said: "A guilty verdict by the jury, approved by the trial judge, accredits the testimony of the witnesses for the State and resolves all conflicts in favor of the theory of the State." 8

Since a verdict of guilt removes the presumption of innocence and replaces it with a presumption of guilt, the accused has the burden in this Court of illustrating why the evidence is insufficient to support the verdicts returned by the trier of fact. 9 This Court will not disturb a verdict of guilt due to the sufficiency of the evidence unless the facts contained in the record and any inferences which may be drawn from the facts are insufficient, as a matter of law, for a rational trier of fact to find the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 10


The appellant contends that "no rational trier of fact could have determined that he was a member of a conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt due to the number of inconsistencies in the State's evidence." As previously stated, the jury resolves all conflicts and inconsistencies in the evidence adduced at trial.

The conversations between Davis and Officer Mitchell were recorded. During two of the telephone conversations, the appellant's voice could be heard in the background. When Mitchell asked Davis how much he was going to get for the marijuana, he had to ask the appellant. The appellant told him "ten fifty," meaning $1,050 a pound. Officers confiscated a piece of paper sitting on a coffee table in the appellant's living room. The writing on the paper corresponded to the quantity of marijuana to be purchased, the purchase price, and the prices quoted to Kneisel. Also, the officers confiscated a set of triple beam scales, a hand held set of scales, smoking paraphernalia, and a very small amount of marijuana. Davis continually referred to "we" and "us," meaning Davis and the appellant. Davis referred to Kneisel as "the money man" and "the doctor" who worked at Donelson Hospital. 11 Kneisel's motor vehicle was found at the appellant's home following his arrest.

The evidence contained in the record is sufficient to support a finding by a rational trier of fact that the appellant was guilty of conspiring to sell, manufacture or deliver a Schedule VI controlled substance in excess of seventy pounds beyond a reasonable doubt. 12 The evidence clearly established that (a) the appellant entered into an agreement with Davis and Kneisel to make an initial purchase of fifty pounds of marijuana and additional purchases thereafter to reach the agreed purchase of one hundred pounds of marijuana, (b) Davis negotiated the sale with Mitchell and he was to split the profits with the appellant, (c) the appellant convinced Kneisel to use his money to make the purchase for an agreed price of eight pounds of marijuana, (d) the three men met on the morning the marijuana was to be purchased to plan the strategy to be implemented, and (e) Davis and Kneisel went to the parking lot of the grocery store, exhibited Kneisel's money to Mitchell, and were prepared to purchase the marijuana. In short, the requisite agreement and overt act were clearly established by the evidence.

This issue is without merit.


Rita Adkisson, the appellant's wife, testified as a defense witness. She portrayed the conspiracy as an agreement between Davis and Kneisel, who knew each other prior to the morning in question. She further testified that the appellant did not leave the residence on the morning in question. He helped her wash clothes and clean the house.

The assistant district attorney general began the cross-examination of Mrs. Adkisson with questions concerning the morning of April 18, 1990, the date the sale was to occur. The cross-examination continued:

Q. Have you ever known your husband to be involved in any drug dealing?

A. Yes.

Q. You have?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know ...

A. Several years ago.

Q. Several years ago?

A. Yes.

Q. When was that?

A. When we first got married in '73.

Q. In '73? But you have known your husband not to be involved in any drug dealings since then?

A. Well, yes, I ...

MR. TAYLOR: Your Honor, I object.

THE COURT: Sustained.

Q. Mrs. Adkisson, on,...

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