State v. Welch, M2015-00361-CCA-R3-CD

CourtCourt of Appeals of Tennessee. Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee
Docket NumberNo. M2015-00361-CCA-R3-CD,M2015-00361-CCA-R3-CD
Decision Date13 October 2016


No. M2015-00361-CCA-R3-CD


Assigned on Briefs January 13, 2016
October 13, 2016

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Maury County
Nos. 21949, 21950
Stella L. Hargrove, Judge

Defendants, Laurie Lynn Welch ("Mrs. Welch) and Roland John Welch (Mr. Welch"), were convicted of promotion of methamphetamine manufacturing, initiation of methamphetamine manufacture process, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Mrs. Welch was sentenced to four years for the promotion charge, eight years for the initiation charge, and eleven months, twenty-nine days for possession of drug paraphernalia to be served concurrently for an effective eight-year sentence to be served in the Department of Correction as a Range I offender. Mr. Welch was sentenced to eight years for the promotion charge, eighteen years for the initiation charge, and eleven-months, twenty-nine days for possession of drug paraphernalia to be served concurrently for an effective eighteen-year sentence to be served in the Department of Correction as a Range II offender. On appeal, both Defendants argue that: (1) the affidavit in support of the search warrant did not contain probable cause; (2) the trial court erred by failing to suppress evidence discovered as a result of a warrantless search and seizure; (3) the evidence was insufficient to support both Defendants' convictions for promotion of methamphetamine manufacture and initiation of methamphetamine manufacturing process and Mr. Welch's conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia; and (4) Mr. Welch's sentence was excessive. After a thorough review, we affirm the judgments of the trial court.

Tenn. R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgments of the Circuit Court Affirmed

THOMAS T. WOODALL, P.J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which TIMOTHY L. EASTER, J., joined. ROGER A. PAGE, J., not participating.

Lee E. Brooks, Spring Hill, Tennessee (on appeal), and Shara A. Flacy, Ardmore, Tennessee, (at trial) for the appellant, Laurie Lynn Welch.

Jacob J. Hubbell, Columbia, Tennessee, for the appellant, Roland John Welch.

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Herbert H. Slatery III, Attorney General and Reporter; Andrew C. Coulam, Assistant Attorney General; Brent A. Cooper, District Attorney General; and Patrick Howell, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.


Suppression Hearing

Detective Bob Zaiden of the Maury County Sheriff's Office, Drug Unit, testified that on July 11, 2012, he received a phone call from a Walgreen's pharmacist in Columbia concerning a suspicious purchase of pseudoephedrine pills. Detective Zaiden drove to the store parking lot and observed a young man fitting the suspect's description exit the store and get into a small truck with a woman. The two were later identified as Jonathan Castille and Stephanie Hicks. Mr. Castille and Ms. Hicks next drove to a nearby Kroger store, and Ms. Hicks walked into the store. Detective Zaiden followed her inside and observed her purchase a second box of pseudoephedrine. It was Detective Zaiden's experience that those individuals who purchase pseudoephedrine for the purpose of manufacturing methamphetamine tend to purchase each box at a different store.

Detective Zaiden continued following Mr. Castille and Ms. Hicks after they left the Kroger parking lot and turned south onto Trotwood Avenue. He decided to stop the vehicle because the only other store for them to purchase pseudoephedrine would have been the Rite Aid in Mt. Pleasant. Detective Zaiden explained that any further purchase by Mr. Castille or Ms. Hicks would have been denied because of their two previous purchases in Columbia. Detective Zaiden testified that Mr. Castille and Ms. Hicks had two boxes of pseudoephedrine in their possession at the time of the stop. After they were advised of their Miranda rights, Mr. Castille admitted that he was buying the pseudoephedrine to sell to someone named "Glenn," (later identified as Joseph Glenn Glover) and Ms. Hicks indicated that they would receive fifty dollars per box from "Glenn." Mr. Castille and Ms. Hicks also stated that the pseudoephedrine would be used to manufacture methamphetamine. Detective Zaiden testified that the information provided by Mr. Castille and Ms. Hicks was consistent with Detective Zaiden's experience with "smurfs," who purchase the ingredients for methamphetamine manufacturers known as "cooks." He further explained that the legal limitations on the amount of pseudoephedrine that may be purchased during a certain period of time prevented "cooks" from buying the quantities of pseudoephedrine that they needed to manufacture methamphetamine. Therefore, the "cooks" contracted with the "smurfs" to obtain the necessary ingredients.

Detective Zaiden advised Mr. Castille and Ms. Hicks that they had committed the crime of promoting the manufacture of methamphetamine. The two gave a written

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statement and agreed to make a controlled delivery of the pseudoephedrine to "Glenn." Detective Zaiden followed Mr. Castille and Ms. Hicks to a predetermined location where Mr. Castille and Ms. Hicks and their vehicle were searched. A recorded call was placed to Mr. Glover, and Mr. Castille and Ms. Hicks indicated to him that their vehicle had broken down on Highway 43 and that Mr. Glover would have to meet them there to pick up the pseudoephedrine. Officers observed the area on Highway 43 and used listening devices for the transaction. Approximately twenty to thirty minutes later, a white Dodge Dakota truck driven by Mr. Glover arrived at the scene on Highway 43. Mr. Glover's wife, Karen Glover, was also in the vehicle. Mr. Glover walked up to the passenger side of Mr. Castille's and Ms. Hick's vehicle and received the two boxes of pseudoephedrine from them. Mr. Glover promised to pay them the following day.

Detective Zaiden testified that Mr. Glover drove away, and Detective Zaiden and other officers began following him. Mr. Glover was eventually stopped on Enterprise Drive in Mt. Pleasant. Detective Zaiden advised Mr. and Mrs. Glover that they had participated in a controlled buy of pseudoephedrine pills. Mr. Glover was initially uncooperative but Mrs. Glover was cooperative. Both of them eventually agreed to make a controlled delivery of the two boxes of pills to Defendants, Roland John Welch and Laurie Welch. Detective Zaiden met Mr. and Mrs. Glover at a predetermined location where they were searched along with their vehicle. Mr. Glover placed a call to Defendants but no one answered, so a text was sent to Defendants. Contact was later made with Mrs. Welch, and Mr. Glover told her, "Well, I have those two things for you," and Mrs. Welch replied, "Yeah, come on. Come on over." Detective Zaiden testified that the "two things" referred to the two boxes of pseudoephedrine. The call was recorded and played to the jury. Detective Zaiden testified that before the delivery, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Drug Unit arrived to assist with the transaction because they were familiar with Mr. Welch, and they provided background information on him. Detective Zaiden, Detective Stanfield, and Mr. Glover then drove by Defendants' residence on South Old Highway 43 in Detective Stanfield's car in order for Mr. Glover to point the house out to them, and they drove back to the predetermined location. Two detectives then drove to the area to observe any traffic going in or out of Defendants' house.

At approximately 11:00 p.m., Mr. Glover alone drove back to Defendants' house to deliver the two boxes of pseudoephedrine. Officers followed Mr. Glover to the house and watched him walk inside. Mr. Glover remained inside the residence for approximately thirty-three minutes, as stipulated by the parties at trial. Mr. Glover was observed exiting Defendants' house, and he drove back to the predetermined location to be searched. Detective Zaiden testified that Mr. Glover informed him that he was going to be paid for the pseudoephedrine with methamphetamine and that Defendants were going to manufacture methamphetamine. Detective Zaiden testified:

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Well, at that time, then that's when I advised the other members that we needed to make contact with the occupants before they used the pills that we delivered and start the initiation the process of - - to manufacture methamphetamine with those pills.

Detective Zaiden further testified that there are inherent dangers in the manufacture of methamphetamine because hazardous materials are used that can be "very toxic" and "it can be very dangerous to a person that's untrained or around these toxic chemicals, and these active ingredients would - - could cause some serious injuries; which we've had some officers injured in the past because of these hazardous materials."

Detective Zaiden did not know how the officers got into Defendants' residence but when Detective Zaiden arrived, he was advised by Detective Rob Wagonschutz that there were two occupants in the residence and that there was an active methamphetamine ("meth") lab in the house. Everyone was taken outside on the porch, and Detective Zaiden advised Defendants that he was going to obtain a search warrant for their residence. He thought that it took "maybe close to two hours" to get the search warrant. Detective Zaiden testified that it generally takes an hour to make a batch of methamphetamine.

After obtaining the search warrant, Detective Zaiden drove back to Defendants' residence and advised them of their Miranda rights. He also gave Defendants a copy of the search warrant. Mr. Welch made the following statement, "It is what it is." Mrs. Welch told Detective Zaiden that she smoked marijuana but did not "mess" with methamphetamine. Detective Zaiden testified that during the search, "an active cook bottle" used to make methamphetamine was found in the house. He said that the methamphetamine in the bottle was in the "finished stages of it." Detective...

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