[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
Appealed from the Second Judicial District Court for the Parish of Bienville, Louisiana. Trial Court No. 44-318. Honorable C. Glenn Fallin, Judge.
LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT, By: Peggy J. Sullivan, Counsel for Appellant.
JONATHAN M. STEWART, District Attorney, KENNETH P. HAINES, TAMMY G. JUMP, Assistant District Attorneys, Counsel for Appellee.
Before WILLIAMS, CARAWAY & PITMAN, JJ.
[49,679 La.App. 2 Cir. 1] PITMAN, J.
Defendant Raymond " Bubba" Casaday appeals his conviction for conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and sentence of 15 years' imprisonment at hard labor. For the reasons stated herein, we affirm Defendant's conviction and sentence.
Defendant was charged with conspiracy to distribute a Schedule II Controlled Dangerous Substance methamphetamine in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, a violation of La. R.S.14:26 and 40:967(A)(1). A jury trial was held February 19-21, 2013, at which the following evidence was adduced and procedural issues arose.
Bienville Parish Sheriff's Office (" BPSO" ) Sgt. Chris Davis testified that, on November 2, 2009, he and Mike Rowlan, a civilian and former police sergeant working undercover for the BPSO, arranged for Sgt. Rowlan to purchase methamphetamine from Ms. Tenia " Dee Dee" Matthews Kelley (" Kelley" ).
Sgt. Rowlan and Kelley communicated by phone and arranged a meeting. At approximately 3:00 or 3:30 p.m., Sgt. Davis and another BPSO deputy, Lt. John Micah Crawford, parked their unmarked car near a convenience store in Jamestown, Louisiana, while Sgt. Rowlan parked in another nearby lot. When Kelley arrived in her truck, she pulled in next to Sgt. Rowlan and he gave her money to buy methamphetamine. After the transfer of the money, Kelley drove away to the north.
At about 6:00 p.m., Sgt. Davis and Lt. Crawford traveled north on the same road and observed Kelley's vehicle at the home of Defendant, which [49,679 La.App. 2 Cir. 2] was about a mile away from the meeting place. Sgt. Davis and Lt. Crawford returned to the convenience store to wait. Sgt. Davis testified that several hours elapsed before Kelley returned to meet Sgt. Rowlan, and she did so in a different vehicle. After Kelley met Sgt. Rowlan and left the meeting place, Sgt. Davis and Lt. Crawford met with Sgt. Rowlan and retrieved an envelope that Kelley had given him containing a baggie full of methamphetamine.
Kelley testified about her role in the transaction, stating that Sgt. Rowlan had contacted her about buying some methamphetamine, so she called Defendant and his wife, Janice McWilliams (" McWilliams" ). Kelley testified that " Bubba told me that yeah, he could -- he could handle that for me." She stated that she did not know Sgt. Rowlan was working for the BPSO when she met him in Jamestown. Sgt. Rowlan told her that he wanted an " eight ball," or 3 1/2 grams, of methamphetamine. She testified that she took money from him and drove a mile to a mile and a half to " Bubba and Janice's house" and gave Defendant the money, after which he was to obtain the drugs and bring them back to her.
Kelly stated that she stayed at Defendant's home while he was gone to get the drugs " three to four hours." She said that Defendant told her " the first that he had come up on was no good, that he was having to wait for - for them to go get some that was. That one wasn't no good." Kelley further stated that the people present at Defendant's home during these events were herself, Defendant, McWilliams, and McWilliams's daughter, Samantha, and son Jesse. Later that evening, two of Jesse's friends stopped by. She [49,679 La.App. 2 Cir. 3] testified that, when Defendant returned home, he went with McWilliams into a bedroom, closed the door and then came back out and gave her the drugs in " a little clear zip up thing" that she put into an envelope. She further stated that, when she drove back to Jamestown to meet Sgt. Rowlan and give him the drugs, she used a car owned by Defendant's family to drive because the car was for sale and she was considering buying it.
Kelly also testified that she sold methamphetamine to Sgt. Rowlan a total of four times and admitted that, as a result of these transactions, she had been charged with four counts of distribution of methamphetamine. Prior to Defendant's trial, she
pled guilty to all four counts, receiving a sentence of ten years at hard labor, with all but one suspended and five years' probation. She spent a year in jail and was on five years' probation. She stated that she had not been promised anything by the district attorney's office in exchange for her testimony in Defendant's case.
BPSO Sgt. Mike Rowlan testified that, at the time of these events, he was retired from the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office and was working undercover for the BPSO on a " pay by the day" basis. He stated that, in furtherance of his undercover work, he contacted Kelley asking to buy $300 worth of methamphetamine, and she agreed to meet him in Jamestown. When they met, he gave her the money, whereupon she told him to wait there for her to get the drugs and she would deliver them to him. Sgt. Rowlan testified that he stayed at the meeting location from about 2:30 p.m. that afternoon until about 8:30 p.m. that night when Kelley returned. During this interval, he was texting and talking to Kelley, who [49,679 La.App. 2 Cir. 4] was explaining to him that " they were having to get it" and that she was getting the drugs from a friend of hers in Jamestown who was a nurse and whose boyfriend worked offshore.
Sgt. Rowlan stated that, when Kelley returned, she was driving a different vehicle, which he subsequently learned was registered to the late husband of McWilliams. He testified that Kelley told him that obtaining the drugs took a long time because " the meth that they had was not very good, and they had to wait for Mr. Casaday to go get some better meth."
McWilliams (wife of Defendant), a former registered nurse, admitted that she had already pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine for her role in this incident. She testified that, on November 2, 2009, Kelley called her and asked if she knew where she (Kelley) could buy some methamphetamine. McWilliams told Kelley that she would check around and make some phone calls. Subsequently, Kelley came to her home to deliver some items and to visit her boyfriend, Chris Lee, who was also at McWilliams's house at the time.
In her testimony, McWilliams denied that either she or Defendant sold methamphetamine to Kelley. She also testified that there was no methamphetamine in their house " until she [Kelley] got there." She stated that she pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine " cause I carried it out further to see if she could get some. I did not distribute them to her, but according to [ sic ] it was a conspiracy that we had discussed it." McWilliams further stated that, while Kelley was at her house, she (Kelley) " broke out ... her own supply and a pipe."
[49,679 La.App. 2 Cir. 5] McWilliams also testified that Defendant was at the house that day until late that evening when he left to go to Minden to pick up some rugs from a store to cover newly installed plywood flooring in a bedroom. She stated that Defendant never delivered any drugs to Kelley that day.
Lt. Crawford testified that he was with Sgt. Davis in the unmarked car across from the location where Kelley met Sgt. Rowlan. He stated that they monitored what was happening via cell phone and that, at some point after Kelley left the meeting and during the five hours she was gone, they drove by Defendant's home several times and saw her vehicle parked outside on each occasion that they passed by, but did not have the house under constant observation.
On cross-examination, Lt. Crawford admitted he had mistakenly testified at McWilliams's preliminary examination that he had constant surveillance on the residence
during these events; however, at Defendant's trial, he stated that his testimony at the preliminary examination concerned a different date when deputies were watching Defendant's residence.
After obtaining consent from Defendant and McWilliams, Sgt. Rowlan interviewed them together on January 7, 2010, with both Sgt. Davis and Lt. Crawford in attendance. Although this interview was recorded, the recording was destroyed in a fire at the facility where it was stored, so the jury was unable to hear it.
Concerning the interview, Sgt. Rowlan testified that he read both Defendant and McWilliams their rights before questioning them. Because both Defendant and McWilliams were present together at the interview, [49,679 La.App. 2 Cir. 6] Sgt. Rowlan's testimony about their joint statement frequently did not distinguish between them. Over Defendant's objection, the trial court allowed the deputies to testify about the statement. Sgt. Rowlan testified:
... that Ms. Mathews [Kelley] had came there with her three hundred dollars and that there was a man there named Jonathan Keiffer who had some methamphetamine but she didn't want it because it wasn't any good and she didn't want to buy it from him to sell to me and that she waited while Mr. Casaday went to Minden - or Saline, I'm sorry - went to Saline following Keiffer to get some different meth to sell me and that they had returned and that Mr. Casaday had give it to ... Ms. Mathews who, in turn, sold it to me.
Lt. Crawford testified:
They said on that particular day that they had - I believe Janice McWilliams had set a deal up with Tenia Mathews for around three hundred dollars. When Tenia got there, there was an individual there that had the - the narcotics there, but that it was subpar. It was - it was not good quality. They then left - I think Bubba Casaday then left, went with this other individual to another location and got another quantity of narcotics and brought it back. And apparently, that was the reason for the long - long wait in the deal.
McWilliams denied most of Sgt. Rowlan's and Lt. Crawford's testimony about what she and Defendant told them in January 2010. She testified:
Q: [I]sn't it true, that you explained, with your husband sitting there, that Tenia Mathews Kelley had made arrangement to purchase three hundred dollars worth of meth and that when she got there, Jonathan Keiffer was there, and the meth was, as y'all called it, subpar, and she refused it. And then your husband left and went to Saline to get something with more quality?
A: No, ma'am.
Q: You didn't tell them that?
[49,679 La.App. 2 Cir. 7] A: No, ma'am. Jonathan Keiffer was never at my house that day. And I did not tell them that. I did tell them that she called looking for some meth. ... And that she was wanting to buy, I think it was an eight ball she was wanting to buy at the time, which would have been about that amount of money. But no, I did not say that Jonathan Keiffer was there or that it was subpar and she refused it.
* * *
Q: And so, you didn't tell them that Mr. Casaday left, went to Saline,
got some of better quality, came back and gave it to Ms. Mathews?
A: No, I did not. The only time he left was when he went to Fred's with Chris.
Q: So when she left a little bit later on in your vehicle to go back to meet Sergeant Rowlan on November the 2nd ...
A: That was the second time she left from my house that day.
Q: Okay, but when she left in your vehicle, you didn't know ...