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State v. Randolph

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit

May 3, 2017

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
TROY L. RANDOLPH

         APPEAL FROM CRIMINAL DISTRICT COURT ORLEANS PARISH NO. 519-966, SECTION "F" Honorable Robin D. Pittman, Judge

          Leon A. Cannizzaro, Jr. DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ORLEANS PARISH Scott Vincent ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ORLEANS PARISH Christopher J. Ponoroff ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ORLEANS PARISH COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE / STATE OF LOUISIANA

          Holli Herrle-Castillo LOUISIANA APPELLATE PROJECT COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT

          (Court composed of Judge Terri F. Love, Judge Madeleine M. Landrieu, Judge Joy Cossich Lobrano)

          Joy Cossich Lobrano Judge

         Troy L. Randolph ("Defendant") appeals his convictions for possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, [1] possession with the intent to distribute heroin, [2]possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, [3] and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.[4] Defendant also appeals his sentence for possession with the intent to distribute heroin as indeterminate. Finding that the evidence is sufficient to support his convictions, and no error below merits reversal, we affirm Defendant's convictions. Finding that his sentence of ten years, with "at least" five years to be served without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence is indeterminate, we vacate the sentence, and remand this case to the district court so that a determinate sentence may be rendered.

         Detective David Biondolillo, ("Det. Biondolillo") while working with the Drug Enforcement Agency multi-jurisdictional major crimes task force, observed Defendant exit the Residence[5] with another person. During a pre-trial hearing, Det. Biondolillo identified this other person as a confidential informant ("C.I.") who, at the time, was making a controlled buy from Defendant. Det. Biondolillo testified that the C.I. entered Defendant's Residence with no drugs on his person and exited the Residence with cocaine. Based on this transaction, Det. Biondolillo received a search warrant for the Residence. The district court ruled that no mention of the C.I. would be made to the jury at trial.

         The search warrant was executed on February 10, 2014. Upon execution, police found large quantities of marijuana, powder cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin, some of which had been individually packaged in small bags and hidden. Only one of the two bedrooms in the Residence was furnished. The other was mostly empty except for a chest-of-drawers that contained several bags of drugs. In the furnished bedroom, officers found a dresser with heroin, needles and a spoon, a shoebox full of marijuana, and a loaded shotgun leaning against the wall. Under the bed, the officers found a bag of crack cocaine and $300 cash in a hole inside the bedpost, as well as mail and an arrest register with Defendant's name on it. There was also a scale containing white powder residue and cooking equipment covered in white powder residue in the kitchen.

         During the execution of the search warrant, officers found one person inside the Residence at the time, a woman asleep in the bed in the furnished bedroom. The woman was arrested on the scene after admitting she had been using heroin at the Residence. She told the officers that Defendant usually kept some heroin in the bed-side table for his guests.

         On April 22, 2014, the State of Louisiana ("State") charged Defendant with possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, possession with the intent to distribute heroin, felon in possession of a firearm, and possession with the intent to distribute cocaine. At trial, the woman arrested upon the execution of the search warrant testified that when she was arrested, she had known Defendant for at least a month and had gotten heroin from him almost every day. She testified that Defendant lived in that house and slept in the bedroom where she was found. She said she had seen Defendant deal drugs out of the Residence, out of both bedrooms, almost every day, and that she had witnessed Defendant "cook" crack cocaine in the kitchen. The woman also testified that she knew Defendant's brother. The woman said that Defendant's brother did not live at the Residence and she had never seen Defendant's brother sell drugs there.

         Another individual, a Louisiana attorney, testified that he bought cocaine from Defendant on multiple occasions during a four-month span. He also identified several text messages found on a cellular telephone that Defendant possessed when arrested. The attorney admitted that he sent the text messages to Defendant as part of a transaction to buy large amounts of cocaine.[6]

         The State also introduced evidence of Defendant's other crimes. In 2009, Defendant was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession with the intent to distribute morphine, distribution of a Schedule III controlled dangerous substance, possession with the intent to distribute alprazolam, and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana. Defendant pled guilty to all of the 2009 charges. Detective Humbles ("Det. Humbles") testified that he executed a search warrant at the Residence[7] on June 24, 2009. He found several types of prescription pills, [8]marijuana, crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, a scale and mirror with residue on them, as well as a revolver and a rifle. After looking up Defendant's name, Det. Humbles discovered Defendant had a prior felony conviction that barred him from possessing a firearm.[9] Upon execution of the search warrant, Defendant and his then girlfriend were arrested. Defendant and the girlfriend admitted that they lived at the Residence and shared Defendant's bedroom.[10]

         Det. Humbles also issued an arrest warrant for Defendant's brother, who also lived at the Residence at that time. Det. Humbles testified that he found four pounds of marijuana located under Defendant's brother's bed but all of the other drugs, paraphernalia, and guns were found in Defendant's bedroom. He also discovered energy bills in Defendant's brother's name and water bills in Defendant's name for the Residence.

         After the trial, Defendant was found guilty as charged on all counts. On December 15, 2015, the district court sentenced Defendant to ten years at hard labor on counts one, two, and four, to run concurrently, and ten years at hard labor without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence on count three, to run concurrently with the other sentences. On May 2, 2016, the district court amended Defendant's sentence on count two, possession with the intent to distribute heroin, to provide that "at least" five of the ten years must be served without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence. On May 4, 2016, the district court amended the sentence on count four to provide that the first two years must be served without the benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.[11]

         Defendant now timely appeals these convictions and his sentence for possession with the intent to distribute heroin.

         Assignments of Error

         I. Admission of Other Crimes Evidence

         In his first assignment of error, Defendant argues that the district court erred in partially granting[12] the State's motion to admit evidence of Defendant's previous convictions for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession with the intent to distribute morphine, distribution of a Schedule III controlled dangerous substance, [13] possession with the intent to distribute alprazolam, and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana (together, the "2009 case").[14] Defendant argues that the other crimes evidence admitted from the 2009 case was more prejudicial than probative[15] and should have been ruled inadmissible. Specifically, Defendant argues that because the 2009 case includes possession with the intent to distribute several prescription medications, this "makes [Defendant] look worse than just an illegal cocaine, heroin, or marijuana dealer" as "there are different implications involved in the illegal dealing of prescription ...


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