from the Forty-Second Judicial District Court for the Parish
of DeSoto, Louisiana Trial Court No. 16-CR-27774 Honorable
Charles Blaylock Adams, Judge
MICHAEL JOHN VERGIS Counsel for Appellant
V. EVANS Counsel for Appellee District Attorney
KENNETH PATRICK HAINES CLOYCE CLARK, III Assistant District
COX, BLEICH (Ad Hoc), and GASKINS (Pro Tempore), JJ.
GASKINS (PRO TEMPORE), J.
a jury trial, the defendant, Navarius Simon, was found guilty
as charged of possession of marijuana with intent to
distribute. Simon was sentenced to imprisonment at hard labor
for 20 years, to run consecutively with his prior sentences
for two drug offenses. Simon appeals his conviction and
sentence. We affirm both.
8, 2016, Donna Richardson, Simon's parole officer, paid a
visit to Simon's home, located at 400 Topeka Street in
Mansfield, Louisiana. Richardson testified that when she
pulled up to the home, Simon, who was outside washing his
carport, noticed her and began walking into the house.
Richardson asked him to stop, but when he continued, she
followed him into the home. They immediately stopped in the
kitchen area, where she noticed what appeared to be a small
amount of loose marijuana on the kitchen table, along with
some sandwich bags. After she asked Simon what the substance
was, he admitted that it was indeed marijuana. Later, when
she asked Simon why he had not stopped, he answered that he
knew the marijuana was on the table.
placed Simon under arrest and called for backup to search the
house because Sharice Powell, Simon's girlfriend;
Terrance Lane, his cousin; and Khadijah Cotton, Lane's
girlfriend, were also present. Law enforcement officers,
including Sgt. Justin Taylor and Lt. Chato Atkins, both with
the Desoto Parish Sheriff's Office, responded. Taylor was
a narcotics investigator, and Atkins was a supervisor of the
searched Simon's bedroom, where she found loose money on
a dresser. Under his bed, the officers found two boxes full
of money in sandwich bags. The money, which totaled
approximately $7, 000, was mostly in small bills, separated
by denomination into bags.
Simon's bedroom was his cousin's bedroom. A red first
aid bag containing marijuana was found inside a dresser
drawer in this bedroom. On the bedroom floor was a Crown
Royal bag, also containing marijuana. Some of the marijuana
had been packaged into little plastic bags.
the search of the home, the officer also discovered 1.2
pounds of marijuana in a shopping bag atop clothes in a
laundry basket in front of a washer or dryer that was located
in the combined laundry/kitchen area of the house.
Lane, and Cotton were arrested with Simon. All four were
charged with possession of marijuana with intent to
distribute, in violation of La. R.S. 40:966(A)(1).
Richardson, Lt. Atkins, and Sgt. Taylor testified at trial
about what took place at Simon's home on the date of his
arrest. The officers also identified exhibits containing the
marijuana found on the kitchen table, the first aid bag, the
Crown Royal bag, the plastic bags that contained the cash
found under Simon's bed, the 1.2 pounds of marijuana
found in the laundry basket, and the sample of marijuana sent
to the lab for testing.
Atkins testified that Simon reported he was not employed. The
marijuana and the large amount of cash found in the house led
Atkins to believe that Simon was selling marijuana.
Brauer, a forensic chemist with the North Louisiana Crime
Lab, was accepted as an expert in forensic chemistry. She
testified that the samples from the drugs recovered from
Simon's house tested positive for marijuana.
Townley was tendered and accepted as an expert in narcotics
investigation, packaging, use and sales, and simple
possession versus possession with intent to distribute.
Townley retired from the Caddo Parish Sheriff's Office
after 32 years, with 27 years served in the narcotics
division and in the street level interdiction unit. Townley
testified that certain elements serve as indicators of
whether someone is a drug user or a drug seller, including
the drug packaging, the amount of drugs, the amount and
denomination of currency found, and the presence or absence
of personal smoking paraphernalia.
reviewed the police reports, Townley noted that officers
searching Simon's home found a total of 694 grams, or
approximately 1.5 pounds of marijuana, some of it separated
into sandwich bags, and over $7, 000 in small bills,
separated into sandwich bags. The officers did not find any
smoking devices that would indicate the marijuana was for
Townley's opinion, a normal user would smoke one-half to
one gram of marijuana a day, whereas a heavy user might smoke
up to three grams. Based on these figures, Townley believed
that the amount of marijuana recovered from Simon's home
would last a normal user for two years. However, Townley
commented that due to the limited shelf life of marijuana, it
would dry out and would lose its potency if stored in plastic
agreed that the small amount of marijuana found on the
kitchen table, by itself, might be for personal use. However,
in Townley's expert opinion, the total amount of
marijuana and cash found indicated that the marijuana was
intended for sale rather than just personal use. Townley also
testified that it was not uncommon to find multiple persons
selling marijuana from one location. Townley further
explained that it was not uncommon for officers to find that
the marijuana was kept separate from the cash, and that this
setup could indicate distribution. Townley estimated that the
retail value of the marijuana was $10 per gram, or almost $7,
000 for the total amount.
the state rested, the defense called Terrance Lane,
Smith's cousin. Lane testified that he also lived at 400
Topeka Street, and he was there on June 8, 2016, with his
girlfriend, the defendant, and Simon's girlfriend,
Sharice Powell. Lane confirmed that he was awakened around
9:40 a.m. by the officers and that he was handcuffed while
they searched the house. He was later arrested and charged
with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Lane
pled guilty and was sentenced to seven years at hard labor,
suspended, and four years of supervised probation.
stated that he and Powell purchased over two pounds of
marijuana to smoke with friends at a gathering they were
planning, that the marijuana belonged to him and Powell, and
that Simon knew nothing about the marijuana. Lane said that
they did not tell Simon about purchasing the marijuana
because he would be mad since Simon was still on parole. Lane
testified that he purchased the marijuana from an unknown
male who called Lane as he was traveling through the area.
insisted that he did not have any partnership with Simon and
that he was not selling the marijuana. When asked about the
packages of marijuana found in his room, Lane admitted that
he would sell some of the marijuana found in his room if
someone was interested.
testified that he knew nothing about the money found in
Simon's bedroom and insisted that the money was not
proceeds from selling the marijuana. Lane confirmed that he
earned money working at a pecan plant and stacking bricks.
Lane also testified that Simon did not have a job, but he
thought Simon did a little work at the pecan plant.
Powell was called as a witness on behalf of Simon. She
testified that she had been with Simon for three years and
that she lived with him at 400 Topeka Street. Powell stated
that she had been arrested and charged with possession with
intent to distribute. Like Lane, Powell swore that Simon knew
nothing about the marijuana that she and Lane purchased to
share with friends at a gathering.
testified that she and Lane each contributed $300 to purchase
two pounds of marijuana. She insisted that neither she, nor
Lane, sold marijuana, and she stated that she worked at
McDonald's. Powell testified that the marijuana in the
laundry basket was in a shopping bag and was covered with
clothes. Powell explained that the money found underneath
Simon's bed came from an auto accident settlement and
that he used it to loan money to others. Powell denied
knowing about the marijuana found in Lane's bedroom.
jury returned a verdict of guilty as charged of possession
with intent to distribute marijuana.
trial judge ordered a presentence investigation report and
scheduled sentencing. Simon appeared for sentencing on April
6, 2017. The trial judge confirmed that both sides had
reviewed the PSI report and had no objections.
trial judge noted that the instant conviction is Simon's
third conviction for possession with intent to distribute,
with the first conviction in 2006 and the second in 2007.
Simon was still on probation for the 2006 conviction when he
committed the second offense in 2007 and his probation was
revoked. Simon had been released on good-time parole
supervision on February 14, 2013, for the drug convictions.
The trial judge further observed that Simon was arrested in
2013 for unlawful presence of a sex offender and was
sentenced to 120 days in parish jail. The trial judge noted
that Simon was still on parole at the time he committed the
trial judge informed Simon that he faced a potential
sentencing range of 5-30 years at hard labor. Having
considered Simon's criminal history, the trial judge
found that Simon had no intention of changing his criminal
ways. Simon was sentenced to 20 years at hard labor, to run
consecutively to his remaining sentences for the two prior
drug convictions. Simon was given credit for time served and
advised that he had two years from the date his conviction
and sentence were final to seek post-conviction relief.
who did not file a motion to reconsider sentence, appealed
his conviction and sentence.