Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF JASPER COUNTY. Honorable David C. Dally, Circuit Judge.
For Appellant's: Thomas D. Carver, of Springfield, Missouri.
For Respondent's: Chris Koster, Attorney General and Andrew C. Hooper, Assistant Attorney General, of Jefferson City, Missouri Division I.
WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., C.J./P.J. - OPINION AUTHOR, JEFFREY W. BATES, J. - Concurs, DANIEL E. SCOTT, J. - Concurs.
WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., C.J./P.J.
Gary Lee Mitchell, Jr. (" Mitchell" ) appeals the trial court's judgment convicting him of the class A felony of drug trafficking in the second degree in violation of section 195.223. Mitchell contends the trial court erroneously admitted evidence, and that the trial court's judgment is not supported by sufficient evidence. Finding no merit to Mitchell's claims, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Factual and Procedural Background
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court's ruling, State v. Taber, 73 S.W.3d 699, 703 (Mo.App. W.D. 2002), the evidence presented at Mitchell's trial was as follows.
On November 14, 2009, Deputy Chad Karr (" Deputy Karr" ), a narcotics investigator for the Jasper County Sherriff's Office, arrived at a nightclub called " Quincy Magoo's" to attend a going-away party for a colleague. While driving through the parking lot, Deputy Karr noticed two silver Cadillacs. He then observed a white male, whom he recognized as Eric Beckner (" Beckner" ), exit one of the Cadillacs carrying a black duffle bag and walk over and place it inside the back passenger seat of the other Cadillac, which had dealer plates. Deputy Karr recognized the Cadillac with dealer plates, which he associated with Mitchell based upon prior encounters with that vehicle. After approximately two minutes, Beckner exited the Cadillac associated with Mitchell without the duffle bag and entered the other Cadillac. Both vehicles then departed from the parking lot and drove away in separate directions.
Deputy Karr was aware that Beckner had been imprisoned for drug violations and that Mitchell had been involved in a shooting incident connected with a drug deal. Both individuals were currently under investigation by the Jasper County Drug Task Force.
Based upon his training and experience, Deputy Karr believed he had witnessed a drug transaction take place. He began
following the Cadillac with dealer plates and witnessed it make several lane violations, including changing lanes without signaling and crossing the fog line. Deputy Karr called dispatch and requested the assistance of the closest on-duty officer, which was Deputy Ryan Henley (" Deputy Henley" ). During their ensuing conversation, Deputy Karr informed Deputy Henley what he had observed in the Quincy Magoo's parking lot, as well as the subsequent traffic violations.
Deputy Henley then intercepted the Cadillac and initiated a stop, whereupon he confirmed the presence of Mitchell, the driver, and Amanda Updegraff (" Updegraff" ), who was sitting in the right-front passenger seat. After reviewing Mitchell's license and registration, Deputy Henley asked Mitchell where he had come from, where he was going, and if he had let anyone into the vehicle. In replying, Mitchell made no mention of Quincy Magoo's and denied having let anyone into the vehicle.
Deputy Henley noted that Mitchell's response was inconsistent with what he had learned from Deputy Karr. Mitchell was asked to step out of his vehicle so that Deputy Henley could further investigate. Deputy Henley proceeded to frisk Mitchell for weapons and, in doing so, felt a bulge that was consistent with " a large amount of money."  When asked about the bulge, Mitchell stated that it was approximately $6,200 in cash.
Deputy Karr then approached, identified himself, and informed Mitchell of what he had witnessed in the Quincy Magoo's parking lot. Mitchell then confirmed that he met with Beckner and received a duffle bag, which, according to Mitchell, contained clothing belonging to Beckner. Mitchell also stated that Beckner was en route to Pittsburg, Kansas. Deputy Karr, however, had ...