CLAUDE M. BOONE
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF SOUTHAMPTON COUNTY. E. Everett Bagnell, Judge.
H. Taylor Williams, IV, for appellant.
Donald E. Jeffrey, III, Assistant Attorney General (Mark L. Earley, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Coleman, Bray and Bumgardner.
MEMORANDUM OPINION [*]
RICHARD S. BRAY,
Claude M. Boone (defendant) was convicted in a bench trial on two counts of possessing cocaine with intent to distribute, violations of Code § 18.2-248(A). On appeal, he argues that the evidence was insufficient to support the convictions. We disagree and affirm the trial court.
The parties are fully conversant with the record, and this memorandum opinion recites only those facts necessary for disposition of the appeal. In accordance with well-established principles,
" we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, granting to it all reasonable inferences fairly deducible therefrom. The [fact finder's] verdict will not be disturbed on appeal unless it is plainly wrong or without evidence to support it." When the sufficiency of the evidence is challenged on appeal, " it is our duty to look to that evidence which tends to support the verdict and to permit the verdict to stand unless plainly wrong."
Webber v. Commonwealth, 26 Va.App. 549, 564, 496 S.E.2d 83, 90 (1998) (citations omitted).
At 12:35 a.m. on January 16, 1996, defendant registered as a guest at a motel in the City of Franklin and was assigned to room 207, accommodations last occupied by a guest on January 7, 1996. At approximately 12:42 a.m., Franklin Police Officers Timothy Whitt and William Clark arrived at the motel in search of Theodore Watson (Watson), then visiting with defendant and Ralph Perry (Perry) in room 207. Defendant answered the officers' knock at the door, they identified themselves as police seeking Watson, and defendant admitted them to the room.
When Clark inquired if any drugs or guns were present, defendant responded, " there's nothing in the room, " invited the officers to " check" for themselves and lifted the box springs and mattress of a bed " for [Clark] to look underneath . . . ." Clark opened the drawer of a nightstand and discovered a " stem cleaner, " a tool commonly used to clean a " crack pipe." Each man then agreed to a search of his person, and a " stem" " crack smoking device" was found in Perry's trousers, resulting in his arrest. Clark then raised only the mattress of the bed, discovered a " large Bowie knife, " hemostats, several " smoking devices, " and a " large plastic bag" containing 81.6 grams of cocaine and arrested Watson and defendant. Later that morning, Clark collected another plastic bag containing 3.46 grams of cocaine from " inside the [bed] covers."
Police subsequently obtained a search warrant for a Chevrolet Camaro parked at the motel and registered to Douglas Eure (Eure), a friend of defendant. During the attendant search, police discovered a " plastic bag" containing 88.0 grams of " crack cocaine and . . . portable digital scales" in a " locked compartment" at the rear of the vehicle. During questioning by police, defendant " gave several different stories, but . . . finally admitted to driving the [Camaro] but only to Dairy Queen and the Sentry Mart." He stated that his fingerprints would be on the " drug bag" found in the vehicle only if " someone [had] handed it to [him] and [he] just held it for a second." When defendant refused to permit a search of personal property seized incident to his arrest, police obtained a warrant and discovered car keys identified by Eure as the only keys to Eure's Camaro.
At trial Corporal David Welch, also of the Franklin Police Department, qualified as an expert in the sale and distribution of drugs and opined that the quantities of cocaine seized both in the hotel room and vehicle were " not consistent with personal use." He also testified that digital scales found in close proximity to cocaine suggested that the drug was not possessed for personal consumption. The " street value" of the cocaine seized in the motel and Camaro totaled $ 7, 365.
Defendant testified and admitted ownership of the Bowie knife discovered under the mattress but denied knowledge of the drugs found both in the room and automobile. He admitted, however, that the scales " looked like" an object he had " seen . . . on ...