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Hall v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia

November 6, 2018

TINA LASHA HALL, A/K/A TINA LASHA WALLER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

          FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY Stacey W. Moreau, Judge

          Matthew L. Pack (M. Pack Law, PLLC, on brief), for appellant.

          Brittany A. Dunn-Pirio, Assistant Attorney General (Mark R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

          Present: Chief Judge Huff, Judges Beales and Decker Argued at Salem, Virginia

          OPINION

          RANDOLPH A. BEALES JUDGE

         Following the execution of a search warrant, Tina Lasha Hall, a/k/a Tina Lasha Waller ("appellant") was indicted for four felonies, including possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of a firearm while possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute. Appellant moved to sever the charge for possession of a firearm by a felon from the other charges in the indictment. After she prevailed on a motion to strike at the first trial on the other charges, she moved to dismiss the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, arguing that it violated the principle of collateral estoppel and double jeopardy. The trial court denied appellant's motion, and she was ultimately convicted. On appeal, appellant contends the trial court erred in denying her motion to dismiss based on "collateral estoppel pursuant to the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment"[1] and in finding the evidence sufficient to find her guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

         I. Background

         Relevant Procedural History

         On February 16, 2016, appellant was indicted for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, third or subsequent offense; possession of marijuana with intent to distribute; possession of a firearm while possessing cocaine with intent to distribute; and possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a felony. On May 5, 2016, appellant moved to sever the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon from the other charges, and the trial court granted the motion. On January 18, 2017, appellant was tried for the other charges.[2] At the conclusion of the Commonwealth's case-in-chief, the trial court granted appellant's motion to strike the charges.

         On January 23, 2017, appellant filed a motion to dismiss the charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon based on collateral estoppel and double jeopardy. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss and proceeded to trial. At a bench trial on August 10, 2017, the trial court found appellant guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. She was sentenced to four years of incarceration with two years suspended and 18 months of supervised probation.

         Evidence Presented at Appellant's Trial for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon

         On the morning of October 30, 2015, at approximately 8:30 a.m., police officers from the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant on the residence of Ronnie Stone at 1105 Cody Road in Pittsylvania County.

         Earlier that morning, approximately an hour before the search warrant was executed, Investigator Robert Worsham with the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office conducted surveillance of the address. From his location in the woods, he witnessed one person - appellant - leave the residence and get into a vehicle. Approximately one week prior to the execution of the search warrant, another officer, Corporal James Davis, knocked on the door of the residence. Appellant answered and, when Corporal Davis inquired about possibly purchasing a vehicle outside of the residence, appellant told him that he would have to wait for Stone to return home.

         During the execution of the search warrant on October 30th, in one of the bedrooms of the residence, the officers located an AK-47 between the bed and the nightstand. They found live ammunition in the firearm and another ammunition magazine in the drawer of the nightstand. ...


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