THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF HAMPTON Christopher W.
L. Smith (Smith Law Firm, PLC, on brief), for appellant.
Rosemary V. Bourne, Senior Assistant Attorney General (Mark
R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Humphreys, Malveaux and Senior Judge Frank
Argued at Hampton, Virginia.
J. HUMPHREYS JUDGE
a bench trial, the Circuit Court for the City of Hampton
("circuit court") convicted appellant Samuel
Rudolph Joshua Raspberry ("Raspberry") of two
counts of possession with intent to distribute
narcotics-cocaine and methamphetamine-both in violation of
Code § 18.2-248; possession of a concealed weapon, in
violation of Code § 18.2-308; possession of a firearm by
a convicted felon, in violation of Code § 18.2-308.2;
and possession of a firearm while in possession of a
controlled substance, with the intent to distribute, in
violation of Code § 18.2-308.4. This appeal follows in
which Raspberry assigns error to the admission of court
records regarding his prior criminal history and to the
sufficiency of the evidence that he constructively possessed
the two firearms found in the vehicle he was operating.
18, 2017, the Virginia State Police contacted Hampton
Detective Juan Figueroa ("Detective Figueroa")
about Raspberry because Raspberry had an outstanding capias.
Virginia State Police also informed Detective Figueroa that
Raspberry would be present at a specific address in Hampton,
Virginia, later that same day. Detective Figueroa
subsequently travelled to the location where he expected
Raspberry to appear and set up surveillance. At that time,
Detective Figueroa also possessed information that Raspberry
would be driving a gray Ford Fusion with "Virginia
approximately 2:45 p.m., Officer Figueroa witnessed Raspberry
parking a gray Ford Fusion. Detective Figueroa then pulled
his vehicle behind Raspberry and identified himself.
Detective Figueroa told Raspberry that Raspberry was under
arrest and directed Raspberry to get out of the vehicle.
After confirming Raspberry's identity, Detective Figueroa
searched Raspberry incident to arrest. During the search of
Raspberry's person, Detective Figueroa discovered a green
Crown Royal bag in Raspberry's right pocket, which
contained 12.65 grams of cocaine, "roughly $1, 000"
in $10 and $20 bills, a digital scale, and 45 MDMA
(methamphetamine) pills. Detective Figueroa also discovered
marijuana on Raspberry's person, for which Raspberry was
searching Raspberry's person, Detective Figueroa searched
a bag located on the front passenger seat of Raspberry's
vehicle. The bag contained two firearms wrapped in a pair of
jeans and two Gatorade bottles. The Gatorade bottles had
condensation on the outside of the bottles. When Detective
Figueroa opened the bag, he saw the jeans and the guns on
top, with the Gatorade bottles underneath and at the bottom
of the bag.
Raspberry's trial, which took place on April 6, 2018,
Detective Figueroa testified for the Commonwealth. After
being qualified as an expert in narcotics distribution,
Detective Figueroa testified that the quantity of drugs that
Raspberry possessed, its packaging, the amount of money
discovered, and Raspberry's possession of the digital
scale were all inconsistent with personal use. Detective
Figueroa also testified that the "street value" of
the cocaine discovered on Raspberry's person was
"about $1, 400 worth." Further, Detective Figueroa
indicated that there was a "noticeable nexus between
firearms and drugs" in the City of Hampton because
"people . . . will protect their products or their
merchandise and their currency with firearms." Detective
Figueroa also agreed that a "large quantity of [drug]
dealers carry firearms" on their person.
girlfriend, Miosa Henderson ("Henderson"), owned
the gray Ford Fusion that Raspberry drove on the day of his
arrest. At trial, Henderson testified that officers arrested
Raspberry after Raspberry arrived to pick her up from work.
Henderson also noted that Raspberry frequently drove her
vehicle. She also testified that the bag discovered by
Detective Figueroa on the front passenger seat of the vehicle
did not belong to her and that she did not know who it
beginning of the trial, the Commonwealth offered three
certified orders from the Circuit Court for the City of
Hampton indicating that Raspberry was a convicted
felon. Raspberry, however, objected to the
admission of the court orders because they "were not
signed by a judge."
the three court orders indicated that Raspberry was
previously convicted of a felony and contained electronic
signatures from judges as opposed to physical signatures. The
first court order introduced by the Commonwealth is titled
"Revocation of Suspension of Sentence" order and
dated December 19, 2014. The signature line reads
"S/CHRISTOPHER W. HUTTON," and the word
"JUDGE" appears below it. The second court order is
also titled "Revocation of Suspension of Sentence"
and dated April 24, 2009. The signature line reads
"S/BONNIE L. JONES," with the word
"JUDGE" below it. The third and final court order
introduced by the Commonwealth is titled "Sentencing
Order" and dated August 6, 2008. The signature line
reads "S/RANDOLPH T. WEST," with the word