THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF HAMPTON Bonnie L. Jones,
Miranda R. Mayhill, Assistant Public Defender, for appellant.
Virginia B. Theisen, Senior Assistant Attorney General (Mark
R. Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Humphreys, Huff and AtLee Argued at Norfolk,
J. HUMPHREYS JUDGE
February 5, 2018, a grand jury for the Circuit Court of the
City of Hampton ("circuit court") indicted
appellant Cassandra Marcelle Murray ("Murray") for
possession of a firearm by a convicted violent felon, in
violation of Code § 18.2-308.2. Murray pleaded not
guilty. After a jury trial on May 29, 2018, Murray was found
guilty and sentenced to five years' incarceration.
appeal, Murray assigns the following four errors:
I. The trial court erred by allowing [Detective] Snelgrow to
testify to impermissible opinion testimony without first
declaring him an expert.
II. The trial court erred by refusing to allow Appellant to
question [Detective] Snelgrow about relevant evidence.
III. The trial court erred by refusing to allow Appellant to
admit the remainder of her statement to police.
IV. The trial court erred by denying Appellant's Motion
to Strike and finding that the evidence was sufficient to
find her guilty because the evidence did not establish that
Appellant ever possessed the firearm knowingly and
November 9, 2017, Detective Michael Snelgrow ("Detective
Snelgrow") of the Hampton Police Department was working
overtime on patrol while in uniform when a vehicle with
different colored taillights passed him. It was later
determined that Murray was driving this vehicle. Detective
Snelgrow "went to turn around on the vehicle," but
the vehicle quickly sped off. Detective Snelgrow continued to
follow the vehicle and observed it fail to stop at multiple
stop signs. As the vehicle approached a third stop sign, its
lights went off and it failed to stop at that stop sign, as
well. Detective Snelgrow activated his emergency lights, and
the vehicle pulled over. After the vehicle stopped, Murray
left the vehicle, dropping a cell phone and a magazine
containing .45 caliber cartridges. Murray then fled from the
scene on foot. Detective Snelgrow searched the vehicle and
found a black bookbag containing a .45 caliber firearm
underneath the front passenger seat. There was no one else in
the vehicle. Murray was apprehended while hiding behind a
home a short time later.
trial on May 29, 2018, Detective Snelgrow testified that he
had training and experience in the carrying, use, and
identification of firearms, including during his youth when
he went hunting with his father. Detective Snelgrow
identified the firearm that he discovered the day of the
incident, and the weapon was admitted into evidence. On
direct examination, the Commonwealth asked Detective Snelgrow
whether the gun was "designed to propel a missile by an
action of explosion by any combustible material."
Defense counsel objected, stating that Detective Snelgrow had
to be properly qualified as an expert before forming an
opinion on the matter. The circuit court did not immediately
rule on the objection. The Commonwealth then asked ...