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State v. Anderson

Supreme Court of Maine

December 22, 2016

STATE OF MAINE
v.
ERIC ANDERSON

          Argued: October 25, 2016

          Darrick X. Banda, Esq. (orally), Law Offices of Ronald W. Bourget, Augusta, for appellant Eric Anderson

          Janet T. Mills, Attorney General, and Katie Sibley, Asst. Atty. Gen. (orally), Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, for appellee State of Maine

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          JABAR, J.

         [¶1] Eric Anderson appeals from a conviction entered by the trial court (Kennebec County, Mullen, J.) of two counts of unlawful trafficking in schedule W drugs (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 1103(1-A)(A) (2015), following a jury trial. He contends that the court erred in allowing the jury to consider evidence of prior bad acts, and improperly instructed the jury on accomplice liability and constructive possession. He also contends that the evidence was insufficient to convict him of the two counts as charged. We affirm.

         I. BACKGROUND

         [¶2] "Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, the jury could rationally have found the following facts beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Haag, 2012 ME 94, ¶ 2, 48 A.3d 207.

         [¶3] On February 11, 2015, a special agent of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) and a confidential informant (CI) fitted with an electronic monitoring device went to Andersons home at 88 Second Avenue[1] in Augusta, with the purpose of targeting Anderson and another individual, Kathy Tupper, in a drug-purchasing sting. When they arrived at Andersons home, the special agent and the CI entered the garage, and Anderson let them into a kitchen area through a door inside the garage. Other unidentified individuals were also present.

         [¶4] After their arrival, Anderson made a phone call to "Mama Love, " Tuppers alias. The CI asked Anderson whether Tupper had "ups" and "downs, " common slang for cocaine and heroin, and Anderson responded affirmatively. While waiting for Tupper to arrive, Anderson discussed "cooking" cocaine in the special agents presence.

         [¶5] After Tupper arrived at Andersons home, the special agent and the CI used recorded bills to purchase what the special agent believed to be three folds of heroin and three crack rocks for $60 and $100, respectively. Anderson was "hovering" during the transaction, asking the special agent and the CI "what do you want, what do you want."

         [¶6] On February 20, 2015, several MDEA agents returned to Andersons home as part of a team to execute a search warrant. The agents knocked and announced themselves, rang the doorbell, and after receiving no response, used a battering ram to break open the locked door leading from the garage into the house. Two individuals who had not been present at the home on February 11 were found attempting to flush drugs, which a chemist later identified as heroin and cocaine, down the toilet. On a table close to the door, agents found a plate with white powder and a razor blade, wax paper, cash, two scales with residue later identified as cocaine, and paper folds containing powder later identified as heroin.

         [¶7] Anderson was found upstairs, alone and asleep. The MDEA agents did not find any drugs or illicit material on Andersons person or on the second floor. None of the agents knew how long he had been asleep, or how long he had been at the house prior to execution of the search warrant.

         [¶8] Anderson was indicted by a grand jury on four counts of unlawful trafficking in schedule W drugs (Class B), 17-A M.R.S. § 1103(1-A)(A) (2015): Counts 1 and 2 charged trafficking in heroin and cocaine, respectively, on February 11, 2015; and Counts 3 and 4 charged trafficking in cocaine and heroin, respectively, on February 20, 2015. He pleaded not guilty to all four counts.

         [¶9] A jury trial was held on October 26 and 27, 2015. Because the State failed to provide the defendant with copies of chemical analyses of the alleged drugs purchased by the special agent and the CI on February 11, 2015, the court sanctioned the State by ruling that the chemical analysis of those substances could not be admitted in evidence. The court subsequently granted Andersons motion for judgment of acquittal as to Counts 1 and 2, concluding that there was not sufficient evidence for the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Anderson had trafficked in drugs on that date. The court denied Andersons motion for judgment of acquittal as to Counts 3 and 4.

         [¶10] The court instructed the jury on both constructive possession and accomplice liability over Andersons objection. The jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict, and the court imposed concurrent sentences of four years imprisonment with all but one year suspended and two years of probation. Andersons motion for a new trial was denied. He ...


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