Benton County District Court File No. 05-CR-11-1652.
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Jennifer R. Coates, Assistant Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Karl Schmidt, Benton County Attorney, Foley, Minnesota (for respondent).
David W. Merchant, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Jessica Merz Godes, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant).
Considered and decided by Hudson, Presiding Judge; Peterson, Judge; and Stauber, Judge.
On appeal from his conviction of third-degree controlled-substance crime, appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion by (1) admitting identification testimony from a drug- and gang-unit officer based upon "prior knowledge, " and (2) admitting evidence of appellant's six prior felony convictions for impeachment purposes, should he testify. Because neither ruling constituted an abuse of discretion, we affirm.
Appellant Jerryl William Bobo was convicted of third-degree controlled-substance crime for selling 1.2 grams of a substance containing cocaine to T.P., who was working as a confidential informant for the St. Cloud Police Department in exchange for a lesser sentence after he was arrested for selling his prescription medication. On December 7, 2010, T.P. informed the police that he had contacted G.J., a woman whom T.P. knew to be a cocaine user, and that her drug source, "Bugaloo, " had agreed to meet T.P. to sell him crack cocaine. In preparation for the controlled buy, officers from the drug and gang unit provided T.P. with $200 cash and equipped him with a wireless audio transmission device.
Officer Aaron Dix drove T.P. to a lot adjacent to the Cash Wise parking lot, the location of the planned purchase. Officer Daniel Trautman drove a separate vehicle to the parking lot to conduct audio, visual, and photographic surveillance. Before G.J. arrived with the seller, T.P. entered the Cash Wise to use the bathroom. While T.P. was in the bathroom, a tan Toyota entered the parking lot and parked approximately 20 feet from Officer Trautman's vehicle. G.J. exited the vehicle and entered the store to look for T.P. After a few minutes, T.P. and G.J. emerged from the store and walked toward the Toyota.
When T.P. and G.J. reached the Toyota, the driver exited the vehicle, and T.P. sat in the driver's seat while G.J. waited outside the car. T.P. testified that when he entered the vehicle, a black male seated in the front seat asked him if he was an undercover cop, which T.P. denied. The individual then instructed T.P. to place the money on the console between the two front seats. After T.P. placed the money on the console, he was handed a plastic bag containing a white substance.
Once the exchange was complete, T.P. exited the vehicle. In accordance with department procedure, no effort was made to stop the Toyota or arrest the seller immediately after the controlled buy. The Toyota exited the parking lot, and Officer Dix picked up T.P. at a nearby store and collected the drugs and audio transmitter. Lab tests revealed that the bag contained 1.2 grams of a white powder containing cocaine.
T.P. testified that he did not get a good look at the seller, having become somewhat panicked after the seller asked him if he was an undercover cop. T.P. was not immediately able to identify the seller of the drugs in a photo lineup but eventually selected a photograph of appellant, stating that he "looked familiar."
G.J. identified appellant as the person she knew as Bugaloo and stated that appellant had sold crack cocaine to T.P. inside the Toyota. But G.J. admitted that she did not know appellant's name when the transaction took place and had only met him on two prior occasions. G.J. ...