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Stembridge v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

March 16, 2015

STEMBRIDGE
v.
THE STATE

Double jeopardy. Fulton Superior Court. Before Judge Markle.

Kevin M. Farmer, James C. Bonner, Jr., Jimmonique R. S. Rodgers, for appellant.

Paul L. Howard, Jr., District Attorney, Lenny I. Krick, Assistant District Attorney, for appellee.

McMILLIAN, Judge. Phipps, C. J., and Ellington, P. J., concur.

OPINION

Page 286

McMillian, Judge.

Stacey Stembridge appeals the trial court's order denying his " Motion in Autrefois Convict/Plea in Bar" under OCGA § 16-1-8 (c) against a charge of trafficking in cocaine. In reviewing the grant or denial of such a motion/plea " where the evidence is uncontroverted and no question regarding the credibility of witnesses is presented, as here, we review de novo the trial court's application of the law to the undisputed facts." (Citation and punctuation omitted.) State v. Jeffries, 298 Ga.App. 141, 142 (679 S.E.2d 368) (2009). And after applying a de novo review, we affirm.

On November 13, 2009, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Stembridge on one count of trafficking in cocaine under OCGA § 16-13-31 (Count 1), one count of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute under OCGA § 16-13-30 (Count 2), and one count of fleeing and attempting to elude, OCGA § 40-6-395 (Count 3), in connection with events occurring on November 6, 2009 in Fulton County (the " state indictment" ). Count 1 of the state indictment charged that on that date, Stembridge unlawfully and knowingly possessed a mixture with a purity of at least 10 percent of cocaine, with a weight of 400 grams or more. David Kevin Hines was named as a co-defendant in Counts 1 and 2 of that indictment.

Page 287

Shortly thereafter, on December 1, 2009, the United States Government (the " Government" ) filed a separate federal indictment, charging that " between on or about November 1, 2006 and on or about November 4, 2009," Stembridge and Michael J. Webb engaged in a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine in violation of 21 U.S.C. § § 841 (a) (1), 841 (b) (1) (A) (ii), 841 (b) (1) (A) (iii), and 846 (the " federal indictment" ). The federal indictment alleged that the offense involved five kilograms or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectible amount of cocaine and more than fifty grams or more of a mixture and substance containing crack cocaine.

In support of that indictment, the Government represented, and Stembridge acknowledged,[1] that it could present evidence showing that on or about November 3, 2009, Stembridge sold one-half of a kilogram of cocaine powder to Webb for $15,000 and Webb subsequently transported the cocaine to Panama City, Florida. And on or [331 Ga.App. 200] about November 4, 2009, law enforcement officials executed a search warrant at Webb's Panama City residence where they discovered, among other contraband, the cocaine purchased from Stembridge. The Government also represented it could present evidence that between on or about November 1, 2006 and on or about November 4, 2009, Webb and Stembridge had conspired together and with others to distribute at least two but not more than three and one-half kilograms of cocaine powder in the Northern District of Florida.[2]

At the motion hearing in this case, the parties stipulated into evidence several reports prepared by investigators from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration in connection with Webb's arrest. Those reports indicate that after he was arrested on November 4, 2009, Webb admitted that he owned the cocaine found at his residence, that he purchased it the day before in Atlanta from Stembridge, and that he drove it into Florida where he was in the process of manufacturing crack cocaine. He told the federal investigators that he had made approximately thirty trips to Atlanta to purchase cocaine from Stembridge over the preceding three years. The federal indictment was based on these transactions involving Webb and Stembridge.

The reports also reflect that Webb agreed to participate with law enforcement in setting up a controlled buy of cocaine from Stembridge in Atlanta on November 6, 2009. When Stembridge and Hines arrived at the arranged location for the buy, law enforcement officers used their vehicles to block Stembridge's car. Although Stembridge attempted to flee in his car, striking two police cars in the effort, and Hines refused to exit the car, they both were arrested at the scene. A subsequent search of Stembridge's car resulted in the recovery of what appeared to be " a compressed brick of suspected cocaine wrapped in plastic," among other items. A detective from the Atlanta Police Department took custody of this " brick" for processing and safekeeping, and the GBI later identified it as 908.18 grams of cocaine. The state indictment was based on this controlled buy.

On April 21, 2010, Stembridge pled guilty to a lesser included offense to the federal charge, namely conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of a mixture and substance containing a detectible amount of ...


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