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State v. Frederick

Court of Appeals of North Carolina

April 17, 2018

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
v.
KURT DEION FREDERICK, Defendant.

          Heard in the Court of Appeals 5 October 2017.

          Appeal by defendant from an order entered 7 June 2016 by Judge W. Osmond Smith III in Wake County No. 15CRS208027 Superior Court.

          Attorney General Joshua H. Stein, by Assistant Attorney General J. Aldean Webster III, for the State.

          Appellate Defender Glenn Gerding, by Assistant Appellate Defender Amanda S. Hitchcock, for defendant-appellant.

          BERGER, JUDGE.

         On June 8, 2016, a Wake County jury found Kurt Deion Frederick ("Defendant") guilty of trafficking heroin, maintaining a dwelling used for keeping or selling heroin, and possession with intent to sell or deliver a Schedule I controlled substance. Prior to trial, Defendant moved to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a search of his residence. Defendant appeals from the order denying his motion to suppress, contending that the search warrant was improperly issued because it lacked probable cause. We disagree.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On April 8, 2015, Detective J. Ladd with the Raleigh Police Department applied for a warrant to search the premises of 3988 Neeley Street in Raleigh for heroin, firearms, drug transaction records, and cash. The residence belonged to Defendant.

         Detective Ladd attached a sworn affidavit to the search warrant which testified to his more than thirteen years of law enforcement experience, his work with Raleigh's drug and vice unit, and his specific drug interdiction training. The affidavit also set forth the following facts:

Over the last sixty days, I received information from a confidential source regarding a mid-level MDMA, heroin[, ] and crystal methamphetamine dealer in the Raleigh, NC area. This source has always been trustworthy and truthful with [d]etectives[, ] and I consider his/her information reliable. This confidential source is familiar with MDMA, heroin[, ] and crystal methamphetamine and the way it is packaged and sold. This confidential source has always provided [d]etectives with information in the past concerning other criminal drug investigations that I have been able to corroborate and determined to be truthful.
Within the last week, this confidential source was used to arrange a controlled purchase of a quantity of "Molly" (MDMA) from 3988 Neeley St[.] Raleigh, NC 27606. The confidential source met with [d]etectives prior to making the controlled purchase of "Molly". The confidential source and his/her vehicle were searched for any illegal contraband. There was none located. The confidential source was provided with a sum of money from the Raleigh Police Department's informant funds. The confidential source arranged to meet a middle man prior to going to 3988 Neeley St[.] Raleigh, NC 27606. Detectives[] maintained constant surveillance on the confidential source while traveling to meet the middle man. Once the source met with the middle man, they traveled to 3988 Neeley St[.] Raleigh, NC 27606. The middle man was observed entering 3988 Neeley St[.] Raleigh, NC 27606 and returning to the source approximately two minutes later. Based on my training and experience, this was indicative of drug trafficking activity. The source met with me at a predetermined meet location after the middle man was returned to his residence. The source provided me with a quantity of "Molly". The source and his/her vehicle were searched again for any illegal contraband. There was none located.
Within the last 72 hours, the confidential source was used to arrange a controlled purchase of heroin [from] 3988 Neeley St[.] Raleigh, NC 27606. The confidential source met with [d]etectives prior to making the controlled purchase of heroin. The confidential source and his/her vehicle were searched for any illegal contraband. There was none located. The confidential source was provided with a sum of money from the Raleigh Police Department's informant funds. The confidential source arranged to meet a middle man prior to going to 3988 Neeley St[.] Raleigh, NC 27606. Detectives[] maintained constant surveillance on the confidential source while traveling to meet the middle man. Once the source met with the middle man, they traveled to 3988 Neeley St[.] Raleigh, NC 27606. The middle man was observed entering 3988 Neeley St[.] Raleigh, NC 27606 and returning to the source approximately three minutes later. Based on my training and experience, this was indicative of drug trafficking activity. The source met with me at a pre-determined meet location after the middle man was returned to his residence. The source provided me with a quantity of heroin. The source and his/her vehicle was searched again for any illegal contraband. There was none located. A small sample of the heroin field tested positive for heroin.
While conducting surveillance during the controlled buy of heroin, two males were observed entering 3988 Neeley St[.] Raleigh, NC 27606. The two individuals exited 3988 Neeley St[.] Raleigh, NC 27606 approximately two minutes later and returned to their vehicle. Based on my training and experience, this was indicative of drug trafficking activity.

         (Emphasis added).

         This search warrant was granted by a magistrate, and officers executed it at the residence. More than 4.0 grams of heroin, 3.4 grams of MDMA, drug packaging materials, and $600.00 in cash were discovered in the residence. Officers observed Defendant leaving his residence with a Crown Royal bag, and detained him a short time later in his vehicle. Officers found heroin packaged for sale and more than $2, 500.00 in cash in the Crown Royal bag located in the vehicle.

         Defendant was arrested and charged with trafficking heroin, maintaining a dwelling for keeping or selling controlled substances, and possession of MDMA. The Wake County Grand Jury indicted Defendant on June 1, 2015 for trafficking in heroin by possession, maintaining a dwelling for keeping or selling controlled substances, and possession with intent to sell or deliver a Schedule I controlled substance.

         Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence obtained from the searches prior to trial in Wake County Superior Court. In his motion, Defendant conceded that during the first transaction, the middleman "entered the residence and approximately three minutes later came out with what appeared to be a Molly." For the second transaction, Defendant conceded that the middleman "entered the residence and returned in approximately three minutes with what appeared to be heroin." Defendant presented no evidence to support his motion, simply arguing the search warrant was facially insufficient. The trial court denied Defendant's motion, finding there was no conflict in the information provided in Detective Ladd's application for the search warrant, and the affidavit was sufficient to establish probable cause and justify issuance of the search warrant by the magistrate.

         Defendant was convicted of trafficking in heroin by possession, maintaining a dwelling for keeping or selling controlled substances, and possession with intent to sell or deliver a Schedule I controlled substance. He was sentenced to a term of seventy to ninety-three months in prison. It is from the order denying his motion to suppress that Defendant timely appeals.

         Standard ...


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