An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA03-135


Filed: 7 October 2003


         v.                        Wake County
                                No. 01 CRS 96051

    Appeal by defendant from judgment entered 6 June 2002 by Judge Howard E. Manning, Jr., in Wake County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 25 August 2003.

    Attorney General Roy Cooper, by Assistant Attorney General Donald R. Teeter, for the State.

    Terry W. Alford, for defendant-appellant.

    GEER, Judge.

    In this appeal, defendant Robert Junior Royster, who was convicted of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, argues that the trial court (1) should not have admitted a law enforcement officer's testimony that he had "worked some of the city's roughest neighborhoods [a]nd obviously in those type of neighborhoods there's a whole lot of drug traffic;" and (2) should have granted defendant's motion to dismiss. Because the officer's testimony was admitted to show his law enforcement experience and because sufficient evidence to support defendant's conviction was presented, we find no error.
    The State's evidence tended to show that on 4 October 2001, Officer D. W. Bacon asked Officer Purefoy and Sergeant Morgan toassist him, at the Heritage Park housing complex, in serving warrants on defendant for failure to appear. The three police officers arrived at Heritage Park in separate patrol vehicles.
    Officer Bacon saw defendant standing in his backyard. As he approached defendant, Officer Bacon told him that he had "some paperwork". Defendant immediately turned around and ran between the houses. Officer Bacon and Officer Purefoy both followed defendant on foot. During the chase, Officer Purefoy saw defendant remove from his pants pocket a plastic bag containing white objects and throw it into the bushes. Officer Purefoy picked up the plastic bag and continued with the foot chase.
    Defendant eventually stopped running and Officer Bacon handcuffed him. Defendant had $145.00 in his pocket. Once defendant was secured in a patrol vehicle, Officer Purefoy showed Officer Bacon the plastic bag containing 25 off-white objects, later determined to be crack cocaine. Officer Purefoy testified that a person selling 25 rocks of crack cocaine could net approximately $300.00 to $400.00. He further testified that, during his law enforcement career, he has seen crack cocaine intended for sale packaged individually in several small bags or in film containers or simply not packaged at all, but left loose in a person's pocket.
    Defendant did not present any evidence. After the court denied defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of evidence, the jury found defendant guilty of possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine. The trial court sentenced defendant to a minimumof eight months and a maximum of ten months imprisonment.
    Defendant contends first that the trial court erred in overruling his objection to Officer Purefoy's testimony that, during his career, he had worked in neighborhoods where there was "a whole lot of drug traffic." Defendant argues that this testimony constituted inadmissible hearsay evidence of the reputation of defendant's neighborhood. We disagree.
    Defendant is correct that evidence offered to establish that defendant's neighborhood has a reputation for drug dealing is generally inadmissible when the defendant has been charged with a drug offense. State v. Crawford, 104 N.C. App. 591, 598, 410 S.E.2d 499, 503 (1991). A review of the transcript in this case, however, reveals that the challenged testimony related only to Officer Purefoy's law enforcement experience, was offered to establish Officer Purefoy's credentials, did not refer to defendant's neighborhood, and was not intended to characterize the reputation of defendant's neighborhood.
    The challenged testimony occurred at the very beginning of Officer Purefoy's direct examination when the prosecutor was establishing the officer's credentials and experience. After Officer Purefoy testified that he had been a police officer for the City of Raleigh for 15 years, the prosecutor asked for greater specifics regarding his experience:
            Q. Okay. And can you tell us what your duties are as a law enforcement officer with the Raleigh Police Department?

            A. I'm a patrolman. I am also involved in a special unit, specialized unit. I workin the Heritage Park apartment complex, the housing project.

            Q. And what kind of cases do you typically work with?

            A. I work with a lot of drug cases, work with a lot of larceny cases, domestics, just about any type of case that anybody will call a police officer for.

            Q. And how long have you been working with drug cases?

            A. In total off and on throughout my career just several. I can't tell you the number. It's several. Over hundreds - - over a hundred.

            Q. Can you tell us about your experience with drug cases?

            A. Yes, I can. Again, throughout my career I've worked for 15 years. Most of that time I've been a street cop and I've worked some of the city's roughest neighborhoods. And obviously in those type of neighborhoods there's a whole lot of drug traffic.

        [DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Objection.

        THE COURT: Overruled.

            A. Okay, there's a whole lot of drug traffic in those types of neighborhoods and I've made arrests from everything from simple possession of drugs and possession with intent to sell and deliver drugs. And also throughout my career I've been involved in several, several undercover drug operations. So many that I can't even count where I've actually gone out and bought drugs from people.

            Q. And can you tell us then if you were working on October the 4th of 2001?

            A. Yes, I was.

            Q. Where were you working on that day?

            A. In the area of Heritage Park.
    Contrary to defendant's assertion, Officer Purefoy did not testify about the reputation of defendant's neighborhood during his testimony. Rather, Officer Purefoy was establishing his experience in handling drug cases by testifying generally that he had worked, over his 15 years as a Raleigh Police Officer, in neighborhoods where there was substantial drug trafficking. This experience was necessary in order to lay an adequate foundation for Officer Purefoy's later testimony regarding the street value of the drugs recovered and the type of packaging that he had observed. The trial court, therefore, properly overruled defendant's objection.
    As a second ground for appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred by denying his motion to dismiss the charge based on insufficiency of the evidence. In challenging the adequacy of the evidence to support his conviction of possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver, defendant argues that there was insufficient evidence (1) that he possessed the cocaine and (2) that he had an intent to sell or deliver the cocaine.     
    In ruling on a motion to dismiss, the trial court must decide "whether there is substantial evidence (1) of each essential element of the offense charged and (2) that defendant is the perpetrator of the offense." State v. Lynch, 327 N.C. 210, 215, 393 S.E.2d 811, 814 (1990). Substantial evidence is that relevant evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. State v. Patterson, 335 N.C. 437, 449-50, 439 S.E.2d 578, 585 (1994). In ruling on a motion to dismiss, thetrial court must consider all of the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, and the State is entitled to all reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the evidence. State v. Davis, 130 N.C. App. 675, 679, 505 S.E.2d 138, 141 (1998). "Any contradictions or discrepancies arising from the evidence are properly left for the jury to resolve and do not warrant dismissal." State v. King, 343 N.C. 29, 36, 468 S.E.2d 232, 237 (1996).
    With respect to defendant's possession of crack cocaine, "[a] defendant has actual possession of a substance if it is on his person, he is aware of its presence, and either by himself or with others, he has the power and intent to control its disposition or use." State v. Diaz, 155 N.C. App. 307, 314, 575 S.E.2d 523, 528 (2002). Here, Officer Purefoy observed defendant pull a plastic bag containing small white objects from his pants pocket and throw it into the bushes. The plastic bag was later determined to contain 25 rocks of crack cocaine. Although defendant argues that Officer Bacon never saw defendant throw anything, Officer Purefoy's testimony was sufficient to allow the jury to find that defendant possessed the cocaine uncovered under the bushes. See State v. Wilder, 124 N.C. App. 136, 140, 476 S.E.2d 394, 397 (1996) (sufficient evidence of possession existed when officers saw defendant throw object into bushes and neighbor later discovered drugs in those bushes).
    Circumstantial evidence may establish an intent to sell or deliver. State v. James, 81 N.C. App. 91, 94, 344 S.E.2d 77, 80(1986). Officer Purefoy, who had significant experience in drug arrests, testified that the 25 rocks of crack cocaine had a street value of $300.00 to $400.00. In addition, defendant had $145.00 in cash in his pocket. This evidence was sufficient to allow a jury to infer that defendant possessed the cocaine for sale and not for personal use.
    Our Supreme Court has held that "[t]he mere quantity of the controlled substance alone may suffice to support the inference of an intent to transfer, sell or deliver." State v. Morgan, 329 N.C. 654, 659, 406 S.E.2d 833, 835 (1991). We believe that a jury could find the amount of cocaine in this case to be "'more than an individual would possess for his personal consumption.'" Id. at 660, 406 S.E.2d at 836 (quoting State v. Williams, 307 N.C. 452, 457, 298 S.E.2d 372, 376 (1983)). Additionally, the jury could consider the amount of cash found in defendant's pocket. State v. Taylor, 117 N.C. App. 644, 653, 453 S.E.2d 225, 230-31 (1995) (evidence of intent to sell sufficient when defendant had bags of crack cocaine in his mouth and $261.00 in cash on his person). We, therefore, find no error in the trial court's denial of the motion to dismiss.

    No error.
    Judges McGEE and HUDSON concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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