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State v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division, Department C

July 23, 2013

STATE OF ARIZONA, Appellee,
v.
JERRELLE LEMAR WILLIAMS, Appellant.

Not for Publication – Rule 111, Rules of the Arizona Supreme Court

Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County Cause No. CR2010-108307-001 The Honorable Susan M. Brnovich, Judge

Thomas C. Horne, Attorney General, Joseph T. Maziarz, Chief Counsel, Criminal Appeals Section and Barbara A. Bailey, Assistant Attorney General Attorneys for Appellee

James J. Haas, Maricopa County Public Defender, Tennie B. Martin, Deputy Public Defender Attorneys for Appellant

MEMORANDUM DECISION

PETER B. SWANN, Presiding Judge

¶1 Defendant Jerrelle Lemar Williams appeals his convictions and sentences for drug-related crimes. Defendant contends that the superior court reversibly erred by ruling that text messages police discovered on his cell phone were admissible at trial. We agree with Defendant that the court erred -- the messages were inadmissible under Ariz. R. Evid. ("Rule") 404(b). But on this record, we conclude that the error was harmless. We therefore affirm Defendant's convictions and sentences.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY [1]

¶2 Before standing trial for three counts of sale or transportation of dangerous drugs and one count of possession or use of dangerous drugs, Defendant moved to suppress evidence of text messages received on and sent from his cell phone before his arrest. Defendant argued that the text messages, which referenced drugs, were inadmissible under Rule 404(b) and on hearsay grounds. The court denied Defendant's motion, finding that Rule 404(b) "does not apply" and that the messages were not hearsay.

¶3 At trial, an undercover detective testified that he bought methamphetamine from Defendant on three occasions: February 3, 4, and 10, 2010. On February 11, 2010, police took Defendant into custody after conducting a traffic stop and discovering seventeen milligrams of methamphetamine in a vial in Defendant's pocket. The police confiscated a cell phone from Defendant during the arrest.

¶4 The undercover detective testified at trial that the text messages found on Defendant's cell phone related to drug trafficking. The incoming text messages, received from various phone numbers on the dates indicated below, stated:

February 2: "Bring a 20 to Robson by 7:00. There is a McDonald's on San Jose Street."
February 7: "Hey, big homey, can you pick me up 40. I will get with you when I get back."
February 9: "Hey, I know you got a bill of people here, et cetera, et cetera, but before you get them first, can you kick me down first because I really, really have to go ten minutes ago."
February 9: "Hey, homey, I know I just got plugged with you through my boy Rico and all, maybe you can do a dub loaner until ...

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