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State v. Rodriguez

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

March 9, 2015

State
v.
Wilson Rodriguez

Page 1174

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 1175

Kent County Superior Court. (K2/08-644A). Associate Justice Edward C. Clifton.

For State: Virginia M. McGinn, Department of Attorney General.

For Defendant: Martin D. Harris, Esq.

Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

OPINION

Page 1176

 Goldberg, Justice

This case came before the Supreme Court on writ of certiorari on January 22, 2015, pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not summarily be decided.[1] The defendant, Wilson Rodriguez (defendant or Rodriguez), appeals from a judgment of conviction after a jury verdict finding him guilty of one count of delivery of a controlled substance, to wit cocaine. After the trial justice heard, and denied, the defendant's motion for a new trial, he sentenced the defendant to five years at the Adult Correctional Institutions, with one year to serve and four years suspended with probation. Before this Court, the defendant raises a bevy of issues, all of which lack merit. The defendant argues that the trial justice erred in: (1) his denial of the defendant's motion in limine to bar the testimony of Detectives Louis Stravato (Det. Stravato) and Anthony Hampton (Det. Hampton); (2) his charge to the jury; (3) his failure to include certain portions of testimony during a read back to the jury; (4) his denial of the defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal; and (5) his denial of the defendant's motion for a new trial. After hearing the arguments of counsel and examining the memoranda filed by the parties, we are of the opinion that cause has not been shown, and we proceed to decide the appeal at this time. We affirm the judgment of conviction.

Facts and Travel

On February 26, 2008, Providence Police Detectives Stravato and Hampton were investigating defendant for possible narcotics violations. Detective Stravato testified that they set up a surveillance because they " had information that [defendant] was * * * a narcotics dealer, specifically crack cocaine." The detectives observed defendant exiting a home on Barry Road in Providence with an elderly gentleman--later determined to be defendant's father--and drive off in a white Acura. The detectives proceeded to follow defendant.

Eventually, after passing through portions of Cranston and Warwick, the surveillance led the detectives to the parking lot of the Rhode Island Mall in Warwick. The detectives parked thirty to forty feet away from defendant's vehicle and saw another vehicle park next to defendant's vehicle; both vehicles were facing in the same direction. Detective Stravato then saw the passenger of the second vehicle--later identified as Pamela Sherman (Sherman)--throw " crumbled currency, crumbled in a ball" into defendant's car and then defendant threw what appeared to be cocaine into the car occupied by Sherman. The two cars then exited the parking lot, and the detectives followed the car in which Sherman was a passenger because, according to Det. Stravato, they had already " identified [defendant] so we weren't concerned about, you know, particularly apprehending him at that point."

The Providence police detectives stopped the Sherman vehicle after it had entered West Warwick. Detective Hampton removed Sherman from the car and asked her about drugs in her vehicle. Sherman admitted that the drugs were in a pack of cigarettes inside the vehicle. The pack of cigarettes contained a bag of suspected crack cocaine. It was seized and turned over to Detective Sergeant Lavigne of the ...


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