Evidence keyed to Waltz
State v. Odom
On January 31, 1986, detectives executed a search warrant at the apartment of of the Defendant and C.W., a juvenile. During the search, Detective Humphrey found a bag containing eighteen vials of crack cocaine in the pillowcase on the bed. The defendant was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute. The State offered Detective Sergeant Ronald Tierney (“Detective Tierney”) as an expert in illegal narcotics during the trial. The defendant’s counsel objected, arguing the detective was unqualified because his experience was based on hearsay and could not help the jury. Detective Tierney was a member of the police force for over sixteen years and was with the narcotics squad for over nine years. He had participated in over 8,000 investigations and made approximately 4,000 arrests. Detective Tierney qualified as an expert 1,000 times previously. The trial court allowed him to testify. He was asked whether the defendant posses sed the drugs for his own use or in order to distribute them. Detective Tierney testified that it was his opinion that the drugs were possessed with the intent to distribute. The Appellate Division reversed the conviction and remanded for a new trial finding that the detective’s opinion was unhelpful and its probative value was outweighed by the potential for prejudice.
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