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United States v. Wiggins

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

April 3, 2014

United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee
v.
Theodore S. Wiggins, also known as Theo, Defendant - Appellant

Submitted November 20, 2013

Petition for certiorari filed at, 08/14/2014

Page 960

Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri - Kansas City.

For United States of America, Plaintiff - Appellee: Philip M. Koppe, Sydney N. Sanders, Brent B. Venneman, U.S. Attorney's Office, Kansas City, MO.

For Theodore S. Wiggins, also known as: Theo, Defendant - Appellant: Michael W. Walker, Duchardt & Walker, Kansas City, MO.

Theodore S. Wiggins also known as: Theo, Defendant - Appellant, Pro se, Terre Haute, IN.

Before BENTON, BEAM, and SHEPHERD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 961

BEAM, Circuit Judge.

Theodore Wiggins appeals his conviction by jury and sentence for conspiracy to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and more than 50 grams of cocaine base. The district[1] court sentenced him to life imprisonment pursuant to the sentencing enhancement provisions of 21 U.S.C. § § 841 and 851. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Police in Kansas City, Missouri, began looking into Wiggins as part of a cocaine distribution conspiracy after police utilized court-approved wiretaps in February 2010 on the phones of Shawn Hampton. Through use of these wiretaps, authorities learned that Wiggins was primarily a street level distributor for Hampton in a large-scale cocaine conspiracy. On wiretap calls heard by the jury at trial, Wiggins and Hampton discussed cooking, purchasing and distributing the cocaine base. Based upon the wiretap evidence, Wiggins was charged with two counts in a multi-count indictment, and he was arrested in June 2010. Prior to Wiggins' trial, the government filed its notice of intent to seek to enhance Wiggins' punishment under 21 U.S.C. § § 841 and 851, due to Wiggins' two previous felony drug convictions.

Because Wiggins does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence on appeal, we briefly recount the evidence presented at trial, as relevant to the issues on appeal. Several police detectives testified about their surveillance and undercover activities, including an officer's account of his undercover controlled purchase of cocaine base from Wiggins. The wiretap evidence (twenty-two selected calls from a pool of thousands of possible wiretaps) was played for the jury, while the transcript was displayed on an overhead projector. At the time that this evidence was presented, the jury was instructed that the contents of the calls, and not the transcripts, were the evidence. Hampton, who had reached a plea agreement with the government, testified about ...


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