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Jackson v. State (4th District Court of Appeals- Broward County, Jan. 11, 20120)

Defendant appealed his conviction for trafficking in cocaine in an amount over 200 grams.  At his trial, a police officer testified that he first came in contact with Defendant when he arrived at his residence to execute a search warrant. During the search, a substance that appeared to be powder cocaine was discovered. A canine was called to the scene and alerted to several locations throughout the residence.  A crime lab technician testified that she tested two items recovered from Defendant's residence. Item one consisted of eight baggies containing a powdery substance. The chemist tested a random sample of the powder and concluded that the powder was cocaine. The eight baggies had a combined weight of 182.7 grams. The chemist also tested two baggies containing cocaine rocks. Bag one weighed 22.9 grams and bag two weighed 6.6 grams. On cross-examination, the chemist testified that she tested only one of the eight baggies containing the powdery substance. She indicated that she could not confirm that the other seven bags contained cocaine.
The Court held that the State failed to meet its burden under Ross, where only one of eight baggies was tested. See also Safford v. State,708 So.2d 676, 677 (Fla. 2d DCA 1998) (in reliance on Ross, reversing conviction for trafficking in cocaine of an amount exceeding twenty-eight grams, where State failed to test forty separately-packaged foils of cocaine powder). We also note that the circumstantial evidence of weight presented by the State was similarly insufficient to meet its burden.
Accordingly, Defendant's conviction was reversed with directions that the conviction for trafficking in cocaine in an amount of 200 grams or more, but less than 400 grams, be reduced to the lesser offense of trafficking in cocaine in an amount of twenty-eight grams or more, but less than 200 grams, and that his sentence be modified accordingly.