Chillicothe man loses appeal in Missouri Supreme Court

Prison Death Row

The Supreme Court of Missouri affirmed the judgment against a man convicted of a drug charge in an appeal from the Livingston County Circuit Court Tuesday.

A jury found Joseph Fountain Perry guilty of possession of a controlled substance in 2015. The state advised at his sentencing that the range of punishment was five to 15 years in prison. The circuit court sentenced Perry, as a prior and persistent offender, to eight years in prison.

Court information on the incident leading to the charge shows a Chillicothe Police Officer believed he saw Perry pull what appeared to be a plastic bag out of his front pocket before Perry ran and climbed over a fence. Perry surrendered when he saw the officer. Officers discovered a plastic bag containing a substance later determined to be methamphetamine inside a hollow post of the fence.

Perry moved to suppress evidence of the bag of drugs and argued it was the product of an unconstitutional search following an unlawful detention, which the circuit court overruled. The appeal presented the questions of whether the circuit court should have excluded the drug evidence and whether the circuit court had a materially false understanding of the possible range of punishment.

The seven Missouri Supreme Court judges agreed that the officer who encountered Perry never “seized” him, the Fourth Amendment was not implicated, and the circuit court did not err in overruling his motions.  Four judges agreed Perry failed to establish a prison term to which the circuit court sentenced him was based on the circuit court’s mistaken belief about the range of punishment.