State v. Chevallier, ___ N.C. App. ___, 824 S.E.2d 440 (Mar. 5, 2019)

In this drug case the trial court did not err by admitting a hearsay statement under the Rule 801(d)(E) co-conspirator exception. An undercover officer arranged a drug transaction with a target. When the officer arrived at the prearranged location, different individuals, including the defendant, pulled up behind the officer. While on the phone with the officer, the target instructed: “them are my boys, deal with them.” This statement was admitted at trial under the co-conspirator exception to the hearsay rule. The defendant was convicted and appealed. On appeal the defendant argued that the statement was inadmissible because the State failed to prove a conspiracy between the target and the defendant and the others in the car. The court disagreed. The officer testified that he had previously planned drug buys from the target. Two successful transactions occurred at a Bojangles restaurant in Warsaw, NC where the target had delivered the drugs to the officer. When the officer contacted the target for a third purchase, the target agreed to sell one ounce of cocaine for $1200; the transfer was to occur at the same Warsaw Bojangles. When the target was not at the location, the officer called the target by phone. During the conversation, three men parked behind the officer’s vehicle and waved him over to their car, and the target made the statement at issue. A man in the backseat displayed a plastic bag of white powder and mentioned that he knew the officer from prior transactions. The officer retrieved his scale and weighed the substance; it weighed one ounce. This was sufficient evidence of a conspiracy between the target and the men in the car. In so holding the court rejected the defendant’s argument that because the substance turned out to be counterfeit cocaine, there was no agreement and thus no conspiracy. Because both selling actual cocaine and selling counterfeit cocaine is illegal under state law, the evidence was sufficient to establish a prima facie case of conspiracy by way of an agreement between the target and the men to do an unlawful act.