A Thibodaux man serving 20 years after being convicted in Terrebonne Parish for selling methamphetamine is appealing his conviction.
Terrance Southall, 38, of Narrow Street, was found guilty during a May 9, 2018, bench trial of possession with the intent to distribute meth. After being ruled as a habitual offender, the trial judge sentenced him to 20 years at hard labor.
Citing lack of evidence, Southall’s Mandeville attorney Lieu T. Vo Clark appealed to the Louisiana 1st Circuit Court of Appeal, which reviewed the case Aug. 5 and will rule in the matter in about six weeks.
Southall was found hiding in a home on Johnson Ridge Lane on June 22, 2017, prosecutors said. Deputies came into contact with the homeowner, who denied Southall was in the residence.
Based on the strong odor of marijuana coming from the homeowner and inside the home, Terrebonne Parish sheriff’s deputies and narcotics agents executed a search warrant and found Southall hiding in a bedroom, authorities said.
Agents also seized one pound of meth, $17,000 in cash, a digital scale and other forms of drug paraphernalia, authorities said.
“It was clear that this home was being used as a major drug packaging and distribution center,” said Assistant District Attorney Chris Erny, who prosecuted the case.
Three children, ages 4, 9 and 15, inside the residence were released to a responsible relative, authorities said.
The defendant was located inside someone else’s home where meth was found hidden in the ceiling of one of the bedrooms and in the kitchen cabinets, Clark said.
“There is no physical nor testimonial evidence that links Mr. Southall to the drugs and cash located in this home,” Clark wrote in her court filings. “The state relies solely on the circumstantial evidence of Mr. Southall’s association or friendship with the residents of the home, the fact that he was allegedly ‘hiding’ in the back of the trailer, and his presence in a home where drugs were found hidden. The evidence fails to exclude every reasonable hypothesis of innocence and fails to rise anywhere near the level of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt of possession with intent to distribute a schedule II controlled dangerous substance.”
Assistant Ellen Doskey, who handles appeals for Terrebonne, contended the trial judge rejected “all reasonable hypothesis of innocence” and ruled that Southall had dominion and control over the drugs since he was the sole adult in the trailer.
“The state presented sufficient evidence for a reasonable trier of fact to find the defendant guilty of possession with the intent to distribute,” Doskey said. “The defendant was a frequent visitor to the home of his co-defendant, and he was the only adult in the home for over an hour. Under these circumstances, the trial court found that the defendant was in constructive possession of the drugs found hidden in the bedroom ceiling and in the kitchen cabinet.”
Southall is currently serving in the Transitional Work Program at the Lafourche Parish Sheriff’s Office.
--Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 448-7639 or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @DanVCopp.