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October 4, 1990


Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia; Hon. Michael L. Rankin, Trial Judge

Rogers, Chief Judge, and Newman and Terry, Associate Judges.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Terry

Appellant Patterson was convicted of possession of marijuana and possession of cocaine, both offenses in violation of D.C. Code § 33-541 (d) 1988). *fn1 While testifying at trial, she was asked if she had used drugs the day before, the day after, or the day of her arrest. She was also asked if she had used drugs "during that time." She answered "no" to all of these questions. On appeal Patterson argues that the trial court erred when it permitted the government to introduce test results showing that she had used PCP within fourteen days before her arrest. We find no error and affirm appellant's convictions.


On August 21, 1987, police officers executed a search warrant at appellant's apartment in the Paradise Manor apartment complex. When the police entered the apartment, they found seven persons inside, including a baby. Officer James Beadel testified, "When the door swung open . . . I noticed a subject behind the door. When the door hit this person, I heard a thump to the floor. I reached back. It was a young black male and I pulled him from behind the door. . . ." Beadel also said that he did not notice anyone else in the immediate vicinity of the door "at that time." Beadel "removed [the man] from behind the door and placed him at the couch."

Officer Tyrone Scott entered the apartment a few moments later. *fn2 As he crossed the threshold, he heard "movement, footsteps" behind the door. Responding to the noise, he put his foot against the door to trap whoever was there. Then he heard a thud, and from behind the door came a female voice saying, "I'm just putting out the trash." Scott "peeped around the door" and discovered appellant with a green plastic trash bag in her hand. As he looked, he saw two clear packets -- one containing several smaller packets with a "white rock-like substance" inside, and one containing a "green weed-like substance" -- fall from the bag to the floor. He also saw a gun on the floor between appellant's feet. Appellant was taken into custody by another officer, while Scott remained with the gun and the two packets until they were taken away by Officer Beadel. When asked whether anyone was with appellant behind the door, Officer Scott replied, "Not when I saw her, no, sir."

A thorough search of the apartment yielded two plastic bags containing crack cocaine, a brown paper bag containing ninety-seven more plastic bags of cocaine (hidden behind the television set), and $255 in cash. One of the bags dropped by appellant contained twelve packets of cocaine base totaling 10,820 milligrams; the other contained 2,870 milligrams of marijuana. The gun recovered from the floor was an operable .38 caliber revolver, loaded with five live rounds of ammunition. It was not registered to appellant.

Appellant was the only defense witness. She admitted that the drugs were discovered in her apartment but professed ignorance of them. She said she was upstairs talking to her mother when she first heard the police knocking at the front door. She went downstairs to answer the knock. Just as she reached the door, however, the police pushed it open, and she was "hung behind the door" along with a man named Nicky. The police soon took Nicky from behind the door, but appellant was left there for about five minutes, unable to get out because the police were pushing on the door from the other side. She did not recall hearing a thud, saw no gun, denied dropping anything, and did not see anyone else drop anything. When she was allowed to move away from the door, she said, she did notice some packets of white powder on the floor near where she had been standing. However, she denied that these packets were hers, denied knowledge of the other drugs found in her apartment, and had no recollection of holding a garbage bag while she was standing behind the door.

After appellant had testified at length about the events of August 21, particularly the discovery of drugs behind the television set and elsewhere in her apartment, defense counsel posed the following questions:

Q. Now, in regard to your daughter, Monie Patterson --

Well, before we get to your daughter, Monie Patterson, during that time were you using any drugs?

A. No, I wasn't.

Q. Okay. Were you selling any drugs?

A. No, I wasn't. [Emphasis added.]

The questioning then turned to the subject of drug use by others in the apartment. Appellant testified that her daughter had been using drugs and acknowledged that it was "a matter of concern" to her. She also said that her cousin Alfred Patterson, who had been staying with her for about two months (and ...

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