SAXTON (ORLANDO) VS. COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKYAnnotate this Case
RENDERED: NOVEMBER 7, 2008; 2:00 P.M.
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
Commonwealth of Kentucky
Court of Appeals
APPEAL FROM GRAVES CIRCUIT COURT
HONORABLE TIMOTHY C. STARK, JUDGE
ACTION NO. 06-CR-00195
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY
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BEFORE: COMBS, CHIEF JUDGE; STUMBO, JUDGE; GUIDUGLI,1 SENIOR
STUMBO, JUDGE: Orlando Saxton appeals from a criminal judgment reflecting
a jury verdict of guilty on three counts of first-degree trafficking in a controlled
substance and one count of trafficking within 1,000 yards of a school. Saxton
argues that the Commonwealth failed to prove that he knew that he sold drugs
Senior Judge Daniel T. Guidugli sitting as Special Judge by assignment of the Chief Justice
pursuant to Section 110(5)(b) of the Kentucky Constitution and KRS 21.580.
within 1,000 yards of a school; that he was entrapped; and, that the trial court
improperly prevented him from impeaching a prosecution witness. For the reasons
stated below, we affirm the judgment on appeal.
On June 30, 2006, the Graves County grand jury indicted Saxton on
three counts of first-degree trafficking in a controlled substance and one count of
trafficking in a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a school. The
indictment arose from events occurring on January 6, 2006, and January 25, 2006,
when Saxton sold marijuana and cocaine to Saxton’s aunt, Anna Saxton, and her
fiancé Henry Island. Anna and Henry had agreed to act as informants and to
purchase the substances from Saxton in a hotel room being monitored by police
officers of the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force. The hotel was located within 1,000
yards of a school, and the transactions were videotaped.
Trial on the charges was conducted on May 31, 2007, resulting in a
guilty verdict on all counts. Saxton received a sentence of five years in prison on
each of the three Class C trafficking counts, plus one year on the Class D charge of
trafficking within 1,000 yards of a school, to be served consecutively for a total
term of imprisonment of 16 years. This appeal followed.
Saxton now argues that the trial court erred in failing to sustain his
motion for a directed verdict at the close of the evidence. He maintains that the
Commonwealth failed to prove an element of the offense of trafficking within
1,000 yards of a school; to wit, that no proof was offered that Saxton knew he was
within 1,000 yards of a school at the time of the sale. He claims that the trafficking
near a school statute is not a strict liability offense, and that a defendant is guilty of
the crime only if he is aware of his physical proximity to the school at the time he
traffics in a controlled substance. He seeks an order vacating the conviction and
remanding the matter for trial on the lesser included offense of trafficking in
We find no error on this issue. Saxton was convicted of violating
KRS 218A.1411, which states that,
Any person who unlawfully traffics in a controlled
substance classified in Schedules I, II, III, IV or V, or a
controlled substance analogue in any building used
primarily for classroom instruction in a school or on any
premises located within one thousand (1,000) yards of
any school building used primarily for classroom
instruction shall be guilty of a Class D felony, unless a
more severe penalty is set forth in this chapter, in which
case the higher penalty shall apply. The measurement
shall be taken in a straight line from the nearest wall of
the school to the place of violation.
Contrary to Saxton’s claim, KRS 218A.1411 does not require the
actor to “knowingly” traffic in a controlled substance within 1,000 yards of a
school in order to be convicted of the offense. That is to say, there is no
requirement that a conviction for violation of KRS 218A.1411 arises from proof
that the actor knew the sale was conducted in proximity to a school. Rather, KRS
218A.1411 is silent as to mens rea. It merely requires proof of the unlawful
transaction of a controlled substance or controlled substance analogue (i.e., fake
drugs) within 1,000 yards of a school.
We are further persuaded that a requirement of mens rea is not
imparted to KRS 218A.1411 by the application of any provisions of the Kentucky
Penal Code. As the Commonwealth properly notes, KRS 501.050(1) requires
proof of a mental state (intentionally, knowingly, wantonly or recklessly) for
felonies set out in the Kentucky Penal Code, KRS Chapter 500, et seq. The
offense of trafficking within 1,000 yards of a school is not a provision of the
Kentucky Penal Code, and KRS 501.050(1) is not applicable. Since the clear
language of KRS 218A.1411 does not set out the mental state of “knowingly” as an
element of the offense, and because we find that no other statutory provision
imparts to KRS 218A.1411 the requirement of proof of a mental state, we find no
error on this issue.
Saxton next argues that he was entrapped into committing the offense
of trafficking within 1,000 yards of a school. While acknowledging that it was his
decision to engage in the trafficking of controlled substances, he maintains that the
police authority’s choice to conduct the “controlled buys” at a hotel within 1,000
yards of a school was not accidental and was done for the improper purpose of
adding an additional offense to the charges. He directs our attention to Wyatt v.
Commonwealth, 219 S.W.3d 751 (Ky. 2007), and notes that the record contains no
evidence that he has in the past, nor would in the future, engage in trafficking
within 1,000 yards of a school. Again, he seeks an order vacating his conviction
and remanding the matter for trial on the lesser included offense of trafficking in
By Saxton’s own admission, this argument is not preserved for
appellate review, and we cannot conclude that it rises to the level of palpable error.
Even if it were preserved, we would find no error. KRS 505.010 states that,
(1) A person is not guilty of an offense arising out of
proscribed conduct when:
(a) He was induced or encouraged to engage in that
conduct by a public servant or by a person acting in
cooperation with a public servant seeking to obtain
evidence against him for the purpose of criminal
(b) At the time of the inducement or encouragement, he
was not otherwise disposed to engage in such conduct.
(2) The relief afforded by subsection (1) is unavailable
(a) The public servant or the person acting in cooperation
with a public servant merely affords the defendant an
opportunity to commit an offense . . . .
Saxton has acknowledged the responsibility for trafficking in
controlled substances, stating in his written argument that “Defendant’s ill-fated
decision to sell drugs was his own.” It is clear from the record and the entirety of
the circumstances surrounding this matter that the Pennyrile Narcotics Task Force
merely afforded Saxton the opportunity to commit the offense at issue, and that
Saxton’s choice both to sell controlled substances and to do so within 1,000 yards
of a school rested solely with Saxton. Thus, even if this issue were preserved which Saxton acknowledges it is not - we would find no error.
Lastly, Saxton argues that the trial court erred in preventing him from
impeaching the Commonwealth’s key witness, Henry Island, on a matter directly
related to Island’s credibility. On cross-examination, Island acknowledged that he
had been an occasional drug user, that he was paid for acting as a confidential
informant, and that he was a convicted felon. He also stated that he did not receive
unspecified “government aid.” The trial court was later asked by counsel for
Saxton to review welfare records which may have indicated that Island had
received welfare in the past.2 According to the Commonwealth, these records were
reviewed by the trial court in camera, whereupon the court declined to allow
Saxton to use the records to impeach Island’s credibility.
We find no error in the trial court’s failure to allow Saxton to claim at
trial that Island received “government aid” in the past, thus impeaching Island’s
credibility by refuting his statement that he received no such aid. The trial court
determined that this matter was immaterial to the charges against Saxton, and that
it would merely serve to “confuse the issues” and distract the jury. Island
acknowledged on the witness stand that he was a drug using convicted felon and
paid informant. Demonstrating to the jury that Island either intentionally or
inadvertently misstated that he allegedly once received government aid would do
little to impeach Island’s credibility given what the jury already knew about him.
“It is generally recognized that a witness may not be impeached with respect to a
matter which is irrelevant and collateral to the issues in the action.” Simmons v.
Small, 986 S.W.2d 452 (Ky. App. 1998), quoting Commonwealth v. Jackson, 281
S.W.2d 891, 894 (Ky. 1955); see also, Eldred v. Commonwealth, 906 S.W.2d 694,
The content of these documents, if any, is not revealed in the appellate record.
705 (Ky. 1995). Island’s alleged receipt of government aid, and his denial of
same, was irrelevant and collateral, and there is no reasonable basis for concluding
that the outcome of the trial would have been different had Island’s credibility been
impeached on this issue. Accordingly we find no error.
For the foregoing reasons, we affirm the judgment of the Graves
BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT:
BRIEF FOR APPELLEE:
Jamesa J. Drake
Assistant Public Advocate
Department of Public Advocacy
Attorney General of Kentucky
David W. Barr
Assistant Attorney General