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Confidential informant’s testimony was reliable

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//November 22, 2022

Confidential informant’s testimony was reliable

Virginia Lawyers Weekly//November 22, 2022

Where appellant was convicted of a drug offense, based, in part, on a confidential informant’s testimony about a controlled drug buy, her testimony was reliable and sufficiently supports the conviction.

Appellant’s argument

Appellant “Campbell argues that Slusher’s [the informant’s] testimony was tainted by her desire to cooperate with law enforcement in exchange for leniency on a pending charge. She also claims that Slusher had the opportunity to acquire the drugs when not under direct surveillance by members of the task force, a possibility that she claims the Commonwealth failed to exclude.”


“We are not persuaded by Campbell’s argument that Slusher’s testimony was inherently incredible because she was motivated to give the task-force officers the ‘right answers’ so that she would receive leniency on pending drug charges.

“The trial court considered Slusher’s criminal record and her cooperation with law enforcement. …  The court acknowledged that Slusher’s testimony at times was ‘equivocal,’ but it found that her testimony was corroborated by Officer Tosh’s.

“We cannot find from this record that Slusher’s testimony was ‘so manifestly false that reasonable [people] ought not to believe it’ or ‘shown to be false by objects or things as to the existence and meaning of which reasonable [people] should not differ.’ …

“The evidence also sufficed to exclude Campbell’s hypothesis that Slusher got the methamphetamine somewhere else. … A trial court’s determination that an alternative hypothesis of innocence is unreasonable represents a finding of fact that ‘is binding on appeal unless plainly wrong.’ …

“Here, the officers searched Slusher at the outset to confirm that she had no drugs. They lost sight of her during the six minutes in which she drove to the McDonald’s, but Slusher testified that she drove straight there, without stopping.

“And although Officer Tosh’s view of Slusher in the McDonald’s parking lot was briefly obstructed when Campbell delivered the drugs through the window of Slusher’s truck, Slusher testified to the details of what happened. Officer Tosh then followed her back to the staging area where she presented the drugs she had bought from Campbell.

“The trial court found Slusher’s testimony credible and corroborated by Officer Tosh’s testimony. The court concluded that ‘the evidence doesn’t support’ the speculation that Slusher ‘stopped somewhere else.’ …

“Campbell has failed to show that the trial court’s rejection of her alternative hypothesis of innocence was ‘plainly wrong.’”


Campbell v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1255-21-3, Aug. 30, 2022. CAV (Raphael) From the Circuit Court of Amherst County (Garrett). Craig P. Tiller for appellant. Lucille M. Wall, Jason S. Miyares for appellee. VLW 022-7-357, 6 pp.

VLW 022-7-357

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