This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Dave Michael General,
Filed May 1, 2001
Amy Klobuchar, Hennepin County Attorney, Linda K. Jenny, Assistant County Attorney, C-2000 Government Center, Minneapolis, MN 55487 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Cathryn Y. Middlebrook, Assistant Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
SCHUMACHER, ROBERT H., Judge
Appellant Dave Michael General challenges his felony convictions of possession of a short-barreled shotgun and possession of a controlled substance, arguing the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law. We affirm.
On December 22, 1999, at 12:30 a.m., police officers executed a high-risk search warrant at a residence in Minneapolis, ramming the front door with a steel ram and shouting commands for any people in the residence to hear. They kicked open a door to a bedroom, saw General and Tanya Thomas in the bedroom, and shouted at them to get down. The police handcuffed General and Thomas and proceeded to search the bedroom, finding a short-barreled 12-gauge shotgun underneath the corner of a mattress and several bags of marijuana in a backpack on a chair and in a pile of clothing on the floor. In another bedroom, police found more marijuana. The state charged General with felony possession of a short-barreled shotgun and felony possession of a controlled substance.
At trial, the police testified that when they entered the bedroom they observed General standing at the corner of the bed, bending over with his hand under or holding the mattress. The police further testified that in the other bedroom they found a prescription bottle in General's name on a closet shelf and three moving violation citations in General's name in a dresser drawer. In the same dresser drawer, the police found a box of 12-gauge shotgun shells. The prescription bottle and citations were exhibits at trial. General's defense was that he did not reside at the residence and that he had no knowledge of the gun or marijuana. General introduced evidence indicating that his billing address was a different residence. Thomas testified that General was not near the corner of the bed when the police entered the bedroom. The jury returned a guilty verdict on each count. General appeals.
When faced with a sufficiency of the evidence claim, this court views the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and assumes that the jury disbelieved any testimony that conflicts with the verdict. State v. Pederson, 614 N.W.2d 724, 731-32 (Minn. 2000). We will not disturb a verdict if the jury could reasonably conclude that a defendant was proven guilty of the offense charged. State v. Richardson, 393 N.W.2d 657, 661 (Minn. 1986).
The constructive possession doctrine allows the state to prosecute possession offenses where it cannot prove actual or physical possession at the time of arrest, but where the inference is strong that the defendant at one time physically possessed the substance or exercised dominion and control over it. State v. Denison, 607 N.W.2d 796, 799-800 (Minn. App. 2000) (citing State v. Lozar, 458 N.W.2d 434, 441 (Minn. App. 1990), review denied (Minn. Sept. 28, 1990)), review denied (Minn. June 13, 2000). To prove constructive possession where a defendant does not have exclusive control over the residence, the state must show that the defendant was at the time consciously or knowingly exercising dominion and control over the items in question. State v. Robinson, 517 N.W.2d 336, 340 (Minn. 1994).
Here, the state argues that although General may not have had exclusive control over the residence where the gun and drugs were found, the evidence was sufficient to support a jury conclusion that General consciously exercised dominion and control over the gun and drugs. We agree. The police testified that when they entered the bedroom General was standing next to the bed holding onto the corner of the mattress, precisely where the gun was found. The backpack containing marijuana was only a few feet from the bed. General and Thomas were the only persons in the house at the time of the raid. Further, although General may not have lived at the residence, several items were found linking him to the residence, including a prescription bottle bearing his name and citations bearing his name found in the same drawer as shotgun shells. Given the totality of the circumstances, the jury could have reasonably found constructive possession. See Denison, 607 N.W.2d at 800 (court looks to totality of circumstances in assessing constructive possession).
In his pro se supplemental brief, General argues that the police had no previous knowledge at any time or through any sources of General being involved in any illegal activities going on at the residence they raided. While that may be so, it does not render the testimony and evidence arising from the raid insufficient to support the convictions.