This opinion will be unpublished and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
State of Minnesota,
Gregory Alan Thompson,
Filed July 17, 2001
Mille Lacs County District Court
File No. K8981271
Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Thomas R. Ragatz, Assistant Attorney General, 525 Park Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55103; and
Janelle P. Kendall, Mille Lacs County Attorney, Courthouse Square, 525 2nd Street S.E., Milaca, MN 56353 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lawrence W. Pry, Assistant State Public Defender, 2829 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55414-3230 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge, Crippen, Judge, and Stoneburner, Judge.
Appellant Gregory Alan Thompson was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm in violation of Minn. Stat. § 609.165, subds. 1a and 1b(a) (1998) (certain convicted felons ineligible to possess firearms). On appeal, he claims the evidence is insufficient. Because the evidence reasonably supports the jury’s verdict, we affirm.
Thompson argues that the evidence was insufficient to prove that he possessed the shotgun found in the bedroom closet of his mobile home. When reviewing a claim of insufficient evidence, this court’s function is limited to
ascertaining whether, given the facts in the record and the legitimate inferences that can be drawn from those facts, a jury could reasonably conclude that the defendant was guilty of the offense charged.
State v. Johnson, 568 N.W.2d 426, 435 (Minn. 1997) (citation omitted). “Deciding the credibility of witnesses is generally the exclusive province of the jury.” State v. Doppler, 590 N.W.2d 627, 635 (Minn. 1999) (citations omitted). An appellate court will not disturb the verdict if the jury, acting with due regard for the presumption of innocence and for the state’s burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, could reasonably conclude that the defendant was proven guilty of the offense charged. State v. Alton, 432 N.W.2d 754, 756 (Minn. 1988).
When the state is unable to prove actual possession, the conviction can be upheld if the state proves constructive possession. State v. Florine, 303 Minn. 103, 104-05, 226 N.W.2d 609, 610 (1975). Constructive possession requires the state to prove that the shotgun (1) was found in a place that Thompson had exclusive control over and to which others did not normally have access, or (2) while found in a place accessible to others, there is a high probability (inferable from other evidence) that Thompson at the time consciously exercised dominion and control over it. Id. at 105, 226 N.W.2d at 611. The court considers the totality of the circumstances in determining whether the evidence was sufficient to prove possession. State v. Munoz, 385 N.W.2d 373, 377 (Minn. App. 1986).
Thompson claims his conviction, based on the sheriff finding a shotgun in his bedroom closet, was unsupported by the evidence. We disagree. Thompson admitted to living in the mobile home during the period of possession; he also admitted to sleeping in the bedroom and using the bedroom closet where the shotgun was found. Thompson’s 10-year-old son testified to seeing the gun in the closet and shooting a similar gun on a previous visit with his father. Under the totality of the circumstances standard, this is sufficient to support a finding that Thompson consciously exercised control over the shotgun.
A reviewing court must recognize that the jury is in the best position to evaluate the credibility of witnesses. State v. Profit, 591 N.W.2d 451, 467 (Minn. 1999). The jury did not believe Thompson’s testimony that he was unaware the shotgun was stored in his closet, and reasonably found that he consciously exercised dominion and control over the closet and the shotgun. On the evidence presented, a jury could reasonably conclude that Thompson was guilty of the charged offense.