This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Jose Soto Zavala,
Filed July 18, 2006
Toussaint, Chief Judge
Craig S. Nelson, Freeborn County Attorney, David J. Walker, Assistant County Attorney, Freeborn County Courthouse, 411 South Broadway, Albert Lea, MN 56007 (for respondent)
John M. Stuart, State Public Defender, Lydia M. Villalva Lijó, Assistant Public Defender, 2221 University Avenue Southeast, Suite 425, Minneapolis, MN 55414 (for appellant)
U N P U B L I S H E D O P I N I O N
TOUSSAINT, Chief Judge
Appellant Jose Soto Zavala challenges his conviction of second-degree controlled-substance crime, arguing that the evidence was not sufficient to support the jury’s verdict. Because the jury could reasonably have concluded that appellant was guilty of the offense with which he was charged, we affirm.
D E C I S I O N
In February 2004, appellant was apprehended driving a vehicle. He was wearing only a pair of pants. He was incoherent; he appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance, and he had white powder around his mouth. The police took him to a hospital. A plastic bag containing white powder was found in the pocket of the pants appellant was wearing. The powder was analyzed and determined to be cocaine.
Appellant was charged with second-degree controlled-substance crime (possessing cocaine). After a jury trial, appellant was convicted of that crime. He challenges his conviction.
A reviewing court will not disturb
a verdict if the jury, acting with due regard for the presumption of innocence
and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, could reasonably
conclude the defendant was guilty of the charged offense. Bernhardt
v. State, 684 N.W. 2d 465, 476-77 (
Specifically, appellant argues that the state failed to prove he knowingly possessed the cocaine found in the pocket of the pants he was wearing because he never told the officers he knew the substance in the pocket was cocaine. When asked if appellant admitted that the white powder found in his pants pocket was cocaine, one officer answered, “No he was not coherent when the package was found. . . . He was medically unstable, hooked to a heart monitor and had a pulse that was off the charts.” That officer also testified that, in the squad car, appellant “did tell us he had been doing a lot of cocaine.” The other officer was also asked if appellant admitted that the substance in his pants pocket was cocaine. He testified, “At that point in time I don’t believe he could have told us, he was so disoriented that he didn’t know what – actually, I don’t believe he knew even where he was.” The officer then answered, “Yep,” when asked if appellant “was that bad off.” Based on this testimony, appellant’s ownership of the cocaine in his pants pocket was a legitimate inference, despite the lack of an admission.
Moreover, possession has been inferred from the presence of an item in a pocket even when the defendant is not wearing the clothing. See, e.g., State v. Camp, 590 N.W.2d 115, 118-19 (Minn. 1999) (rejecting defendant’s argument that presence of methamphetamine in shirt pocket could not support finding of probable cause because shirt found in car where defendant was apprehended “was not in [defendant’s] possession”); State v. Barnes, 618 N.W. 2d 805, 813 (Minn. App. 2000) (finding constructive possession of drugs based in part on cocaine found in pocket of shorts in defendant’s bedroom), review denied (Minn. Jan. 16, 2001). Appellant was wearing the clothing in which the cocaine was found. This fact and the inference drawn from it provided adequate support for the jury’s verdict.
 In his pro se brief, appellant raises the issue of his right to represent himself. By the time of trial, appellant was receiving the services of his third attorney. The district court recommended that appellant not reject this public defender, whom the jury had already met, and the transcript shows that appellant agreed to follow the court’s recommendation. This issue is without merit.