This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2006).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
State of Minnesota,
Filed April 17, 2007
Benton County District Court
File No. K2-03-001031
Lori Swanson, Attorney General, Kimberly Ross Parker, Assistant Attorney General, 1800 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN 55101-2134; and
Robert J. Raupp, Benton County Attorney, Courts Facility Building, 615 Highway 23, P.O. Box 189, Foley, MN 56329 (for respondent)
Keith M. Ellison, 2100 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411 (for appellant)
Considered and decided by Klaphake, Presiding Judge; Lansing, Judge; and Shumaker, Judge.
Anthony Walker appeals from his conviction for first-degree possession of a controlled substance, arguing that the evidence was insufficient to sustain the conviction. Because the evidence was sufficient to prove constructive possession, we affirm.
court reviews a claim of insufficiency of the evidence to ascertain whether
“given the facts in the record and the legitimate inferences that can be drawn
from those facts, a jury could conclude that the defendant was guilty of the
offense charged.” Bernhardt v. State, 684 N.W.2d 465, 476 (
was charged with possession of more than 25 grams of cocaine, a first-degree
controlled substance crime. Minn. Stat.
§ 152.021, subd. 2(1) (2004). Possession
of a controlled substance may be proved either by actual physical possession of
the drug or by constructive possession. State v.
The purpose of the constructive possession doctrine is to include within the possession statute those cases where the state 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 or control over it.
Here, the following facts support appellant’s constructive possession of the cocaine: (1) a controlled buy occurred at apartment 318 of the Wilson Apartments earlier in the day; (2) police maintained surveillance of the apartment building and the immediate vicinity from the time of the controlled buy until execution of the search warrant; (3) police observed appellant and two companions leave the building and approach a Ford Thunderbird parked outside (appellant’s two companions were identified as the participants in the controlled buy); (4) police observed appellant remove a tackle box from the trunk of the Thunderbird and apparently remove something from the tackle box; (5) although appellant’s companion, Martin Tipton, testified that appellant never went to the car and never had cocaine in his hand, pictures taken by the surveillance team show appellant at the car and apparently removing something; (6) Tipton testified that appellant was in the apartment while Tipton and Roderick Herron were cooking cocaine; alternatively, Tipton also said that appellant participated in the cooking process; (7) appellant was extremely belligerent during the search, which suggests that he may have had reason to be concerned about the search; and (8) cocaine was found in the tackle box in the trunk of the Thunderbird.
facts are largely circumstantial, rather than direct evidence of
possession. Circumstantial evidence is
entitled to the same weight as direct evidence, but requires stricter
scrutiny. State v. Bias, 419 N.W.2d 480, 484 (
A conviction based on circumstantial evidence will be upheld if the reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence are inconsistent with any rational hypothesis except that of the defendant’s guilt. We look at the record to determine whether the evidence, when viewed in a light most favorable to the conviction, was sufficient to permit jurors to reach the verdict they did. The evidence must form a complete chain that leads directly to the defendant’s guilt and makes any other theory unreasonable. To succeed in a challenge to a conviction based upon circumstantial evidence, a convicted person must point to evidence within the record that is consistent with a rational theory other than guilt. However, possibilities of innocence do not require reversal of a jury verdict so long as the evidence taken as a whole makes such theories seem unreasonable.
State v. Gates,
615 N.W.2d 331, 337-38 (
of possession of a controlled substance is charged under three different
theories: actual possession;
constructive possession; or, infrequently, by alleging proof that the offender
is liable for the crime by intentionally aiding, advising, hiring, counseling,
or conspiring with another. See State v. Lorenz, 368 N.W.2d 284, 287
(Minn. 1985) (analyzing sufficiency of evidence on theory of independent
possession, joint possession, or aiding and abetting possession of controlled
substance). No matter which theory is
used, the underlying charge is one of possession. The district court found appellant guilty of
aiding and abetting first-degree possession of a controlled substance. “Aiding
and abetting” means that “[a] person is criminally liable for a crime committed
by another if the person intentionally aids, advises, hires, counsels, or conspires
with or otherwise procures the other to commit the crime.”