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State v. McCauley

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

May 16, 2017

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
JERRY MCCAULEY, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Hon. Dennis M. Schaumann

          OPINION

          Angela T. Quigless, P.J.

         This case involves consolidated cross appeals from the judgment of the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis following a jury trial in a criminal case. Jerry McCauley ("McCauley") appeals the trial court's judgment convicting him of possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia and resisting a lawful detention, arguing there was insufficient evidence of knowledge and intent to support the jury's verdicts. The State of Missouri (the "State") appeals the trial court's judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict on the charge of unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, arguing there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's guilty verdict. We affirm the judgment.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         We review the evidence and all reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence "in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict." State v. Hutson, 487 S.W.3d 100, 109 (Mo. App. W.D. 2016). McCauley was charged with six counts, including: unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, a class C felony in violation of Section 571.070[1] (Count I); resisting a lawful detention, a class A misdemeanor in violation of Section 575.150 (Count III); and possession of drug paraphernalia, a class A misdemeanor in violation of Section 195.233 (Count VI).[2]

         Detective Archie Shaw ("Det. Shaw") of the St. Louis Police Department received a tip from a confidential informant that McCauley was selling and storing narcotics at his girlfriend's apartment located at 4037A Olive St. (the "Apartment"). While surveilling the Apartment, Det. Shaw witnessed three events he suspected were drug transactions. First, Det. Shaw observed an individual knock on the door to the Apartment. McCauley opened the door to let him in; then two minutes later the individual left the Apartment and drove away. Second, another individual walked up to the Apartment. Again, McCauley opened the door and let him in. The individual was only in the Apartment for a few minutes then left. Third, Det. Shaw observed McCauley enter the Apartment, then come back out to meet an individual in the rear alley. The individual handed something to McCauley, McCauley handed something back, then the individual left. Based on his extensive experience investigating drug trafficking, Det. Shaw suspected drug activity.

         Det. Shaw obtained a valid search warrant for the Apartment. Det. Shaw executed the warrant along with seven other police detectives, including Lyndon Cornell ("Det. Cornell") and Damon Willis ("Det. Willis"). Det. Cornell was watching the rear entrance to the Apartment. Det. Willis was watching the front entrance.

         McCauley and another individual exited the rear entrance and walked toward the front of the Apartment. Det. Willis exited his vehicle and walked towards McCauley. Det. Willis was wearing a black vest that had the word "POLICE" written on the front and the back. When McCauley and the other individual saw Det. Willis, McCauley started running while the other individual stopped and put his hands over his head. Det. Willis yelled "Police, stop, " then pursued McCauley on foot, eventually catching and handcuffing him. Det. Willis searched McCauley and found a set of keys to the Apartment and three cell phones. No drugs or weapons were found on McCauley.

         The detectives informed McCauley they had a search warrant for the Apartment. McCauley denied that he lived there. However, Det. Shaw used McCauley's keys to open the front door. Det. Willis then detained McCauley while the other detectives searched the Apartment. The search revealed photos of McCauley and his girlfriend in the living room. In the kitchen drawer to the right of the stove there was a digital scale, a box of latex gloves, a hammer, scissors, a box of sandwich bags, and a box containing numerous small empty capsules. The scale, hammer, and scissors were all covered in a white powdery substance suspected to be heroin. Also in the drawer were three small bags containing large brown rocks suspected to be heroin. In the closed drawer on the opposite side of the stove, the detectives found a 9mm handgun concealed all the way in the back of the drawer. In the bedroom there was men's clothing in the closet where the detectives found another scale and a box containing a green leafy substance suspected to be marijuana. The detectives also found $5, 000 in cash in the dresser drawer. On top of the dresser in the bedroom, the detectives found mail addressed to McCauley at a different address, a prescription drug box with McCauley's name on it, and two doctor's appointment cards with future dates for McCauley. All the evidence was seized and packaged.

         Forensic testing confirmed the three bags recovered from the kitchen contained heroin, and the box recovered from the bedroom closet contained marijuana. The 9mm handgun was tested for fingerprints and DNA. There were no identifiable fingerprints on the gun, and the only DNA belonged to someone other than McCauley.

         The jury found McCauley guilty of three charges: Count I, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon for the gun found in the kitchen; Count III, resisting a lawful detention; and Count VI, possession of drug paraphernalia for the scales.

         McCauley filed a motion for judgment of acquittal arguing there was insufficient evidence to convict him of any of the charges. The court denied the motion as to Counts III and VI. However, the court granted the motion as to Count I, stating: "There was nothing in the evidence to connect Mr. McCauley with that weapon in question." The court further concluded: "The evidence of numerous hand to hand transactions and defendant going into and coming out of the premises is sufficient to support the verdict with regard to the scale. The Court does not believe the State proved defendant's constructive possession of the gun beyond a reasonable doubt." The court sentenced McCauley to two concurrent one-year sentences. This appeal follows.

         POINTS ON APPEAL

         McCauley raises two points on appeal. The State raises one point in its cross appeal. In Point I, McCauley argues the trial court erred in accepting the jury's verdict convicting him of possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia because there was no evidence of McCauley's knowledge of, or dominion and control over, the scales, and no evidence of McCauley's intent to use the scales for the purpose of preparing or packaging a controlled substance. In Point II, McCauley argues the trial court erred in accepting the jury's verdict convicting him of resisting a lawful detention because there was insufficient evidence that McCauley knew or reasonably should have known he was being pursued by law enforcement when he exited the Apartment, and insufficient evidence that the purpose of the detention was to execute a search warrant. In Point III, the State argues the trial court erred in granting McCauley's motion for judgment of acquittal on Count I because there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict finding McCauley guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon.

         DISCUSSION

         The points raised by both McCauley and the State address the sufficiency of the evidence to support the jury's verdicts and are, therefore, governed by the same standard of review.

         Standard of Review

         The standard of review for sufficiency of the evidence is the same whether the defendant appeals a guilty verdict or the State appeals a judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the jury's guilty verdict. See State v. Magalif, 131 S.W.3d 431, 434 (Mo. App. W.D. 2004). "Review of a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction is limited to determining whether sufficient evidence was presented from which a reasonable juror could find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." Hutson, 487 S.W.3d at 108; see State v. Clark, 490 S.W.3d 704, 707 (Mo. banc 2016). We view the evidence and all reasonable inferences drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, disregarding any contrary evidence and inferences. Hutson, 487 S.W.3d at 108. However, this Court "may not supply missing evidence, or give the [state] the benefit of unreasonable, speculative or forced inferences." Clark, 490 S.W.3d at 707. This court "does not act as a 'super juror' with veto powers but ...


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