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State v. Workes

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division

September 12, 2017

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
JEREMY N. WORKES, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable Jimmie M. Edwards

          KURT S. ODENWALD, Judge

         Introduction

         Jeremy N. Workes ("Workes") appeals from the judgment of the trial court, entered after a jury convicted him on one count of possessing a controlled substance. On appeal, Workes argues that the trial court erred by overruling his motion for judgment of acquittal because the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Specifically, Workes asserts that the State did not prove he knew or was aware he was holding a controlled substance when the police apprehended him because he was unconscious when police arrived and no other evidence established the circumstances under which he had gripped the bag containing heroin. Because the State presented sufficient evidence allowing a juror reasonably to infer that Workes knew or was aware he possessed a controlled substance, we hold that there was sufficient evidence for the jury to convict Workes. We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

         Factual and Procedural History

         On April 1, 2015, police found Workes in a crashed car, tightly grasping a clear plastic bag containing eighty capsules of heroin. The State charged Workes with one count of possession of a controlled substance. The case proceeded to a jury trial.

         At trial, the State presented testimony from two detectives: Detectives Marcin Zajac ("Det. Zajac") and William Olston ("Det. Olston"). Det. Zajac testified to the following: Det. Zajac and his partner, Det. Olston, received information that Timothy Roberts ("Roberts") and an unidentified black male were selling narcotics out of a silver BMW 54Oi (the "BMW"). A few hours later, Det. Zajac and Det. Olston spotted the BMW traveling south on Riverview. Once the police activated their lights, the BMW sped up, and continued to drive in an attempt to elude the police.

         At some point, detectives laid spike strips on the road to slow the BMW. Det. Zajac saw the BMW hit the spikes, accelerate, and swerve in and out of traffic, all while still attempting to evade police as the BMW's tires deflated. The BMW hit a curb and flipped multiple times. Det. Zajac and Det. Olston approached the BMW. As Det. Zajac and Det. Olston approached, they observed the driver, Roberts, crawling out of the driver's side of the BMW. Det. Zajac and Det. Olston helped Roberts out of the car and placed him in handcuffs.

         As he first approached the BMW, Det. Zajac observed that Workes was slumped over onto Roberts. Workes was holding a plastic bag in his closed left hand with a "death grip." Det. Zajac testified that as he reached into the BMW to secure the plastic bag, Workes "wasn't trying to get out and run or anything like that. He was pretty out of it. He-he was, you know, almost in and out of consciousness." Det. Zajac secured the bag from Workes's grasp, then continued to assist Workes out of the BMW. The clear plastic bag contained a "large amount" of capsules.

         Det. Olston's testimony corroborated Det. Zajac's statements. In addition, Det. Olston explained his experience working undercover during heroin buys and estimated that a capsule of heroin would sell for between five and ten dollars. Subsequently, a criminalist, Christina Hayes ("Hayes"), testified as an expert regarding the content of the capsules. Hayes reported eighty capsules total in the bag Workes was holding. Hayes analyzed one of the capsules; the test showed that the capsule contained heroin. The estimated worth of heroin in the bag was between $400 and $800.

         Workes filed a motion for judgment of acquittal both after the close of the State's evidence and after all the evidence was admitted. The trial court denied both of Workes's motions. The jury found Workes guilty of possessing a controlled substance. The trial court sentenced Workes to seven years in prison, but suspended the execution of the sentence. The trial court placed Workes on probation for three years. Workes now appeals.

         Point on Appeal

         Workes sole point on appeal contends that the trial court erred in overruling his motion for judgment of acquittal because the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction. Specifically, Workes asserts that the State did not prove he knew or was aware he was holding a controlled substance because he was unconscious when police arrived and no other evidence established the circumstances under which he had gripped the bag containing heroin.

         Standard ...


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