Maxwell v. Com., Record No. 070831.

Docket NºRecord No. 070831.
Citation275 Va. 437, 657 S.E.2d 499
Case DateFebruary 29, 2008
CourtSupreme Court of Virginia
657 S.E.2d 499
275 Va. 437
Jayson Franklin MAXWELL
v.
COMMONWEALTH of Virginia.
Record No. 070831.
Supreme Court of Virginia.
February 29, 2008.

[657 S.E.2d 500]

A. Pierre Jackson, Farmville, for appellant.

Benjamin H. Katz, Assistant Attorney General (Robert F. McDonnell, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present: HASSELL, C.J., KOONTZ, KINSER, LEMONS, AGEE, and GOODWYN, JJ., and CARRICO, S.J.

OPINION BY Senior Justice HARRY L. CARRICO.


In a jury trial, the defendant, Jayson Franklin Maxwell, was convicted of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, third or subsequent offense, in violation of Code § 18.2-248, and possession of marijuana, in violation of Code § 18.2-250.1. The jury fixed the defendant's punishment at seven years in the penitentiary on the cocaine charge and thirty days in jail on the marijuana charge. The trial court imposed the sentences fixed by the jury and also imposed an additional one-year term suspended subject to post-release supervision pursuant to Code § 19.2-295.2.

In an unpublished opinion, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals, with one judge dissenting, reversed the defendant's convictions.

657 S.E.2d 501

Maxwell v. Commonwealth, Record No. 2648-05-2, 2006 WL 3358366 (Nov. 21, 2006). Upon rehearing en banc, a majority of the court vacated the panel's mandate and, by order, affirmed the trial court's judgment for the reasons stated in the panel's dissenting opinion. Maxwell v. Commonwealth, Record No. 2648-05-2, 2007 WL 4980816 (Apr. 3, 2007). We awarded the defendant this appeal.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Approximately 11:00 a.m. on March 25, 2003, Officer Bill Hogan of the "Farmville Police Department, wearing plain clothes but displaying a badge, a sidearm, and handcuffs, drove in his unmarked vehicle to the Farmville Shopping Center, where, he had been told, he would find the defendant. Upon arrival at the shopping center, he found the defendant standing in front of "The Gym." Officer Hogan told the defendant he wanted to talk to him about a check, and the two conversed briefly about that subject.

The defendant had his hands "down the front of his pants, not in his pockets, but actually down the front of his pants." Concerned about "officer safety," Officer Hogan asked the defendant to remove his hands from his pants. When the defendant refused to respond to the request, Officer Hogan told the defendant that they "needed to go to the police department and talk about" the check matter and that he, Hogan, "needed to check [the defendant] to see if he had anything on him, to pat him down." The defendant backed up and said several times, "I ain't got nothing on me," whereupon, "[h]e ran."

Officer Hogan pursued the defendant on foot for a short distance and then returned to his vehicle and drove down an alley behind the shopping center that bordered a lumberyard. He observed the defendant walk out from behind several stacks of plywood located between the alley and a chain-link fence that enclosed the lumberyard. Officer Hogan took the defendant into custody, put handcuffs on him, and placed him in the vehicle of State Trooper Sean Givens, who had responded to a call to report to the scene. The officers found $460.00 in cash on the defendant's person, but no smoking device.

Officer Hogan conducted a search of the area. When he found nothing, he called for a "drug dog," and Robert Leon Goldman, a "K-9 officer," reported to the scene with his dog, Lily, about 11:15 a.m. Lily "alerted on" a lumber pallet and Goldman "reached in and got a plastic bag" that contained "eight individually wrapped off-white rocklike substances." Subsequent analysis determined that the rocklike substances in the plastic bag were crack cocaine.

Trooper Givens conversed with the defendant while the search was underway. At first, the defendant was "talkative and cooperative" but became "less talkative and distant" after the plastic bag was found. The trooper then transported the defendant to the police department for processing.

Coy R. Sams, an employee of the lumberyard, testified that he unloaded fourteen units of plywood from a tractor-trailer about 8:30 a.m. on March 25, 2003, and placed the stacks of plywood alongside the alley outside the fence that enclosed the lumberyard. Sams also said he spent the rest of the morning "going in and out of the warehouse and back and forth to the yard to retrieve products and materials for customers" and saw no one near the stacks of plywood. He admitted, however, that he was not "outside guarding the plywood the entire morning,"

Another lumberyard employee, Mac Robinson, Jr., testified that he and three to six other employees were around the warehouse and yard on March 25, 2003, filling orders for customers and that he saw no one near the plywood stacks all morning, although he was not near the stacks the entire time. Later in the day, Robinson used a forklift to move the stacks of plywood inside the fence where materials were "stored and secured." He testified that after moving "the top" of one of the units, he returned "to pick the bottom unit up" and saw "two bags of stuff' on top of the plywood. He reported his find to Coy Sams and immediately went "back out and sat on the forklift . . . until authorities came."

Officer Hogan arrived on the scene at 1:45 p.m. and took possession of the two bags.

657 S.E.2d 502

Subsequent analysis determined that one bag contained twelve individually wrapped bags of crack cocaine and the other bag contained marijuana.

A single latent fingerprint was found on the bag containing crack cocaine but subsequent analysis determined that it did not match the defendant's fingerprints. A fingerprint expert testifying for the Commonwealth said "circumstances have to be just right for af print to be left on a particular surface" and "not everything that is touched can . . . develop a print." Fingerprints are "very fragile in nature," he stated, and may be destroyed "if you were to just wipe across [it] or if it comes into contact with your clothing or another item." He also opined that "because there is no print of someone's on [an object] doesn't mean that person didn't touch it."

At the conclusion of the Commonwealth's evidence and at the conclusion of all the evidence, the defendant moved to strike the evidence on the ground it was insufficient to show he possessed the drugs. The trial court denied both motions.

The defendant argues on appeal that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to show he possessed the drugs in question. The defendant contends that the Commonwealth's case is based on circumstantial evidence, that the chain of circumstances is not unbroken, and that the evidence therefore is equally susceptible to an interpretation consistent with his innocence.

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194 practice notes
  • ERVIN v. Commonwealth Of Va., No. 0861-09-1
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • June 22, 2010
    ...an element of the offense, then the evidence is insufficient as a matter of law to support the conviction. Maxwell v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 437, 441, 657 S.E.2d 499, 502 (2008). To sustain a conviction for possession of marijuana, "[t]he Commonwealth was required to prove that [appellant] '......
  • Johnson v. Com., Record No. 1955-07-4.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • December 16, 2008
    ...any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.'" Maxwell v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 437, 442, 657 S.E.2d 499, 502 (2008) (quoting Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319, 99 S.Ct. at 2789). These principles recognize that an appellate court is "not......
  • Jaynes v. Com., Record No. 062388.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • February 29, 2008
    ...trespassing on the privately owned e-mail servers through the intentional use of false information and that no First Amendment 657 S.E.2d 499 protection is afforded under these circumstances. I Trespass is the unauthorized use of or entry onto another's property. See e.g., Vines v. Branch, ......
  • Kelley v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1063-17-4
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 8, 2019
    ...any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.’ " Maxwell v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 437, 442, 657 S.E.2d 499 (2008) (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979) ). The appellant was tri......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
194 cases
  • ERVIN v. Commonwealth Of Va., No. 0861-09-1
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • June 22, 2010
    ...an element of the offense, then the evidence is insufficient as a matter of law to support the conviction. Maxwell v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 437, 441, 657 S.E.2d 499, 502 (2008). To sustain a conviction for possession of marijuana, "[t]he Commonwealth was required to prove that [appellant] '......
  • Johnson v. Com., Record No. 1955-07-4.
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • December 16, 2008
    ...any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.'" Maxwell v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 437, 442, 657 S.E.2d 499, 502 (2008) (quoting Jackson, 443 U.S. at 319, 99 S.Ct. at 2789). These principles recognize that an appellate court is "not......
  • Jaynes v. Com., Record No. 062388.
    • United States
    • Virginia Supreme Court of Virginia
    • February 29, 2008
    ...trespassing on the privately owned e-mail servers through the intentional use of false information and that no First Amendment 657 S.E.2d 499 protection is afforded under these circumstances. I Trespass is the unauthorized use of or entry onto another's property. See e.g., Vines v. Branch, ......
  • Kelley v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1063-17-4
    • United States
    • Virginia Court of Appeals of Virginia
    • January 8, 2019
    ...any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.’ " Maxwell v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 437, 442, 657 S.E.2d 499 (2008) (quoting Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 319, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 2789, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979) ). The appellant was tri......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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