State v. Johnson, No. 24496.

CourtMissouri Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtPhillip R. Garrison
Citation81 S.W.3d 212
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Rodney JOHNSON, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date30 May 2002
Docket NumberNo. 24496.

Page 212

81 S.W.3d 212
STATE of Missouri, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Rodney JOHNSON, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 24496.
Missouri Court of Appeals, Southern District, Division Two.
May 30, 2002.
Motion for Rehearing or Transfer Denied June 17, 2002.
Application for Transfer Denied August 27, 2002.

Page 213

Kent Denzel, Columbia, for appellant.

Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, Atty. Gen. and Stephanie Morrell, Asst. Atty. Gen., for respondent.

PHILLIP R. GARRISON, Presiding Judge.


Rodney Johnson ("Defendant") was charged with the class B felony of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, in violation of Section 195.211.1 Following a bench trial, he was found guilty and was sentenced to six years imprisonment. Defendant appeals.

Page 214

On January 23, 2000, Sergeant Jack McMullin ("Sergeant McMullin") of the Missouri State Highway Patrol was patrolling Interstate 44 in Greene County. Sergeant McMullin observed a 1999 Ford Expedition following another vehicle too closely. He stopped the Expedition after following it for approximately two miles as it continued to follow the other vehicle too closely.

Sergeant McMullin asked the driver of the Expedition, Tarrie Dozier ("Dozier"), to come back to his patrol car where he ran a computer check of the license plate, and discovered that the vehicle belonged to a rental car company. Dozier stated that he and the other two men in the vehicle were traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio to promote some CDs. Sergeant McMullin issued a written warning for the traffic violation and inquired who the vehicle belonged to, and when Dozier said that it was a rental vehicle, Sergeant McMullin asked for and was shown the rental agreement, which indicated that Defendant was the renter of the vehicle. The rental agreement showed that the vehicle had been rented on January 20th or 21st and that the return date was January 27th. Sergeant McMullin then asked Defendant to come to his patrol car to show him identification to prove that he was the renter of the vehicle.

While speaking with Defendant in the patrol car, Sergeant McMullin noticed that Defendant was very nervous and his hands were trembling. Defendant had difficulty with his speech. Defendant told Sergeant McMullin that he was heading toward Cincinnati to promote some CDs, and that he was Dozier's manager. Defendant stated that they were staying in Cincinnati for a week. Sergeant McMullin then asked Defendant if he had any guns or drugs in the vehicle, and Defendant said that there were none. Sergeant McMullin then asked if he could search the vehicle, and Defendant stated, "Go ahead."

Defendant remained in the patrol car while Sergeant McMullin went to the Expedition. With Dozier and the remaining passenger remaining in the Expedition, Sergeant McMullin opened the passenger side rear door and looked inside. He shined his flashlight in a seat belt slot hole and saw a duct-taped package. He removed the package and determined that it contained marijuana.

Defendant, Dozier, and the other passenger were arrested. A more thorough search of the vehicle was conducted, and additional packages of marijuana were discovered hidden in the "factory voids" of the vehicle, including the ceiling, the seat belt slot holes, the jack storage area, and the left rear panel of the vehicle. Twenty-three packages of marijuana, weighing approximately thirty-eight pounds, were removed from the vehicle. The estimated value of the marijuana was $40,000.

Prior to trial, Defendant filed a motion to suppress the marijuana seized from the vehicle. The trial court overruled the motion after an evidentiary hearing. Defendant also filed a motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the State's case, which was denied. Following a bench trial, Defendant was found guilty and was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

Defendant raises two points of error on appeal. His second point, however, is dispositive of the appeal. In that point, Defendant asserts that the trial court erred in overruling his motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the evidence and in entering a judgment finding him guilty of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute because the evidence was insufficient to establish that Defendant knowingly possessed a controlled substance. He argues that the trier of fact could not have reached a "subjective state of near certitude" that Defendant knew of or exercised control over the marijuana hidden in the rented vehicle.

Page 215

In a court-tried case, the sufficiency of the evidence is determined by the same standard as in a jury-tried case, and that is whether or not there was sufficient evidence from which the trier of fact could have reasonably found guilt. State v. Downen, 3 S.W.3d 434, 435 (Mo.App. S.D. 1999). In determining whether or not there is evidence sufficient to support a finding of guilt, an appellate court may not weigh the evidence, but accepts as true all evidence tending to prove guilt...

To continue reading

Request your trial
25 practice notes
  • Smith v. State, No. 3051
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 27 Agosto 2002
    ...shows persons other than driver had equal access to contraband in trunk; conviction affirmed without such evidence); Missouri v. Johnson, 81 S.W.3d 212 (Mo.App.2002)("constructive possession will not be inferred in circumstances where others have had equal access to the vehicle unless there......
  • State v. Gonzalez, No. 25152.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 30 Junio 2003
    ...had regular access to premises or room where drugs were located). The fourth and final case relied upon by Defendant is State v. Johnson, 81 S.W.3d 212 (Mo.App.2002). There, the evidence, which showed the accused's nervousness and large quantities of drugs hidden in the factory voids of a c......
  • State v. Chavez, No. WD 62048.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 30 Enero 2004
    ...controlled substance, either actual or constructive, and (2) an awareness of the presence and nature of the substance." State v. Johnson, 81 S.W.3d 212, 215 (Mo.App. S.D. 2002). Thus, to obtain a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, the State was required to prove that Chave......
  • State v. McCleod, No. WD 64945.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 21 Marzo 2006
    ..."However, `[p]ossession without knowledge of such possession is not possession in the legal sense of that word.'" State v. Johnson, 81 S.W.3d 212, 215 (Mo. App. S.D.2002) (quoting State v. Mercado, 887 S.W.2d 688, 692 (Mo.App. S.D.1994)). Appellant argues that the record does not contain su......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
25 cases
  • Smith v. State, No. 3051
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 27 Agosto 2002
    ...shows persons other than driver had equal access to contraband in trunk; conviction affirmed without such evidence); Missouri v. Johnson, 81 S.W.3d 212 (Mo.App.2002)("constructive possession will not be inferred in circumstances where others have had equal access to the vehicle unless there......
  • State v. Gonzalez, No. 25152.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 30 Junio 2003
    ...had regular access to premises or room where drugs were located). The fourth and final case relied upon by Defendant is State v. Johnson, 81 S.W.3d 212 (Mo.App.2002). There, the evidence, which showed the accused's nervousness and large quantities of drugs hidden in the factory voids of a c......
  • State v. Chavez, No. WD 62048.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 30 Enero 2004
    ...controlled substance, either actual or constructive, and (2) an awareness of the presence and nature of the substance." State v. Johnson, 81 S.W.3d 212, 215 (Mo.App. S.D. 2002). Thus, to obtain a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, the State was required to prove that Chave......
  • State v. McCleod, No. WD 64945.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • 21 Marzo 2006
    ..."However, `[p]ossession without knowledge of such possession is not possession in the legal sense of that word.'" State v. Johnson, 81 S.W.3d 212, 215 (Mo. App. S.D.2002) (quoting State v. Mercado, 887 S.W.2d 688, 692 (Mo.App. S.D.1994)). Appellant argues that the record does not contain su......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT