State v. Smith

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Citation33 S.W.3d 648
Parties(Mo.App. W.D. 2000) . State of Missouri, Respondent v. Stanley E. Smith, Appellant. Case Number: WD57697 Missouri Court of Appeals Western District Handdown Date:
Decision Date14 November 2000

33 S.W.3d 648 (Mo.App. W.D. 2000)
This slip opinion is subject to revision and may not reflect the final opinion adopted by the Court.
State of Missouri, Respondent
v.
Stanley E. Smith, Appellant.
Case Number: WD57697
Missouri Court of Appeals Western District
Handdown Date: 11/14/2000

Appeal From: Circuit Court of Holt County, Hon. John C. Andrews

Counsel for Appellant: J.C. Hambrick, Jr.

Counsel for Respondent: Jeremiah (Jay) Nixon, John M. Morris and Susan Glass

Opinion Summary:

Stanley Smith appeals his convictions for possession of a controlled substance and manufacture and production of a controlled substance. Smith was charged after police searched a house he and his girlfriend occupied and found methamphetamine, as well as paraphernalia used to manufacture methamphetamine. In his appeal, Smith raises 6 points, one of which the Court finds dispositive, namely that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction of both counts.

REVERSED.

Division holds:

(1) Smith was in joint possession of the premises where the illegal substance was found. In order to convict Smith for the possession of methamphetamine the state must prove two elements: (1) that Smith had conscious and intentional possession of the controlled substance, either actual or constructive and (2) that he was aware of the presence and nature of the substance. State v. Purlee, 839 S.W.2d 584, 587 (Mo. banc 1992).

(2) Since Smith shared the residence with his girlfriend and was not present when the search of his residence was made, the court could not infer that the illegal drugs belonged to Smith or that he had control over the substance or knowledge of its existence.

(3) Absent additional corroborating evidence in the form of the commingling of the controlled substance with Smith's belonging, a great quantity of the illegal substance, the substance in public view and access by Smith or other circumstances that could raise an inference of knowledge or control, Smith's convictions cannot be affirmed.

Opinion Author: Ronald R. Holliger

Opinion Vote: REVERSED. Breckenridge and Smart, Jr., J.J., concur.

Opinion:

Stanley Smith was convicted of possession of a controlled substance under section 195.202 and manufacture and production of a controlled substance under section 195.211.1 Because we find that the evidence was insufficient on both counts to support the convictions we reverse with directions that Smith be discharged.

On December 6, 1998, Kelly Shuttleworth, a member of the Buchanan County Drug Strike Force, was shopping at Wal-Mart when he saw two men purchasing lithium batteries and cold medicine. Shuttleworth believed one of the men to be Stanley Smith. After the men left the Wal-Mart, Shuttleworth followed them and telephoned their license plate number into his dispatcher. The license plate was traced to a car owned by Smith's parents. As it turned out, the man purchasing the items at Wal-Mart was not Smith but a man named Sam Latrelle.

A search warrant was obtained on December 7, 1998, for Smith's residence and the surrounding property. The house was on a farm owned by Smith's parents. Smith had lived on the farm for some ten years. His girlfriend had lived with him on the farm for an unknown period. The house was empty when the search was executed. Smith and Schultz were in St. Joseph, Mo., at the time the officers searched the premises.

In an outbuilding on the farm several items commonly used in methamphetamine production were found. In the kitchen police found more questionable but legal household items as well as containers of liquid. In Smith's bedroom, which he shared with Christine Schultz, the police found a spoon with methamphetamine residue on it, a razor blade with methamphetamine powder on it and pseudoephedrine. Officers arrested Smith in St. Joseph, Missouri, more than an hour away, before beginning the search. No illegal substances were found in Smith's possession at the time of the arrest. Subsequent to the search and Smith's arrest, officers realized that Smith was not the man in Wal-Mart purchasing the questionable products. Evidence at trial indicated that Sam Latrelle, Schultz's ex-husband, made the purchases.

Smith raises six points on appeal; three deal with the issuance of the search warrant and two with closing argument by the prosecutor. Because resolution of Smith's remaining point is dispositive of the case we do not discuss the other issues. The state argues that Smith's point on appeal is defective for failure to comply with Rule 30.06 which requires a point relied on to (1) identify the trial court ruling being challenged, (2) state concisely the legal reasons for the claim of reversible error, and (3) explain in summary fashion why, in the context of the case, those legal reasons support the claim of reversible error. The Court of Appeals has no duty to look to the argument portion of a brief or scour the record to ascertain the basis and reason an appellant claims the trial court erred. State v. Boyle, 970 S.W.2d 835, 837 (Mo. App. 1998). Abstract statements of law devoid of reference to any action or ruling of the trial court violate the rules of appellate procedure in criminal cases. State v. Kuhlenberg, 981 S.W.2d 617, 622 (Mo. App. 1998).

Smith's point relied on states:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY ALLOWING THE JURY TO CONSIDER A CASE ON CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE SHOWING ANY EXCLUSIVE CONTROL, ACTUAL CONTROL, OR ANY CONNECTION OTHER THAN HIM HAVING SHARED A RESIDENCE, OF ANY ILLEGAL SUBSTANCE FOUND IN THE MISTAKEN SEARCH.

The point lacks compliance with Rule 30.06 by failing to direct our attention to the action or ruling complained of and clearly stating the legal reasons for the alleged error. Nevertheless, we need not dismiss an appeal when the issues are clear. State v. Nathan, 992 S.W.2d 908, 909 (Mo. App. 1999). In a criminal case it is preferable, if possible, to reach the merits of a case lest we punish the appellant for the shortcomings of his counsel. State v. Gilpin, 954 S.W.2d 570, 580 (Mo. App. 1997). We do clearly ascertain from the argument portion of the brief and the transcript that Smith is complaining that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction and that the court erred in not granting his motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of all the evidence.2

We may, in addition, in our discretion, choose to exercise plain error review. Rule 30.20. Mere allegations of error and prejudice do not warrant plain error review unless there are substantial grounds for believing that manifest injustice has resulted from the error. State v. Boyd, 954 S.W.2d 602, 606 (Mo. App. 1997). The state has the burden and must prove each and every element of a criminal case. The failure to do so demands that any conviction be reversed. State v. Bromley, 840 S.W.2d 288, 289 (Mo. App. 1992). A conviction based on insufficient evidence results in a manifest...

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33 practice notes
  • State v. Eoff, No. 26047.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 13, 2006
    ...§ 565.070.1(1). Plain error review is discretionary. See State v. Thurston, 104 S.W.3d Page 375 839, 841 (Mo.App.2003); State v. Smith, 33 S.W.3d 648, 652 (Mo.App.2000). A request for plain error review requires us to go through a two-step analysis. State v. Scurlock, 998 S.W.2d 578, 586 (M......
  • Johnston v. Roper, Case No. 4:09CV2080 JCH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • March 17, 2011
    ...the substance." Wenzel, 119 S.W.3d at 653 (citing State v. Potter, 72 S.W.3d 307, 311-12 (Mo. Ct. App. 2002); State v. Smith, 33 S.W.3d 648, 653 (Mo. Ct. App. 2000)). Johnston raised argued to the Missouri Court of Appeals that there was insufficient evidence to convict him for methamp......
  • Balbirnie v. State, WD 84667
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • August 2, 2022
    ...it is not this Court's responsibility to search the record for facts supporting contentions made by Balbirnie on appeal, State v. Smith , 33 S.W.3d 648, 652 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000), but our thorough review of the record shows no evidence whatsoever that Warner's cell phone number appeared on V......
  • State v. Cummings, No. 25624.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 20, 2004
    ...pursuant to Rule 30.20.5 Plain error review is discretionary. See State v. Thurston, 104 S.W.3d 839, 841 (Mo.App.2003); State v. Smith, 33 S.W.3d 648, 652 (Mo.App.2000). For relief under the plain error rule to be warranted, a defendant must demonstrate "the error so substantially affe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
33 cases
  • State v. Eoff, No. 26047.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 13, 2006
    ...§ 565.070.1(1). Plain error review is discretionary. See State v. Thurston, 104 S.W.3d Page 375 839, 841 (Mo.App.2003); State v. Smith, 33 S.W.3d 648, 652 (Mo.App.2000). A request for plain error review requires us to go through a two-step analysis. State v. Scurlock, 998 S.W.2d 578, 586 (M......
  • Johnston v. Roper, Case No. 4:09CV2080 JCH
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Missouri)
    • March 17, 2011
    ...the substance." Wenzel, 119 S.W.3d at 653 (citing State v. Potter, 72 S.W.3d 307, 311-12 (Mo. Ct. App. 2002); State v. Smith, 33 S.W.3d 648, 653 (Mo. Ct. App. 2000)). Johnston raised argued to the Missouri Court of Appeals that there was insufficient evidence to convict him for methamp......
  • Balbirnie v. State, WD 84667
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • August 2, 2022
    ...it is not this Court's responsibility to search the record for facts supporting contentions made by Balbirnie on appeal, State v. Smith , 33 S.W.3d 648, 652 (Mo. App. W.D. 2000), but our thorough review of the record shows no evidence whatsoever that Warner's cell phone number appeared on V......
  • State v. Cummings, No. 25624.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • May 20, 2004
    ...pursuant to Rule 30.20.5 Plain error review is discretionary. See State v. Thurston, 104 S.W.3d 839, 841 (Mo.App.2003); State v. Smith, 33 S.W.3d 648, 652 (Mo.App.2000). For relief under the plain error rule to be warranted, a defendant must demonstrate "the error so substantially affe......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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