FROM THE SEBASTIAN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FORT SMITH DIVISION
[NO. 66CR-15-1380] HONORABLE J. MICHAEL FITZHUGH, JUDGE
Standridge, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Ashley Argo Priest, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
RAYMOND R. ABRAMSON, Judge
Frankie Dwayne Vonholt was convicted by a jury of the
following charges: (1) conspiracy to commit delivery of
methamphetamine; (2) possession of hydromorphone with the
purpose of delivery; (3) possession of oxycodone with the
purpose of delivery; and (4) trafficking of methamphetamine.
He was charged as a habitual offender and was sentenced to
the Department of Correction for 15 years on the conspiracy
charge, 30 years on each delivery charge, and 80 years on the
trafficking charge.The terms of imprisonment are to run
consecutively. He appeals his convictions, arguing that the
circuit court erred by denying his motion for directed
verdict because the State did not present sufficient evidence
to establish that he (1) possessed methamphetamine,
hydromorphone, or oxycodone,  and (2) conspired to deliver
trial, the State presented the following evidence. Detective
Napier of the Fort Smith Police Department arranged a
controlled buy of methamphetamine. In a controlled buy, an
officer gives a confidential informant (C.I.) money to
purchase drugs from a suspect. Detective Napier was
investigating Curtis Jones for drug distribution and arranged
for a C.I. to perform a controlled buy with Jones. Detective
Napier met with the C.I. on the morning of December 22, 2015,
and had her purchase methamphetamine from Jones. The C.I.
went to Jones's residence and purchased $200 worth of
methamphetamine from Jones.
at his residence, Jones insisted that the C.I. leave because
"his source" would be arriving soon. Detective
Napier testified that a source is a drug dealer who brings
large amounts of drugs to a smaller dealer, who then sells
the drugs. Shortly after the C.I. had left Jones's
residence, Frankie Vonholt arrived in a pickup truck.
Detective Napier then obtained a search warrant and executed
it on Vonholt's truck. Jones suggested that Detective
Napier check some boots owned by Vonholt, which were in the
back of the truck. Detective Napier found an Armor All
container hidden in one boot that contained 248.5 grams of
methamphetamine, a digital scale, Ziploc bags, and a pill
bottle. The pill bottle contained .1964 grams of
hydromorphone and .0996 grams of oxycodone. The pill bottle
had Jones's name on it, and the State presented testimony
that dealers such as Jones often give their source something
of value-such as prescription drugs-when the dealer does not
have enough money to give the source.
the time Detective Napier was obtaining the search warrant,
Vonholt and Jones both entered and left the residence several
times. When the officers approached the residence to execute
the search warrant, Vonholt and Jones were standing outside
near the truck. Vonholt was standing on the driver's side
of the truck with his arms hanging in the bed near the boots.
In Vonholt's pockets, the officers found the $200 of
prerecorded buy money that the C.I. had given to Jones.
the State rested, Vonholt moved for directed verdict, and his
motion was denied. A motion for directed verdict is a
challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence. Matlock v.
State, 2015 Ark.App. 65, 454 S.W.3d 776. In a challenge
to the sufficiency of evidence presented at trial, this court
considers only the evidence supporting the conviction in the
light most favorable to the State and determines whether the
verdict is supported by substantial evidence. Sweet v.
State, 2011 Ark. 20, 370 S.W.3d 510. Substantial
evidence is evidence that is forceful enough to compel a
conclusion beyond suspicion or conjecture. Id.
Circumstantial evidence can sustain a conviction when the
jury decides that the evidence excludes every other
reasonable hypothesis consistent with innocence. Coger v.
State, 2017 Ark.App. 466, at 6, 529 S.W.3d 640, 646.
Possession of Contraband
person possesses a controlled substance if he or she
"exercise actual dominion, control, or management over a
tangible object." Ark. Code Ann. § 5-1-102(15)
(Repl. 2013). The State is not required to prove actual,
physical possession of contraband. Mings v. State,
318 Ark. 201, 884 S.W.2d 596 (1994). Possession may be
constructive if the State establishes beyond a reasonable
doubt that the defendant exercised care, control, and
management over contraband. Clark v. State, 2015
Ark.App. 679, 477 S.W.3d 544. Factors to consider in
determining constructive possession include (1) whether
contraband is in plain view, (2) whether contraband is found
in the defendant's personal belongings, (3) whether
contraband is found on the same side of the car seat as the
defendant is sitting, (4) whether the defendant owns the car
or exercises dominion and control over it, and (5) whether
the defendant acted suspiciously before the arrest.
McCastle v. State, 2012 Ark.App. 162, 392 S.W.3d
argues that the State did not present sufficient evidence to
support the jury's finding that he possessed
methamphetamine, hydromorphone, or oxycodone. However, the
State presented evidence that the substances were all found
in a boot owned by Vonholt in the bed of Vonholt's pickup
truck, which he had driven to Jones's residence. There is
substantial evidence to support a finding that Vonholt
possessed the substances because they were hidden in his boot
in the back of his truck. There is no evidence that anyone
else was in the truck or exercised any form of control over
the truck. Vonholt exercised dominion and control over the
truck by arriving in it; therefore, he exercised dominion and
control over the substances found in his boot. The evidence
showed that only Vonholt had control and dominion over the
truck, and the jury could conclude beyond suspicion or
conjecture that Vonholt possessed the drugs. While Vonholt
argues that Jones was equally likely to have possessed the
substances, the jury could have reasonably found that
Jones's mere presence near the truck and knowledge that
the drugs were in Vonholt's boot did not constitute
another reasonable hypothesis. We hold that substantial
evidence supports a finding that Vonholt possessed the
also argues that the fact the hydromorphone and oxycodone
were found in a pill bottle bearing Jones's name negates
a finding that he possessed these substances. However, the
State presented testimony that dealers such as Jones often
give sources such as Vonholt prescription drugs to satisfy a
debt. The jury was free to believe this testimony and to
believe that Vonholt possessed the substances. Furthermore,
the pill bottle was found in Vonholt's boot in
Vonholt's truck bed. Therefore, the circuit court ...