FROM THE CRAWFORD COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 17CR-17-670]
HONORABLE MICHAEL MEDLOCK, JUDGE
Lisa-Marie Norris, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Amanda Jegley, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, JUDGE
Michael Dye was convicted in a bench trial of possession of
methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia, and being
a felon in possession of a firearm. For his
possession-of-methamphetamine conviction, he was sentenced to
ten years in prison followed by a five-year suspended
imposition of sentence. Dye was given a fifteen-year
suspended imposition of sentence for the remaining two
appeal, Dye argues that the consent obtained by the officers
to search his home was invalid. Dye also argues that the
trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the
incriminating evidence because the police search of his home
was unlawful. Finally, Dye challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence to support his convictions. We affirm.
listed as appellant's last point on appeal, we must first
address the sufficiency of the evidence prior to any other
alleged trial court error. Johnson v. State, 2014
Ark.App. 567, 444 S.W.3d 880. In a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence, we review the evidence in the
light most favorable to the State and consider only the
evidence that supports the convictions. Cluck v.
State, 365 Ark. 166, 226 S.W.3d 780 (2006). Evidence is
sufficient if it is of such character and force that it, with
reasonable certainty, compels a conclusion one way or the
other without resort to speculation or conjecture.
Id. On appeal, we view all the evidence that
supports the conviction, including evidence that may have
been erroneously admitted. Scroggins v. State, 312
Ark. 106, 848 S.W.2d 400 (1993).
trial court held the suppression hearing and the bench trial
simultaneously. Officer Andy Jones of the Van Buren Police
Department was the first witness to testify. According to
Officer Jones, the police had received complaints of
trespassing on private property where a gas well was located.
Jones testified that around midnight on January 14, 2017, he
was patrolling in an area of "extra patrol" on
Industrial Park Road.
Jones testified that while on patrol he observed two vehicles
parked next to each other at the gate entrance to the gas
well. There were two occupants in a truck and a single
occupant in a car. Due to the previous reports of trespassing
and because it was late at night, Officer Jones pulled in
behind the vehicles to identify the occupants and investigate
why they were there.
Officer Jones pulled in, a man named Mr. Watkins exited the
truck from the driver's side. Appellant, Michael Dye,
remained seated in the passenger seat of the
truck.Dye had cash in his hand and told the
officer that Watkins was giving him a ride to the store to
buy cigarettes. Officer Jones observed a black pouch
containing loose baggies in between the driver's seat and
the passenger's seat of the truck. Officer Jones
asked for identification from Watkins and Dye, which they
each provided. Additional police cars containing Officers
Hammer and Bradford had pulled up to the scene. While Officer
Jones was in his patrol car running the identification cards,
Watkins fled the scene on foot. Officers Hammer and Bradford
unsuccessfully searched for Watkins for about ten minutes.
Officer Jones learned from the identification check that
appellant Dye had prior methamphetamine convictions.
Jones asked appellant Dye if he knew where Watkins would have
gone. Appellant replied that Watkins was staying with him at
his residence, which was on property adjacent to the gas well
about fifty feet from where the truck was parked. Officer
Jones asked appellant if they could check his home for
Watkins, and appellant replied "yes." In addition
to giving verbal consent to search his house, appellant Dye
signed a consent-to-search form provided to him by Officer
Jones acknowledged that during his conversation with Dye,
Dye's speech was slurred, his eyes were glassy, and he
was unsteady on his feet. Although Officer Jones did not
smell alcohol on appellant Dye's breath, he believed Dye
was under the influence of a narcotic. However, Officer Jones
testified that Dye appeared to understand what they were
asking him and appeared to know what was going on. Officer
Jones stated that, although he did not ask appellant about a
dog, Dye volunteered to him that there was a dog in the house
and warned that it was potentially violent toward officers.
Dye also volunteered to Officer Jones that there was an
unloaded shotgun in the first bedroom on the right propped up
next to his bed. Appellant gave the officers the key to his
Bradford testified that when he and Officer Hammer arrived at
the scene, he observed Officer Jones speaking with a man who
was outside the truck, and that the man left the scene
shortly thereafter. Officers Bradford and Hammer searched the
area for about ten minutes but were unable to find the man.
Officer Bradford then spoke with Officer Jones, who informed
him that the man they were looking for was staying in
appellant Dye's residence on the adjacent property and
that Dye had given his permission to enter the residence.
Officer Bradford was given the information that there was a
dog and a firearm in the residence. Dye signed a
consent-to-search form that was witnessed by Officers Jones
on the consent the police obtained from appellant Dye,
Officer Bradford entered the residence using the key provided
by Dye. Officer Bradford observed a pit bull mix dog lying on
the couch in the living room. He also found a glass pipe,
which he assumed was used to smoke methamphetamine, on the
living-room table. Officer Bradford entered the bedroom where
Dye said the gun was located and found an unloaded shotgun in
the bedroom closet. There were shotgun shells directly above
the gun. On the top of the headboard of the bed was a spoon
containing a crystal-like substance, which subsequently
tested positive for methamphetamine at the crime lab. Officer
Bradford also found some straws that contained a powdery
Bradford also testified as to the chronology of these events.
Bradford stated that within five minutes of the initial
encounter by Officer Jones, Watkins had fled the scene. Then
Officers Bradford and Hammer searched for Watkins for about
ten minutes. Shortly thereafter, upon obtaining appellant
Dye's consent to search, Officer Bradford searched
Dye's residence. Officer Bradford estimated that it was
about twenty minutes between the time he arrived on the scene
and the time he began the search, and after that it took
about five minutes to discover all the contraband.
first address appellant Dye's argument on appeal that
there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions.
Appellant initially contends that there was nothing to
connect him with the paraphernalia found in the truck, noting
that there was no evidence as to who owned the truck and the
paraphernalia was concealed in a pouch between the two front
seats. Dye further argues that there was insufficient
evidence to link him with the items seized from the residence
because it was never clearly established that he occupied the
residence. Alternatively, Dye argues that, at most, the State
showed that he occupied the residence jointly with Watkins,
and that there were no additional factors linking him to
possession of the contraband. For these reasons, appellant
Dye argues that his convictions should be reversed.
argument as to the items seized from the truck is misplaced
because the State's allegations against Dye were based on
the contraband seized from Dye's residence; not the
truck. Thus, it is irrelevant whether appellant was in
possession of the items seized from the truck. On the
evidence contained in the record, we hold that there was
substantial evidence to support the trial court's finding
that appellant was in possession of the methamphetamine, the
drug paraphernalia, and the firearm found in his residence.
possession can be inferred when the contraband is found in a
place immediately and exclusively accessible to the defendant
and subject to his control. Harjo v. State, 2017
Ark.App. 337, 522 S.W.3d 839. Constructive possession can
also be inferred when the contraband is in the joint control
of the accused and another. Id. However, joint
occupancy alone is not sufficient to establish possession or
joint possession; there must be some additional factor
linking the accused to the contraband. Id. In such
cases, the State must prove that the accused exercised care,
control, and management over the contraband and that the
accused knew the matter possessed was contraband.
Id. Control over the contraband can be inferred from
the circumstances, such as the proximity of the contraband to
the accused, the fact that it is in plain view, and the
ownership of the property where the contraband is found.
Nichols v. State, 306 Ark. 417, 815 S.W.2d 382
to appellant's argument, there was evidence that he
occupied the house and that it was his residence. Upon
inquiry by the police, Dye stated that Watkins was staying
with him at his residence. Dye orally consented to
the search of his residence and provided the police with the
key that opened the front door. Dye also signed the written
consent form, which stated that the house to be searched,
4616 Industrial Park Road, was "my house." Finally,
Dye voluntarily informed the police about a potentially
dangerous dog in the house and a shotgun in his bedroom, both