FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, FIFTH DIVISION [NO.
60CR-17-923] HONORABLE WENDELL GRIFFEN, JUDGE
Terrence Cain and Jimmy C. Morris, Jr., for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Rachel Kemp, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
BRANDON J. HARRISON, JUDGE
case turns on whether the State proved that Allen Bradley,
who was already a felon, constructively possessed a Glock
semiautomatic 9 mm pistol on 16 February 2017 in violation of
Ark. Code Ann. § 5-73-103(c)(1)(A) (Repl. 2016). A
police officer found a gun inside a cardboard box that was
either near or within a shed approximately twenty yards from
where Bradley was arrested in the backyard of a jointly
occupied house. After a bench trial, the circuit court
convicted Bradley of being a felon in possession of a
firearm. The court sentenced Bradley to twenty years'
imprisonment in the Arkansas Department of Correction and
four years' suspended imposition of sentence. Bradley
appeals the conviction and argues that the record does not
sufficiently support it. We agree that the State did not
sufficiently prove that Bradley constructively possessed a
firearm in violation of the law and therefore reverse the
alleged domestic disturbance at a house in Little Rock, to
which police officers were dispatched, ended with
Bradley's arrest and the State charging him with six
offenses: a felon possessing a firearm; felony aggravated
assault on household or family member; felony aggravated
assault (two counts); felony third-degree battery; and a
up the story with the on-scene police officers telling the
circuit court about finding Bradley in the backyard of the
house to which they had been called. And we confine our
summary of the evidence to the firearm-possession charge for
reasons that will become clear in due course.
the bench trial, Little Rock police officer Timothy Pope
testified that Bradley did not have a gun on his person when
he was arrested in the backyard. According to Officer Pope,
Bradley was arrested "probably 25 feet from the back
door-25 yards or so from the back door of [the] house."
The 9 mm handgun, according to Officer Pope, "was found
in the backyard right outside the back door" by Officer
cross-examination, Officer Pope said that he had talked to
two people in the front yard, but he did not speak with
people who were inside the house. He said an older teenager,
a preteen, and a "younger baby" were inside the
house. When asked, the officer agreed that other people could
have been in the backyard before he arrested Bradley. When
asked by defense counsel where Officer McGuire found the gun,
Officer Pope said, "I don't know where he found it.
There was-once you go out the back door, there's a small
shed. I did see the small shed in the backyard[.]"
Officer Pope could not say how far the shed was from the back
door of the house. Officer Pope said that he did not see
Bradley with the gun, did not see anyone find the gun, and
did not test the gun to see if Bradley had touched it.
Bradley, according to Officer Pope, was "exiting the
area" but was not running when he was arrested in the
Rock police officer Steve McGuire said that he found a Glock
pistol "in a metal storage building behind the residence
and it was inside of a cardboard box." He agreed that
"it was visible from outside that building" and
"in the backyard of the residence." Officer McGuire
identified State's exhibit no. 4 as a picture of the gun
inside an open cardboard box. When Officer McGuire found the
gun, there was a round in the chamber and a loaded magazine
in it. Photographs of the magazine were admitted as
State's exhibit nos. 5 and 6. The officer also identified
the open cardboard box in which the gun was found as
State's exhibit no. 7; and the gun itself was marked
State's exhibit no. 8. Officer McGuire did not
participate in taking Bradley into physical custody because
he was "across the yard" at the time. According to
Officer McGuire, Bradley's arrest occurred twenty yards
from where the gun was located.
cross-examination Officer McGuire said that he never saw
Bradley touch the weapon, that there were several people in
the house when the police arrived, that he did not know the
nature of the relationship Bradley had with the residents,
and that the gun he recovered was never tested for
Tony Nativi testified too. He said he did not know the number
of people in the house or their ages, but there were some
children "in their teenage years." He did not see
Bradley possess a gun or hurt anyone while he was there.
Aaron Oncaen was the fourth law-enforcement officer to
testify. He filled out an arrest-disposition form for Bradley
on 16 February 2017. The detective said that he had completed
a Miranda rights form the same day on Bradley's
behalf. When asked, he agreed that Bradley had indicated that
his address was the same one as the house ...