FROM THE PULASKI COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SEVENTH DIVISION [NO.
60CR-17-1385] HONORABLE BARRY SIMS, JUDGE.
William R. Simpson, Jr., Public Defender, by: Clint Miller,
Deputy Public Defender, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Michael A. Hylden, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
MARK KLAPPENBACH, Judge.
Ariel McDaniel was tried before a Pulaski County Circuit
Court jury on two counts of being a felon in possession of a
firearm. The charges arose from a search of
appellant's residence that revealed a semiautomatic rifle
in a bedroom, a disassembled handgun in the kitchen, and
ammunition in the kitchen. She was given consecutive
sentences, resulting in an effective ten-year prison term. On
appeal, appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence
to support the jury's determination that she
constructively possessed the firearms. We affirm.
standard of appellate review is well settled. On appeal from
the denial of a directed-verdict motion challenging the
sufficiency of the evidence, we view the evidence in the
light most favorable to the verdict, considering only the
evidence that supports the verdict, and determine whether the
verdict is supported by substantial evidence, which is
evidence of sufficient certainty and precision to compel a
conclusion one way or another and pass beyond mere suspicion
or conjecture. Turner v. State, 2014 Ark. 415, 443
S.W.3d 535. Although circumstantial evidence may provide the
basis to support a conviction, it must be consistent with the
defendant's guilt and inconsistent with any other
reasonable conclusion. Morgan v. State, 2009 Ark.
257, 308 S.W.3d 147. Whether the evidence excludes every
other hypothesis is a decision left to the jury. Id.
The jury has the sole authority to evaluate the credibility
of evidence and to apportion the weight to be given to the
evidence. Starling v. State, 2016 Ark. 20, 480
regarding constructive possession is also well settled. It is
not necessary for the State to prove that an accused
physically held the contraband, as possession of contraband
can be proved by constructive possession, which is the
control or right to control the contraband. Tubbs v.
State, 370 Ark. 47, 257 S.W.3d 47 (2007). In cases
involving joint occupancy of the premises where the
contraband is found, some additional factors must be present
to link the accused to the contraband. Loggins v.
State, 2010 Ark. 414, 372 S.W.3d 785. Those factors
include (1) that the accused exercised care, control, or
management over the contraband; and (2) that the accused knew
the matter possessed was contraband. The control and
knowledge 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. Id. In addition, an
accused's suspicious behavior coupled with proximity to
the contraband is clearly indicative of possession.
Pokatilov v. State, 2017 Ark. 264, 526 S.W.3d 849.
evidence in this case is essentially undisputed, and we
review it here in the light most favorable to the State.
Appellant stipulated to her status as a convicted felon. She
lived in Little Rock and resided in one side (apartment A) of
a duplex rental property. Appellant's eighteen-year-old
daughter and fifteen-year-old son resided with her; appellant
is a single parent. Appellant's name was on the lease,
which commenced on September 1, 2016, and she was the person
who paid rent.
March 9, 2017, Little Rock police knocked on her door. The
officer heard appellant say hang on for a minute, or
something along those lines. Appellant and her son were home;
appellant's daughter was not home. The officer could hear
"rustling in the back" but no one would answer the
door. After about an hour, officers were provided a key by
the landlord, and when an officer tried to unlock the door,
"it was being held blocked." As officers were going
around the house to try the key in the back door, appellant
exited the back door. She was arrested.
found an SKS semiautomatic rifle under a dresser in
appellant's daughter's bedroom. In the kitchen,
officers found a nine-millimeter Glock pistol in the
refrigerator/freezer. The Glock's receiver was found in
the freezer in a food box. In the refrigerator, there was an
aluminum-foil-covered metal baking pan that had barbecued
chicken in it; the foil had been pulled back on one corner.
Officers looked in the pan and saw the Glock's slide on
top of the chicken. Officers found some cartridges and two
magazines in the bottom of the kitchen trash can.
attorney moved for directed verdicts on the basis that this
was a jointly occupied residence and that the State had
failed to present sufficient linking factors to connect
appellant to the firearms in the apartment. The motion and
its renewal were denied. The jury found appellant guilty, and
this appeal followed.
argues on appeal that there was insufficient evidence to
support that she constructively possessed the firearms.
Appellant argues that she lived in this apartment with her
two children making this a joint-occupancy case; one firearm
was in her daughter's room; one was in a common area of
the house; neither firearm was in plain view; and appellant
was not close to the firearms when they were found. Appellant
has failed to persuade us that her convictions lack
substantial evidence to support them.
point out that the jury was given an instruction based on
Arkansas Model Jury Instruction- Civil 104: "In
considering the evidence in this case you are not required to
set aside your common knowledge, but you have a right to
consider all the evidence in the light of your own
observations and experiences in the affairs of life."
The jury was presented with sufficient circumstantial
evidence here. While not the sole occupant of the apartment,
appellant was the single parent who rented this apartment and
paid the rent, and she acted suspiciously before the firearms
were found. The jury would not have to resort to suspicion
and conjecture to conclude that there was a concerted effort
to hide the handgun by taking it apart and placing it in odd
locations in the refrigerator/freezer. Appellant's
daughter was not home, but appellant was, on the day a
sizable rifle was found in her daughter's bedroom. As
officers were approaching the back door, appellant exited,
which the jury could reasonably infer was an attempt to flee.
"Arkansas case law is replete with the proposition that
the flight of a person charged with the commission of a crime
has some evidentiary value on the question of his probable
guilt." Eliott v. State, 342 Ark. 237, 241, 27
S.W.3d 432, 435 (2000).
evidence may provide the basis for a conviction if it is
consistent with the defendant's guilt and inconsistent
with any other reasonable explanation of the crime.
Harris v. State, 2014 Ark.App. 448, 439 S.W.3d 715.
Whether the circumstantial evidence would support any other
theory is for the jury to decide. Ross v. State, 346
Ark. 225, 230, 57 S.W.3d 152, 156 (2001); Block v.
State, 2015 Ark.App. 83, 455 S.W.3d 336. It is only
every other reasonable hypothesis, not every hypothesis, that
must be excluded by the circumstantial evidence. McDole
v. State, 339 Ark. 391, 6 S.W.3d 74 (1999). Upon review,
the appellate court's role is to determine whether the
jury resorted to speculation and conjecture in reaching its
verdict. Phillips v. State, 344 Ark. 453, 40 ...