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State of Iowa v. Bobby Thompson

February 27, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
BOBBY THOMPSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Scott County, Mark D. Cleve, Judge.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Vaitheswaran, J.

A defendant appeals his judgment and sentence for possession of marijuana and possession of a firearm as a felon. AFFIRMED.

Considered by Eisenhauer, C.J., and Vogel and Vaitheswaran, JJ.

Davenport police officers searched a room in the home of Bobby Thompson's stepfather and mother and discovered a gun and marijuana. The State charged Thompson with possession of marijuana and being a felon in possession of a firearm, and a jury found him guilty as charged. On appeal, Thompson argues (1) there is insufficient evidence to support the jury's findings of guilt and (2) his trial attorney was ineffective in failing to object to hearsay evidence and what he characterizes as prior bad acts evidence.

I. Sufficiency of the Evidence

Thompson contends the State presented insufficient evidence to establish that he "possessed" the gun and marijuana. The State counters that Thompson's motion for judgment of acquittal was too general to preserve error on his sufficiency-of-the-evidence challenge and, accordingly, we need not reach the merits. See State v. Truesdell, 679 N.W.2d 611, 615 (Iowa 2004) ("To preserve error on a claim of insufficient evidence for appellate review in a criminal case, the defendant must make a motion for judgment of acquittal at trial that identifies the specific grounds raised on appeal."). We begin with the State's contention.

At trial, Thompson articulated the grounds for his motion for judgment of acquittal as follows:

Clearly, if there is possession in this case, it has to be constructive possession, as . . . there is nothing that establishes that Bobby had direct possession of any contraband of any kind. There is simply insufficient evidence, including his nexus to the room, for a rational finder of fact to find that he was in possession either of a quantity of marijuana or a weapon which at that point in time he would have not been authorized by law to be in possession of.

This statement was sufficient to inform the district court that Davis was challenging the "possession" element of both crimes and, for that reason, was sufficient to preserve error. Accordingly, we will proceed to the merits, reviewing the jury's findings of guilt for substantial evidence. State v. Hennings, 791 N.W.2d 828, 832-33 (Iowa 2010).

The jury was instructed that the State would have to prove the following elements of possession of marijuana:

1. On or about the 28th day of January, 2011, the defendant knowingly or intentionally possessed marijuana.

2. The defendant knew that the substance he possessed was marijuana.

The jury was also instructed that the State would have to prove the following elements of possession of a firearm by a felon:*fn1

1. On or about the 28th day of January, 2011, the defendant knowingly possessed or received or transported or caused to be transported or had ...


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