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State v. Karr

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 6, 2018

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
STACY DWAYNE KARR, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Myron L. Gookin, Judge.

         Stacy Karr appeals his conviction for possession of methamphetamine, third offense. AFFIRMED.

          Mark C. Meyer, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas E. Bakke, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

          Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.

          VOGEL, PRESIDING JUDGE

         Stacy Karr appeals from his conviction of possession of methamphetamine-third offense, asserting there was insufficient evidence to support the conviction, the verdict was against the weight of the evidence, the district court erred by not including a jury instruction on "dominion and control, " and the district court should have answered a jury question in the presence of Karr and his counsel. Because Karr's confession was corroborated by evidence seized by officers, the evidence was sufficient to support Karr's conviction. The district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Karr's motion for a new trial. Also, the district court did not err in declining to instruct the jury on "dominion and control" using the firearm instruction, and Karr failed to preserve error on his claim that the district court violated his constitutional right to be present at every stage of the proceedings when it answered a jury question.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings

         On January 22, 2016, Washington Police officers executed a search warrant at a residence in Washington. The initial warrant was approved to locate stolen property from a residential burglary. The residence did not belong to Karr. In executing the warrant, the officers located four people, including Karr. The officers located Karr and another individual in a bedroom, along with cash, methamphetamine, and some drug paraphernalia. Upon discovering drugs, the officers secured the residence and obtained another search warrant for the drugs and drug paraphernalia. The officers found a digital scale, a pack of cigarettes that contained methamphetamine, a glass pipe, and plastic bags or containers holding methamphetamine.

         After securing the residence, Officer Brian VanWilligen advised Karr of his Miranda rights, [1] and Karr indicated he understood his rights. Karr stated he towed the homeowner's vehicle to a garage in Iowa City approximately one week prior to the search, and he stopped by to see the homeowner while he was in town on another errand. Officer VanWilligen asked Karr if he used methamphetamine prior to the execution of the search warrant and Karr responded that he had "taken one toot" from a meth pipe given to him by the homeowner.

         The State charged Karr with possession of a controlled substance, methamphetamine-third offense, in violation of Iowa Code section 124.104(5) (2016). Following trial, a jury returned a guilty verdict. Karr filed a motion in arrest of judgment and for a new trial claiming the State failed to properly instruct the jury on dominion and control and, therefore, the State failed to prove he actually or constructively possessed methamphetamine. These motions were denied. Karr was sentenced to a five-year term of incarceration, with the sentence being suspended.

         Karr appeals.

         II. Standard of Review

         We review claims of sufficiency of the evidence for errors at law. State v. Rohm, 609 N.W.2d 504, 509 (Iowa 2000). We will "uphold a finding of guilt if 'substantial evidence' supports the verdict." Id. "'Substantial evidence' is evidence upon which a rational finder of fact could find a defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." Id. "We generally review rulings on motions for new trial asserting a verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence for an abuse of discretion." State v. Ary, 877 N.W.2d 686, 706 (Iowa 2016). We ...


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