from the Iowa District Court for Washington County, Myron L.
Karr appeals his conviction for possession of
methamphetamine, third offense. AFFIRMED.
C. Meyer, Cedar Rapids, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas E. Bakke, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Doyle and Bower, JJ.
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.
Background Facts and Proceedings
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
securing the residence, Officer Brian VanWilligen advised
Karr of his Miranda rights,  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.
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.
Standard of Review
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 ...