from the Iowa District Court for Boone County, Steven J.
Thomas Paulson appeals his convictions for possession of a
controlled substance, a tax stamp violation, and possession
of a prescription drug without a prescription.
A. Macro Jr. of Macro & Kozlowski, LLP, West Des Moines,
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Tyler J. Buller, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Vaitheswaran and McDonald, JJ.
police officers stopped a vehicle they suspected of being
stolen. The driver fled the scene, leaving a man in the
backseat and Clay Thomas Paulson in the front passenger seat.
The vehicle was impounded and inventoried. Officers seized a
black backpack covered with white stars from the floorboard
where Paulson had been sitting. The backpack contained drugs.
State charged Paulson with possession of a controlled
substance with intent to deliver, a tax stamp violation, and
possession of a prescription drug without a prescription.
See Iowa Code §§ 124.401(1)(c)(7);
453B.12; 453B.3, 453B.1; 155A.21 (2016). A jury found him
guilty as charged.
appeal, Paulson contends (1) the evidence was insufficient to
support the findings of guilt and (2) the district court
erred in admitting hearsay statements.
Sufficiency of the Evidence
jury was instructed the State would have to prove Paulson
"knowingly possessed" a controlled substance,
taxable substance, and prescription substance. Paulson
contends the State failed to prove this element.
State's case hinged on establishing constructive
possession of the backpack, which was defined for the jury as
A person who, although not an actual possession, has both the
power and the intention at a given time to exercise dominion
or control over a thing, either directly or through another
person or persons, is in constructive possession of it. A
person's mere presence at a place where a thing is found
or proximity to the thing is not enough to support a
conclusion that the person possessed the thing.
does not seriously dispute the fact that the backpack was
found on the floorboard of the front passenger seat. He
focuses on the absence of "physical evidence that linked
[him] to the backpack and the items located in it." He
acknowledges a woman who occupied the vehicle on the night
before the stop identified the backpack as his. But he
minimizes her testimony on the ground that she did not ...