from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Douglas F.
defendant appeals his convictions for possession of
methamphetamine with intent to deliver, failure to possess a
drug tax stamp, carrying a weapon, and criminal gang
Christopher R. Kemp of Kemp & Sease, Des Moines, for
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Thomas J. Ogden, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Considered by Tabor, P.J., and Mullins and Bower, JJ.
Domingo Mendez appeals his convictions for possession
with intent to deliver methamphetamine with a firearm
enhancement, failure to affix a drug tax stamp, criminal gang
participation, and carrying a weapon. Mendez claims the
district court erred in overruling his motion for judgment of
acquittal and the State introduced insufficient evidence to
support all four counts. We affirm.
Background Facts & Proceedings
after midnight on July 15, 2017, Mendez was driving his
girlfriend's vehicle with three passengers inside. After
spotting a police car, Mendez attempted to evade police.
Mendez parked and all four persons ran from the vehicle, but
law enforcement officers caught and detained all four.
Officers saw a .22-caliber Mossberg assault rifle propped
between the center console and front passenger seat. During a
search of the vehicle, officers found over twelve grams of
methamphetamine along with small baggies in an open center
armrest console by Mendez's cell phone. During a
pat-down, officers found half a gram of methamphetamine in
Mendez's pocket along with $275 in cash. Mendez told the
officers he worked in construction and was paid in cash.
passengers in the vehicle all wore the color of a known
criminal gang, and a bandana of the same color was found in
the driver's area of the vehicle. The driver and two
passengers had tattoos connecting them to the same gang. One
of the passengers admitted being a member of the gang.
August 23, the State charged Mendez with possession of a
controlled substance with intent to deliver including a
firearms enhancement, in violation of Iowa Code section
124.401(1)(b)(7) and (e) (2017); failure to possess a tax
stamp, in violation of sections 453B.3 and 453B.12; criminal
gang participation, in violation of sections 723A.1 and
723A.2; and carrying a weapon, in violation of section
case proceeded to a jury trial in January 2018. Six police
officers testified on behalf of the State. A redacted video
and audio recording of Mendez in the back of a police vehicle
was shown, during which Mendez denied knowledge of the
methamphetamine in the center console and the firearm leaning
against the front passenger seat. Mendez testified in his own
defense, stating he did not know the methamphetamine in the
center console was there, his cousin brought the firearm into
the vehicle, and he was not a member of the gang but used to
associate with the gang's members.
close of all evidence, Mendez moved for judgment of
acquittal, claiming the State had not established sufficient
evidence of any count for conviction. The court denied the
motion and submitted the case to the jury. The jury returned
a guilty verdict on all counts. On March 7, the court
sentenced Mendez to the ...