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Regan v. State

Supreme Court of Wyoming

April 28, 2015

PATRICK J. REGAN, Appellant (Defendant),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, Appellee (Plaintiff)

Page 703

Appeal from the District Court of Campbell County. The Honorable John R. Perry, Judge.

Representing Appellant: Office of the State Public Defender: Diane Lozano, State Public Defender; Tina N. Olson, Chief Appellate Counsel; Eric M. Alden, Senior Assistant Appellate Counsel. Argument by Mr. Alden.

Representing Appellee: Peter K. Michael, Wyoming Attorney General; David L. Delicath, Deputy Attorney General; Jenny L. Craig, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Darrell D. Jackson, Faculty Director, A. Walker Steinhage, Student Director, and John D. Ringenberg, Student Intern, of the Prosecution Assistance Program. Argument by Mr. Ringenberg.

Before BURKE, C.J., and HILL, KITE, DAVIS, and FOX, JJ.

OPINION

Page 704

DAVIS, Justice.

[¶1] A jury convicted Appellant Patrick J. Regan of felony possession of marijuana. On appeal, he contends that the evidence was insufficient to support his conviction in three respects. We agree with one of those contentions and therefore reverse his conviction for felony possession. However, we find the evidence sufficient to support the lesser included offense of misdemeanor possession and remand for resentencing on that offense.

ISSUE

[¶2] Was the evidence presented at trial sufficient to support a verdict that Regan constructively possessed a felony amount of marijuana?

FACTS

[¶3] On October 26, 2012, Regan and his roommate[1] Shayne Trujillo drove from Denver to Gillette.[2] A six-year veteran of the Gillette Police Department, Officer Troy Cyr, pulled them over after they stopped at a yield sign because there was no traffic on the roadway to yield to, and because the officer could not tell whether the vehicle had a rear license plate. Regan was the driver and owner. When Officer Cyr approached his window, he immediately smelled raw marijuana and requested that a drug dog be dispatched. Officer Vos arrived on the scene, spoke to Officer Cyr, and explained to Regan and Trujillo why he was there. He also smelled marijuana before retrieving his dog, Jordy, from his patrol vehicle. Jordy alerted at the front passenger door, signaling that it had detected the odor of a controlled substance in the car.

[¶4] Officer Vos then directed Trujillo to get out of the car, looked inside, and saw two glass jars containing what he recognized as marijuana on the passenger floorboard. After further inspection of the vehicle's interior, he discovered a plastic grocery bag, Ziploc sandwich bags, and a large white plastic bin in the passenger and cargo portions of the vehicle. Each contained clumps of a green leafy substance that he recognized as marijuana. The total weight of the marijuana was approximately one and a half pounds. Vos also found paraphernalia commonly associated with the sale of marijuana and $1,000 in cash in the glove box.

[¶5] The officers arrested Regan and Trujillo and took them to the Gillette police station, where Regan voluntarily consented to an interview. Officer Greg Brothers interviewed Regan, and he testified at trial to Regan's account of the journey to Gillette with Trujillo. While still in Denver, Regan saw Trujillo load marijuana into his vehicle. He told Officer Brothers that he had expressly rejected Trujillo's offer to join in Trujillo's plan to make money distributing marijuana because " it wasn't worth the risk."

[¶6] When they arrived in Gillette, Trujillo directed Regan to three different locations, and at each one Trujillo got out of the car and delivered marijuana. Regan remained in the vehicle at each stop. He gave the interviewing officer detailed descriptions of each location and the amount of marijuana Trujillo delivered at each stop. He showed him the locations on a map, and then helped officers identify them in an unmarked police car. Regan admitted that a quarter-ounce of the marijuana found in the car was his, but maintained that the rest of the marijuana in the vehicle belonged solely to Trujillo.

[¶7] Trujillo testified at Regan's trial and corroborated Regan's claim. He confirmed his admission to officers that over a pound of marijuana in the car belonged exclusively to him, and that no one else had anything to do with it. He also confirmed that in the course of entering a guilty plea to felony possession of the marijuana found in Regan's car, he had admitted to the court that more than a pound of marijuana was his.

[¶8] After the substance was seized from Regan's vehicle, it was sent to the Wyoming State Crime Laboratory, where it was analyzed

Page 705

by forensic chemist Lance Allen. Mr. Allen testified that his tests identified tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in all of the samples, and that THC is the active component in marijuana. When the State asked whether he could therefore confirm that the substance was marijuana, he responded, " I'm not a botanist, I'm a chemist, I identified THC." However, he also testified that ...


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