In 2016, United States Postal Inspector Dwayne Martin noticed a suspicious express-mail package that had arrived at the mail distribution center in Jackson, Mississippi. The package had been sent from a California address by Terrance Armond to Danielle Armond at a Brookhaven address. Martin testified California is a known “source state” for narcotics coming into Mississippi.
Martin checked the names and addresses in a database used by the postal service and law enforcement to see if they matched, but they did not—Martin claimed the names were bogus. Martin enlisted a K-9 drug-sniffing dog, who alerted on the package. Therefore, Martin contacted agents with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics (MBN), who arranged a controlled delivery of the package at the intended address.
The next morning, delivery was attempted, but nobody answered the door. Per normal practice, Martin left a pink notification form on the door. Later that day, a woman telephoned the post office about retrieving the package. Agents later determined the number was assigned to Sareshia Mackabee’s place of employment. Mackabee was Maurice Guss’s current girlfriend and rented the house where the package was addressed for delivery.
The next day, Martin again organized a controlled delivery of the package. This time when Martin knocked, Guss answered the door. Martin told Guss the package was for Danielle Armond. Without saying anything, Guss accepted the package. Martin was wearing a Bluetooth earpiece and used the code phrase “have a nice day” to signal the agents positioned around the house.
Guss closed the door, and the agents moved in toward the house. Soon after, Martin saw Guss run out the back of the house. Martin pursued him, yelling “police” and pulling his firearm from his ankle. Guss surrendered as agents swarmed the yard.
Officer Jerry Steward, an MBN agent, secured the house. Nobody else was in the home. After executing a search warrant, officers found cocaine, a gun, marijuana, digital scales, and the unopened package that had just been delivered. Later, it was determined the package contained 412.52 grams of methamphetamine, 1.32 grams of marijuana, and .34 grams of cocaine. Crack cocaine was found in a safe in the master bedroom. Cocaine was found in a car rented by Mackabee. She later told law enforcement that Guss slept on the side of the bed where the scales, marijuana, and pistol were found on a night stand.
Guss was convicted of possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of marijuana and sentenced to 40 years. On appeal, he argued he was not in possession of the drugs. MCOA affirmed but remanded for re-sentencing that is unrelated to the issue below.
The two essential elements of drug possession are (1) knowledge and (2) possession. In Hudson, MSC said for constructive possession, the drug must be found near the defendant’s person in a place where the defendant exercises dominion or control.
Guss claims he had neither knowledge nor possession, claiming Mackabee was the person expecting the package, and there is no evidence he knew of the package’s contents—he merely accepted the package. We disagree. A jury could find beyond a reasonable doubt that Guss was aware of the presence and character of the package of methamphetamine and intentionally and consciously possessed it.
Guss accepted the package after Martin announced that it was for “Danielle Armand.” Martin also testified that in the controlled deliveries he had made in the past, a person had never accepted a package with a bogus name on it unless it contained something illegal. Although Mackabee rented the house, Guss was the only person in the house when the package was delivered. As the State suggests, it could be inferred that Mackabee knew the package would be delivered that day, after having arranged delivery the day before with the post office.
Additionally, when Martin alerted the MBN agents at the front door, Guss fled out the back door and into a field of tall weeds. It is well established that flight is admissible as evidence of consciousness of guilt. See MSC Fuselier. The jury could have reasonably inferred that Guss’s flight showed he knew illegal drugs were in the package.
Sufficient evidence to find intent to sell was shown by the digital scale on Guss’s side of the bed and the large amount of methamphetamine in the package, as well as Guss’s prior conviction for intent to sell marijuana. Stewart testified the methamphetamine in the package was worth approximately $3,800. The State presented sufficient evidence for a jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Guss was aware the package contained drugs and intended to sell them.