In 1999, a search warrant was issued to the Scott County Sheriff’s Office enabling them to search a mobile home in the Kalem Trailer Park in Kalem, Mississippi for guns allegedly possessed by Jerry Lewis Evans, a prior convicted felon. The officers searched the mobile home and recovered five guns. The mobile home was titled to Martha Ann Ingram. Evans was Ingram’s boyfriend, and according to controverted testimony, lived with Ingram in the mobile home.
At trial the prosecution offered proof that Evans kept clothes in the closet where the guns were found, that he often fired the guns, and that he stayed at the mobile home over- night on numerous occasions. Evans submitted witnesses, including Ingram, who stated that he did not live with Ingram at the mobile home. Ingram did admit on cross-examination that Evans lived with her and that he had equal access to and dominion over the guns stored in the closet.
Evans was convicted of felon in possession of a firearm and sentenced to life. On appeal, he argued he was not in possession of the firearms. MCOA affirmed.
Possession can be established by either actual possession or constructive possession. There was no evidence presented at trial that Evans had actual, physical possession of the firearms on the day of the search and seizure. This necessarily becomes a case of constructive possession.
For constructive possession to lie, the State must present evidence that Evans had knowledge of the firearms and intentionally and consciously possessed them. Constructive possession may be shown by establishing that the item involved was subject to his dominion or control.
There was evidence presented at trial that Evans lived in the mobile home where the weapons were stored for several years, that he stored his clothes in the same closet where the weapons were kept, and that he had fired and otherwise handled the weapons on numerous occasions. These facts support an inference that Evans had knowledge of the firearms and that Evans had handled the guns in the past.
The owner of the premises where the weapons were found is rebuttably presumed to be in possession of the weapons. Martha Ann Ingram owned the mobile home where the guns were found. Because Evans was not the owner of the mobile home, the State must present some competent evidence connecting him with the contraband.
Evans resided at the mobile home with Ingram. Both had equal access to the contents of the mobile home including the firearms. The evidence presented indicated that Evans handled the guns on a regular basis. This evidence was disputed by testimony of other witnesses stating that Evans did not live at the mobile home. Which witnesses the jury decides to believe or disbelieve is left to the jury as the trier of fact.