Evidence was sufficient to convict the defendant of possession of heroin with intent to distribute when he sped away from police in his car and fled into the woods, where police later found a bag of heroin. The defendant also had a large stack of cash and cell phones with texts about drug sales.
Chesterfield Police Officer Vittum observed a car run a red light at high speed and began pursuit. After half a mile or more, the car turned into an elementary school parking lot and stopped next to the main building.
Vittum approached and observed Appellant Hasaan Williams in the driver’s seat. He told Vittum he ran the red light because he was in a hurry to take his children to the football game at the elementary school. When Vittum ran a check on Williams’s license, she discovered three active warrants.
Vittum asked Williams to exit the vehicle. Instead of complying, he sped across the school’s parking lot, stopped the vehicle, and ran into a nearby wooded area, emerging a few moments later to surrender.
Vittum arrested Williams and found $1,009 in cash on his person, as well as two cell phones. Another officer found a bag containing 14.76 grams of heroin in the area of the woods where Williams had fled.
The evidence was sufficient to establish that Williams possessed heroin with intent to distribute. Although he was not arrested with drugs on his person, the circumstantial evidence established that he actually possessed them.
When Vittum initiated the traffic stop, Williams attempted to speed away. He then fled on foot into nearby woods and emerged a few moments later. Police found a bag of heroin in the same area where Williams had fled.
Thus, a reasonable factfinder could conclude that Williams possessed the drugs on his person when he was in his vehicle and then fled into the wooded area in an attempt to conceal the drugs before police caught up with him. He had dominion and control over the drugs, and he demonstrated knowledge of their illicit nature through his efforts to conceal them. The possibility that Williams had never possessed the drugs yet just so happened to flee into and immediately emerge from the exact area where the drugs were eventually found is not a reasonable hypothesis of innocence, and the trial court did not err in necessarily rejecting it by finding Williams guilty.
Ample evidence also established that Williams intended to distribute the drugs. He carried a large amount of cash that he claimed was from his paycheck, but he couldn’t name his supposed employer. One of his cell phones also contained many texts referencing drug transactions. Possession of cash separated by denomination and the possession of two cell phones are evidence of an intent to distribute.
Finally, because Williams’s brief contains no legal authority nor any specific arguments as to his conviction for intent to distribute on school property, that assignment of error does not comply with Rule 5A:20, and the court hereby dismisses it.
Affirmed in part and dismissed in part.
Williams v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0827-17-2, June 26, 2018. CAV (Alston), from Chesterfield Cir. Ct. (Rockwell). Jaclyn Murphy for Appellant; Victoria Johnson for Appellee. VLW No. 018-7-161, 8 pp.