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Sufficient evidence that appellant possessed drugs

There was sufficient evidence to conclude that controlled substances found on the side of the road came from the appellant’s vehicle. His convictions for possession with intent to distribute narcotics are affirmed.

Credibility contest

“‘To convict a defendant of illegal possession of an illicit drug, the Commonwealth must prove either actual or constructive possession by the defendant. …

“Appellant asserts that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that appellant ever possessed the drugs found by the side of the road. The record does not support appellant’s contention.

“Two deputies testified that they saw appellant throw items from his vehicle during the pursuit. The dashboard camera footage appears to corroborate the deputies’ testimony.

“One deputy returned to those locations just minutes later and found two containers and packages of drugs strewn along the roadside.

“Photographs that were introduced into evidence reveal that the various items appeared to be clean, as though they had not been discarded on the roadside for long, and they were clustered together in the general area where the officers saw appellant tossing items from his car.

“A reasonable fact-finder could infer from this evidence that appellant threw the drugs from his vehicle while fleeing law enforcement.

“Appellant’s testimony regarding the incident plainly conflicts with the officers’ accounts, but this does not mean – as appellant asserts – that the Commonwealth failed to meet its burden of proving the offenses. “‘Merely because [a] defendant’s theory of the case differs from that taken by the Commonwealth does not mean that every reasonable hypothesis consistent with his innocence has not been excluded. What weight should be given evidence is a matter for the [fact-finder] to decide.” …

“Appellant testified that he did not throw any drugs from his car. The trial court was permitted to believe or disbelieve appellant’s testimony, and it chose not to believe it. We cannot disturb the fact-finder’s conclusion unless it is plainly wrong. …

“In this instance the court’s finding was fully supported by the record.”


Eanes v. Commonwealth, Record No. 0670-21-3, May 17, 2022. CAV (Friedman) From the Circuit Court of Henry County (Williams). Michael A. Nicholas for appellant. Appellant submitting on brief. Lauren C. Campbell for appellee. VLW 022-7-147, 7 pp. Unpublished opinion.

VLW 022-7-147

Virginia Lawyers Weekly