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Evidence supports firearm offense conviction

Where appellant was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm, there was sufficient evidence that he actually possessed the firearm.

Someone else?

“Jackson argues that the circuit court erred by denying his motion to strike because the evidence was insufficient to prove that he knowingly or intentionally possessed the firearm. Rather, Jackson contends that the evidence ‘does not exclude the reasonable hypothesis of innocence that another individual placed the firearm near the dumpster.’

“In support of his argument, Jackson points out that the firearm was not found on his person, that Officer Vito did not observe him do anything near the dumpster other than run by it, and the firearm’s position ‘weigh[ed] against the possibility that the firearm was pushed under the outside of the fence to the inside of the fence.’”

Actual possession

“[T]he evidence was sufficient to allow a rational trier of fact to conclude that Jackson actually possessed the firearm. The evidence reflects that Jackson immediately fled from Officer Vito as Officer Vito exited his vehicle, evidencing Jackson’s consciousness of guilt. …

“Jackson then ran within ten or fifteen feet of the dumpster area while being pursued by Officer Vito. Jackson argues that Officer Vito did not observe Jackson do anything near the dumpster area. But the evidence indicated that it was dark outside and Jackson, who was ‘much faster’ than Officer Vito, was about thirty to forty feet ahead of him.

“Right before detaining Jackson, Detective Woods observed Jackson throw what was later determined to be a bag containing ammunition. That ammunition either matched the brand loaded in the revolver found near the dumpster or was able to be fired from it.

“Around ten minutes before the police chased Jackson, Detective Woods had searched the dumpster area and found nothing, but after Jackson ran by the dumpster, the police discovered the firearm. Detective Beggs observed a ‘sliding mark under the fence’ and ‘a drag mark indentation in the dirt … from the inside of the fence line towards the revolver, suggesting that the firearm was thrown underneath the fence.”


“Considering the totality of the evidence, the trial court did not err in denying Jackson’s motion to strike. Instead, the evidence was sufficient to allow the jury to dismiss Jackson’s hypothesis of innocence and conclude that Jackson threw or otherwise discarded the firearm while being pursued by Officer Vito, and therefore, Jackson possessed the firearm.”


Jackson v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1080-21-1, Aug. 30, 2022. CAV (Ortiz) From the Circuit Court of the City of Newport News (Papile). Daniel B. Winegard for appellant. Justin B. Hill, Sharon M. Carr, Jason S. Miyares for appellee. VLW 022-7-360, 6 pp.

VLW 022-7-360

Virginia Lawyers Weekly