from the St. Joseph Superior Court The Honorable Jane
Woodward Miller, Judge, Trial Court Cause No.
Attorney for Appellant Neil L. Weisman South Bend, Indiana.
Attorneys for Appellee Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of
Indiana J.T. Whitehead Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis,
of the Case
Raihiem Johnson appeals his conviction for possession of a
narcotic drug, as a Level 6 felony, following a jury trial.
Johnson raises a single issue for our review, namely, whether
the State presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate that
he constructively possessed heroin found in a vehicle Johnson
had been operating. We affirm.
and Procedural History
On May 18, 2015, St. Joseph County Police Department Officer
Randy Rodriguez observed Johnson driving a
vehicle with an improperly affixed license plate.
Accordingly, Officer Rodriguez initiated a traffic stop and
approached the driver's side window. As he exited his
vehicle, Officer Rodriguez observed Johnson stick his head
out the driver's window and look back at him while
Johnson's hands remained "inside the vehicle but . .
. down in between the seats, " which looked like Johnson
was "[s]tuffing something" away. Tr. at 35-36. And,
upon approaching Johnson, Officer Rodriguez observed that
Johnson "had both of his hands in between his seat and
the driver's side door." Id. at 35.
Officer Rodriguez had Johnson and his passenger, Adam Weaver,
who was in the front passenger seat, exit the vehicle while
he waited for a K-9 unit to perform a sniff-search of the
vehicle. Once the K-9 unit arrived, it alerted officers to
the presence of contraband in the vehicle. Officer Rodriguez
then searched the vehicle where he had seen Johnson's
hands and found heroin wrapped in foil under the driver's
seat. Underneath the front of the driver's seat, Officer
Rodriguez also found a small black box in which one might
keep a spare key, but this box had a "clear plastic
baggie" that "contained more . . . [h]eroin"
wrapped in foil. Id. at 42.
Officer Rodriguez then searched Johnson's person and
found a part of a pen that had been cut at both ends and a
piece of a credit card in one of Johnson's pockets.
Inside the pen was a white powdery residue. Based on his
training and experience, Officer Rodriguez recognized the cut
pen and credit card as tools for ingesting narcotics. Officer
Rodriguez also discovered foil in Johnson's wallet.
Thereafter, the State charged Johnson with possession of a
narcotic drug, as a Level 6 felony. A jury found him guilty
of that charge, and the trial court entered its judgment of
conviction and sentence accordingly. This appeal ensued.
Johnson argues on appeal that the State failed to present
sufficient evidence to support his conviction. Our standard
for reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence needed to
support a criminal conviction is as follows:
First, we neither reweigh the evidence nor judge the
credibility of witnesses. Second, we only consider the
evidence supporting the [verdict] and any reasonable
inferences that can be drawn from such evidence. A conviction
will be affirmed if there is substantial evidence of
probative value supporting each element of the offense such
that a reasonable trier of fact could have found the
defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. It is the job of
the fact-finder to determine whether the evidence in a
particular case ...