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Parks v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 18, 2018

Gregory Wayne Parks, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable James Snyder, Commissioner Trial Court Cause No. 49G20-1606-F4-22060

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Susan D. Rayl Smith Rayl Law Office, LLC Indianapolis, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Lyubov Gore Laura Anderson Deputy Attorneys General Indianapolis, Indiana

          MAY, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Gregory Wayne Parks ("Gregory") appeals his convictions of Level 4 felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, [1] Level 5 felony dealing in marijuana, [2] and two counts of Level 6 felony possession of a controlled substance.[3] Gregory argues the State did not present sufficient evidence he constructively possessed the gun and drugs found in a bag behind the driver's seat of the truck in which Gregory was riding. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History[4]

         [¶2] At approximately 10:45 p.m. on June 5, 2016, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officers Matthew Plummer and Austin Birch initiated a traffic stop after they observed a truck without a driver's side headlight. When the officers approached the stopped truck, the driver, Michelle Parks ("Michelle"), attempted to exit the truck. The officers ordered the occupants to stay inside the truck but, as the officers were issuing these commands, Gregory attempted to exit the passenger side of the truck. After hearing the officers' commands, both Michelle and Gregory complied and re-entered the truck.

         [¶3] As Officer Plummer approached the truck, he detected an odor of raw marijuana. Once he made contact with Gregory, Officer Plummer observed two marijuana joints positioned next to a live nine-millimeter round of ammunition on the center console in plain view. Officer Plummer advised Gregory and Michelle of the reason for the stop, asked for their identifications, and asked to whom the truck belonged. After submitting their identification, both Gregory and Michelle stated simultaneously that the truck was "ours" and they were "getting mechanical work [done] to the truck." (Tr. Vol. II at 12.)

         [¶4] Officer Plummer returned to his vehicle and ran Gregory's and Michelle's identification to confirm their identities. He learned neither had a valid driver's license. Based on this lack of driver's licenses, coupled with the odor of raw marijuana, Officer Plummer and Officer Birch handcuffed Gregory and Michelle and searched their truck.

         [¶5] In addition to the marijuana joints and ammunition Officer Plummer initially observed on the center console, he found another joint on the front passenger seat. Behind the passenger seat, he found mail addressed to Gregory and Michelle. Behind the driver's seat, Officer Plummer found a black messenger bag on top of a gas can. He opened the flap of the bag and found a "brick of marijuana inside of that bag." (Id. at 14.) Officer Plummer then found a Smith and Wesson nine-millimeter handgun in the side pocket of the same bag.

         [¶6] After finding the gun, Officer Plummer stopped his search and placed Gregory and Michelle under arrest. Officer Plummer then called another officer to the scene to process the gun. While they waited for that officer to arrive, Michelle indicated she did not know anything about the bag or its contents; Gregory similarly stated he did not know anything about the contents of the bag and said, "if he didn't know about it, he shouldn't be arrested." (Id. at 15.) Officer Brycen Garner arrived and processed the gun.

         [¶7] Officer Plummer then continued his search of the black messenger bag. He located a digital scale with methamphetamine residue on it; two smaller baggies containing small amounts of marijuana; and a baggie containing several smaller baggies, four tablets of Diazepam, which is a Schedule IV controlled substance, and eighteen tablets of Clonazepam, which is a Schedule IV controlled substance. Officer Plummer also searched Gregory incident to his arrest and found $390.00 in small denominations and a cell phone in Gregory's pocket.

         [¶8] On June 8, 2016, the State charged Gregory with Level 4 felony unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon, Level 5 felony dealing in marijuana, Level 5 felony possession of methamphetamine, [5] and two counts of Level 6 felony possession of a controlled substance. Gregory was tried before the bench on December 11, 2017, and the trial court found him guilty on all charges except the Level 5 felony possession of ...


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