Lindsay N. Grubbs, Appellant-Defendant,
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff
from the Marion Superior Court Trial Court Cause No.
49G25-1807-F6-24993 The Honorable David Hooper, Magistrate
Attorney for Appellant Valerie K. Boots Marion County Public
Defender Agency Indianapolis, Indiana
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana Caroline G. Templeton Deputy Attorney General
Lindsay N. Grubbs appeals her convictions of Class A
misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine and Class C
misdemeanor possession of paraphernalia. Grubbs asserts
the State failed to present sufficient evidence that she
possessed methamphetamine and paraphernalia. We affirm.
and Procedural History
On July 27, 2018, Officer Katrina McEvilly of the
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
("IMPD") was on patrol on the east side of
Indianapolis when she ran the license plate on a black Monte
Carlo travelling westbound on Washington Street. The report
she received indicated the license plate was registered to a
gray Pontiac, so Officer McEvilly initiated a traffic stop.
The Monte Carlo was occupied by three people: the driver, the
front seat passenger, and Grubbs, who was sitting in the back
seat behind the passenger. Also in the back seat with Grubbs
"was a bunch of personal property. It had a bunch of
clothes, bags, personal belongings . . . a lot of
people's personal belongings." (Tr. Vol. II at 9.)
Next to Grubbs on the back seat was a blue purse, and Grubbs
was holding a purse on her lap. Grubbs placed the purse she
had been holding on the back seat when she exited the car.
Officer McEvilly determined she would tow the Monte Carlo in
accordance with IMPD's standing general order 7.3, which
controls the towing or impounding of vehicles, (see
State's Ex. 2), and provides a vehicle may be towed if it
has "no or improper certificate of registration or
license plate." (State's Ex. 2 at 3.) Prior to the
tow, Officer McEvilly was required to inventory all the
property inside the car, including the items in the bags in
the back seat of the car. Inside the purse that Grubbs had
been holding, Officer McEvilly found a glass pipe used for
smoking narcotics and "a baggie with white powder
residue in it." (Tr. Vol. II at 14.) Laboratory testing
determined the white powder residue was methamphetamine.
The State charged Grubbs with Level 6 felony possession of
methamphetamine and Class C misdemeanor possession of
paraphernalia. Grubbs waived her right to a jury trial. After
hearing evidence, the trial court found Grubbs guilty as
charged. The court entered Grubbs' conviction of the
Level 6 felony as a Class A misdemeanor because it was
Grubbs' first felony conviction. The court sentenced
Grubbs to 365 days for possession of methamphetamine, with
201 days suspended, and to 60 days for possession of
paraphernalia, with 60 days suspended.
Grubbs alleges the evidence was insufficient to support her
convictions. When considering whether the State's
evidence was sufficient to support convictions, "we
consider only the probative evidence and reasonable
inferences that support the trial court's finding[s] of
guilt." Gray v. State, 957 N.E.2d 171, 174
(Ind. 2011). If there is conflicting evidence, we considered
it in the light most favorable to the judgment. Id.
The evidence need not overcome every reasonable hypothesis of
innocence. Id. Rather, we must affirm "unless
no reasonable trier of fact could have found the elements of
the crime [proven] beyond a reasonable doubt."
Specifically, Grubbs asserts the State failed to demonstrate
she knowingly possessed the methamphetamine and
paraphernalia. Convictions for possession of illegal items
can be based on either actual or constructive possession.
Id. Actual possession occurs when a person "has
direct physical control over" an item. Id.
Constructive possession can be inferred when a person had the
capability and intent to maintain dominion and control over
the item. Id.
Grubbs asserts "the only evidence of constructive
possession was her close proximity to the contraband."
(Br. of Appellant at 4.) In support of her assertion, Grubbs
notes the back seat of the Monte Carlo was filled with bags
of personal items and yet the State produced no evidence that
she knew what was in the "bag" that she had been
holding. (See, e.g., Reply Br. at 7)
("the State points to no additional
circumstantial evidence to support an inference of guilty
knowledge: only to the evidence that the bag was in
Grubbs' control as it sat on her lap") (emphasis in
In her briefs, Grubbs fails to acknowledge the
"bag" she was holding was neither, for example, a
large trash bag of personal property nor a suitcase of
clothing, either of which she could have needed to hold to
sit on the back seat that was filled with bags of personal
property. Rather, the "bag" that Grubbs was holding
on her lap was a purse. When there were two women and two
purses in the car and Grubbs had one purse on her lap, the
only reasonable inference is that the purse Grubbs was
holding was her own. See Norris v. State, 732 N.E.2d
186, 191 (Ind.Ct.App. 2000) (noting a purse "is
generally not an object for which two or more persons share
common use and authority"). Officer ...