S. S., a child, Appellant,
State of Florida, Appellee.
final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
appeal from the Circuit Court for Leon County. Robert E.
Thomas, Public Defender, and Justin F. Karpf, Assistant
Public Defender, Tallahassee, for Appellant.
Jo Bondi, Attorney General, Steven E. Woods, Assistant
Attorney General, and Thomas H. Duffy, Assistant Attorney
General, Tallahassee, for Appellee.
See Brown v. State, 428 So.2d 250, 252 (Fla. 1983);
Bradshaw v. State, 509 So.2d 1306 (Fla. 1st DCA
and Osterhaus, JJ., concur.
biblical injunction to flee from, and not keep company with,
bad influences applies to college dormitories, where the
close proximity of ne'er-do-well roommates and
after-hours verboten jollities meld, raising the question:
who possessed the marijuana and mason jar on the anteroom
table in the downstairs "common area" in a compact
four-bedroom townhouse located in Edith McCollum
on the Florida State University campus at 4:10 a.m. on
October 23, 2016?
FSU Officer Cherry Martina responded to a complaint from dorm
staff of loud music and marijuana fumes wafting from the
townhouse (staff had intervened earlier, but their requests
to tone it down were ignored), she immediately smelled the
pungent aroma in the hallway leading to the townhouse. It
grew much stronger when a resident of the townhouse opened
the downstairs entry door. Just inside, the officer saw a
table, couch, chairs, and video screen in the "common
area, " which was strewn with beer bottles, beer cans,
marijuana "shake" in a mason jar,  cigarette wrapper
casings (from which tobacco had been removed), and a bottle
cut and shaped into a smoking apparatus. Five young
men-four playing videogames and all appearing to be
"under the influence" of drugs or alcohol-were
present in the "common area, " each disclaiming use
or ownership of the contraband (one had a "grinder"
in his pocket, which he claimed was not his). As citations
for possession of marijuana were being written, an offer was
made by the group that they play "rock, paper, scissors
to see who could take the charge."
seventeen-year-old co-resident of the townhouse, was charged
with possession of cannabis and paraphernalia. S.S., who the
arresting officer said had bloodshot eyes and delayed speech
and movement (though she couldn't say precisely from what
substance), denied that the marijuana or mason jar were his.
At trial, a roommate-who was playing videogames with his
friends before the officer arrived-testified that S.S.
neither used nor possessed the marijuana and mason jar;
instead it was the roommate and his three buddies who did so
(they'd been toking all day). The roommate avowed that
he'd never seen S.S. possess marijuana or drug
paraphernalia at any time and that S.S. was never present
when the marijuana's use occurred in the townhouse. On
the evening in question, S.S. was "probably like getting
ready for bed, like eating or something. Like the dorm is two
stories, so like he could have been there but not been like
downstairs . . . ." Consistent with his testimony on
this point, the officer who entered the townhouse said that
S.S. was downstairs but towards the back of the room by the
stairwell that led to the second floor bedrooms.
close of evidence in the bench trial, S.S. moved for a
judgment of dismissal, his attorney arguing:
[S.S.] was not at any time in possession of these items. He
was not aware of these items. And he did not have the ability
to exercise dominion and control over them. Simply because
he's a resident of the home occupied by four different
people, and clearly with the number of visitors, does not
indicate that he had knowledge or the ability to exercise
dominion and control. And an inference is not necessary where
direct evidence to the contrary has been presented.
trial court denied the motion (but made no factual findings),
found S.S. guilty of possession of cannabis and
paraphernalia, withheld adjudication of ...