final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit,
Broward County; Marina Garcia-Wood, Judge; L.T. Case No.
Moody, Attorney General, Tallahassee, and Kimberly T.
Acuña, Assistant Attorney General, West Palm Beach,
Haughwout, Public Defender, and David John McPherrin,
Assistant Public Defender, West Palm Beach, for appellee.
State appeals from a post-verdict judgment of acquittal. In
response, Appellee Jamaal Pickersgill argues that this court
lacks jurisdiction to consider the appeal. We disagree; we
have jurisdiction. We further find the State presented
competent substantial evidence to support the jury's
verdict on all counts. Accordingly, we reverse.
State proceeded to trial against Pickersgill on charges of:
(1) possession of tetrahydrocannabinols ("THC");
(2) possession of cannabis with intent to deliver/sell; and
(3) resisting a police officer without violence. The trial
evidence, taken in the light most favorable to the State,
recounts the following events took place on the date of
Springs Police Officers Monzon and Gomez stopped the car in
which Pickersgill was a passenger for making an abrupt U-turn
in front of their vehicle (which caused Officer Monzon to
slam on the brakes of the patrol car), and because the
car's driver and front passenger (Pickersgill) were not
wearing seatbelts. Pickersgill exited the passenger side of
the car and, ignoring Officer Gomez's command to get back
in the car, took off running. Officer Gomez chased
Pickersgill for about forty yards until Pickersgill stopped.
After taking Pickersgill into custody, the officers detected
an odor of marijuana coming from the stopped car. Officer
Monzon testified: "I wasn't even near the car and
you could smell it. As soon as you open[ed] the door, it hit
you like a ton of bricks."
officers called for a K-9 unit, and the K-9 alerted to both
rear doors of the vehicle and to the glove compartment.
Seventy-two pre-rolled marijuana cigarettes
("blunts") and four bags of a green leafy substance
were found in a backpack in the backseat, directly behind
Pickersgill's seat. A wax substance was found in the
glove compartment, directly in front of Pickersgill's
marijuana cigarettes were packaged in individual tubes and
marked with a sticker that read, "RX package in
compliance with state and local laws and regulations."
One of these cigarettes field tested positive for marijuana. A
sample from each bag containing the green leafy substance was
also field tested and all of the samples tested positive for
marijuana. Later forensic tests confirmed that the wax
substance recovered from the glove compartment contained THC.
Monzon testified that Pickersgill voluntarily stated at the
scene that the narcotics were his and, after being read his
Miranda rights, he then reiterated that
"[e]verything in the vehicle" was his. Officer
Gomez also testified that Pickersgill "was Mirandized on
scene," waived his Miranda rights, and
"took ownership" of the backpack, confessing that
he was going to sell the marijuana. The officers did not
obtain a written waiver of Miranda rights or record
Pickersgill's statements at the scene.
officers testified that Pickersgill made further admissions
after arriving at the police station. Officer Monzon noted
that, while he was reminding Pickersgill of his
Miranda rights, Pickersgill interjected before the
officer could finish and again stated, "[e]verything in
the car is mine." Officer Gomez also testified that, at
the station, Pickersgill said "everything was his."
According to Officer Monzon, the recording of
Pickersgill's statements at the police station was erased
before Monzon requested it. Monzon did not know that the
recording would not be preserved.
Grier, the driver of the car, was also taken into custody. He
told police that he was helping Pickersgill "sell the
narcotics in the vehicle." He was released at the time,
having agreed to act as a confidential informant.
the State rested its case, Pickersgill moved for a judgment
of acquittal on all three counts. Pickersgill argued in part
that there was "no direct evidence that [he] was in
direct possession" of the narcotics. Specifically, he
asserted that because the cannabis was found in a backpack in
the back of the car, and the THC was found in the glove
compartment, he did not have exclusive control over those
items. And, absent a video of his statements or a written
waiver of Miranda rights- there was "just an
allegation by two officers" without corroboration.
response, the State argued it proved both actual and
constructive possession. The State pointed to
Pickersgill's admissions to the officers that the drugs
were his. The trial court remarked that Pickersgill
"allegedly" made the admissions and the statements
were not corroborated by anything other than the
officers' testimony. Noting the absence of a written
statement or recording, the judge commented,