Assigned on Briefs April 1, 2014
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Madison County No. 1325 Donald H. Allen, Judge
Gregory D. Gookin, Assistant Public Defender, Jackson, Tennessee, for the appellant, Tonya Michelle Stoltz.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Meredith Devault, Assistant Attorney General; James G. Woodall, District Attorney General; and Brian Gilliam, Assistant District Attorney General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
Jerry L. Smith, J., delivered the opinion of the court, in which Norma McGee Ogle and D. Kelly Thomas, Jr., JJ., joined.
JERRY L. SMITH, JUDGE
On June 7, 2012, Deputy Nathanial Shoate and Narcotics Investigator Maria Hasz went to Appellant's residence upon receipt of information that the residence served as a possible methamphetamine laboratory. After Appellant consented to a search of the residence, Deputy Shoate conducted a search while Investigator Hasz interviewed Appellant. During Deputy Shoate's search, he discovered a small metal container shaped like a soccer ball key chain on top of a wooden cabinet in Appellant's bedroom. Inside the container was a white substance in a clear plastic bag. Deputy Shoate field-tested the substance; it tested positive for methamphetamine. Later, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's regional laboratory results confirmed that the white substance concealed in the soccer ball keychain was methamphetamine.
Deputy Shoate confronted Appellant about the container. Initially, Appellant claimed that the container belonged to a houseguest, though later in the conversation she changed her story and admitted that the soccer ball key chain containing the white substance was her property. Investigator Hasz then took Appellant's statement.
Appellant elected to have Investigator Hasz write her statement rather than do it herself. Even though Appellant seemed upset when she originally spoke with Deputy Shoate, she appeared significantly calmer while she was providing her statement to Investigator Hasz. Investigator Hasz later recalled that Appellant was quite calm and cooperative while giving her statement. Appellant read the statement taken by Investigator Hasz, indicated her approval, signed, dated, and initialed the statement so that no additions could be made.
When confronted with her statement at trial, Appellant wholly recanted and renounced it. Appellant claimed that the key chain had been missing, stated that the "dope" in the key chain did not belong to her, and denied that she used methamphetamine. Appellant attempted to explain why her trial testimony was in direct conflict with her prior statement by claiming that she was "[under] great stress, duress" during Deputy Shoate's search and while providing her statement.
At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found Appellant guilty of possession of methamphetamine, a Class A misdemeanor. The trial court sentenced Appellant to eleven months and twenty-nine days at 75%. The trial court denied Appellant's motion for new trial. Appellant appealed.
Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting her possession of methamphetamine conviction. Specifically, Appellant believes that the State failed to prove that Appellant was actually in possession of the methamphetamine. The State contends that the evidence was sufficient to convict Appellant of possession ...