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State v. Maack

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

December 24, 2018

State of Minnesota, Respondent,
v.
Jessica Lynn Maack, Appellant.

          Douglas County District Court File No. 21-CR-17-1047

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and Chad M. Larson, Douglas County Attorney, David M. Classen, Assistant County Attorney, Alexandria, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Renée Bergeron, Special Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Considered and decided by Rodenberg, Presiding Judge; Hooten, Judge; and Klaphake, Judge. [*]

         SYLLABUS

         Mere knowledge that another person is storing methamphetamine paraphernalia in a private bedroom of a child's home is insufficient to support a conviction of engaging in the activity of storing methamphetamine paraphernalia in a child's home under Minn. Stat. § 152.137, subd. 2(a)(4) (2016).

          OPINION

          HOOTEN, JUDGE

         In this appeal from her conviction of storing methamphetamine paraphernalia in a child's residence, appellant argues that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she engaged in the activity of storing any methamphetamine paraphernalia. Minn. Stat. § 152.137, subd. 2(a)(4) (2016). Appellant also argues that the district court erred in denying her motion for judgment of acquittal and convicting her of a charge that the state dismissed in a plea agreement. We reverse.

         FACTS

         In June 2017, when appellant Jessica Lynn Maack and her two children had nowhere else to live, they stayed in her mother-in-law's home. Maack's husband, who is the father of her two children, owed a local drug dealer thousands of dollars for drugs. To pay off his debt, Maack's husband, who permanently lived in his mother's home, allowed the dealer to live in the basement rent-free. The dealer lived in the home for about ten months, but he was in and out of jail during that time. Maack knew that when the dealer stayed there, he continued to deal drugs out of his basement bedroom.

         After receiving anonymous complaints about short-term traffic coming in and out of the home, the police performed a "garbage pull" at the residence. In the garbage, police found drug paraphernalia and items that tested positive for methamphetamine. Relying on that evidence, the police obtained a search warrant and searched the home. The following people were present at the time of the search: Maack and her two children, the dealer and two of his children, and a female adult and one of her children (who were also temporarily living there). The police found methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in the dealer's private bedroom in the basement. The police also found marijuana and a marijuana pipe in Maack's bedroom upstairs.

         Maack admitted to the police that she once took a hit from a methamphetamine pipe in the dealer's bedroom. She told the police that she attempted to find a better home for her children but that it was difficult because she earned only $10.50 an hour and had nowhere else to go. She told police that she refused to get involved in the drug-dealing business and hoped to save enough money to permanently move away from her mother-in-law's home.

         The state charged Maack with four counts: fifth-degree methamphetamine possession, Minn. Stat. § 152.025, subd. 2(1) (2016); storage of methamphetamine paraphernalia in a child's residence, Minn. Stat. § 152.137, subd. 2(a)(4); petty misdemeanor possession of a small amount of marijuana, Minn. Stat. § 152.027, subd. 4(a) (2016); and petty misdemeanor possession of drug paraphernalia, Minn. Stat. § 152.092(a) (2016). Later, the state dismissed count one, fifth-degree methamphetamine possession. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Maack pleaded guilty to possession of a small amount of marijuana and the state agreed to dismiss the possession of drug paraphernalia charge. The only remaining count, engaging in the activity of storing methamphetamine paraphernalia in a child's residence, was tried to a jury.

         After closing arguments, Maack moved for judgment of acquittal, arguing that the state failed to prove that she knowingly stored methamphetamine paraphernalia because she did not exercise any control over the paraphernalia found in the dealer's bedroom. The district court denied the motion, and the jury found Maack guilty. The district court entered convictions on three counts: storing methamphetamine paraphernalia in a child's residence, petty ...


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