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Lapitre v. State

Court of Appeals of Alaska

June 18, 2010

Steve Claudy LAPITRE, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Alaska, Appellee.

Page 1126

Rex Lamont Butler, Rex Lamont Butler & Associates, Inc., Anchorage, for the Appellant.

Diane L. Wendlandt, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and Daniel S. Sullivan, Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.

Before: COATS, Chief Judge, and MANNHEIMER and BOLGER, Judges.

OPINION

BOLGER, Judge.

Steve Claudy Lapitre appeals his conviction of misconduct involving weapons, contending that there was insufficient evidence that he knowingly possessed a concealable firearm. We conclude that the jury could have reasonably concluded that Lapitre knew that the handgun was in the vehicle he was driving, and that he was trying to conceal it.

Lapitre also argues that the felon-in-possession statute is unconstitutional, although he did not raise any such objection in the trial court. Lapitre cannot show plain error because there are numerous cases upholding the Alaska felon-in-possession statute and similar statutes against the constitutional challenges he now raises.

Background

Anchorage Police Sergeant Christopher Sims observed a vehicle driving erratically and broadcast an alert. Police Captain William Miller pulled the vehicle over, asked Lapitre for his license and registration, and then handed over the stop to the control of Officer Arthur Anderson. Upon a search of the vehicle, Anderson found a loaded nine-millimeter Glock handgun under some papers on the floor of the front passenger seat.

Lapitre was charged with third-degree weapons misconduct for being a felon in possession of a concealable firearm.[1] At the close of the State's case, Lapitre moved for a judgment of acquittal contending that there was insufficient evidence that he had possessed the handgun. Superior Court Judge John Suddock denied the motion, and Lapitre was convicted. Lapitre now appeals, arguing that the trial court erred in denying his motion for acquittal and that the felon-in-possession statute violates the Alaska and federal constitutions.

Page 1127

Sufficiency of the Evidence

Lapitre first argues that there was insufficient evidence that he " possessed" the handgun, as opposed to having only momentary or fleeting possession. When evaluating the sufficiency of the evidence, this court " consider[s] only those facts in the record most favorable to the prosecution and such reasonable inferences as a jury may have drawn from them." [2] We will uphold a verdict when any reasonable juror could have concluded that the defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.[3]

" Possess" is defined by AS 11.81.900(b)(48) as " having physical possession or the exercise of dominion or control over property." At Lapitre's request, Judge Suddock gave the jury an instruction stating that " momentary possession" ...


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