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State v. Hobbs

Court of Appeals of Oregon

March 14, 2018

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
RYAN EVAN HOBBS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and submitted September 29, 2017

         Douglas County Circuit Court 15CR18431; William A. Marshall, Judge.

          David Sherbo-Huggins, Deputy Public Defender, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the brief was Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, Offce of Public Defense Services.

          Jeff J. Payne, Assistant Attorney General, argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, and Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General.

          Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Tookey, Judge, and Shorr, Judge.

          SHORR, J.

         Case Summary:

         Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine (Count 1) and one count of endangering the welfare of a minor (Count 2). At trial, the state presented evidence that defendant's minor daughter resided with defendant in his home and that defendant stored a personal-use quantity of methamphetamine in his bedroom in the home and smoked methamphetamine on a regular basis. Defendant moved for a judgment of acquittal on Count 2, which the trial court denied. On appeal, defendant challenges that ruling. Held: The trial court erred when it denied defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal. The state failed to present evidence from which a reasonable factfinder could, consistent with the standard announced in State v. Gonzalez-Valenzuela, 358 Or 451, 365 P.3d 116 (2015), conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant's home was a place where “unlawful activity involving controlled substances is maintained or conducted, ” ORS 163.575(1)(b).

         [290 Or. 774] Conviction on Count 2 reversed; remanded for resentencing; otherwise affirmed.

          [290 Or. 775] SHORR, J.

         Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for unlawful possession of methamphetamine (Count 1), ORS 475.894 (2015), amended by Or Laws 2017, ch 706, § 15, and endangering the welfare of a minor (Count 2), ORS 163.575.[1] Defendant assigns error to the trial court's ruling denying his motion for a judgment of acquittal on Count 2. As explained below, we conclude that the court erred when it denied defendant's motion. Accordingly, we reverse defendant's conviction on Count 2 and remand for resentencing but otherwise affirm.[2]

         Because we are reviewing the denial of a motion for a judgment of acquittal, we state the relevant facts in the light most favorable to the state. State v. Reynolds, 250 Or.App. 516, 518, 280 P.3d 1046, rev den, 352 Or. 666 (2012). Douglas County police officers were responding to a report of a disturbance involving shouting and gunshots on a street outside a mobile home park when they encountered defendant outside his mobile home. The officers were concerned that defendant had been involved in the disturbance. The officers requested to search defendant's home for possible victims, suspects, or weapons related to the reported disturbance.[3] Defendant consented to the search. Defendant told the officers that his daughter, an 11-year-old child who resided in the home, was asleep inside. The officers entered and searched the home. Defendant's daughter was asleep on a couch in the living room. Inside defendant's bedroom, the officers spotted what they believed to be a pipe containing methamphetamine residue and three empty "bindles, " small plastic bags frequently used to store narcotics. The officers asked defendant if he would unlock a large gun safe [290 Or. 776] in the bedroom, and defendant consented. Inside the gun safe, the officers saw a larger plastic bag containing a white crystalline substance that the officers believed to be meth-amphetamine, a pair of analog scales used for weighing marijuana, and other pipes.[4] When questioned by the officers, defendant admitted to having methamphetamine in the safe in his bedroom and that the empty "bindles" in his bedroom had, at one point, contained methamphetamine as well. Defendant admitted to smoking some of the methamphetamine from the safe but claimed that it was "bad dope" that "didn't get him high." He also told the officers that he used methamphetamine "almost every day if he can get it, " and that he had been "smoking methamphetamine for two to three years." The officers then arrested defendant. The state obtained an indictment against defendant for one count of unlawful possession of methamphetamine, ORS 475.894, and one count of endangering the welfare of a minor, ORS 163.575, based on the allegation that defendant's daughter was in the home concurrently with defendant's possession and apparent use of methamphetamine.

         At trial, the state presented evidence of the foregoing facts. Defendant then moved for a judgment of acquittal on the child-endangerment charge. Oregon's child-endangerment statute prohibits, among other things, allowing a person under the age of 18 to "enter or remain in a place where unlawful activity involving controlled substances * * * is maintained or conducted." ORS 163.575(1)(b). When making his motion, defendant argued that the state failed to present evidence that his home was a place where unlawful activity involving a controlled substance was maintained or conducted. The trial court concluded that, based on the evidence presented, a jury could reasonably infer that defendant violated the statute because there was evidence that defendant's minor child resided in the house and that defendant routinely used methamphetamine in the house. The court then denied defendant's motion. ...


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