Egner v. State

In Egner v. State, 495 P.2d 1272 (Alaska 1972), the police intercepted a postal package that contained "a cannabis material". After ascertaining the contents of the package, the police resealed the package and took it to the post office -- and waited for someone to pick it up. Egner's two co-defendants picked up the package. Under police surveillance, Egner and his co-defendants spent several hours driving around Ketchikan. Egner was doing the driving. When the police finally stopped the vehicle, the package was found opened on the back seat of the car, and Egner's friends were found to have marijuana on their persons, but none was found on Egner's person. The State contended that this evidence was sufficient to prove Egner's complicity. The supreme court disagreed: Mere presence at the scene of illegal drug possession, alone, is insufficient to prove knowing control of the prohibited substance. Here, the state's evidence did not show by whom the package had been opened, when the package had been opened, or that Egner was in the car when the package was opened. Additionally, the state's evidence did not show that, at any pertinent time, Egner had knowledge of the contents of the package and either exercised or had the right to exercise control over the package. Given the gaps in the government's proof, we hold the evidence presented at Egner's trial insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt Egner's knowing control of hashish or marijuana. (Egner, 495 P.2d at 1274.)