Dixon v. State (1996)

In Dixon v. State, 918 S.W.2d 678, 680 (Tex. App.--Beaumont 1996, no pet.), the defendant was a passenger in a vehicle in which fifteen pounds of marijuana was found hidden inside a speaker inside the vehicle's trunk. The evidence showed that when law enforcement officers approached the vehicle to issue a traffic citation, the defendant "was extremely nervous, his breathing was rapid, his hands were shaking, and he would not make eye contact." Id. When asked where they were going, the driver said they were from Houston and traveling to Louisiana to visit his sick mother. Id. However, when the defendant was asked the same question, he told the officers they were traveling to Louisiana to visit the driver's sick sister, and that they were going to be there for three days. Id. The insurance on the vehicle was in neither the defendant's nor the driver's name and there was no luggage or clothes in the vehicle. Id. Neither man admitted ownership of the marijuana. Id. The defendant challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to prove that he had "actual care, control, or management" over the marijuana. See id. The only factors linking the defendant to the contraband were his extreme nervousness, the conflicting statements regarding his and the driver's visit, the absence of luggage and clothes, and the fact that the vehicle was borrowed. Id. at 681. In reversing the conviction, the Ninth Court of Appeals held that the factors indicating the defendant did not have control of the contraband were more numerous and more convincing: (1) the defendant did not own the vehicle and there was no evidence that he drove it; (2) there was no evidence that any of the trunk's contents belonged to the defendant or that the defendant had access to the trunk; (3) there were no fingerprints on the speaker containing the contraband or on anything else in the trunk; (4) the defendant did not attempt to flee, and made no incriminating statements or furtive gestures; (5) there was no odor of marijuana, no drugs, and no paraphernalia for using the contraband; (6) the defendant was not under the influence of marijuana at the time of the stop. Id. at 681-82. Thus, the court concluded there was no evidence that the defendant had actual care, custody, control, or management over the contraband. Id. at 682.