the Defendant to the gun. Long, 905 F.2d at 1578. This "substantial evidence" consisted of evidence that the Defendant lived in the apartment, testimony that the Defendant had keys to the bedroom in which the gun was located, and the fact that the Defendant's wallet and photographs were found in the bedroom. Id. The fact that the Defendant in Anderson lived at the premises was "of paramount importance" and "justified an inference that [the Defendant] constructively possessed the apartment's contents." Id.
The evidence supporting the jury's inference that Candysha Robinson possessed the drugs and the gun in the locker is almost as strong as the evidence in Anderson, supra, and certainly more convincing than the case against the Defendant in Long, supra. Here, it is undisputed that Candysha Robinson lived at the premises and was the lessee. See Gov't Exhibit 15 (rent receipts in name of Candysha Robinson). Furthermore, the Defendant admits that she owned the locker and used it to store her personal items, including her tax returns. See Transcript, Vol. I. at 133.
(hereinafter, "Tr.") On the basis of this evidence, a reasonable jury could conclude that the Defendant knew of, and had at least constructive possession of, the items in the trunk. See Anderson, supra.
Defendant seeks to avoid this conclusion by arguing that a co-defendant, Kwarme Parker,
allegedly possessed the key to the locker and also "owned" the drugs and gun found therein. This argument fails. First, the Government introduced evidence at the trial which showed that, in a prior drug transaction at the premises, Candysha Robinson and her sister entered the bedroom when a buyer (who turned out to be an undercover officer) inquired about the availability of drugs. Peering inside the bedroom, the officer saw Candysha Robinson hand a rock of cocaine to her sister. After the Defendant's sister emerged from the bedroom, she sold the rock of crack cocaine to the undercover officer. See Tr. Vol. I. at 7 (testimony of Officer Hale). This testimony could indicate to a reasonable juror that Candysha Robinson had knowledge of the drugs being sold in her house and also presents circumstantial evidence that the Defendant was keeping drugs in her bedroom.
In a second sale, another lodger in the Defendant's apartment, Kwarme Parker, sold crack cocaine to an undercover officer. According to Officer Hale's testimony, Parker went to the Defendant's apartment in order to retrieve the drugs. Tr. Vol. I. at 8-9. The police recovered from the trunk in the Defendant's bedroom the marked money used to buy the drugs in this second transaction. Id. at 9-11. From this second transaction, the jury could infer that the drugs which Candysha Robinson transferred to her sister in the first transaction were stored in the same place -- the locker -- as were the drugs, cash and gun later confiscated by the police upon execution of a search warrant.
Finally, based on her ownership of the locker, her decision to allow Parker to have keys to the locker, and her own admitted suspicions about Parker's drug use, see Tr. Vol. I. at 131-133, the jury could reasonably infer that Ms. Robinson knew that Mr. Parker was storing the drugs and gun in the locker. Even though Defendant gave a key to Mr. Parker, she had access to the locker as well. In fact, the Defendant admitted that she last used the locker on the Sunday night prior to the execution of the search warrant. Tr. Vol. I. at 136. These facts, in addition to evidence indicating the Defendant's role in a prior drug sale at the house, are sufficient to establish constructive possession of the drugs and the gun by Ms. Robinson. See Anderson, supra ; United States v. Jenkins, 289 App. D.C. 83, 928 F.2d 1175, 1179 (D.C.Cir. 1991) (jury entitled to find that, although drugs were hidden from view, the Defendant who owned the house was on constructive notice of them).
The case precedent in United States v. Bruce, 291 App. D.C. 225, 939 F.2d 1053 (D.C. Cir. 1991) does not undermine the verdict rendered by the jury in this case. In Bruce, the Court of Appeals held that mere possession of drugs and a gun in close proximity does not necessarily establish that the gun was "used in relation to" the drug offense. See Bruce, 939 F.2d at 1054 ("mere possession of a gun at the time the crime is committed is not enough to establish use"). Rather, when the defendant is charged with possession with intent to distribute drugs, the Government must prove that the defendant actually used the gun to assist in that act of possession. Evidence which suggests that the defendant would use the gun at some unknown point in the future when distributing the drugs is insufficient to sustain a conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). Id. at 1055. According to the Court of Appeals, this standard is the only way to fairly apply the term "use * * * in relation to" the drug offense when the predicate offense is as elastic as possession with intent to distribute. Id. ("Since possession with intent to distribute is in a sense a passive crime, it becomes somewhat difficult analytically to determine how one goes about using a gun in relation to that crime.")
However, the Court of Appeals acknowledged that, in crack houses, drug dealers use guns to protect the on-going possession of the drugs being sold there. The Court explained the uniqueness of the crack house scenario for purposes of § 924(c):
If guns are strewn around a "crack house" in which drugs are stored, it might be inferred that the guns are there to protect the occupant's "possession." In such a case, the guns are "used" in relation to the drug trafficking crime of possession with intent to distribute because they are intended to protect the stash of drugs that will subsequently be distributed. And although actual distribution is a separate crime, courts have treated evidence of the use of guns in such a house for protection of the distribution function as equivalent to protection of possession. Since in the typical crack house possession and distribution are intertwined, that seems to us to be a logical interpretation of the statute.