Hotchkiss, II appeals his conviction for possession of a
controlled substance with intent to deliver -
methamphetamine. Law enforcement discovered 8.1 grams of
methamphetamine and $2, 150 in cash in a search of
Hotchkiss's residence, and during questioning Hotchkiss
admitted that he was selling the methamphetamine to several
argues that, under the corpus delicti rule, there was
insufficient corroborating evidence independent of his
incriminating statement that he intended to deliver
methamphetamine. As a result, he argues that the trial court
could not consider his statement and that without the
statement there was insufficient evidence to convict him of
possession with intent to deliver.
that the quantity of the methamphetamine combined with the
amount of cash in Hotchkiss's possession provided
sufficient corroborating evidence of intent to deliver
independent of Hotchkiss's incriminating statement to
satisfy the corpus delicti rule. Accordingly, we affirm
enforcement officers executed a search warrant on
Hotchkiss's residence in Vancouver. During the search,
Hotchkiss admitted that he had an "8-ball" -
approximately 3.8 grams - of methamphetamine in a safe and
provided the officers with the code. Report of Proceedings at
271. He also stated that he procured about one 8-ball of
methamphetamine every day and broke it down, and estimated
that he had about 10 customers. Inside the safe, officers
found 8.1 grams of methamphetamine and $2, 150 in cash. The
State charged Hotchkiss with possession of a controlled
substance with intent to deliver - methamphetamine.
bench trial, officers testified about finding the
methamphetamine and cash and about Hotchkiss's statement
that he had 10 methamphetamine customers. After the State
rested, Hotchkiss requested that the trial court disregard
the testimony regarding his incriminating statement under the
corpus delicti rule because there was insufficient evidence
corroborating his statement. The court reserved its ruling on
the corpus delicti issue.
then testified that he and a woman who lived with him used
three or four grams of methamphetamine per day. He also
testified that the cash in the safe came from other people
living at his residence, who paid rent of $1, 150 per month
in cash, and from his employment. He claimed that any
statement he made to the officers about selling
methamphetamine referred to his actions 20 years earlier.
rebuttal, an officer with extensive experience dealing with
methamphetamine users and sellers testified that a typical
methamphetamine dose is 0.2 to 0.4 grams. He also testified
that it would be very rare that someone would possess eight
grams of methamphetamine solely for personal use.
trial court found that the quantity of methamphetamine in
Hotchkiss's possession combined with the amount of cash
recovered with the drugs was sufficient corroborating
evidence to satisfy the corpus delicti rule. The court then
found Hotchkiss guilty of possession of methamphetamine with
intent to deliver.
appeals his conviction.
Corpus Delicti Rule
corpus delicti rule prevents the State from establishing that
a crime occurred solely based on the defendant's
incriminating statement. State v. Green, 182 Wn.App.
133, 143, 328 P.3d 988 (2014). The State must present
corroborating evidence independent of the incriminating
statement that the charged crime occurred. Id.
Without such corroborating evidence, the defendant's
statement alone is insufficient to support a conviction.
State v. Dow, 168 Wn.2d 243, 249-51, 227 P.3d 1278
review de novo whether sufficient corroborating evidence
exists to satisfy the corpus delicti rule. Green,
182 Wn.App. at 143. In making this determination, we view the
evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light
most favorable to the State. Id. And we consider the
totality of the independent evidence. See State v.
Aten, 130 Wn.2d 640, 661, 927 P.2d 210 (1996). The
independent evidence by itself need not be sufficient to
support a conviction or even show that the offense occurred
by a preponderance of the evidence; it must only support a
logical and reasonable inference that the charged crime has
occurred. Id. at 656.
addition, the Supreme Court has stated that to satisfy the
corpus delicti rule, "the independent evidence 'must
be consistent with guilt and inconsistent with a [ ]
hypothesis of innocence.' " State v.
Brockob,159 Wn.2d 311, 329, 150 P.3d 59 (2006) (quoting
Aten, 130 Wn.2d at 660). The court stated that
independent evidence is insufficient to corroborate a
defendant's incriminating statement when it"
supports 'reasonable and logical inferences of both
criminal agency and noncriminal cause.' "
Brockob, 159 Wn.2d at 329 (quoting Aten,
130 Wn.2d at 660). "In other words, if the State's
evidence supports the reasonable inference of a criminal
explanation of what caused ...