The Court of Appeals of Colorado reviewed a case involving the People of the State of Colorado against Gerald Adrian Yeadon, the defendant. The jury of the district court found Yeadon guilty of “driving under restraint, failure to report an accident or return to the scene, and possession of less than two grams of a controlled substance, which was methamphetamine.” The court had sentenced Yeadon to 16 months in the Department of Corrections, and 11 days later set a drug offender surcharge of $1,250.
On his appeal, Yeadon argues that the prosecution had insufficient evidence that backed his possession conviction, that certain statements made from the prosecution involved misconduct, and that the district court’s late drug offender surcharge violated his right against double jeopardy. The appeals court disagreed with all of these arguments, but it did ask for the district court to give Yeadon the chance to prove he was financially incapable of paying any part of the surcharge.
The background to the case begins after police responded to a rollover crash involving a Pontiac. The driver had left the vehicle on the highway, and police discovered the car had been stolen two weeks earlier. Inside the Pontiac, there was a scale and a small baggie that contained a substance. It was later determined this substance was methamphetamine. Police also found a bag that had a pawn shop receipt with Yeadon’s name and birthdate on it.
The owner of the Pontiac, once found, reported to police that he thought his ex-girlfriend had stolen the car. The detective assigned to the case also interviewed Yeadon two months after the accident, and neither the ex-girlfriend nor Yeadon had injuries suggesting they were involved in a prior accident. However, Yeadon’s DNA was found on the airbag on the driver’s side of the vehicle.
The largest dispute in this case centers around if the prosecution gave sufficient evidence to support knowingly “possessing less than two grams of a controlled substance.” The appeals court concluded that the prosecution did in fact present sufficient evidence.
The appeals court did conclude that there was sufficient evidence that Yeadon was driving the Pontiac at the time of the accident, because the Colorado Bureau of Investigation expert testified that he found “a major source of DNA” on the driver’s side airbag. However, the court was still willing to determine if the prosecution had sufficient evidence to support that Yeadon knowingly possessed the methamphetamine found in the compartment of the driver’s side door. This conclusion would have been based on whether there was another passenger in the car besides Yeadon at the time of the crash.
The court did find that Yeadon knowingly possessed the methamphetamine, because he was in direct proximity to the baggie, he was right next to the scale on the passenger seat, and he fled the scene of the accident.
The appeals court also concluded that specific statements made by the prosecutor during the trials’ closing argument did not establish misconduct.
However, C.R.S. § 18-19-103(1) specifies that drug offender surcharges be applied in cases where defendants are convicted of drug offenses. Sentences for drug convictions in Colorado are illegal without this surcharge. In this case, Yeadon’s sentence did not contain the surcharge. Therefore, the district court had to correct the sentence. Ultimately, the appeals court decided that the late imposition of the surcharge was a permissible correction to a sentence that was illegal and was therefore not a violation of Yeadon’s double jeopardy rights.
Nationally recognized litigation attorney Thomas Metier practice areas include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, trucking accidents and motor vehicle accidents. He is licensed to practice in Colorado, Wyoming, the U.S. District Court–District of Colorado, and the U.S. District Court–District of Wyoming, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court.
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