Appeals Court Upholds Missouri Drug Conviction

Federal case law summary by Attorney Richard Clem: Federal criminal law, sufficiency of evidence.

United States v. Jerome Johnson and Darryl Muldrow. Federal criminal law, sufficiency of evidence

On September 27, 2011, St. Louis police set up surveillance on the 4400 block of Red Bud Avenue, where they observed a group of individuals engaging in suspicious hand-to-hand transactions. Jerome Johnson was seen engaging in the suspicious transactions, and Darryl Muldrow was moving back and forth in a way that the cops believed he was a lookout.

When the cops moved in, Johnson and Muldrow ran into the house at 4425 Red Bud Avenue, which was owned by one of Muldrow's relatives. One of the cops saw a gun tucked into the waist of Muldrow's pants, and another officer saw a gun tucked behind Johnson's shirt and jacket.

The police knocked on the door. While they waited, one of the officers could see through the window, and he saw Johnson and Muldrow run down the hall toward the back of the house. One of the residents eventually opened the door and gave police permission to search the house. This person also told the police that two people had just run up from the basement.

The police found a table at the bottom of the stairs with two guns on it. They also found marijuana, cocaine base, and heroin on the table. These packages smelled of the same cologne that Johnson had been wearing.

Johnson and Muldrow were convicted in Missouri federal court of being felons in possession of firearms and aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute. They were also convicted of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crim. Johnson was sentenced to 125 months, and Muldrow was sentenced to 260 months. They then appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. They argued that the evidence was insufficient to convict.

They first argued that there was insufficient evidence of them possessing firearms, and that the officers' testimony that they did was not credible. But the Court of Appeals quickly noted that the weight of the evidence is for the jury to decide, and this finding won't be challenged on appeal.

They also argued that there wasn't enough evidence to convict them of aiding and abetting. But again, the Court carefully considered the evidence and determined that it was enough to support the jury's verdict.

For those reasons, the Court of Appeals affirmed the convictions.

No. No. 12-3691 (8th Cir. Feb. 13, 2014).

Please see the original opinion for the court's exact language.


Richard P. Clem is an attorney and continuing legal education (CLE) provider in Minnesota. He has been in private practice in the Twin Cities for 25 years. He has a J.D., cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul and a B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota. His reported cases include: Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores a Pequena Escala o Artesanales de Colombia v. Dow Quimica de Colombia, 988 F.2d 559, rehearing denied, 5 F.3d 530 (5th Cir. 1993), cert. denied, 510 U.S. 1041 (1994); LaMott v. Apple Valley Health Care Center, 465 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991); Abo el Ela v. State, 468 N.W.2d 580 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).

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