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Sheets v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

September 15, 2017

KYLE SHEETS APPELLANT
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF KENTUCKY APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM KENTON CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE MARTIN J. SHEEHAN, JUDGE ACTION NO. 13-CR-00187

          BRIEFS FOR APPELLANT: John Gerhart Landon Assistant Public Advocate

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Andy Beshear Attorney General of Kentucky David B. Abner Assistant Attorney General

          BEFORE: J. LAMBERT, MAZE, AND NICKELL, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          LAMBERT, J., JUDGE

         Kyle Sheets appeals from the Kenton Circuit Court judgment of conviction and sentence of six years' imprisonment for Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 527.040. We affirm.

         Sheets was arrested after a search warrant (pursuant to another matter) was executed at his home in Elsmere, Kentucky. In the closet of the master bedroom, Detective Dennis McCarty confiscated a High Point .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol. The firearm's magazine contained nine rounds, and the slide was pulled forward. Sheets, who was living at the house sporadically, acknowledged ownership of the handgun but claimed he was unaware that it remained on the premises. When McCarty ran a criminal records check on Sheets it revealed that Sheets was a convicted felon. McCarty charged Sheets with Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon.

         A jury trial was held on September 10, 2013. It was Sheets's defense that, although he readily admitted ownership of the gun, he was not in actual possession of it. Sheets claimed that, subsequent to his prior conviction (a factor which he also does not contest), he moved the gun to his father's house in Covington.[1] Both Sheets and his wife (Rhonda, who testified in his defense at the trial) denied knowledge that the gun was in their bedroom closet.

         The circuit court instructed the jury on actual and constructive possession of the handgun. Sheets was convicted as charged and sentenced accordingly. He appeals.

         The sole issue for our consideration concerns the instructions to the jury. Sheets argues that, by giving the instruction on constructive possession, the circuit court negated the defense. We disagree.

          KRS 527.040 describes, in pertinent part, the Commonwealth's burden in proving its case against Sheets:

(1) A person is guilty of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon when he possesses, manufactures, or transports a firearm when he has been convicted of a felony, as defined by the laws of the jurisdiction in which he was convicted, in any state or federal court and has not:
(a) Been granted a full pardon by the Governor or by the President of the United States;
(b) Been granted relief by the United States Secretary of the Treasury pursuant to the Federal Gun Control Act ...

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