MICHAEL GUSS, JR. A/K/A MICHAEL PAUL GUSS, JR. A/K/A MICHAEL PAUL GUSS A/K/A MICHAEL GUSS A/K/A MIKE APPELLANT
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI APPELLEE
OF JUDGMENT: 08/21/2017
FROM WHICH APPEALED: LINCOLN COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT TRIAL
JUDGE: HON. DAVID H. STRONG JR.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: OFFICE OF STATE PUBLIC DEFENDER BY:
MOLLIE MARIE McMILLIN
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL BY:
LISA L. BLOUNT
DISTRICT ATTORNEY: DEE BATES
BARNES, C.J., WESTBROOKS AND LAWRENCE, JJ.
A Lincoln County jury convicted Michael Guss Jr. of unlawful
trafficking of more than thirty grams of methamphetamine. He
was sentenced to thirty years in the custody of the
Mississippi Department of Corrections, with twenty-five years
to serve and five years' post-release supervision. Guss
filed a motion for a new trial, arguing that the verdict was
against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. We find the
verdict was not against the overwhelming weight of the
evidence and affirm the conviction and sentence.
On December 2, 2015, Postal Inspector Dominick Riley was
working at the United States Postal Inspection Service Center
in Jackson, Mississippi. Part of his duties as a postal
inspector included looking at packages for indicators that
they may contain narcotics. During a routine check, Inspector
Riley noticed a suspicious express mail package. The package
was heavily taped with handwritten addresses for the return
and sender labels. Neither of the names matched the addresses
on the package. The package was sent from California, which
Inspector Riley testified is a "drug source state."
After a drug dog alerted him about the package, Inspector
Riley applied for and obtained a search warrant. He testified
that the package contained about a pound and a half of
methamphetamine. The methamphetamine was wrapped in shrink
wrap and surrounded by coffee grounds. According to Inspector
Riley, coffee grounds are known to mask the smell of
Inspector Riley immediately contacted the Mississippi Bureau
of Narcotics' (MBN) district office and spoke with Agent
Kendrick Lewis. Inspector Riley and Agent Lewis arranged a
controlled delivery of the package to its intended address.
The next day, Inspector Riley delivered the package to Guss,
who was sitting on the porch of the apartment residence.
Agent Lewis observed Guss accept the package. As Inspector
Riley left the apartment, MBN agents approached the residence
to arrest Guss. Upon seeing the agents, Guss ran inside the
apartment and threw his cell phone. The agents caught Guss,
arrested him, and secured the residence. Guss was the only
person at the apartment during the delivery of the package.
Agent Lewis obtained a search warrant for the residence. The
agents found the unopened United States Postal Service (USPS)
package near the front door, a cell phone, and about one gram
of marijuana in the front bedroom. While inspecting the cell
phone, Agent Lewis noticed a browser open for the USPS. The
browser was tracking the same package that was delivered to
Guss. Agent Lewis testified that he also found various text
messages between Guss and other individuals regarding drug
transactions. Specifically, Agent Lewis found text messages
describing the address and tracking number for the delivered
package of methamphetamine.
Agent Lewis contacted Lillian Bailey, the renter of the
apartment. According to Agent Lewis, Bailey told Guss that he
could use her address to receive a package through the mail.
Bailey also told Agent Lewis that Guss had used her address
two or three times before to receive other packages. Agent
Lewis testified that Bailey claimed ownership of the
marijuana located in the front bedroom but denied any
knowledge of the USPS package containing methamphetamine.
The Mississippi Forensics Laboratory tested the substance in
the package and identified it as 441.26 ...