USA v. Marcus Story
Per Curiam OPINION filed : AFFIRMED Story's conviction, decision not for publication. Eugene E. Siler , Jr., Circuit Judge; Jeffrey S. Sutton, Circuit Judge and Jane Branstetter Stranch, Circuit Judge.
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION
File Name: 14a0848n.06
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
MARCUS LYONEL STORY,
Nov 12, 2014
DEBORAH S. HUNT, Clerk
ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED
STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR
THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF
BEFORE: SILER, SUTTON, and STRANCH, Circuit Judges.
PER CURIAM. Marcus Lyonel Story challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to
support his conviction for possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. As
set forth below, we affirm Story’s conviction.
Following his guilty pleas to possession with intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine in
violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) (Counts 1 and 2), Story proceeded to trial on the charge of
possession of one or more firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime in violation of
18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A) (Count 3). After a two-day trial, during which Story testified, the jury
returned a guilty verdict. The district court sentenced Story to concurrent terms of 41 months on
Counts 1 and 2 and a consecutive term of 60 months on Count 3 for an effective sentence of
101 months of imprisonment.
We review de novo Story’s claim of insufficient evidence. See United States v. Ham,
628 F.3d 801, 807 (6th Cir. 2011). “[T]he relevant question is whether, after viewing the
United States v. Story
evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found
the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.” Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S.
307, 319 (1979). “In making this determination, however, we may not reweigh the evidence,
reevaluate the credibility of witnesses, or substitute our judgment for that of the jury.” United
States v. Martinez, 430 F.3d 317, 330 (6th Cir. 2005).
Story does not dispute that he committed the drug trafficking crimes to which he pleaded
guilty and that he possessed six semi-automatic handguns—five found in his bedroom closet and
one found in a vehicle parked in his driveway. Story contends that there was insufficient
evidence that he possessed those firearms “in furtherance of” his drug trafficking crimes. For
possession of a firearm to be “in furtherance of” a drug trafficking crime, “the weapon must
promote or facilitate the crime.” United States v. Mackey, 265 F.3d 457, 460–61 (6th Cir. 2001).
Section 924(c) does not “cover all instances of possession of a firearm by a drug trafficker”;
rather, there must be “a specific nexus between the gun and the crime charged.” Id. at 462. “In
order for the possession to be in furtherance of a drug crime, the firearm must be strategically
located so that it is quickly and easily available for use.” Id. Other factors “include whether the
gun was loaded, the type of weapon, the legality of its possession, the type of drug activity
conducted, and the time and circumstances under which the firearm was found.” Id.
A search of Story’s residence uncovered more than $8,000 cash, three digital scales,
packaging materials, more than 110 grams of cocaine, and nearly 40 pounds of marijuana. Law
enforcement officers testified that the amount of drugs found had a value in excess of $40,000
and indicated that Story was an upper-level dealer. According to the officers, “drugs and guns
go together like peas and carrots,” especially at the dealer level. The officers testified that
dealers commonly possess guns to protect themselves, their drugs, and their money and that the
United States v. Story
risks associated with drug dealing, such as robbery, increase as the amount of product and money
increases. In searching Story’s residence for drugs, the officers found a 20-pound bale of
marijuana in his bedroom closet. Next to the bale of marijuana was a black bag containing five
semi-automatic handguns, corresponding magazines, and loose ammunition. Directly beneath
the bale of marijuana was a cardboard box containing additional magazines, one of which was
partially loaded, and various rounds of boxed and loose ammunition. The officers suggested that
the handguns were not loaded because there were three small children in the house and testified
that the handguns could have been retrieved and loaded in 15 to 30 seconds.
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, a rational trier of fact
could have found that Story strategically located the handguns next to his marijuana so that they
were quickly and easily available for use and that he possessed those firearms in furtherance of
his drug trafficking crimes. See Ham, 628 F.3d at 809; United States v. Manjate, 327 F. App’x
562, 567–68 (6th Cir. 2009). Accordingly, we affirm Story’s conviction.
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