In reviewing challenges to the sufficiency of evidence, an appellate court gives great deference to the trier-of-fact and does not substitute its judgment unless the evidence, viewed most favorably to the verdict, is so lacking in probative value and force that no reasonable fact-finder could have found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If more than one inference can reasonably be drawn from the historical facts presented at the trial, the appellate court accepts the inference drawn by the fact-finder, even if other inferences could be drawn. This deferential standard of review is the same whether the fact-finder is the court or a jury. However, whether the evidence viewed most favorably to the verdict satisfies the legal elements of the crime constitutes a question of law, which the appellate court reviews de novo.
J. Henry E. Routon was convicted of one count of conspiracy to manufacture psilocybin/psilocin. Routon appealed the circuit court's judgment, contending that the evidence presented in the trial to the court was insufficient to prove that he conspired to manufacture psilocybin/psilocin because the evidence showed he made only one sale and the sale was of legal materials—the spores of the psilocybe mushrooms and a grow kit.
Was the evidence sufficient to convict for conspiracy to manufacture psilocybin/psilocin?
The court concluded that there is sufficient evidence that Routon knew that the buyer intended to use the spores to illegally manufacture psilocybin/psilocin by growing mushrooms, and that he intended to further, promote, and cooperate in the buyer's illegal growing of the mushrooms. The court further concluded that this evidence is sufficient to establish two elements of the charge--that Routon intended that the crime of manufacture of psilocybin/psilocin be committed and that he agreed with at least one other person to commit that crime. Because there is also sufficient evidence that one of the parties to the conspiracy committed an act in furtherance of the manufacturing--which Routon does not dispute-- the court ruled that there is sufficient evidence to prove all three elements of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.