Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division.
No. 94 CR 56--Sarah Evans Barker, Chief Judge.
Before BAUER and RIPPLE, Circuit Judges, and REYNOLDS, District Judge. *fn*
REYNOLDS, District Judge.
Defendant-appellant Michael Gill ("Gill") appeals his conviction for unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in violation of 18 U.S.C. secs. 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). *fn1 For reasons stated below, we affirm Gill's conviction.
A. Evidence Presented at Trial
In the evening of January 7, 1993, while driving in his marked police car, Marion County, Indiana Deputy Sheriff Otha Taylor ("Taylor") observed a Saturn automobile parked along the roadside of a commercial neighborhood. The engine was running, the emergency lights were flashing, and a person was "crouched down" in the front seat. That person was Michael Gill.
Taylor pulled up behind the Saturn and approached Gill, who was sitting in the passenger's seat. Taylor asked him for a driver's license and car registration, but Gill produced only an identification from a New York state welfare agency. Gill told Taylor that he was waiting for his friend and the driver of the car, Donald Curtis ("Curtis"), who had gone to look for a bathroom in the direction of the Red Roof Inn. However, the alleged driver Curtis never returned to the car. *fn2
Taylor then ran a check of the Saturn's license plate and learned that it was registered to a different car. Taylor ran a computer check on the Saturn's vehicle identification number and learned that it had been stolen earlier that day in western Marion County. Upon receiving this information, Taylor called for assistance and was soon joined by Officer Mark Myler ("Myler") from the sheriff's department.
Taylor and Myler proceeded to arrest Gill, read him his Miranda rights, conducted a patdown, and performed a customary inventory of the vehicle, since it was stolen. On the back seat of the car, Taylor observed a pile of clothes and, underneath, the handle of an object that appeared to be an umbrella. Instead, the object was a loaded .22 caliber Ruger semiautomatic rifle that had been altered with a stock butt and a muzzle suppressor. Gill had previously identified the clothes as belonging to him and had asked that the clothes be returned to him because he was informed that the Saturn was going to be towed. But Gill denied any knowledge of the weapon's existence.
Gill also denied having stolen the car. Gill maintained that Curtis had obtained the car and had picked him up earlier that evening. However, Gill identified a baby photograph on the keychain in the ignition of the car as being his niece. Gill also stated that he had never been arrested before. But it was later ...