United States District Court, D. Maryland
Decided July 23, 2015
For Benjamin R. Bilik, Defendant: William C Brennan, Jr, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brennan McKenna Manzi Shay, Chartered, Greenbelt, MD.
For USA, Plaintiff: Hollis Raphael Weisman, Jane F Nathan, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Office of the U.S. Attorney, Greenbelt, MD.
PETER J. MESSITTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Benjamin R. Bilik has appealed his conviction for possession of a weapon in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 2.4. following a bench trial before Magistrate Judge Thomas M. DiGirolamo. For the following reasons, the conviction is AFFIRMED.
At approximately 2:45 A.M. on March 11, 2014, U.S. Park Police Sgt. Daniels saw a black Chevrolet parked in a lot that was closed between midnight and 6 A.M. Daniels pulled up behind the vehicle and approached Bilik, who was the driver and sole occupant. During their conversation, Bilik told Daniels that he bought the vehicle to travel between Towson University in Baltimore, where he was a student, and his residence in Washington, D.C.
As Daniels and Bilik spoke, Daniels detected an odor of marijuana coming out of the vehicle. He asked Bilik to get out of the vehicle and, after Bilik exited, asked him " if he had any weapons or anything on him." Bilik reached down and handed Daniels a Leatherman tool. Daniels then asked Bilik whether he had " smoked any weed" and Bilik admitted to smoking marijuana. Daniels next asked whether there was marijuana in the vehicle and Bilik, admitting that the vehicle contained marijuana, directed Daniels to the rear seat. At that point, Officer Harper arrived to assist. Daniels handcuffed Bilik and searched the vehicle while Harper watched Bilik.
During his search of the vehicle, Daniels found a cylinder, a zip lock bag, a marijuana crusher, and a vaporizer inside a book bag on the rear seat. The cylinder and the zip lock bag contained marijuana.
Daniels then searched the front of the vehicle and found a set of brass knuckles in the center console. During the trial, Daniels testified that the center console was located " directly between the passenger and the driver's seat" and was accessible by pressing a latch, lifting the armrest that covered the compartment area of the console. Daniels was unable to recollect where in the console he found the brass knuckles and whether there was anything else inside the console.
On March 16, 2015, the Magistrate Judge held a bench trial, finding Bilik guilty on all counts. He concentrated his comments on the weapon charge, noting that the regulation prohibited " possession of a weapon, trap, or net" and that " [p]ossession means exercising direct physical control or dominion with or without ownership over property." In addition, he found that possession must be with knowledge because " [y]ou cannot really exercise dominion over something, if you don't know it is there."
The Magistrate Judge found that Bilik knowingly possessed the ...