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Procella v. State

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division II

November 2, 2016

JEFFERY DUANE PROCELLA APPELLANT
v.
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE

         APPEAL FROM THE MILLER COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 46CR-15-324] HONORABLE CARLTON D. JONES, JUDGE

         AFFIRMED

          Phillip A. McGough, P.A., by: Phillip A. McGough, for appellant.

          Leslie Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Evelyn D. Gomez, Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.

          BART F. VIRDEN, Judge

         A Miller County jury convicted appellant Jeffery Duane Procella of two counts of theft of scrap metal and two counts of first-degree criminal mischief. He was sentenced to an aggregate term of twelve years' imprisonment. On appeal, he argues that the trial court erred in denying his directed-verdict motions because there was insufficient corroboration of accomplice testimony. We affirm.

         I. Trial Testimony

         Darin Archer, a senior special agent with the Union Pacific Railroad Police, testified that signal crossings are designed to prevent a vehicle from being struck by a train. He explained that there is a wire that runs under the tracks and attaches to a junction box and that, when the train's wheels touch the track, a signal is sent through the shunt wire to the box to activate the crossing signal. He testified that shunt wire controlling a crossing signal at the Pinehurst Street Station in Texarkana had been cut and removed on April 14, 2015, creating a public-safety concern. Following the theft, Archer placed a motion-activated camera at that location. On April 18, 2015, the wire was again cut and removed. The photos were downloaded, and the wire was replaced. Again, on the morning of April 19, 2015, the wire was cut and removed. Archer downloaded the photos and contacted police.

         While replacing the camera located along a tree line, a man later identified as Procella was seen walking along the tracks. Archer stated that Procella was standing where the wire had been cut and appeared to be looking at the newly replaced shunt wire. Archer made contact with Procella because he was trespassing. Archer testified that Procella had admitted being on the tracks on both April 18 and 19 but denied cutting or stealing any wire. Archer said that Procella did admit having picked up wire that he claimed had been left lying on the ground.

         Archer was shown a sequence of photos from the motion-activated camera. He testified that the photos showed a white male wearing a backpack and a white female holding a bag or backpack. According to Archer, the male in the photo appeared to be looking at the shunt wire. Archer testified that the wire was visible in one photo but was gone from the next photo. Archer stated that twenty-five to thirty feet of wire had been stolen each time and that the wire was worth approximately $10. He explained that the wire was flexible in that it could be folded or rolled and would fit inside a backpack.

         Adam Lange, a signal maintainer for Union Pacific, testified that he replaced the signal shunt wire each time it had been stolen and specifically denied having left any excess wire on the ground. He said that it took approximately one minute to roll up thirty feet of shunt wire. Lange was shown the same sequence of photos and similarly testified that the signal shunt wire could be seen in one photo but not in the photo immediately following that one. Lange confirmed that approximately $800 in damage was caused each time the wire had been cut. Lange said that there had been no more thefts of wire since April 19, 2015.

         Amy Telles admitted that she and Procella, her boyfriend at the time, were the individuals depicted in the photos taken on April 18 and 19. In describing the shunt wire, Telles stated that it was underneath the tracks and led to boxes. According to Telles, Procella had cut the signal shunt wire with clippers, rolled it up, and concealed it in their backpacks.

         II. Accomplice Testimony

         Arkansas law is clear that a conviction cannot be had in any case of felony upon the testimony of an accomplice unless corroborated by other evidence tending to connect the defendant with the commission of the offense. Smith v. State, 2012 Ark.App. 534, 423 S.W.3d 624. An accomplice's testimony, however, need not be corroborated as to a misdemeanor. See Ark. Code Ann. ยง 16-89-111(e)(2) (Supp. 2015). Here, Procella was charged with four ...


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