CHARLES SAVAGE, JR. APPELLANT
STATE OF ARKANSAS APPELLEE
FROM THE ASHLEY COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 02CR-15-76]
HONORABLE SAM POPE, JUDGE
F. Gibson, Jr., for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Brooke Jackson Gasaway,
Ass't Att'y Gen., for appellee.
D. VAUGHT, Judge
Savage, Jr., appeals his conviction by an Ashley County jury
of theft of property and criminal mischief in the first
degree. On appeal, Savage challenges the sufficiency of the
evidence supporting his theft-of-property conviction, and he
argues that the verdict form indicates that he was
erroneously convicted of, and sentenced for, theft by
receiving when he had been charged with theft of property. We
affirm on both points.
trial, Amondo Mondragon testified that he was employed as the
manager of Larry Pieroni Farms. Mondragon testified that, on
January 22, 2015,  while making
routine rounds inspecting the fields, he discovered that an
agricultural pivot had been damaged
and pieces were missing. He immediately called Larry Pieroni,
his direct supervisor, and Pieroni instructed Mondragon to
call the sheriff's office. Officer Daniel Watson then
conducted an investigation and determined that the copper
wire running the length of the pivot had been cut and
removed. Watson also discovered four-wheeler tracks and
footprints near the pivot.
four-wheeler tracks stretched across the field from the pivot
to the pavement in front of Savage's home. There were
also four-wheeler tracks in Savage's yard leading to an
enclosed shed. When police asked Savage if he owned a
four-wheeler, he initially only showed them the two in the
yard (which did not match the tracks), but eventually another
four-wheeler was discovered in the shed that did match the
tracks. Savage then explained that he had forgotten about
this four-wheeler because it would not run, but when asked to
demonstrate that it would not start, he intentionally shifted
it into gear before attempting to turn the key, thereby
preventing it from starting. When an officer shifted it back
to neutral, the four-wheeler started without any problem.
Savage then claimed that, although it would start, it would
not continue to run, but when the officers tried to leave it
running to test that statement, Savage turned it off. The
tread on the four-wheeler's tires matched the tracks
going to the pivot.
then searched his property with his consent and found rust
residue in the trunk of his vehicle. This rust residue was
similar to residue from the wires on the pivot. Officers also
found seven spots on the ground around his home that showed
signs of having a heavy, rolled-up object on top of them.
Seven pieces of wire were taken from the pivot.
who regularly scraps metal for income, was asked by officers
if he had recently sold any copper to Livingston's Scrap
Metal, and he said he had not. However, both a receipt and
video surveillance demonstrated that Savage had recently sold
approximately 259 pounds of copper at Livingston's.
Savage acknowledged lying to the officers but claimed that he
did so because an officer had accused him of selling drugs,
which angered him. Savage also
claimed that he had received some scrap wire from the mayor
but that after burning it in his yard, it was stolen. Savage
was arrested and charged with the theft of the copper wire;
after being arrested, Savage told his parole officer that he
(Savage) had "f'ed up."
was convicted on both counts submitted to the jury. The
preprinted verdict form signed by the jury erroneously stated
that he had been found guilty of "theft by receiving,
" although he had been charged with theft of property,
and the jury had been instructed on theft of property. At no
other time during the trial was theft by receiving mentioned.
Neither the State nor the defense raised any objection to the
verdict form either before or after it was submitted to the
jury. The judge read the verdict in open court, stating that
Savage was found guilty of "theft." The jury was
polled and indicated that was their verdict.
filed a timely notice of appeal. On appeal, he argues that
the evidence against him was insufficient to support a
conviction for theft of property and that he had been erroneously convicted
and sentenced for theft by receiving, for which he was not
trial, Savage moved for a directed verdict, arguing that the
theft-of-property statute, Arkansas Code Annotated section
5-36-103(a)(1) (Repl. 2013), required proof that he had
exercised unauthorized control over the property of another
and the State had not proved who owned the pivot from which
the wire had been stolen. He argued that the State had not
put on any evidence that Savage did not own it. On appeal,
Savage broadens his sufficiency argument to include a
challenge to the State's proof that he was the person who
took the wire. However, an appellant may not expand or
enlarge the grounds for a directed-verdict motion when
arguing the issue on appeal. Armstrong v. State,
2011 Ark.App. 530, at 4. Savage's
sufficiency-of-the-evidence argument is bound by the scope of
the directed-verdict motion made at trial, as all other
arguments were not preserved for appellate review.
Id. Therefore, the only sufficiency challenge before
us is whether the State presented adequate proof that the
agricultural pivot did not belong to Savage and that his
taking of the wire was unauthorized.
review a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, we
"view the evidence in the light most favorable to the
State and consider only the evidence that supports the
verdict." McBride v. State, 99 Ark.App. 146,
148, 257 S.W.3d 914, 916 (2007). The test is whether the
verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or
circumstantial. Stewart v. State, 362 Ark. 400, 403,
208 S.W.3d 768, 770 (2005).
satisfied that the State sufficiently proved that Savage
exercised unauthorized control over the pivot, which was the
property of another. There was ample evidence at trial that
the pivot was in the possession, control, and use of Larry
Pieroni Farms when the wires were stolen. Mondragon testified
that he managed the daily operations of the farm and reported
directly to Pieroni. He discovered the damaged pivot on
making a routine inspection of the property and immediately
reported it to Pieroni (indicating that Mondragon, the farm
manager, neither expected the wire to be removed nor
understood the removal to have been authorized), and Pieroni
told him to call the sheriff's office (indicating that
Pieroni also did not view the wire removal as having been
authorized). Mondragon also testified that he "called
people to fix the pivot." The fact that Larry Pieroni
Farms immediately undertook the expense of repairing the
pivot further indicates that it owned and operated the pivot,
needed it to be in working order, and had not intended it to
be rendered unusable by removal of the copper wiring.
Finally, Savage testified at trial that he did not know the
location of the field where the pivot had been when the ...