FROM THE YELL COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT, SOUTHERN DISTRICT [NO.
75SCR-16-59] HONORABLE JERRY D. RAMEY, JUDGE
Moore, for appellant.
Rutledge, Att'y Gen., by: Ashley Argo Priest, Ass't
Att'y Gen., for appellee.
KENNETH S. HIXSON, Judge
Jeffrey Allen Wolfe appeals after he was convicted by a Yell
County jury of two counts of theft of property as a habitual
offender. He was sentenced to serve 60 months'
imprisonment for count one, theft of property, a Class C
felony, and 84 months' imprisonment for count two, theft
of property, a Class B felony, to be served consecutively for
a total of 144 months' imprisonment. On appeal,
appellant's sole argument is that there was insufficient
evidence to convict him of the two counts of theft of
property. We affirm.
was arrested and charged with theft of property, a Class C
felony under Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-36-103(b)(2)
(Repl. 2013); with theft of property, a Class B felony under
Arkansas Code Annotated section 5-36-103(b)(1); and as a
habitual offender under Arkansas Code Annotated section
5-4-501. A jury trial was held on January 19, 2017, and the
following facts were introduced at trial.
the facts are undisputed in this case. A service van
containing plumbing tools from Mountain Valley Plumbing was
reported stolen in Plainview, Arkansas, on July 10, 2016.
Detective Gary Morrison testified that he was assigned to
investigate the case. Detective Kenneth Poore discovered the
keys to the van at the home of Candice Howard, who lived in
Dardanelle, Arkansas. Howard testified that appellant had
stayed with her for a few days and that appellant had left
the keys and other belongings on her counter. Appellant was
not at the residence when Detective Poore discovered the keys
at the home. Detective Morrison and Lieutenant Scott Moore
testified that the van was recovered eleven days after it was
reported stolen on the Dardanelle side of the Arkansas River.
Lieutenant Moore testified that the van had been left
unlocked and that the back of the van was buried in a
sandbar. Deidre Thurman testified that, while the van still
contained tools in it, some of the tools were missing.
Thurman's family owns Mountain Valley Plumbing. Thurman
further testified that the van cost approximately $45, 000 in
2014 and still maintained a value of approximately $39, 000
when it was stolen. The cost of the tools was approximately
$30, 000-$40, 000. Thurman testified that a "few
thousand" dollars' worth of tools were missing from
the van and that one of the recovered tools cost $900 to
the State rested its case, appellant moved for a directed
verdict. He argued that the State had failed to make a prima
facia case and specifically challenged the "intent"
element. After the trial court denied his motion, appellant
testified on his own behalf. Appellant admitted that he took
the van and was guilty of unauthorized use of a motor
vehicle. However, he argued that he was not guilty of theft
because he did not intend to "not return the van."
He explained that he is diabetic and took the van because he
was having an "episode." Appellant testified that
he had traveled with Howard and two other females to Lake
Nimrod. Because he wanted to stay longer, he told Howard and
the others to leave without him. However, he had no food or
water, and he admitted that he had taken methamphetamine.
Appellant further testified that shortly after midnight he
began to feel faint, disoriented, and that he would
"fall out" at any minute. However, he could not
call anyone for help because the screen on his phone had
shattered. Although he had passed by houses at 3:00 or 4:00
a.m., he did not want to knock on people's doors because
he "looked like a total mess" and did not want to
"surprise anybody." Therefore, he took the van that
he found. He testified that it had been left unlocked and had
the keys inside it. Appellant claimed that he immediately
went to McDonald's and then parked the van down a
"rougher road" in a "somewhat . . . public
place" by the river because he was embarrassed. He
testified that he locked the van and did not know why he kept
the keys in his pocket. However, he claimed that he did not
intend to keep the van or the tools inside.
admitted that he had six to eight convictions but did not
remember having thirteen convictions as the State alleged.
Appellant additionally indicated that he wrote an
"apology letter" to the victim after his arrest.
The letter was introduced into evidence. In the letter, he
requested the victim to contact the prosecutor and recommend
that he be allowed to participate in a drug-court program
rather than being imprisoned. Appellant reiterated his claims
that he took the van as an emergency and stated that he did
not take anything from the van.
appellant rested, he renewed his motion for a directed
verdict. He specifically challenged the intent element and
additionally argued that the value of the van and the tools
had not been adequately established. The trial court denied
his motion. The jury found him guilty of both charges.
Appellant stipulated that he had over four prior felony
convictions, and he was sentenced as a habitual offender to
serve a total of 144 months' imprisonment. Because
appellant's notice of appeal was untimely filed,
appellant filed a motion and amended motion for belated
appeal with our supreme court. Our supreme court granted
appellant's amended motion for belated appeal and
subsequently transferred the case to our court; this appeal
Sufficiency of the Evidence
motion for a directed verdict is a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence. Hinton v. State, 2015
Ark. 479, 477 S.W.3d 517. When reviewing a challenge to the
sufficiency of the evidence, this court assesses the evidence
in the light most favorable to the State and considers only
the evidence that supports the verdict. Id. The
sufficiency of the evidence is tested to determine whether
the verdict is supported by substantial evidence, direct or
circumstantial. Wyles v. State, 368 Ark. 646, 249
S.W.3d 782 (2007); Boyd v. State, 2016 Ark.App. 407,
500 S.W.3d 772. Substantial evidence is evidence that is of
sufficient force and character that will, with reasonable
certainty, compel a conclusion one way or the other, without
resorting to speculation or conjecture. Hinton,
supra. Finally, the credibility of witnesses is an
issue for the jury and not the court. Id. The trier
of fact is free to believe all or part of any witness's
testimony and may resolve questions of conflicting testimony
and inconsistent evidence. Id.
person commits theft of property if he or she knowingly (1)
takes or exercises unauthorized control over or makes an
unauthorized transfer of an interest in the property of
another person with the purpose of depriving the owner of the
property; or (2) obtains the property of another person by
deception or by threat with the purpose of depriving the
owner of the property. Ark. Code Ann. § 5-36-103(a).
Theft of property is a Class B felony if the value of the
property is twenty-five thousand dollars ($25, 000) or more
and a Class C felony if the value of the property is less
than twenty-five thousand dollars ($25, 000) but more than
five thousand dollars ($5, 000). Ark. Code Ann. §
5-36-103(b)(1)- (2). A person can "deprive" another
person of his or her property in three ways:
(A) Withhold property or to cause it to be withheld
either permanently or under circumstances such that
a major portion of its economic value, use, or benefit is