Appeal from Tuscaloosa Circuit Court
Before Bowen, Judge. All Judges Concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bowen
The defendant was indicted and convicted for the offense of buying, receiving or concealing stolen property. Alabama Code 1975, Section 13-3-55. Sentence was four years' imprisonment.
The defendant argues that the evidence presented at trial does not show that he had knowledge that the property was stolen.
To establish the offense of buying, receiving or concealing stolen property it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) the property was stolen; (2) that the accused bought, received or concealed it; (3) knowing that it had been stolen; and (4) that the accused had no intention of returning it to the owner. Boyd v. State, 150 Ala. 101, 43 So. 204 (1907); Fulton v. State, 8 Ala.App. 257, 62 So. 959 (1913). Guilty knowledge or scienter may be inferred by the jury from the facts and circumstances surrounding the entire transaction. Vacalis v. State, 204 Ala. 345, 86 So. 92 (1920); Waters v. State, 360 So.2d 358 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, 360 So.2d 367 (Ala. 1978).
The guilty knowledge may be inferred from the unexplained possession of recently stolen property. Boyd, supra.
"(P)ossession of recently stolen property gives rise to a permissible inference of knowledge on the part of the possessor that the property had been stolen, unless the possession thereof is accounted for in a reasonable and satisfactory manner consistent with the circumstances of the possession. Stanley v. State, 286 Ala. 738, 245 So.2d 827 (1970); Character v. State, 51 Ala.App. 589, 287 So.2d 916, cert. denied, 291 Ala. 775, 287 So.2d 919 (1973); Rhone v. State, 53 Ala.App. 338, 299 So.2d 781 (1974). The reasonableness of the explanation given by one in possession of recently stolen property is to be determined from all the circumstances, and, if reasonable people can come to a different Conclusion on the subject, the question of whether the explanation is reasonable is one to be determined by the jury. Haynes v. State, 40 Ala.App. 106, 109 So.2d 738 (1958)." Ford v. State, 383 So.2d 601, 603 (Ala.Cr.App. 1980).
The receipt of stolen goods under circumstances which would induce a man of ordinary observations to believe that they had been stolen may constitute evidence of guilty knowledge. Collins v. State, 33 Ala. 434 (1859). "(G)uilty knowledge may be inferred from the fact that the receiver purchased the goods for very much less than their value." Fulton v. State, 8 Ala.App. 257, 263, 62 So. 959 (1913). The fact that the transfer of stolen property was made clandestinely or secretly may evidence a felonious intent, Boyd v. State, 150 Ala. 101, 43 So. 204 (1907), as may the false denial by a receiver of stolen goods that he received the property. Fulton v. State, 8 Ala.App. 257, 62 So. 959 (1913).
The issue of the failure of the State to present a prima facie case was raised for the first time in the motion for new trial. Consequently, in reviewing the question of the sufficiency of the evidence to support the conviction we may look to all the evidence presented at the defendant's trial and are not limited to only the evidence presented by the state in its case in chief. Compare James v. State, 339 So.2d 1047 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, Ex parte State ex rel. Atty. Gen., 339 So.2d 1052 (Ala. 1976).
Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution as we must, Johnson v. State, 378 So.2d 1164 (Ala. Cr.App.), cert. quashed, Ex parte Johnson, 378 So.2d 1173 (Ala. 1979), the testimony shows that the defendant had a prior conviction for petit larceny and that he knew Willie Sledge and "occasionally" associated with him. Sledge also had a prior criminal record of which the defendant was aware. The evidence supports the finding that, the day after four guns were stolen from Mr. J. D. Christian, Sledge and Eugene Williams either sold or pawned one rifle and one shotgun to the defendant in exchange for $22.50 worth of pills (five pills consisting of "Talwin and Blues"). These two weapons had a fair market value of $125.00.
Although Williams told the defendant that the weapons were not "hot", it would be reasonable to conclude that the defendant at least suspected the weapons had been stolen because he asked if they were "hot". Sledge admitted on cross examination by defense counsel that "at times" he dealt in fencing hot merchandise.
The evidence also shows that the defendant returned the two weapons to Sledge who owed the defendant $26.50 for the "pawned" weapons. In a confession the defendant admitted that he returned the weapons on partial payment of the $26.50 because he had heard that the guns were stolen and wanted to get rid of them.
In his own defense, the defendant claimed that he held the weapons as security for a loan made to Sledge; that he did not give Sledge any pills; that Sledge had pawned other items to him in the past; that initially he had been assured by Sledge and Williams that the weapons were not hot; that after he overheard a conversation about some weapons having been stolen from Mr. Christian, he began looking for Sledge to return the weapons.
The resolution to the argument presented by the defendant is clear. The State's evidence proved and the defendant admitted having possession of recently stolen property. The defendant's intent and the reasonableness of his explanation of his possession of the property were matters only the jury could determine. Ford, supra; Johnson v. State, 349 So.2d 110 (Ala.Cr.App.), cert. denied, Ex parte State ex rel. Atty. Gen., 349 So.2d 113 (Ala. 1977). This is far from being a case where the jury's verdict is contrary to the great weight of the evidence and manifestly unjust. Under the facts, the jury's verdict is reasonable and supported by the evidence.
We find no error in the opening remarks of the prosecutor.
"MR. SUMMERFORD (Assistant District Attorney): Now, I mentioned to you in my opening statement that one of our witnesses would be a person with a criminal history, and I expect that our evidence will show Mr. Sledge, Jr. has an extensive criminal history, but of course I am sure you know criminals deal only with other criminals, and as a result the circumstances in this case require us - -
"MR. BIVENS (Defense Counsel): Your Honor, if the State expects the evidence to show that criminals only deal with criminals, then I am prepared to withdraw my objection. If they are not prepared to put that evidence on the witness stand, then, Your ...