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04/14/95 A.A.G. v. STATE

April 14, 1995


Appeal from Madison Juvenile Court. (JU-94-373.01). Laura Jo Hamilton, TRIAL JUDGE.

Rehearing Denied July 7, 1995. Rule 39(k) Motion Denied July 7, 1995. Released For Publication February 3, 1996. The Docket Number of this Case has been Corrected February 29, 1996.

Long, Judge. All Judges Concur. Cobb, J. Concurs Specially.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Long


This appeal is from an adjudication of delinquency.

By an amended delinquency petition, the appellant, 15-year-old A.A.G., was charged with obstructing governmental operations, a violation of § 13A-10-2, Ala.Code 1975. Following a delinquency hearing, the juvenile court entered an order finding the appellant delinquent as charged and fining her $50.

The appellant contends that the adjudication of delinquency should be reversed because, she says, the state's evidence did not establish the elements of the charged offense.

Section 12-15-65(e), Ala.Code 1975, requires that an adjudication of delinquency be supported by "proof beyond a reasonable doubt, based on competent, material[,] and relevant evidence." The credibility of witnesses and the truthfulness of testimony in delinquency proceedings is for the trier of fact to determine. C.T.L. v. State, 599 So. 2d 94 (Ala.Cr.App. 1992). Furthermore, in resolving questions of sufficiency of the evidence, this court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the state. Id.

The evidence in this case, viewed most favorably to the state, tended to show that on the evening of March 20, 1994, a dispatcher for the City of Madison Police Department was notified by ADT Security Systems that a burglar alarm had gone off at 102 Lake Shore Drive, a private residence in Madison. ADT, a home security company, had installed the alarm at the residence and monitored it pursuant to a contract with the homeowner, the appellant's father. After receiving the call from ADT, the dispatcher notified Officer Anthony Melton and Lieutenant Christopher Robinson to investigate the alarm, informing the officers that no contact could be made with anyone at the house because the telephone had been disconnected. The dispatcher did not provide the officers with the name of the owner of the house, and the officers testified that they were unaware of who lived at the house when they went to investigate.

The officers arrived at the house shortly after they were dispatched. No exterior lights were on, and except for some light emanating from an interior room, the house was essentially dark. The officers did not see any vehicles parked outside. They checked the front yard and the side yard, and found nothing particularly unusual; however, their access to the backyard was obstructed by a privacy fence. As he approached the house, Officer Melton saw some movement inside and heard what sounded like a television or a stereo. Lieutenant Robinson walked onto the front porch and looked through the window. He saw a black female juvenile, later identified as the appellant, standing inside the house at the top of a stairway. As Officer Melton stood at the foot of the porch, Lieutenant Robinson rang the doorbell, knocked several times, and identified himself as a police officer. The appellant then came to the window and looked outside. The porch light came on, and, according to Lieutenant Robinson, the appellant looked at him through the window. The officers identified themselves and illuminated themselves with a flashlight so that the appellant could see their police uniforms. However, instead of opening the door, the appellant turned off the porch light, turned around, and walked back into the interior of the house. The officers testified that the appellant's actions concerned them. Officer Melton stated that he advised Lieutenant Robinson at that time that something was wrong. He stated that he had some concern that someone else might be in the house prohibiting the appellant from opening the door.

After the appellant walked away from the door, Lieutenant Robinson knocked again, telling the appellant that "we weren't playing games, that this was the Madison Police Department, and we needed for her to open the door." The appellant returned to the door, and this time she opened it. According to Officer Melton, the appellant "slung" the door open in a hostile manner. In what Lieutenant Robinson described as "a rather belligerent tone," the appellant then asked the officers what they wanted. The officers testified that the appellant's belligerent attitude added to their concerns that something was wrong at the residence. Lieutenant Robinson informed the appellant that the burglar alarm had gone off and that he and Officer Melton needed to check the house. He then stepped past the appellant into the house, taking a few steps into the foyer and looking around to see if everything was all right. At that point, he observed two other female juveniles, later identified as the appellant's 13-year-old twin sisters, standing at the rear of the foyer area.

Officer Melton, who had entered the house behind Lieutenant Robinson, asked the girls for their names and told them why he and Lieutenant Robinson were there. The appellant, whose attitude Officer Melton described as "combative," told the officers that she lived at the house and that nothing was wrong. She then told the officers that she could "get some ID" and started to walk into the interior of the house. However, Lieutenant Robinson instructed her to remain where she was for the time being. Lieutenant Robinson testified that the appellant's unusual behavior led him to believe that something was wrong; he stated that he thought the appellant might be acting from fear that somebody was in the house or that she had been "put under duress that, you know, get rid of the cops no matter what." According to Lieutenant Robinson, even though the appellant had stated that she lived in the house, his main concern at the time was not whether it was, in fact, the residence of the three girls, but whether a burglary had been committed and whether the minors were safe. As Officer Melton stayed with the girls in the foyer area, Lieutenant Robinson proceeded through the upstairs and downstairs rooms of the house to search for any intruders.

As Lieutenant Robinson searched the house, looking anyplace that someone could have hidden, one of the appellant's sisters told Officer Melton that there had been a false alarm on the home's burglary system. Although the officers had instructed all three girls to remain with Officer Melton in the foyer, just after Lieutenant Robinson began his search, the appellant rushed toward the back of the house. Officer Melton ordered the appellant to stop; however, she refused and instead went into the den, an area of the house that had not yet been secured by the officers. Officer Melton followed the appellant into the den, where he caught her by the arm and sat her on a couch, telling her to stay seated and to calm down until he and Lieutenant Robinson could complete their investigation. Officer Melton testified that while Lieutenant Robinson was conducting his search, the appellant continually jumped up from the couch and flailed her arms, striking him in the process of apparently attempting to get away. He stated that he was forced to restrain the appellant by placing his hands on her shoulders. According to Officer Melton, the appellant began to scream, telling him that it was her house, that the officers were not supposed to be there, and that they could not do what they were doing. The appellant's sisters tried without success to calm her down.

The appellant eventually eluded Officer Melton and ran into the hall. After ordering her to stop, Officer Melton once again grabbed the appellant by the arm. The appellant struggled, flailing her arms and striking Officer Melton several times. The appellant continued "screaming, hollering, and pushing" the officer until he finally told her that she was under arrest for disorderly conduct. Lieutenant Robinson, who observed only the end of this altercation, stopped his search of the house to assist Officer Melton in the arrest. According to Lieutenant Robinson, he then talked ...

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