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Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals Cases
Chrisman v State
1922 OK CR 149
209 P. 656
22 Okl.Cr. 52
Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals
Cite as: 1922 OK CR 149, 22 Okl.Cr. 52, 209 P. 656
Larceny — Evidence Sustaining Conviction. For evidence held sufficient to
sustain the judgment of conviction, see body of opinion. 10//1922
Appeal from District Court, Logan County; Arthur R. Swank, Judge.
A.B. Chrisman was convicted of larceny of an automobile, and he appeals.
Springer & Wilson, for plaintiff in error.
The Attorney General and N.W. Gore, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.
MATSON, J. The record in this case discloses that a certain Ford 5-passenger
automobile was stolen from the streets of Guthrie, Logan county, Okla., on
the afternoon of the 20th day of October, 1919, at about 5 o'clock, and that
the alleged stealing was reported to the sheriff's office. Immediately
thereafter, about 5:30, Mr. Beem, deputy sheriff, and the county attorney started
out to look for the car reported to have been stolen, and that some time close
to 7 o'clock in the evening, and about 4 or 5 miles east of Guthrie, after
chasing the car something like 3 miles, they overtook the driver thereof, who
is defendant herein, and who, upon being stopped by the deputy sheriff and
county attorney and asked why he was driving a car with no tag, replied that he
had made application for a tag but had not received it yet. Then asked where
his receipt was, he replied that he left it at home. The deputy sheriff then
lifted the hood of the engine and identified it by the number given him as
the number of the stolen car, and then informed the defendant that it was a
stolen car and asked his name, whereupon the defendant refused to give his name,
was arrested, and returned to the city of Guthrie and placed in jail, at
which place he declined to give his name or address to the county attorney or
At the trial, the defendant offered, in explanation of his possession of
this car, that he had been requested by two men, whom he did not know, to drive
the car from Guthrie to Cushing, Okla., and that, when he was arrested, was
on his way from Guthrie to Ripley; that he did not know the names of the men
for whom he was driving the car nor their place of residence, neither did he
know what he was to receive for making the drive.
The sole and only question presented in the brief of counsel for plaintiff
in error is that the evidence is not sufficient to support the verdict and
judgment of the court, contending
that the evidence of possession of the stolen property stands alone and is
unsupported by other facts and circumstances, and therefore is insufficient to
In Cox v. Territory, 2 Okla. Cr., at page 677, 104 Pac. at page 382, this
"Possession of property recently stolen, unexplained, is a circumstance to
be considered and given such weight as the jury may see fit. The jury is the
sole judge as to what weight should be given this circumstance; and, even
though the defendant makes no attempt at explanation of the possession, the jury
would not be authorized to convict unless, from all the facts and
circumstances in the case, after giving such weight as they see fit to such possession,
they believed the defendant guilty."
In the case of People v. Gibson, 16 Cal.App. 347, 116 P. 987, the Court of
Appeals of California held:
"Where one accused of larceny is shown to have had possession of the stolen
property, when it had been recently stolen, slight corroborative evidence of
inculpatory circumstances will justify submission of the case to the jury, in
the absence of evidence on accused's part."
In Blair v. Territory, 15 Okla. 549, 82 P. 653, the Supreme Court of the
"The possession of recently stolen property unexplained, does not constitute
a presumption of guilt, but creates an inference of guilt which may be
sufficient, with other criminating circumstances tending to connect the prisoner
with the larceny, to warrant a conviction."
Counsel offer no criticism to the trial court's instructions in this case.
We think the evidence on the part of the state was sufficient to authorize the
submission of the question of defendant's guilt to the jury. The
uncontradicted evidence on the part of the state was to the effect that defendant was
found in possession of the stolen property within two hours
after it was stolen. Upon being questioned by the deputy sheriff as to why
he was driving a car without a license, defendant said that he had applied for
an automobile license but had not received his tag, and that he had a tag
receipt for the car at his home, indicating that he was the owner of the car,
and defendant further refused at that time to give his name and his home
But the conviction is not based alone upon the state's evidence. The
defendant elected to become a witness for himself, and his explanation of the
possession of the stolen car as a witness is contradictory of that given to the
deputy sheriff and prosecuting attorney at the time of his arrest.
In Conkright v. State, 21 Okla. Cr. 74, 204 P. 1113, at page 1116, in
passing upon the question of the sufficiency of the evidence in a larceny case,
where the facts were very similar to those in this case, this court said:
"In considering the circumstantial evidence and the weight to be given it
and the conclusiveness of it, the jury has a right also to consider the defense
interposed. Had the defendant interposed no defense, but had left the
state's case as the only evidence against him, he would be in a much better
position to contend that the evidence was insufficient to convict. But where the
defendant does interpose a defense, and that defense is apparently based upon
falsehood, the jury then necessarily and properly so resolve all inferences
from the circumstances disclosed most strongly against the defendant. This is a
natural consequence of a fabricated defense."
As a witness, defendant claimed that he came into possession of this car
from two strangers on the evening it was stolen; that these strangers met him
when he was at the depot platform in the city of Guthrie, for the purpose of
taking the train to the town of Ripley, Okla.; that he had already purchased
his ticket to Ripley, and intended to go from
Ripley to the town of Yale, where he had been engaged in the livery
business; that these strangers told him that they had bought a new car in Guthrie and
wanted somebody to drive it for them to Cushing, and promised to pay him for
so doing, but didn't tell him what they would pay him, and he didn't make
any inquiry as to what he would receive for such service; that without further
inquiry he agreed to drive the car for them to Cushing, and abandoned his
railroad trip, and was then taken to a street in the north part of the city of
Guthrie, where he was placed in possession of the car; that there was nobody
there, and that he was told to drive slowly on the road to Cushing and that
they would overtake him in the other car; that they didn't tell him where to
meet them in Cushing in the event they failed to overtake him. This story is
entirely incredible and unworthy of belief. Instead of being consistent with
innocence, it tended to strengthen the state's case.
We deem it unnecessary to discuss the inferences and deductions of guilt
necessarily arising from the testimony as a whole. For a discussion of similar
circumstances see West v. State, 19 Okla. Cr. 355, 198 P. 99. In our opinion,
the evidence as a whole is such as to exclude every reasonable hypothesis
except that of the guilt of defendant, and for that reason we decline to disturb
the verdict and judgment on the ground of the insufficiency of the evidence.
The judgment is affirmed.
DOYLE, P.J., and BESSEY, J., concur.
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