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State v. Peirce

Court of Appeals of Oregon

April 3, 2019

STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
NATHAN RICHARD PEIRCE, Defendant-Appellant.

          Submitted March 23, 2018

          Washington County Circuit Court C152222CR James Lee Fun, Jr., Judge.

          Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, and Vanessa Areli, Deputy Public Defender, Offce of Public Defense Services, fled the opening brief for appellant. Ernest G. Lannet, Chief Defender, Criminal Appellate Section, and Anne Fujita Munsey, Deputy Public Defender, Offce of Public Defense Services, fled the reply brief for appellant.

          Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General, Benjamin Gutman, Solicitor General, and Susan Yorke, Assistant Attorney General, fled the brief for respondent.

          Before Armstrong, Presiding Judge, and Tookey, Judge, and Shorr, Judge.

         Case Summary:

         Defendant appeals a judgment of conviction for the unauthorized use of a vehicle (UUV). Defendant assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal on the UUV charge, arguing that the evidence is insufficient to show that defendant knew that the vehicle was stolen. Held: A rational factfinder could have found that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant knew the vehicle was stolen, and, therefore, the trial court did not err when it denied defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal.

         [296 Or.App.830] TOOKEY, J.

         The subject of this case is a vintage 1985 Suzuki moped. Defendant appeals a conviction for the unauthorized use of that vehicle (UUV). ORS 164.135.[1] On appeal, defendant assigns error to the trial court's denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal on that charge, arguing that "[t]he evidence is insufficient to show that defendant knew that the moped was stolen."[2] We conclude that a rational factfinder could have found that the state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant knew this moped was stolen, and, therefore, the trial court did not err when it denied defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal. Accordingly, we affirm.

         When reviewing the denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal, we review the facts in the light most favorable to the state and draw all reasonable inferences in the state's favor to determine "whether any rational trier of fact, accepting reasonable inferences and credibility choices, could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Lupoli, 348 Or. 346, 366, 234 P.3d 117 (2010). Additionally, "when, as here, a defendant makes the [motion for judgment of acquittal] at the close of the state's case, 'the appellate court must consider all the evidence and if it is sufficient to sustain the conviction.'" State v. Bilsborrow, 230 Or.App. 413, 418-19, 215 P.3d 914');">215 P.3d 914 [296 Or.App.831] (2009) (quoting State v. Gardner, 231 Or. 193, 195, 372 P.2d 783 (1962)). We present the facts consistently with that standard.

         As relevant to this appeal, defendant was charged with UUV. The state alleged that defendant "unlawfully and knowingly took, operated, rode in, exercised control over, or otherwise used a motor vehicle, without the permission of the owner."

         At trial, the state called the victim and Deputy Mintier as witnesses on behalf of the state. The victim was the owner of a "vintage" 1985 Suzuki moped that ran "perfectly." When the victim purchased the moped, the victim received service records and multiple bills of sale that documented the previous owners of the moped. In that condition, the moped was worth approximately $950 because the moped was titled and street legal. On May 28, 2015, the victim left the state to attend his grandmother's funeral in California. When the victim returned home on June 2, the victim discovered that his moped was missing from his parking spot. The victim immediately reported the moped as stolen because the victim had not given anyone permission to use his moped.

         On June 7, Mintier stopped defendant for speeding on a moped. As part of the routine procedure for conducting a traffic stop, Mintier ran the license plate and learned that the license plate came back to the victim's stolen moped. Eventually, Mintier was able to determine that the moped that defendant was riding did not match the make and model of the moped registered to the license plate and that the moped that defendant was riding had not been reported as stolen. Although the moped that defendant was riding had not been reported as stolen, defendant admitted to Mintier that he had switched the license plate that was on the moped that he was riding with the license plate from a moped that was at defendant's home.

         When defendant and Mintier arrived at defendant's home, Mintier found the victim's moped with the license plate removed. Defendant told Mintier that he bought the victim's moped off of Craigslist "about a week prior and had no way of contacting the seller." Defendant also stated that [296 Or.App.832] he did not have any emails, text messages, or phone call records that would help identify the seller, and that he could not provide the full name of the seller. Defendant produced a "highly suspicious" bill of sale that Mintier said would "set off some alarm bells" if he were purchasing a vehicle. A bill of sale generally has "[t]he full name of the seller, the date of the sale, the agreed price, * * * a statement releasing ownership of the vehicle to the new owner," a "full description of the vehicle, including the VIN number, any license plate information or title information, and contact information * * * for the previous owner and the new owner." Defendant's bill of sale was handwritten on the back of a used 3" x 5" index card, identified the seller only as "Jerry W.," listed an address that did not belong to any structure, did not identify the model of the moped, did not identify the moped's VIN or license plate number, and did not identify the buyer or contain defendant's name or his signature.[3] Additionally, the bill of sale listed the sale price as ...


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