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State v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division

November 29, 2016

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
EZRA J. SMITH, Appellant.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF JACKSON COUNTY, MISSOURI THE HONORABLE ROBERT M. SCHIEBER, JUDGE

          Before: Thomas H. Newton, Presiding Judge, Cynthia L. Martin, Judge and Edward R. Ardini, Jr., Judge

          EDWARD R. ARDINI, JR., JUDGE

         Ezra J. Smith ("Smith") was convicted of receiving stolen property with a value of more than $500, a class C Felony under Section 570.080, [1] following a jury trial. Smith was sentenced to seven years' incarceration, the execution of which was suspended, and he was placed on probation for a period of five years. Upon careful review of the record before us, this court finds that the State's evidence presented at trial, regarding the value of the property at the time of the crime, was insufficient to support the felony conviction. This court, however, does find that the State put forward sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction on the lesser-included offense of misdemeanor receiving stolen property. Consequently, we reverse the conviction for the class C felony of receiving stolen property, enter a conviction for the class A misdemeanor of receiving stolen property, and remand the case to the trial court for resentencing.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         In October 2011, property was stolen from a Jackson County law firm, which included, among other things, one HP mini laptop computer. Following a lead, police sought and executed a search warrant at the home of Ezra J. Smith. There, police discovered the missing laptop, which was identified by its serial number. Additional investigation confirmed that the laptop still displayed the previous owner's name on the welcome screen and had been used to access Smith's email account. During Smith's trial, the IT manager for the law firm provided testimony that confirmed the laptop found at Smith's home was the same laptop stolen from the law firm. On the issue of the value of the laptop, the IT manager provided the following testimony:

Q: Are you aware of the approximate value of that laptop?
A: Somewhere between $300 and $450 at that time.
Q: And at the time you purchased that netbook?
A: That would have been the purchase price, somewhere between $300 and $450.
Following this exchange, the Prosecutor sought to refresh the memory of the IT manger using the police report relating to the theft, which the trial court permitted over the defense's objection. Testimony as to the value then continued:
Q: What did you indicate to the officer regarding the approximate value of that laptop?
A: I indicated $550 and that amount would have come from the invoice.

         This was the only evidence offered at trial relevant to the value of the laptop. At the close of the prosecution's evidence, Smith moved for a judgment of acquittal arguing the State had failed to produce sufficient evidence to meet its burden. The motion was overruled and the jury found Smith ...


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