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State v. Shockley

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division

February 28, 2017

STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
JOHN SHOCKLEY, SR., Defendant/Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable Steven R. Ohmer

          SHERRI B. SULLIVAN, P.J.

         Introduction

         John Shockley, Sr. (Appellant) appeals from the trial court's judgment convicting him of the class C felony of stealing a motor vehicle and sentencing him to three years as a persistent offender. We reverse and remand.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         William Liebermann (Liebermann) owns a 1991 Honda Civic in "great condition" with no mechanical problems. Liebermann arrived at his parking lot where he kept his Civic parked and noticed it was missing. A nearby surveillance camera system revealed the Civic had been taken the day before, on April 21, 2014. The video revealed a truck that had "I buy junk cars" language written on it entering the parking lot at 8:50 a.m., then leaving. At 3:50 p.m., a different truck pulled into the parking lot. Appellant and another man stepped out of the truck and walked around the Civic. The two pushed the Civic out of the parking lot, and then Appellant got back into the truck and the other man stepped inside the Civic. The Civic then went out of view of the surveillance camera.

         Police later arrested Appellant. Appellant made a statement to police and testified at trial that he buys and sells junk cars; he received a call from an individual seeking to sell the Civic for $150 because it was broken down. Appellant paid the individual only $75 because he provided no title. Appellant then sold the Civic to an individual in Troy for $200.

         The State charged Appellant with felony stealing a motor vehicle on April 21, 2014, under Section 570.030.[1] Appellant opted for a bench trial, and after being found to be a persistent offender, was tried and found guilty as charged. The court sentenced Appellant to three years. This appeal follows.

         Point on Appeal

         In his point on appeal, Appellant claims the trial court erred in entering judgment for the class C felony of stealing a motor vehicle and in sentencing him to three years' imprisonment for that offense because the sentencing enhancement factors contained in Section 570.030.3 apply only to "any offense in which the value of property or services is an element, " and value is not an element of stealing a motor vehicle.

         Standard of Review

         Appellant made no objection at his judgment and sentencing. An unpreserved claim of error can be reviewed only for plain error, which requires a finding of manifest injustice or a miscarriage of justice resulting from the trial court's error. State v. Celis-Garcia, 344 S.W.3d 150, 154 (Mo.banc 2011). Plain error relief is appropriate when the alleged error so affects the rights of the defendant as to cause a manifest injustice or miscarriage of justice. State v. Phelps, 965 S.W.2d 357, 358 (Mo.App. W.D. 1998). An unauthorized sentence affects substantial rights and results in manifest injustice. Drennan v. State, 906 S.W.2d 880, 882 (Mo.App. E.D. 1995).

         Discussion

Section 570.030, titled Stealing - Penalties, provides in ...

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