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State v. Oliver

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

April 16, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
MARK A. OLIVER, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Franklin County Honorable Gael D. Wood

          KURT S. ODENWALD, PRESIDING JUDGE

         Introduction

         Mark A. Oliver ("Oliver") appeals from the trial court's judgment following a jury conviction for receiving stolen property. Oliver challenges the sufficiency of the evidence on appeal, maintaining there was insufficient evidence to establish he knowingly received stolen property. Oliver claims evidence that he purchased the air-conditioning unit ("A/C unit") with cut wires for a low price failed to establish that he received the A/C unit knowing it was stolen. Further, Oliver contends the State did not defeat his innocent explanation for his possession of the A/C unit. Because the State adduced evidence of the suspiciously low price, the new condition of the A/C unit but for the cut and crimped tubing and wires, and the inconsistencies in Oliver's account of how he acquired the A/C unit, we find sufficient evidence supported the jury's verdict. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Factual and Procedural History

         Oliver broke up with his girlfriend ("Mayfield"). On August 27, 2013, Oliver called the police for help when Mayfield attempted to forcibly enter his home. When Officer Andrew Parker ("Officer Parker") arrived, Mayfield left the area and went to a nearby trailer in the Le Chateau Trailer Court ("Le Chateau"). Officer Parker followed Mayfield. When speaking with Officer Parker, Mayfield informed him that she was upset Oliver would not let her inside to retrieve some personal belongings. Mayfield also told Officer Parker that Oliver had an A/C unit in his trailer in the rear bathroom. Due to Mayfield's tone and his personal observations, Officer Parker became suspicious that Oliver's A/C unit was stolen. In his observation of the premises at Le Chateau, Officer Parker noticed that an A/C unit appeared to be visibly missing from the back of a nearby trailer ("No. 2 Le Chateau"). No. 2 Le Chateau was approximately three-hundred feet from Oliver's home. Officer Parker subsequently investigated No. 2 Le Chateau and found cut and crimped copper tubing and wiring attached to the trailer where an A/C unit should have been mounted.

         Officer Parker contacted the manager of Le Chateau, Rhonda Strothkamp ("Strothkamp"). Strothkamp was unaware that No. 2 Le Chateau was missing its A/C unit. Strothkamp provided Officer Parker with records identifying the A/C unit's serial number. Strothkamp informed Officer Parker that the A/C unit was installed at No. 2 Le Chateau in June 2012 and cost $1300.00 plus installation. Strothkamp did not give anyone permission to remove the A/C unit from No. 2. Le Chateau.

         Officer Parker then returned to Oliver's home. Upon gaining Oliver's consent to enter, Officer Parker observed an A/C unit in the rear bathroom of Oliver's trailer, just as Mayfield had recounted. Officer Parker noticed the copper tubing and wiring coming out of the A/C unit was cut and crimped in a way that was consistent with the tubing and wiring from No. 2. Le Chateau. Officer Parker determined that the serial number on the A/C unit matched the serial number of the A/C unit missing from No. 2 Le Chateau.

         When Officer Parker asked Oliver how he acquired the A/C unit, Oliver initially said that two sellers, Andrew Marcotte ("Marcotte") and Cody Clark ("Clark"), sold him the A/C unit for $ 150.00. Oliver then told Officer Parker that he purchased the A/C unit used from Marcotte, whom he believed legally owned it and needed to sell it quickly due to being behind on payments and facing eviction. Oliver told Officer Parker that Clark had been present at the sale just to assist Marcotte with delivery. Oliver later explained that Marcotte sold him the A/C unit in order to pay Clark, and that Oliver purchased the A/C unit on behalf of James Brown ("Brown").

         Officer Parker arrested Oliver. The State charged Oliver with receiving stolen property. The case proceeded to a jury trial. At trial, Oliver testified that he did not find the cuts to the tubing and wiring or the $150.00 price suspicious. Oliver explained it was not unusual for an A/C unit's tubing and wiring to be cut and crimped for removal, and that probably it was cut with the wrong tool, based on his education in heating and cooling system management.

         The jury found Oliver guilty of receiving stolen property. The sentencing court sentenced Oliver to five years in prison and suspended execution with five-years' probation. Oliver now appeals.

         Point on Appeal

         In his sole point on appeal, Oliver challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. In particular, Oliver argues that the evidence of cut wires and a low price was insufficient to establish that Oliver received the A/C unit knowing it was stolen.

         Standard ...


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