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Weddle v. State

Decided: March 16, 1962.


Appeal from the Criminal Court of Baltimore; Niles, C. J.

Brune, C. J., and Hammond, Horney, Marbury and Sybert, JJ. Marbury, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.


This is an appeal by Gene D. Weddle from the judgment and sentence of the Criminal Court of Baltimore upon his conviction by the court, sitting without a jury, of receiving stolen goods.

On February 16, 1961, the appellant was indicted in a six count indictment, the first two counts charging statutory burglary, the third count with being a rogue and vagabond, the fourth count grand larceny, the fifth count receiving stolen goods, and the sixth count with breaking and entering a storeroom and stealing therefrom goods to the value of $5. and

upwards. He was arraigned on March 1, 1961, and pleaded not guilty. At his trial on May 31, 1961, the trial judge found him guilty on the fifth count of the indictment charging him with receiving stolen goods, and imposed a sentence of not more than three years in the Maryland State Reformatory for Males.

The testimony produced by the State at the trial established that some time between 11:20 p.m. December 31, 1960, and the morning hours of January 2, 1961, the B & S Liquor Store, 2125 West Pratt Street, Baltimore, Maryland, was burglarized. Samuel Sanker, one of the owners, testified that, together with various items of merchandise and cash, a .32 caliber, Spanish, automatic pistol, with skull and crossbones on the handle, was stolen. This pistol, introduced in evidence as State's Exhibit 1, was recovered on January 9, 1961, some seven to nine days after the possible date of the burglary. Officer Asby, of the Baltimore County Police, testified that he and another officer apprehended the appellant, with Joseph C. Stillings, while investigating an attempted burglary of Seeger's Tavern in Lansdowne, Maryland. The appellant was observed by Officer Asby as he stepped away from the building, and threw away a tire iron. The pistol was found, after a search of the area, somewhere from two to five feet from the appellant's position when apprehended. Stillings was caught at the corner of the building, about ten feet from where appellant was first observed. When he was questioned by the county police the appellant denied owning or possessing the gun. No fingerprints were found on it. Officer Charles Moser of the Baltimore City Police then testified that he and others questioned the appellant about the Pratt Street burglary, the appellant denied knowing anything about it; and finally that Stillings in Weddle's presence said that Weddle had the gun. This accusation was neither confirmed nor denied by the appellant, who remained silent. The appellant did not testify, but Alice Green, Rita Pollock, and James Weddle, called on his behalf, testified attempting to establish an alibi as to his whereabouts over the New Year's weekend. After the appellant's motion for directed verdict at the close of all of the evidence, the trial judge denied the motion, and found the appellant guilty on the fifth

count of receiving stolen goods. He found as facts that the pistol had been stolen and that it was in appellant's possession, concluding his opinion with this statement: "There is no evidence [that has] been introduced of course as to how you got the gun."

This appeal presents the question of whether or not a verdict of not guilty should have been directed for lack of evidence sufficient in law to prove: (a) that the appellant ever was in possession of the stolen property; (b) that the appellant ever received it from another; or (c) that the appellant knew or must have known that the property was stolen.

(a) and (b)

In order to constitute the offense of receiving stolen goods four elements are necessary: (1) the property must be received; (2) it must, at the time of its receipt, be stolen property; (3) the receiver must have guilty knowledge that it is stolen property; and (4) his intent in receiving it must be fraudulent. Jordan v. State, 219 Md. 36, 148 A.2d 292; Clark & Marshall, Crimes (6th ed.), Sec. 12.37; Hocheimer, Criminal Law (1st ed.), Sec. 787.

To satisfy the element of possession the accused need not be shown to have manual possession of the stolen goods, but is deemed to have had possession of the goods "as soon as one obtains a measure of control or dominion over the custody of the goods." Polansky v. ...

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