565 F.2d 945 (5th Cir. 1978), 77-5192, United States v. Crumley

Docket Nº:77-5192.
Citation:565 F.2d 945
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Leo CRUMLEY, Defendant-Appellant.
Case Date:January 09, 1978
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

Page 945

565 F.2d 945 (5th Cir. 1978)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Leo CRUMLEY, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 77-5192.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

January 9, 1978

Page 946

Arthur Parker, Birmingham, Ala., for defendant-appellant.

J. R. Brooks, U. S. Atty., Geo. C. Batcheler, Asst. U. S. Atty., Birmingham, Ala., for plaintiff-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Before MORGAN, HILL and FAY, Circuit Judges.

FAY, Circuit Judge:

The defendant, Leo Crumley, was indicted for knowingly receiving, concealing, storing, bartering, selling and disposing of a stolen motor vehicle which had been part of interstate commerce. 18 U.S.C. § 2313. A jury found him guilty and he was sentenced to four years imprisonment. Crumley appeals and assigns two errors. First, that the trial court erred when it limited cross-examination of a government witness on his motive for testifying. He also contends the trial court erred when it refused to allow him to determine, through cross examination of a government witness, the location of the "track sheet" which identified the cab as part of the stolen motor vehicle. We agree that the trial court erred as to the first issue and reverse and remand for a new trial. The second issue we find to be without merit.

On December 9, 1975, a 1971 Ford F-350 Sports Custom truck with a 480 Holmes wrecker attached was stolen from the Cartersville Tire Service in Cartersville, Georgia. The establishment's owner, Jimmy Ray Hardin, purchased the truck in November, 1972, and personally repaired, customized, and replaced its parts. The vehicle's identification number (VIN) was F35HCK 85721. The two parts of the wrecker unit, the wrecker and the body also had serial numbers. These serial numbers were engraved on metal plates riveted to the corresponding part at the time Holmes, the manufacturer, assembled and attached the wrecker unit to each truck. The wrecker involved here had the serial number B71CO-1084 and the body had the serial number B71B20542. Each of the letters, numbers or sequence of numbers signified to Holmes specific information about that wrecker unit.

In July, 1976, a 1972 Ford truck, with a Holmes wrecker unit attached, was discovered by police on the property of Leo Crumley

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in Anniston, Alabama. Special Agent Larry Sylvester of the F.B.I. and several other state and local law enforcement officers went to Crumley's home to inspect the wrecker on July 16, 1976. Sylvester knocked on the door and when Crumley answered told him he had reason to believe the wrecker parked at the back of his property was stolen and wished to inspect it. Crumley immediately agreed and Sylvester, followed by the other officers in their vehicles, went to where the wrecker was parked.

Sylvester found, upon inspection, the vehicle was a 1972 red Ford F-350 custom truck, VIN F37YCM87076, with a Holmes model 480 wrecker unit attached. The original numbers on the identification plates found on the wrecker and the body were, in the opinion of several law enforcement officers, ground off and the plates restamped with new serial numbers. The wrecker's new number was B74CO45514 and the body's was 147B45514. The vehicle was confiscated from Crumley and immediately impounded at nearby Woods Body Shop. The metal identification plates were removed from the wrecker unit that same evening and given an acid test which, when successful, will make the original obliterated number reappear for several minutes. This test was successful and the partial sequences of numbers then visible matched portions of the original serial numbers mentioned above. A representative of the Holmes wrecker manufacturer also testified that even though the metal plates removed by Sylvester were original Holmes plates, the serial numbers restamped did not match the type and year of the wrecker unit recovered. 1

Testimony elicited from law enforcement officers present at Leo Crumley's when the vehicle was inspected and confiscated indicates Crumley cooperated with them. One officer said Crumley stated the vehicle was "legal" and he had papers on it. Crumley also said it was not a Holmes wrecker even though Holmes name was on it in at least three different places. He also stated the wrecker was at the back of his property because he wanted to move a tree which had fallen across the fence when struck by lightning. He stated he had purchased the truck and built the wrecker. 2 Although Crumley objected to their taking the wrecker and took all of the officer's names, he aided them in starting the truck which was "cold-natured". The battery also ran down from attempting to start the truck and Crumley helped jump it.

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