State v. Alexander, 40402

Decision Date20 March 1979
Docket NumberNo. 40402,40402
Citation581 S.W.2d 389
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. William T. ALEXANDER, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

Robert C. Babione, Public Defender, Sara T. Harmon, Asst. Public Defender, St. Louis, for defendant-appellant.

Paul Robert Otto, Steven Scott Clark, Asst. Attys. Gen., John D. Ashcroft, Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, John P. Dockery, Jr., George A. Peach, Circuit Atty., St. Louis, for plaintiff-respondent.

REINHARD, Presiding Judge.

Defendant appeals from his conviction by a jury for the offense of stealing property of a value of at least $50.00. (§§ 560.156, 560.161, RSMo 1969). Under the Second Offender Act the court assessed his punishment at seven years imprisonment. On appeal, defendant first contends that the trial court erred in failing to sustain his motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the evidence, because there was insufficient evidence to make a submissible case.

On August 20, 1977, at approximately 9:30 a.m., James C. Hudson parked his 1977 Cadillac in the Famous-Barr parking garage in downtown St. Louis. All four hubcaps were on the wheels of the vehicle when Mr. Hudson left it.

Officer Thomas Grojean of the St. Louis Police Department was on foot patrol in the garage approximately one hour later. While on the Orange level with the garage manager and a security guard, a passerby recommended that the officer proceed down to the Tan level. There Officer Grojean observed the defendant and another man walking south up the parking ramp carrying four Cadillac hubcaps. While Officer Grojean was observing the defendant, defendant placed the hubcaps on the ground and continued walking south until he was detained by a security guard. The officer testified that, at the time of defendant's arrest, he observed that a 1977 Cadillac twenty feet north of where the defendant was seen with the hubcaps, was without hubcaps.

Hudson returned to his parked car in the early afternoon, and discovered that all four hubcaps were missing from the wheels. Upon informing the parking attendants of the situation, he was referred to the police station where he identified and received the hubcaps as his own. Mr. Hudson testified that these chrome-spoke wheel covers, characteristic of a 1977 Cadillac Sedan, were worth $104.00 each. On cross-examination, he testified that the hubcaps had no marks on them identifying them as his, but that they were similar to those which had been on his car.

We now consider whether this evidence was sufficient to make a submissible case for the jury. In making this determination, we consider as true the evidence most favorable to the state and all favorable inferences to be drawn therefrom, disregarding evidence to the contrary. State v. Nichelson, 546 S.W.2d 539(3) (Mo.App.1977).

A submissible case may be made on circumstantial evidence, but to warrant a conviction based on such evidence, the facts and circumstances must be consistent with the hypothesis of guilt, be inconsistent with the hypothesis of innocence, and clearly point to the accused's guilt so as to preclude any reasonable hypothesis of innocence. However, the circumstances need not demonstrate an absolute impossibility of innocence. State v. Maxie, 513 S.W.2d 338, 343(5) (Mo.1974); State v. Scruggs, 551 S.W.2d 306(6) (Mo.App.1977). Defendant's conduct after the offense is a circumstance from which defendant's participation in the crime may be inferred. State v. Nichelson, supra.

Defendant claims that to arrive at its verdict the jury had to rely on prohibited inference-stacking. "An inference may not properly arise which is 'dependent for establishment of one fact upon inference to be drawn from some other fact shown only by inference'." State v. Gonzales, 533 S.W.2d 268(4) (Mo.App.1976). However, this prohibition does not apply to drawing several inferences from the same proven facts if each inference is supported thereby. State v. Feger, 340 S.W.2d 716, 722 (Mo.1960). Nor is an inference based in part upon another inference and in part upon proven facts prohibited, because it is a parallel inference provided it is a reasonable conclusion for the jury to deduce. State v. Holman, 556 S.W.2d 499 (Mo.App.1977). 1

We cannot agree that the evidence as submitted to the jury required it to pile one inference upon another inference in reaching its verdict. The jury had before it the following evidence:

1. At 9:30 a. m., when Hudson left his automobile, the four hubcaps were on it.

2. One hour later, the hubcaps were gone, and twenty feet from the automobile, the defendant was carrying hubcaps shown to be similar to Hudson's.

3. When defend...

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9 cases
  • State v. Woodworth
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • February 25, 1997
    ...prohibited, because it is a parallel inference provided it is a reasonable conclusion for the jury to deduce." State v. Alexander, 581 S.W.2d 389, 391 (Mo.App. E.D.1979). We cannot agree that the evidence adduced required the jury to pile one inference upon another in order to determine Mar......
  • State v. Kinsella
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • March 5, 2019
    ...extend to drawing several inferences from the same proven facts if each inference is supported by those facts. State v. Alexander , 581 S.W.2d 389, 390-91 (Mo. App. E.D. 1979) ; accord State v. Holman , 556 S.W.2d 499, 509 (Mo. App. 1977). Nor is an inference based in part upon another infe......
  • State v. Cleveland, 62280
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • February 9, 1982
    ...that this constituted impermissible "inference stacking." See State v. Brown, 542 S.W.2d 789, 792 (Mo.App.1976); State v. Alexander, 581 S.W.2d 389, 390 (Mo.App.1979). The judgment is PER CURIAM: The foregoing opinion by STOCKARD, C., is adopted as the opinion of the court. WELLIVER, P. J.,......
  • State v. Boyd, 43781
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • October 13, 1981
    ...to the state and all favorable inferences to be drawn therefrom and disregards all evidence to the contrary. State v. Alexander, 581 S.W.2d 389, 390(1) (Mo.App.1979). The state's evidence in this case is entirely circumstantial. On February 12, 1980 at approximately 7:30 p. m. a black man c......
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