State v. Allen, 52440

Decision Date09 October 1967
Docket NumberNo. 52440,No. 1,52440,1
Citation420 S.W.2d 330
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Charles Larry ALLEN, Appellant
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Norman H. Anderson, Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, A. Michael Sullivan, Special Asst. Atty. Gen., Clayton, for respondent.

Lovell W. George, Clayton, for appellant.

HOUSER, Commissioner.

Eighteen-year-old Charles Larry Allen, convicted by a jury of second degree burglary and stealing and sentenced to consecutive 3 and 2-year terms in the custody of the department of corrections, has appealed. Represented at the trial and on this appeal by counsel of his own choosing, appellant makes two points: First, that the evidence is not sufficient to sustain a verdict of second degree burglary and stealing; second, that the prosecuting attorney made an inflammatory and prejudicial argument to the jury.

On the night of August 2--3, 1965 a sporting goods store located on Manchester Road in the City of Rockhill was broken into. Guns, rifles and knives valued at $700 were removed therefrom. There are front and rear entrances. The rear entrance consists of combination wood and glass twin or double doors, covered on the outside by screen doors. The screen doors were secured by hooks. The twin doors were secured by two inside bolts, one belt high, the other about six feet up. There was a crack in the glass in the left-hand door (as you face the doors from the outside) caused by the wind slamming the door shut. It had been taped over with Scotch tape. The crack was 18 inches long. Semicircular in shape, it ranged up from the base of the glass pane in a curving line to a point on the side of the door frame where the pane was set in the molding. The section of glass outlined by the crack constituted the right-hand area of the glass pane of the left door. The glass panes were held in place in the doors by a half- inch wooden molding. There was a 'molding line' on the long perpendicular side of the somewhat triangular section of the pane of glass.

On the night of August 2 the proprietor of the store checked the doors and put the bolts in place. The next morning he found the back door standing open, some shells and gun cases scattered around and a couple of little pieces of glass on the floor inside the building, and a hole in the back screen door that was not there the night before; a hole 'like you'd stick your hand through.' The elongated, semicircular-shaped piece of glass had been removed from the left rear door. It appeared that the entrant had burst through the screen, unlatched it, removed the piece of glass and unbolted the door by reaching through the opening created by the removal of the glass.

The proprietor called the police department. Sergeant Bell, an experienced officer, made an examination of the premises. On the interior he found the disarray above described. He took the empty cardboard boxes and some boxes of shotgun shells to the police station for fingerprints but found nothing legible, 'only smudges.' Outside the building he found the displaced section of the left rear door glass, leaning from the ground against the concrete steps which lead from the porch at the rear of the store. Fingerprints on this section of glass were 'quite obvious.' The sergeant put transparent tape over them and the section of glass was taken to the Identification Bureau of the St. Louis County Police Department for processing. Two detectives, both experienced in the art of fingerprinting, one of them in charge of the identification bureau, testified with respect to the fingerprints on the section of glass. A fingerprint examination was conducted. Several prints were lifted and put on a white background and photographed. One print which could not be lifted was photographed on the glass. The photographs were enlarged. Appellant lived with his grandmother in the vicinity. There is no evidence that appellant had ever been in the store prior to August 2, 1965. Appellant was taken into custody as a suspect and his fingerprints were taken. His fingerprint card, made available to the identification bureau, was photographed and enlarged. The enlarged photographs from the glass and the enlarged photograph of appellant's fingerprint card were paired on a comparison chart. One print lifted off the glass was a partial latent fingerprint impression, which the expert testified was made along the edge of the section of glass. The experts found numerous points of identification--abutments, scars, ending ridges, etc.--on the basis of which they expressed their opinions that the fingerprints on the glass were identical with and belonged to the same person who made the prints on the card. There were 15 points of identification on one pair of prints. There was a line on the glass under one of the prints. This was the 'molding line' where the molding held the pane in the frame. A latent fingerprint lifted off the glass was found to compare with the right middle finger on the chart. At one point skin was missing as a result of an opening in the skin which had not grown over. That pattern was in exactly the same spot on the card print. They were identical. Two prints, from the right index and right middle fingers, were found on one side of the glass, and a right thumbprint on the other side. These were compared with appellant's fingerprints on the card and 12 points of identification were noted. The officers positively testified that the prints on the glass were one and the same--identical with--the prints on the card. The card and charts were offered in evidence.

Appellant took the stand and testified that he was walking through the area behind the sporting goods shop on the night in question; that he had left his sister's house in St. Louis sometime between 10 and 11 p.m. and caught a bus to the Maplewood loop, from whence he walked home; that when he passed the corner of the store building his attention was attracted by the fact that the door was open or ajar, and it seemed like there was a little light flashing in the front of the store. The door was not wholly open but was 'cracked.' Curious, he mounted the back porch steps, put his hands on the doors, 'leaned in,' looked inside and saw only a flash of the light coming from the front. He testified that he did not go inside the store. He 'figured the man might be in there or something wrong,' so he turned around, went down the steps, went home and went to bed. He said that in leaning over and 'peeking in' he held onto one door with his left hand and rested his extended right arm and hand on the other (closed) door; that he saw no open place where glass had been broken, but was not looking for glass; that he had to touch the glass since he put his hand on the door; that if he hit the glass with his left thumb and fingers the prints should be on it, and his right palm print should be on the glass part of the other door. He could not say whether there was glass in either door because he ...

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36 cases
  • State v. Arnold, 59894
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • 13 Marzo 1978
    ...at the scene of the crime, coupled with an opportunity to have committed it, will not suffice to support a conviction. State v. Allen, 420 S.W.2d 330, 333 (Mo.1967). It is also well settled that presence at the scene and flight therefrom are insufficient. State v. Castaldi, 386 S.W.2d 392, ......
  • Com. v. Cichy
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • 3 Abril 1974
    ...1968); People v. Taylor, 32 Ill.2d 165, 204 N.E.2d 734 (1965); State v. Pittman, 10 N.C.App. 508, 179 S.E.2d 198 (1971); State v. Allen, 420 S.W.2d 330 (Mo.1967); see, generally, Annotation, 28 A.L.R.2d 1115. However, the mere discovery of prints in a public place with which a number of peo......
  • Commonwealth v. Dolan
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • 15 Mayo 1981
    ... ... phone at a mall in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The State Police ... located Dolan's automobile on October 10, 1978 on a dirt ... road off of Donahue Road ... 734 (1965); State v. Pittman, 10 N.C.App. 508, 179 ... S.E.2d 198 (1971); State v. Allen, 420 S.W.2d 330 ... (Mo.1967); see, generally, Annotation, 28 A.L.R.2d 1115 ... However, the ... ...
  • Commonwealth v. Cichy
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • 3 Abril 1974
    ... ... a defendant's presence is unexplained. See: McCargo ... v. State, 3 Md.App. 646, 241 A.2d 161 (1968); United ... States v. Butler, 390 F.2d 620 (4th Cir. 1968); ... (1965); State v. Pittman, 10 N.C.App. 508, 179 ... S.E.2d 198 (1971); State v. Allen, 420 S.W.2d 330 ... (Mo.1967); see, generally, Annotation, 28 A.L.R.2d 1115 ... However, the ... ...
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