State v. Creighton, 55428

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Citation201 N.W.2d 471
Docket NumberNo. 55428,55428
PartiesSTATE of Iowa, Appellee, v. Harold Lee CREIGHTON, Appellant.
Decision Date18 October 1972

Reynoldson, Brown & Van Werden, Osceola, for appellant.

Richard C. Turner, Atty. Gen., and C. Joseph Coleman, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Robert C. Stewart, County Atty., for appellee.

Heard before MOORE, C.J., and MASON, RAWLINGS, LeGRAND and REES, JJ.

LeGRAND, Justice.

Defendant's appeal following his conviction for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage in violation of section 321.281, The Code, alleges error in the trial court's failure to sustain his motion for a directed verdict at the close of all the evidence. We reverse; and since we hold defendant was entitled to have his motion for directed verdict sustained, we direct that a judgment of acquittal be entered.

Defendant's motion asserts the evidence was insufficient to carry the case to the jury on the following grounds: (1) There was no competent evidence to show venue in Decatur County; (2) there was no evidence to establish that defendant was the driver of the motor vehicle involved in the accident which led to his arrest; and (3) there was no evidence he was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage at the time he is alleged to have been driving.

The State counters all of defendant's arguments by relying on the principle that proof by circumstantial evidence suffices. The State claims there was enough circumstantial evidence to make a jury case.

In the case before us the State was required to prove three things: venue; that defendant was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage; and that he drove a motor vehicle while in that condition. Proof of the first two propositions, while meager, was adequate to survive a motion for directed verdict under the rule that we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State when considering such a motion. State v. Gray, 199 N.W.2d 57, 59 (Iowa 1971); State v. Garrett, 173 N.W.2d 87, 89 (Iowa 1969).

Venue was established by resorting to the helpful circumstantial evidence rule and the even more friendly principle that in deciding venue questions we may take judicial notice of the location of towns, geographical boundaries and certain designated places when shown to be within a certain distance of an established point. State v. Wardenburg, 261 Iowa 1395, 1403, 158 N.W.2d 147, 151 (1968); State v. Ladd, 252 Iowa 487, 489, 490, 106 N.W.2d 100, 101 (1960).

We also find enough evidence--barely--to identify defendant as the driver of the vehicle involved in this single-car accident. When the patrolman arrived at the scene, defendant was wandering about in the center of the highway. He was blood-stained and had a head injury. As the officer approached him, defendant volunteered the statement, 'Big God-damn deal. Harold wrecked his car. Missed a car, ran into the ditch.'

We believe this terse and graphic description of the accident in which defendant used his own given name apparently to identify who drove the car into the ditch is evidence from which the jury could find defendant was driving at the time of the accident.

This brings us to the third issue the State must prove--that defendant was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage while operating a motor vehicle.

No sobriety tests of any kind were administered. The only evidence that defendant was 'under the influence' is the opinion testimony of Officer Thomas. Clearly this made a jury question on that issue At the time of arrest; but that does not answer the objection raised at trial and now urged here. The ultimate question which must be answered by proof beyond a reasonable doubt is this: Was defendant in that condition while driving a motor vehicle?

We hold the record is completely silent on this vital point. The accident was a one-car event. There were no witnesses. We have no way of knowing when it occurred; how much later the highway patrolman arrived (he refused to say); or what transpired between the time of the...

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22 cases
  • U.S. v. DuBois
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • April 9, 1981
    ...of intoxication or drinking at the earlier time. See, e. g., People v. Wells, 103 Ill.App.2d 128, 243 N.E.2d 427 (1968); State v. Creighton, 201 N.W.2d 471 (Iowa 1972) (and cases cited therein); State v. Dodson, 496 S.W.2d 272 (Mo.Ct.App.1973); State v. Kaloustian, 212 N.W.2d 843 (N.D.1973)......
  • POULNOT v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, 91-CT-477
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Columbia District
    • May 1, 1992
    ...sustain convictions based on mere suspicion. See, e.g., Thomas v. State, 277 Md. 314, 325, 353 A.2d 256, 262 (1976);8 State v. Creighton, 201 N.W.2d 471, 473 (Iowa 1972). We have no quarrel with these holdings. In the present case, however, the circumstantial evidence, when viewed (as it mu......
  • State v. Jensen
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 27, 1974
    ...not presented on his identity. There was ample circumstantial evidence identifying him at the scene of the accident. See State v. Creighton, 201 N.W.2d 471 (Iowa 1972). Defendant also complains he was not identified at trial as the one accused and who committed the crime alleged. Identity i......
  • State v. Prociuk
    • United States
    • New Jersey County Court
    • December 15, 1976
    ...New Jersey which are directly on point, but there are two cases from without the State, which the court considered. In State v. Creighton, 201 N.W.2d 471 (Iowa Sup.1972), the arresting officer came upon an injured person wandering near a car stuck in a ditch. The court held that it was a qu......
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