State v. Johnson, No. 74-228-C

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Rhode Island
Writing for the CourtKELLEHER
Citation358 A.2d 370,116 R.I. 449
Docket NumberNo. 74-228-C
Decision Date02 June 1976
PartiesSTATE v. Donald W. JOHNSON. A.

Page 370

358 A.2d 370
116 R.I. 449
STATE

v.
Donald W. JOHNSON.
No. 74-228-C.A.
Supreme Court of Rhode Island.
June 2, 1976.

Page 371

[116 R.I. 458] Julius C. Michaelson, Atty. Gen., William Granfield Brody, Special Asst. Atty. Gen., for plaintiff.

Alton W. Wiley, Providence, for defendant.

OPINION

[116 R.I. 450] KELLEHER, Justice.

On December 6, 1971, the grand jury for the counties of Providence and Bristol returned an indictment that charged the defendant with committing the common law crime of burglary.

The state's principal witness at a Superior Court jury trial was a woman who was employed as a high school English teacher. In the fall of 1971 the teacher and her two children lived in a first-floor two-bedroom apartment that was located in the East Side section of Providence. An asphalt driveway ran alongside the apartment house. Anyone of medium height could stand on the driveway and look into the living room and dining room portions [116 R.I. 451] of the apartment. The two bedrooms were each occupied by one of the children. The mother used the dining room as her sleeping quarters.

The teacher testified that at approximately 1:30 a.m. on October 27 the had fallen asleep while lying on the dining

Page 372

room couch reading. She was fully clothed and the lights were on in the dining room and living room areas. A noise in the living room awakened her. She went into the living room and saw that the driveway window was open and perched on the sill was a man whose hands were wrapped in old cloths. The man's head and shoulders were inside the apartment. The teacher screamed, 'Get out of my house,' and charged at the intruder. He disappeared. The teacher went over to the window, looked out on to the driveway, and, as she turned to her right, she found herself practically eyeball to eyeball with the intruder, who was leaning flush against the side of the house. She shut the window, locked it, and summoned the police.

One-half hour later and one-half mile away defendant, while going through a backyard, was arrested by a police officer who had secreted himself at this particular location. There was a bit of a scuffle before the arrest was effectuated. The teacher was summoned to the police headquarters to view a lineup. She picked out defendant as the percher she had seen on her living room windowsill. The total elapsed time between her screams and her identification at the lineup was about 2 1/2 hours.

The narrative just unfolded is the sum and substance of the state's case. When the state rested, the defense moved for a judgment of acquittal, presumably on the basis that the mere fact that Johnson illegally entered the teacher's illuminated apartment was not in and of itself sufficient to establish that his unauthorized entry was for the purpose of committing a felony.

[116 R.I. 452] The trial justice, in granting defendant's motion for a judgment of acquittal on the burglary charge, remarked that while there was evidence from which the jury could find that defendant intended to commit larceny once he landed inside the teacher's residence, there was no evidence as to the value of the property that he might have taken. The trial justice pointed out that under Rhode Island law, larceny of property can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. If the value of the 'take' exceeds $500, it is a felony; otherwise, it is a misdemeanor. 1 The direction apparently was based upon the lack of any evidence that would warrant an inference that defendant would have carried away more than $500 worth of goods if his presence had not been discovered.

Once having disposed of the burglary charge, the trial justice then informed counsel that the case would go to the jury for its consideration of two lesser but included charges, which he described as '* * * the statutory breaking and entering and the breaking and entering without the consent of the owner * * *.' Thereafter defendant offered the defense of an alibi. At the conclusion of his [116 R.I. 453] case, defendant once again moved for a judgment of acquittal insofar as the 'statutory breaking and entering' charge was concerned. This motion was denied.

Page 373

In his charge the trial justice informed the jury that even though the burglary charge was not before it, there was evidence which would support a conviction for either one of two lesser crimes which go to make up the crime of burglary. The first crime he discussed was the so-called 'statutory breaking and entering' proviso to which he had alluded when he granted the initial acquittal motion. It is found in § 11-8-3. The statute makes it a crime for an individual to enter a dwelling at any time of the day or night with intent to commit murder, rape, robbery, arson, or larceny. A reading of the statute shows that there is no need to show a break, as all that is required is proof of an entry. The trial justice told the jury that in order to have a conviction under this statute, the state was required to satisfy the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant entered the teacher's dwelling 'with the intent to commit larceny.' He informed the jury that if they believed the teacher, then there was an entry, and he defined larceny as 'stealing, it means to steal.'

The jury was then told that if it was not satisfied as to defendant's guilt on that particular charge, it should consider the second charge of breaking and entering into the dwelling house or apartment of another without the consent of the tenant. This particular crime is...

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31 practice notes
  • State v. Tremblay, Pl 97-1816AB
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Rhode Island
    • 19 Marzo 2003
    ...at 153 n. 7, 405 A.2d at 9 n. 7 (defendant has the burden of demonstrating the existence of purposeful discrimination); State v. Johnson, 116 R.I. 449, 457, 358 A.2d 370, 375 (1976) (a defendant must prove a "preconceived plan" by those who formulate jury lists); accord State v. Gaines, 528......
  • State v. Tremblay, Pl 97-1816AB
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Rhode Island
    • 19 Marzo 2003
    ...at 153 n. 7, 405 A.2d at 9 n. 7 (defendant has the burden of demonstrating the existence of purposeful discrimination); State v. Johnson, 116 R.I. 449, 457, 358 A.2d 370, 375 (1976) (a defendant must prove a "preconceived plan" by those who formulate jury lists); accord State v. Gaines, 528......
  • State v. Tremblay, Pl 97-1816AB
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Rhode Island
    • 19 Marzo 2003
    ...at 153 n. 7, 405 A.2d at 9 n. 7 (defendant has the burden of demonstrating the existence of purposeful discrimination); State v. Johnson, 116 R.I. 449, 457, 358 A.2d 370, 375 (1976) (a defendant must prove a "preconceived plan" by those who formulate jury lists); accord State v. Gaines, 528......
  • State v. Tremblay, Pl 97-1816AB
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Rhode Island
    • 19 Marzo 2003
    ...at 153 n. 7, 405 A.2d at 9 n. 7 (defendant has the burden of demonstrating the existence of purposeful discrimination); State v. Johnson, 116 R.I. 449, 457, 358 A.2d 370, 375 (1976) (a defendant must prove a "preconceived plan" by those who formulate jury lists); accord State v. Gaines, 528......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
31 cases
  • State v. Tremblay, Pl 97-1816AB
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Rhode Island
    • 19 Marzo 2003
    ...at 153 n. 7, 405 A.2d at 9 n. 7 (defendant has the burden of demonstrating the existence of purposeful discrimination); State v. Johnson, 116 R.I. 449, 457, 358 A.2d 370, 375 (1976) (a defendant must prove a "preconceived plan" by those who formulate jury lists); accord State v. Gaines, 528......
  • State v. Tremblay, Pl 97-1816AB
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Rhode Island
    • 19 Marzo 2003
    ...at 153 n. 7, 405 A.2d at 9 n. 7 (defendant has the burden of demonstrating the existence of purposeful discrimination); State v. Johnson, 116 R.I. 449, 457, 358 A.2d 370, 375 (1976) (a defendant must prove a "preconceived plan" by those who formulate jury lists); accord State v. Gaines, 528......
  • State v. Tremblay, Pl 97-1816AB
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Rhode Island
    • 19 Marzo 2003
    ...at 153 n. 7, 405 A.2d at 9 n. 7 (defendant has the burden of demonstrating the existence of purposeful discrimination); State v. Johnson, 116 R.I. 449, 457, 358 A.2d 370, 375 (1976) (a defendant must prove a "preconceived plan" by those who formulate jury lists); accord State v. Gaines, 528......
  • State v. Tremblay, Pl 97-1816AB
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Rhode Island
    • 19 Marzo 2003
    ...at 153 n. 7, 405 A.2d at 9 n. 7 (defendant has the burden of demonstrating the existence of purposeful discrimination); State v. Johnson, 116 R.I. 449, 457, 358 A.2d 370, 375 (1976) (a defendant must prove a "preconceived plan" by those who formulate jury lists); accord State v. Gaines, 528......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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