State v. Moves Camp, s. 12541

Decision Date24 December 1979
Docket Number12546 and 12551,Nos. 12541,s. 12541
Citation286 N.W.2d 333
PartiesSTATE of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. Vernon MOVES CAMP, Orville Milk and Alexander Richards, Defendants and Appellants.
CourtSouth Dakota Supreme Court

Leann Larson Finke, Asst. Atty. Gen., Pierre, Philip Hogen, Jackson County State's Atty., Kadoka, for plaintiff and respondent; Mark V. Meierhenry, Atty. Gen., Pierre, on brief.

T. Michael Carter, Rapid City, for defendant and appellant Moves Camp.

Bruce Ellison, Rapid City, for defendant and appellant Milk.

David P. Olson, Rapid City, for defendant and appellant Richards.

DUNN, Justice.

Defendants appeal from the final judgment of conviction rendered on May 30, 1978, by the Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit within and for the County of Jackson. On change of venue, the trial was actually held in Pennington County. The trial court sentenced each of the defendants to twenty-five years' imprisonment on the first-degree robbery count and ten years' on the aggravated assault count, the sentences to run concurrently. We affirm.

Shortly after midnight on November 16, 1977, Charles Jakeway, an attendant at the Kadoka Standard Station in Kadoka, South Dakota, was approached by two young Indian women, who informed him that their car had gone into the ditch. Jakeway telephoned station owner Gary Vroman. Vroman proceeded to the service station with his wrecker. The women had walked back to their car, and Jakeway informed Vroman of the location of the car.

Vroman quickly towed the car out of the ditch and asked for twenty dollars the standard fee for wrecker calls. Upon being informed that the group did not have twenty dollars, Vroman suggested that they proceed back to the station to "figure something out." Vroman positioned his wrecker so that he could follow the car back to the station.

At that point, two men got out of the car and approached Vroman's vehicle. Vroman was pulled from the wrecker and brutally beaten with a five-foot towing chain and a heavy metal "J-hook" one inch in diameter. He was robbed of his C.B. radio, police scanner, wristwatch, trucker's billfold and boots. After the beating, Vroman staggered back to the station and told Jakeway that "a couple of Indians beat me up." Jakeway called Deputy Sheriff Kenneth Heltzel, Jr., who immediately drove Vroman to the Kadoka Hospital.

The attending physician noted that two, two-inch long scalp lacerations had penetrated to Vroman's skull lining, that he had sustained a left forearm fracture, that his eyes were swollen shut, that there was a one-inch laceration in the anterior neck and another in the posterior neck, that he had multiple lacerations on his hands and wrist, and that he had suffered a broken nose. After receiving emergency treatment in Kadoka, Vroman was transported to Regional East Hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota, where he remained for two weeks.

Deputy Heltzel summoned Deputy Tom Raymond to the Kadoka Hospital. Together they returned to the Standard Station to talk with Jakeway. Jakeway described the two Indian women and directed the officers to the scene of the incident. At the scene, the deputies picked up beer cans, a C.B. microphone and other physical evidence. They noticed blood on the C.B. box and the hood of the wrecker and electrical cords hanging from the dash of the wrecker. Finding no other evidence or suspect vehicles, they returned to the hospital, where Vroman informed them that the assailants' car was a late model blue Ford. There was some question whether Vroman stated that it was a 1966 or 1968 automobile. Heltzel had observed a vehicle fitting that description at about midnight in front of Room 11 of the A-1 Motel in Kadoka, where Bill Bronco Bill was residing with his sister Juanita. At the time Heltzel observed the vehicle, Alexander Richards was one of the occupants. Heltzel had made a mental note of the automobile because he had had prior contact with that car in the course of a criminal investigation near Interior, South Dakota, a few days before. Richards had been in Interior along with Vernon Moves Camp.

Heltzel visited the Bronco Bill residence, and Bill Bronco Bill confirmed that a blue Ford had been at the A-1 Motel. He stated that the car first appeared around 10:30 p. m. on November 15, 1977, that his sister had been with the occupants, that the blue car came back to the motel around midnight and then left, and that his sister had returned in the middle of the night, picked up her baby and some clothes and left again in the blue car.

Deputy Heltzel knew from his previous encounter with the blue Ford at Interior that it was registered to Vernon Moves Camp. The automobile involved in the instant case matched the one encountered at Interior, and for that reason the deputy called Wanblee, South Dakota, to obtain the license number of the Moves Camp vehicle. He radioed the license number to Pierre and confirmed that the license was indeed issued in the name of Vernon Moves Camp. The state's attorney was contacted to secure a John Doe arrest warrant, and an alert was broadcast over State Radio giving the license number of the Moves Camp vehicle, which was a 1967 blue Ford.

At 6:30 a. m., a blue 1967 Ford bearing the license number in question was stopped by Pennington County Deputy Sheriff Donny Pesecka as it approached Rapid City. Deputy Pesecka had been put on alert by the broadcast over State Radio. The occupants were frisked, arrested, taken to jail and read their rights. The occupants of the automobile were the three defendants, together with Juanita Bronco Bill and her baby, Tera Ringing Shield and Louis Moves Camp. The blue Ford was towed to the garage of the Pennington County jail, where it was sealed and impounded.

Upon her arrival at the Pennington County Sheriff's office and after being advised of her rights, Juanita was interviewed by Deputy Duane Plucker. The interview was taped and transcribed. The affidavit of Juanita formed the basis for issuance of a search warrant to search the blue Ford. This search produced several items positively identified at trial as items taken from Vroman during the course of the assault.

In determining whether there is substantial evidence to support a conviction, this court must accept the evidence and favorable inferences which may be drawn therefrom in support of the verdict. The verdict will not be set aside if the evidence and the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom sustain a rational theory of guilt. State v. Herrald, 269 N.W.2d 776 (S.D.1978). It is not our function to resolve conflicts in the evidence, pass on the credibility of witnesses, or weigh the evidence. These are jury functions. State v. Minkel, 89 S.D. 144, 230 N.W.2d 233 (1975).

Our initial determination is that "reasonable cause" was present and that the arresting officer was justified in his actions. The "reasonable cause" standard of SDCL 23-22-7(3) is legally equivalent to the Fourth Amendment requirement of "probable cause." Reed v. United States, 401 F.2d 756 (8th Cir. 1968); Theriault v. United States, 401 F.2d 79 (8th Cir. 1968). In State v. Glick, 87 S.D. 1, 201 N.W.2d 867 (1972), we discussed the "reasonable cause" standard at length. We cited numerous decisions of the United States Supreme Court that state that proof beyond a reasonable doubt is not required. While good faith on the part of the arresting officers is not enough, officers need only be reasonable and prudent, and they need not operate as legal technicians. State v. Thunder Horse, 85 S.D. 76, 177 N.W.2d 19, 21 (1970).

The probable cause for the stop and arrest by Deputy Pesecka was primarily the result of the police bulletin; thus the information warranting the issuance of the police bulletin by Deputy Heltzel becomes of first importance on the issue of probable cause.

Deputy Heltzel reasonably inferred that the beating had occurred as Vroman responded to a wrecker call. He had a physical description of the young Indian women who had asked for the tow, and he knew that Vroman had told Jakeway that "a couple of Indians" had beaten him. He knew the automobile involved was a 1966 or 1968 blue Ford. He had observed such a vehicle at the A-1 Motel earlier in the evening, and he knew that at least one Indian male, Alexander Richards, had been in the car at that time. It is significant to note that the deputy observed the automobile at the motel at "around 12:15 a. m.," and Vroman had responded to the wrecker call sometime between 12 and 12:30 a. m. It was reasonable therefore for Heltzel to assume that this automobile could very easily have been driven into the ditch at the approximate time of the incident. Additionally, the deputy learned from Bronco Bill that the automobile had left "sometime around midnight" with Bronco Bill's sister and some companions as occupants. Heltzel was not only aware that it was possible that the automobile could have been driven to the site of the incident at the time in question, he also knew that the automobile was absent from the motel during the crucial time period. The deputy could be reasonably certain at this point that there was at least one Indian male and one Indian female in the vehicle at the time it left the motel sometime after midnight. This information was helpful in accounting for the appearance of the female Indians at the service station and the presence of a male Indian at the site of the beating. Finally, the automobile the deputy observed at the motel was exactly like the one he had encountered a week before. Richards was in the car at the motel and had been in the car at the earlier encounter at Interior, and the deputy knew from the previous encounter that the car was registered to Vernon Moves Camp. Based upon this information, Heltzel acted reasonably in calling to obtain the license number of the Moves Camp vehicle. Likewise, it was reasonable for Deputy Pesecka to rely upon the ...

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