State v. Ponthier, No. 10183

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Writing for the CourtMcFADDEN; SMITH; SMITH, C. J., and TAYLOR
Citation449 P.2d 364,92 Idaho 704
Docket NumberNo. 10183
Decision Date13 January 1969
PartiesThe STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Norbert PONTHIER, Defendant-Appellant.

Page 364

449 P.2d 364
92 Idaho 704
The STATE of Idaho, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
Norbert PONTHIER, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 10183.
Supreme Court of Idaho.
Jan. 13, 1969.

Manweiler & Webb, Boise, for appellant.

Allan G. Shepard, Atty. Gen., and William D. Collins, Asst. Atty. Gen., Boise, for respondent.

McFADDEN, Justice.

On April 9, 1966, the Ada County Sheriff's office received a call reporting an automobile accident on Highway 44, near the Shady Acres Motel, about twelve miles west of Boise. Upon arrival at the scene of the accident, the officers found a 1954 Buick automobile resting in a canal and several packages of cigarettes and cigars floating in the water. The defendant, whom witnesses identified as the driver of the car, had been taken to the Shady Acres Motel to dry his clothes. The defendant was arrested at the motel by a deputy sheriff and by such officer charged with drunken driving.

[92 Idaho 705]

Page 365

The 1954 Buick, which the evidence revealed was not registered to the defendant, was towed from the canal and impounded, and officers spent part of the day retrieving the cigarettes and cigars which were found floating downstream from the car. In all, 792 packages of cigarettes and 18 five-packs of cigars were recovered from the canal. A subsequent search of the 1954 Buick, pursuant to issuance of a search warrant, produced several more five-packs of cigars.

After the Boise police learned of a reported burglary of the Nu-Way Market in Boise, which occurred not more than seven hours prior to the accident which occurred at 6:00 a. m., the defendant was charged with first-degree burglary. The Nu-Way Market reported the theft of approximately 200 cartons of cigarettes, several packages of cigars, some cookies, a .25 caliber automatic pistol, and $590.00 in cash. Only the cigarettes and cigars above referred to were found in the defendant's possession. There was no direct evidence linking the defendant with the burglary. Rather, the defendant's conviction rests upon asserted unexplained possession of a large quantity of cigarettes and cigars shortly after the burglary.

An information was filed on June 3, 1966 charging the defendant with first degree burglary. He pleaded not guilty, was convicted by a jury on January 23, 1967 and was sentenced to a term not to exceed fourteen years in the Idaho State Penitenitary. Following the appropriate motions, the defendant filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court of Idaho and has now appealed from the district court's order denying him a new trial and from the judgment finding him guilty of first degree burglary.

On appeal the defendant contends that the verdict of guilty is against the manifest weight of the evidence for the reason that the cigarettes and cigars found in the canal were not sufficiently identified as the cigars and cigarettes stolen from the Nu-Way Market and that, in any event, the State failed to prove that the defendant had conscious and personal possession of this property, as required by law to sustain a burglary conviction on this kind of circumstantial evidence. The defendant seemingly does not question the rule of law that the unexplained possession of recently stolen property raises an inference of guilt. He contends only that the property found in the canal and automobile was not shown to be stolen and was not in his possession.

It is well settled in this state that the unexplained possession of recently stolen property raises an inference of guilt and may be enough by itself to justify a conviction of burglary. As this court stated in State v. Lott, 90 Idaho 161, 409 P.2d 119 (1965),

'Appellant contends that mere possession of recently stolen goods is not of itself sufficient evidence upon which to convict the possessor of those goods of the crime of burglary. The rule in this state is to the contrary. In our most recent opinion on this issue, State v. Haggard, 89 Idaho 217, 404 P.2d 580 (1965), we held that the defendant's possession of recently stolen property was sufficient evidence upon which the jury could find him guilty of the crime of burglary.' 90 Idaho at 163, 409 P.2d at 120.

To the same effect is State v. Bogris, 26 Idaho 587, 144 P. 789 (1914). This rule is also supported by a majority of the other jurisdictions. State v. James, 194 Mo. 268, 92 S.W. 679 (1906); People v. State, 270 P.2d 380 (Okl.Cr.App.1954); Yawn v. State, 94 Ga.App. 400, 94 S.E.2d 769 (1956); People v. Weaver, 18 Ill.2d 108, 163 N.E.2d 483 (1960); Jordan v. State, 119 Ga. 443, 46 S.E. 679 (1904); People v. Frahm, 107 Cal.App. 253, 290 P. 678 (1930).

In order to secure a conviction on the basis of such circumstantial evidence, however, the burden is upon the State to identify the goods found in the defendant's possession as the same goods stolen in the burglary. It is our opinion [92 Idaho 706]

Page 366

that this burden was satisfied in the case at bar. Appellant relies heavily upon this court's decision in State v. Sullivan, 34 Idaho 68, 199 P. 647, 17 A.L.R. 902 (1921), for the proposition that goods are not sufficiently identified merely by showing that they correspond in kind or quantity to the goods stolen in a burglary. Appellant, however, has misconstrued that decision. The reversal in State v. Sullivan, supra, rested upon the State's failure to prove the corpus delicti of a burglary. The State, having failed in State v. Sullivan to prove that any burglary actually occurred, could not rely upon proof of the defendant's possession of allegedly stolen property as proof that a burglary had in fact occurred. In the present case, on the other hand, the State quite conclusively proved by evidence unrelated to the stolen property that a burglary did occur. Unlike State v. Sullivan, then, the State here did not use the defendant's...

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17 practice notes
  • State v. Owens, No. 12272
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 18, 1979
    ...which would support a finding that the heifer was stolen, it was not error for the trial court to give the instruction. State v. Ponthier, 92 Idaho 704, 449 P.2d 364 (1969); State v. Haggard, 89 Idaho 217, 404 P.2d 580 (1965); see State v. Sullivan, 34 Idaho 68, 199 P. 647 (1921). The defen......
  • State v. Harris, A15-0711
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • May 24, 2017
    ...Jones v. United States, 477 A.2d 231 (D.C. 1984).Hawai'i: State v. Bright, 64 Haw. 226, 638 P.2d 330 (1981).Idaho: State v. Ponthier, 92 Idaho 704, 449 P.2d 364 (1969).Illinois: People v. Pollock, 202 Ill.2d 189, 269 Ill.Dec. 197, 780 N.E.2d 669 (2002).Indiana: Craig v. State, 730 N.E.2d 12......
  • State v. Winckler, Nos. 11787
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 16, 1977
    ...burglary until the Pork Plant was sealed off, we find that this is simply a factor going to the weight of the evidence. State v. Ponthier, 92 Idaho 704, 449 P.2d 364 (1969). The circumstances justify a jury conclusion that possession was exclusive. The trial court did not err in refusing to......
  • Paradis v. State, No. 15867
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • March 25, 1986
    ...solely on circumstantial evidence. State v. Chapple, 98 Idaho 475, 567 P.2d Page 1309 [110 Idaho 537] 20 (1977); State v. Ponthier, 92 Idaho 704, 449 P.2d 364 (1969). The state presented a strong circumstantial case against appellant. He was placed at or near the scene where the victim's bo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • State v. Owens, No. 12272
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • October 18, 1979
    ...which would support a finding that the heifer was stolen, it was not error for the trial court to give the instruction. State v. Ponthier, 92 Idaho 704, 449 P.2d 364 (1969); State v. Haggard, 89 Idaho 217, 404 P.2d 580 (1965); see State v. Sullivan, 34 Idaho 68, 199 P. 647 (1921). The defen......
  • State v. Harris, A15-0711
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Minnesota (US)
    • May 24, 2017
    ...Jones v. United States, 477 A.2d 231 (D.C. 1984).Hawai'i: State v. Bright, 64 Haw. 226, 638 P.2d 330 (1981).Idaho: State v. Ponthier, 92 Idaho 704, 449 P.2d 364 (1969).Illinois: People v. Pollock, 202 Ill.2d 189, 269 Ill.Dec. 197, 780 N.E.2d 669 (2002).Indiana: Craig v. State, 730 N.E.2d 12......
  • State v. Winckler, Nos. 11787
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of South Dakota
    • December 16, 1977
    ...burglary until the Pork Plant was sealed off, we find that this is simply a factor going to the weight of the evidence. State v. Ponthier, 92 Idaho 704, 449 P.2d 364 (1969). The circumstances justify a jury conclusion that possession was exclusive. The trial court did not err in refusing to......
  • Paradis v. State, No. 15867
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • March 25, 1986
    ...solely on circumstantial evidence. State v. Chapple, 98 Idaho 475, 567 P.2d Page 1309 [110 Idaho 537] 20 (1977); State v. Ponthier, 92 Idaho 704, 449 P.2d 364 (1969). The state presented a strong circumstantial case against appellant. He was placed at or near the scene where the victim's bo......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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