State v. Tuggle

Decision Date12 October 1982
Citation639 S.W.2d 913
PartiesSTATE of Tennessee, Appellant, v. Daniel Lydell TUGGLE, Appellee. 639 S.W.2d 913
CourtTennessee Supreme Court

Wayne E. Uhl, Asst. Atty. Gen., William M. Leech, Jr., Atty. Gen. & Reporter, Nashville, for appellant.

Douglas R. Beier, Morristown, for appellee.

OPINION

COOPER, Justice.

Appellee, Daniel L. Tuggle, was convicted of concealing stolen property over $200.00 and received the minimum sentence of three years in the state penitentiary. TCA Sec. 39-4217(B). 1 The Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction, finding that the evidence of guilt was insufficient in that "the stolen goods for which [appellee] was convicted of concealing were never seen in his actual possession, and they were never found nor was evidence offered to prove that he had constructive possession." Our reading of the record, in light of fundamental and well-settled rules governing appellate review of criminal cases, leads us to a different conclusion.

A jury's finding of guilt, approved by the trial judge, should be set aside by an appellate court only if the evidence is insufficient for a rational trier of fact to find guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Patton, 593 S.W.2d 913 (Tenn.1979). See also Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979). A jury conviction removes the presumption of innocence with which a defendant is initially cloaked and replaces it with one of guilt, so that on appeal a convicted defendant has the burden of demonstrating that the evidence is insufficient. On appeal of a conviction, conflicts in the testimony are resolved in favor of the verdict of the jury and the judgment of the trial court, and the state is entitled to the strongest legitimate view of the evidence as well as all reasonable and legitimate inferences that may be drawn therefrom. State v. Cabbage, 571 S.W.2d 832 (Tenn.1978).

The record shows that Horace Jones is the operator of a Phillips 66 service station, located on Highway 11-E in Morristown, Tennessee. His residence is next to his station and is connected by an intercom system.

Around midnight on December 29, 1980, and after Mr. Jones had retired for the evening, he heard noises over the intercom system, which sounded as if someone was breaking into the cash register. Mr. Jones immediately went outside and saw two men running from the back of the station toward a white van parked on the hill behind the station. The hands of the men were empty. The men entered the van through the door on the passenger side and the van got under way quickly. As the van passed Jones, the driver turned his lights off. This prevented Jones from reading the license tag; however, he was able to see that the van had no rear bumper. Mr. Jones notified the police immediately, giving a description of the van and the two men seen running from the rear of the station.

On checking the service station, it was discovered that the station had been burglarized; entry had been made by prying or knocking concrete blocks from the back wall of the station. The opening measured only seven and three-fourths inches in height and thirty-two inches in width. Items missing from the service station included tools, watches, bank statement bags and tickets, a Christmas Club bank book, and a tape player and booster. These items had a value of $230.00 to $240.00, according to Mr. Jones.

About an hour after the burglary was discovered and a description of the van broadcast, appellee, Haskell Charles and Robert Anderson were stopped by law enforcement officers in Bull's Gap, Tennessee. They were in the van which had been seen earlier at Jones' service station. The van was searched, but no stolen items were found. 2 The occupants of the van were not arrested but were told to report to the Morristown police on the morning of December 30th. They did report and gave exculpatory statements to the police.

Tuggle told the police that he and his companions had been riding around and had stopped at the gas station to relieve themselves. He denied breaking into the station and claimed he never saw anyone or heard anyone yelling at them at the station. His co-defendant Charles gave a similar statement, but claimed that the men never stopped at any service station. Anderson's statement is not in the record since his case was severed. The evidence does show, however, that footprints matching Anderson's...

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    ...a matter of law, for a rational trier of fact to find the appellant Frost guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on Count 21. State v. Tuggle, 639 S.W.2d 913, 914 (Tenn.1982). Accordingly, we reverse the trial court and dismiss the conviction under Count 21. Count One of the indictment charged th......
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