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Thacker v. State

Court of Appeals of Indiana

November 4, 2016

Mickel Thacker, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
State of Indiana, Appellee-Plaintiff.

         Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Annie Christ-Garcia, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49G24-1504-F6-13631

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Corey L. Scott Indianapolis, Indiana.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Gregory F. Zoeller Attorney General of Indiana Richard C. Webster Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana.

          OPINION

          May, Judge.

         [¶1] Mickel Thacker challenges the sufficiency of evidence supporting his conviction of Level 6 felony auto theft[1] and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement.[2] We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On April 9, 2015, Kelly Poyck reported her silver 2002 Chevrolet Prism stolen. On April 15, 2015, Jeanne Kistler, an acquaintance of Poyck, saw the vehicle in a bank parking lot and called 9-1-1. Kistler reported two African-American males were in the front seat of the vehicle. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department ("IMPD") officers were dispatched regarding a possible stolen vehicle. IMPD Officer Aaron Helton responded and spotted a vehicle matching the description of the stolen vehicle with two African-American males sitting in the front seat.

         [¶3] Officer Helton approached the vehicle with his emergency lights on and briefly activated his siren. The occupants were exiting the vehicle as Officer Helton approached it. Officer Helton drew his weapon and loudly ordered them to stop. One of the occupants ran from the scene. The other occupant, Thacker, walked toward the bank. Officer Helton initially pursued Thacker's companion, but when he was approximately thirty feet from Thacker, Officer Helton spotted Thacker near the bank entrance. At that point, Thacker complied with Officer Helton's command to stop. Officer Helton arrested Thacker.

         [¶4] The State charged Thacker with Level 6 felony auto theft and Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement. After a bench trial, the court found Thacker guilty of both charges.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶5] When reviewing sufficiency of the evidence in support of a conviction, we will consider only probative evidence in the light most favorable to the trial court's judgment. Binkley v. State, 654 N.E.2d 736, 737 (Ind. 2007), reh'g denied. The decision comes before us with a presumption of legitimacy, and we will not substitute our judgment for that of the fact-finder. Id. We do not assess the credibility of the witnesses or reweigh the evidence in determining whether the evidence is sufficient. Drane v. State, 867 N.E.2d 144, 146 (Ind. 2007). Reversal is appropriate only when no reasonable fact-finder could find the elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Id. Thus, the evidence is not required to overcome every reasonable hypothesis of innocence and is sufficient if an inference may reasonably be drawn from it to support the verdict. Id. at 147.

         Auto Theft

         [¶6] To prove Level 6 felony auto theft, the State must prove Thacker "knowingly or intentionally exert[ed] unauthorized control over the motor vehicle of another person, with intent to deprive the owner of [] the vehicle's value or use." Ind. Code § 35-43-4-2.5(b)(1) (2014). The unexplained possession of stolen property may be sufficient to support a conviction of theft, Hughes v. State, 446 N.E.2d 1017, 1020 (Ind.Ct.App. 1983), but the inference is permitted only where the property was "recently stolen." Gibson v. State, 533 N.E.2d 187, 188-89 (Ind.Ct.App. 1989). If a defendant is found to be in possession of stolen property that was not recently stolen and if exclusive possession is not proven, "this court may also consider additional evidence tending to support the defendant's conviction." Shelby v. State, 875 N.E.2d 381, 385 (Ind.Ct.App. 2007), trans. denied. For example, in Gibson, we determined that unexplained possession of a car two days after it was stolen was insufficient to sustain a conviction for auto theft but affirmed the conviction due to Gibson's possession of a screwdriver used to start the car. 533 N.E.2d at 190.

         [¶7] Poyck testified her vehicle was stolen, and Officer Helton saw Thacker in the driver's seat of Poyck's vehicle. This evidence permits a reasonable inference Thacker was in possession of Poyck's stolen vehicle. See Trotter v. State, 838 N.E.2d 553, 557 (Ind.Ct.App. 2005) ...


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