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Thompson v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia

November 26, 2013

ALONZO THOMPSON, S/K/A ALONZO LAMAR THOMPSON
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CHARLOTTE COUNTY Joel C. Cunningham, Judge

Joseph E. Taylor, Jr. (Taylor Law Firm, on brief), for appellant.

Lauren C. Campbell, Assistant Attorney General (Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Judges Frank, Huff and Senior Judge Coleman Argued at Richmond, Virginia

MEMORANDUM OPINION [*]

ROBERT P. FRANK, JUDGE.

Alonzo Thompson, s/k/a Alonzo Lamar Thompson, appellant, was convicted, in a bench trial, of malicious wounding in violation of Code § 18.2-51. On appeal, he contends the evidence is insufficient to show either the actus reus or mens rea of the offense. Essentially, he argues the evidence is insufficient to prove he was the perpetrator and that he possessed the requisite criminal intent. For the reasons stated, we affirm.

BACKGROUND

On September 4, 2010, J.H. was hosting her wedding reception at the Keysville Fire Hall in Charlotte County. J.H. had applied for and received a permit to serve alcohol at the event. Several announcements were made during the reception that anyone not invited, or anyone less than twenty-one years of age, must leave the premises by 9:00 p.m. pursuant to the alcohol permit. J.H. testified that appellant attended the reception, although he was not invited.

After 9:00 that evening, it came to J.H's attention that appellant was still outside the reception hall. J.H. observed appellant fighting with her cousin and "another whole other bunch of boys." In the course of telling appellant and the others that they had to stop fighting and leave, appellant punched J.H. twice in the mouth with his closed fist. J.H. suffered cuts to her upper and lower lips, causing profuse bleeding and swelling. One cut sliced through her lip; the other left a piece of skin missing from her upper lip. Her injuries resulted in eventual permanent scarring.

Deputy W.K. Booth responded to the emergency call made by one of the guests at the reception. When Deputy Booth arrived, J.H. was still bleeding. He photographed her injuries, and the photographs were admitted into evidence at trial.

Kenneth Friend testified on behalf of appellant. He stated that J.H.'s father invited him and some of his friends, including appellant, to the reception. He testified he never saw appellant and J.H. together that evening.

ANALYSIS

"On appeal, 'we review the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, granting to it all reasonable inferences fairly deducible therefrom.'" Archer v. Commonwealth, 26 Va.App. 1, 11, 492 S.E.2d 826, 831 (1997) (quoting Martin v. Commonwealth, 4 Va.App. 438, 443, 358 S.E.2d 415, 418 (1987)). Also, "[g]reat deference must be given to the factfinder who, having seen and heard the witnesses, assesses their credibility and weighs their testimony." Walton v. Commonwealth, 255 Va. 422, 426, 497 S.E.2d 869, 871 (1998). When a defendant challenges on appeal the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain his conviction, this Court "has a duty to examine all the evidence that tends to support the conviction." Bolden v. Commonwealth, 275 Va. 144, 147, 654 S.E.2d 584, 586 (2008). Upon reviewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, we must uphold the conviction unless it is plainly wrong or without evidence to support it. Tarpley v. Commonwealth, 261 Va. 251, 256, 542 S.E.2d 761, 763 (2001).

"When a criminal offense consists of an act and a particular [intent], both the act and [intent] are independent and necessary elements of the crime that the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt." Hunter v. Commonwealth, 15 Va.App. 717, 721, 427 S.E.2d 197, 200 (1993) (en banc). In other words, it is a basic tenet of criminal law that the mens rea, or intent, and the actus reus, or ...


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