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Manning v. Commonwealth

Court of Appeals of Virginia

December 17, 2013



Patricia Ann Dart (Dart Law, P.C., on brief), for appellant.

David M. Uberman, Assistant Attorney General (Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.

Present Judges Humphreys, Beales and Huff Argued at Chesapeake, Virginia



Tremere Rhonette Manning (appellant) appeals her conviction for grand larceny, in violation of Code § 18.2-95.[1] Appellant argues that the trial court erred in finding that the Commonwealth introduced sufficient evidence for a grand larceny conviction. Specifically, appellant contends that the evidence was insufficient "as a matter of law to prove the items taken from the Gap had a value of $200 or more." We hold that the trial court did not err when it found that the evidence was sufficient beyond a reasonable doubt to convict appellant of grand larceny, and, accordingly, for the following reasons, we affirm appellant's conviction for grand larceny.

I. Background

We consider the evidence on appeal "'in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, as we must since it was the prevailing party'" in the trial court. Beasley v. Commonwealth, 60 Va.App. 381, 391, 728 S.E.2d 499, 504 (2012) (quoting Riner v. Commonwealth, 268 Va. 296, 330, 601 S.E.2d 555, 574 (2004)).

In this case, Rasheeda Blackman, an assistant manager at the Gap outlet in the Premium Outlets mall in James City County, testified that, on February 4, 2011, she was working at the Gap when she noticed appellant and another individual, Omar Wallace, enter the store. Wallace was carrying a Kirkland's bag that, according to Blackman, "was pretty light." Blackman testified that she noticed that appellant was "wrestling with a trench coat" in an attempt to remove the security sensor, at which point Blackman called security. Blackman testified that, while she was on the phone with security giving a description of appellant and Wallace, appellant and Wallace walked slowly out of the store with a Kirkland's bag that appeared "bigger than how it was before."

After appellant and Wallace left the store, Blackman noticed that only two gray hoodies remained on what she called the "face-out bar, " which she explained is a bar on which merchandise is hung. Blackman testified that the "face-out bar" contained "eleven or twelve" hoodies before appellant and Wallace entered the store. Thus, Blackman testified that "probably nine" gray hoodies were missing. Blackman testified that each hoodie was priced at $24.99. Although Blackman never saw appellant (or Wallace) remove any items from the Gap, she testified that hardly anybody else was in the store when appellant and Wallace were inside.[2]

Blackman testified that she observed appellant and Wallace walk straight to a black Acura after they left the Gap. By the time security arrived at the Gap, the black Acura was in a different part of the parking lot. At that point, Blackman telephoned the police department. Officer Perry of the James City County Police Department promptly responded to the Gap, and Blackman explained to him that she had called the police because she suspected that items from her store had been shoplifted. Blackman provided a description of appellant and Wallace, and she directed his attention toward the black Acura. Officer Perry went to the parked Acura, where he saw in plain view a Kirkland's bag with "clothing from Gap that had the tags sticking out a little bit."

Officer Perry went back into the mall and eventually apprehended appellant and Wallace in the Aeropostale store. Kathie Jenkins, a store manager at Aeropostale, testified that, after police led appellant and Wallace out of the store, she noticed a Kirkland's shopping bag hanging on one of the racks, which was close (within three to five feet) to where appellant and Wallace had been browsing in Aeropostale. Jenkins testified that a number of items from Aeropostale were inside of the Aeropostale bag, along with "two items from Gap, " which "were baby clothes." When Officer Perry led appellant and Wallace out to the black Acura, Wallace confirmed that the Acura was his. During a search of the Acura, numerous Kirkland's bags full of merchandise were recovered. Neither appellant nor Wallace was able to produce a receipt for any of the recovered merchandise.

After recovering the merchandise from the Acura, Officer Perry spread out the merchandise so that another officer could photograph it. In addition to recovering at least seven Gap hoodies from the Acura, the evidence also suggests that three pairs of Gap brand denim pants were recovered from the Acura. According to Blackman, each pair of denim pants was priced at $29.99. Blackman testified, "Once the cop brought the merchandise back, there were denim—girls' denim pants that were also taken." The record does not contain any photographs of the denim pants, but one of the photographs (the photograph) depicts hoodies stolen from the Gap. The photograph clearly depicts at least seven Gap hoodies.[3]

On direct examination, the Commonwealth asked Officer Perry, "So all of the items that you recovered were photographed?" (Emphasis added). Officer Perry responded in the affirmative. On re-direct examination, Officer Perry explained that he did not take the photographs. He also testified, "I'm not the one that retrieved every item and did the only separating ...

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