SHANESSA V. PITTMAN
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ALBEMARLE COUNTY Cheryl V. Higgins,
Samantha E. Freed (Lepold & Freed, PLLC, on brief), for
H. Anderson, III, Senior Assistant Attorney General (Mark R.
Herring, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Present: Judges Humphreys, Beales and AtLee
J. HUMPHREYS JUDGE
appeal seeks our review of the degree to which a gratuitous
relationship can rise to the level necessary to be sufficient
for the crime of embezzlement. Shanessa Pittman
("Pittman") appeals the May 11, 2017 decision of
the Circuit Court of Albemarle County ("circuit
court") convicting Pittman of embezzlement under Code
§§ 18.2-95 and 18.2-111 and sentencing her to
twenty years in prison with all but one year and three months
suspended. Pittman argues that the circuit court erred by
overruling her motions to strike at the end of the
Commonwealth's evidence and the end of the case.
October 2015, Pittman contacted an acquaintance, Darcelle
Pettis ("Pettis"), seeking a ride home from the
hospital. Pettis rented a car for this purpose from
Enterprise Rent-A-Car ("Enterprise"), and picked
Pittman up at the hospital the evening of October 27, 2015.
On the way back to Pettis' house, the pair stopped at a
gas station. Pettis, suffering from a migraine headache,
allowed Pittman to drive the car the remainder of the way to
Pettis' house. After arriving at Pettis' house,
Pittman asked if she could use the rental car to pick up a
prescription for herself from a nearby pharmacy, as
Pettis' migraine had not abated. Pettis agreed that
Pittman could drive to the pharmacy only and return to
Pettis' home. Pittman agreed and left. Pittman texted and
called Pettis later that evening saying that she was coming
back. Pettis, still suffering from her migraine, went to bed
unaware that Pittman had never returned with the rental car.
following morning, upon realizing that Pittman had never
returned with the car, Pettis phoned Pittman to inform her
that the rental was for only one day and that the car was due
back at Enterprise by 2:00 p.m. Pittman responded that she
had fallen asleep and would be unable to return the car by
that time. Pettis subsequently called Enterprise and extended
the rental for an additional day. When Pittman did not return
the car the following day, October 29, 2015, Pettis contacted
Enterprise and explained the situation. Enterprise advised
Pettis to contact the police. Albemarle County Police Officer
Jeffrey Turner ("Officer Turner") came to
Pettis' home to take a missing vehicle report. While
Officer Turner was at Pettis' home, Pittman called
Pettis, complaining that Pettis was trying to get her in
trouble over the car. Officer Turner talked to Pittman on the
phone and explained that there would be no repercussions if
she returned the car that day. Pittman did not return the
car, and Pettis made repeated calls to Pittman over the
following week regarding the car to no avail.
November 5, 2015, Enterprise regained possession of the car,
which had been towed to a body shop in Smithtown, New York,
after suffering $6, 643.69 of estimated damage. On January 6,
2016, Pittman was arrested for grand larceny of a motor
vehicle. The grand jury for Albemarle County returned an
indictment for embezzlement under Code §§ 18.2-95
and 18.2-111. Following a bench trial on May 11, 2017,
Pittman was found guilty and this appeal follows.
Standard of Review
familiar principles of appellate review, we view the evidence
and all reasonable inferences fairly deducible from that
evidence in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, the
party that prevailed below." Banks v.
Commonwealth, 41 Va.App. 539, 543 (2003). "'In
so doing, we must "discard the evidence of the accused
in conflict with that of the Commonwealth, and regard as true
all the credible evidence favorable to the Commonwealth and
all fair inferences that may be drawn
therefrom."'" Cirios v. Commonwealth,
7 Va.App. 292, 295 (1988). "Additionally, this Court has
the duty to review the evidence and affirm the circuit
court's judgment unless it appears from the evidence that
the judgment is plainly wrong or without evidence to support
it." Walker v. Commonwealth, 272 Va. 511, 513
(2006); Code § 8.01-680.
Whether the Evidence Was Sufficient to Convict ...