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State v. Loyd

Court of Appeals of Louisiana, Third Circuit

June 5, 2019

STATE OF LOUISIANA
v.
VICTOR WAYNE LOYD

          ON APPEAL FROM THIRTY-FIFTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT GRANT PARISH, NO. 18-346 HONORABLE WARREN D. WILLETT, DISTRICT JUDGE

          Douglas Lee Harville Louisiana Appellate Project COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANT/APPELLANT: Victor Wayne Loyd

          James P. LeMoine District Attorney Renee W. Nugent Assistant District Attorney Thirty-Fifth Judicial District COUNSEL FOR APPELLEE: State of Louisiana

          Court composed of Sylvia R. Cooks, John E. Conery, and Van H. Kyzar, Judges.

          VAN H. KYZAR JUDGE

         Defendant, Victor Wayne Loyd, appeals his conviction for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a violation of La.R.S. 14:68.4. For the reasons set forth herein, Defendant's conviction is affirmed, the sentence is vacated, and the case remanded for resentencing with instructions.

         DISCUSSION OF THE RECORD

         On May 21, 2018, the State filed a bill of information charging Defendant with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, in violation of La.R.S. 14:68.4. On July 5, 2018, Defendant pled not guilty and waived his right to a trial by jury. The district court heard evidence and argument on August 9 and took the matter under advisement.

         The evidence adduced at trial revealed that, in September of 2017, Carol Spotsville, a relative of Defendant, made a verbal agreement with him to repair a dented area on her 2006 Hyundai Santa Fe. She agreed to have Defendant do the repair work chiefly because he was charging her a low price. Also, he told her he would have the job done by noon the next day. Defendant drove the victim's car from her house to the area he was using as a body shop. The next day, he called to tell her he could not have the car ready by noon, but that it would be ready by 3:00 p.m. She testified that she repeatedly called him after the car was not returned after 3:00 but got no answer. She did not hear from him until approximately 8:30 p.m., when she called, and he answered only to tell her he had driven the car into Alexandria and collided with another vehicle.[1] The victim testified that Defendant was not authorized to drive the vehicle; she thought his girlfriend (his wife by the time of the trial) was going to drive it.

         On August 16, 2018, the court found Defendant guilty as charged. On September 13, the court sentenced Defendant to two years at hard labor, to run consecutively to any other term. Also, he was ordered to pay a fine of seven hundred and fifty dollars and restitution to the victim. The trial court recommended work release, if available.

         Defendant now seeks review by this court and assigns as a single error that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.

         SUFFICIENCY OF THE EVIDENCE

         In his sole assignment of error, Defendant argues the evidence adduced at trial was insufficient to support his conviction for unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Specifically, he argues the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that his use of the victim's vehicle was unauthorized. The general analysis for insufficiency claims is well-established:

When the issue of sufficiency of evidence is raised on appeal, the critical inquiry of the reviewing court is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560, rehearing denied, 444 U.S. 890, 100 S.Ct. 195, 62 L.Ed.2d 126 (1979); State ex rel Graffagnino v. King, 436 So.2d 559 (La.1983); State v. Duncan, 420 So.2d 1105 (La.1982); State v. Moody, 393 So.2d 1212 (La. 1981). It is the role of the fact finder to weigh the respective credibility of the witnesses, and therefore, the appellate court should not second guess the credibility determinations of the triers of fact beyond the sufficiency evaluations under the Jackson standard of review. See State ex rel. Graffagnino, 436 So.2d 559 (citing State v. Richardson, 425 So.2d 1228 (La.1983)). In order for this Court to affirm a conviction, however, the record must reflect that the state has satisfied its burden of proving the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

State v. Kennerson, 96-1518, p. 5 (La.App. 3 Cir. 5/7/97), 695 So.2d 1367, 1371.

         Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is defined by La.R.S. l4:68.4(A), which states in pertinent part: "Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is the intentional taking or use of a motor vehicle which belongs to another, either without the other's consent, or by means of fraudulent conduct, practices, or representations, but without any intention to deprive the other of the motor vehicle permanently." The key issue that arose at trial was whether Defendant's use of the Hyundai was unauthorized. The victim testified that he was not authorized to drive the vehicle at any time; she expected his girlfriend, Doris Loyd, to drive if there was any need. Doris and Defendant both testified that he was authorized to drive the Hyundai. Defendant testified that the victim's husband saw him drive the Hyundai when Defendant picked it up at the victim's residence. Thus, resolution of the issue, and ultimately the verdict, hinged upon a credibility determination.

         The trial court explained its ruling at some length:

BY THE COURT: You can have a seat over there. Counsel, last week we had a bench trial on a charge of Unauthorized Use of a Movable, um, after the conclusion of the trial, the Court um, recessed the trial to allow me to research the jurisprudential handling of consent, which I think was the primary - - one of the primary issues in the case, was whether um, or not [Defendant], had the consent of Ms. Spotsville to use her vehicle - - her SUV uh, on the - - at the time in question.
And um, the Court uh, did - - the Court has researched the jurisprudence involving the Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle, the Court has - - also received a case that was submitted by Mr. Wilson for the Court's consideration.
And the - - the jurisprudence um, the jurisprudence seems to focus on - - due to the fact that it is a crime that re - - requires intent, uh, the jurisprudence seems to focus on the Defendant's intent in connection with the consent. Um, and from a civil standpoint, I think for both parties to have an agreement, they both have to have an understanding of what is happening, they have uh, - - to form the consent, both have to have a similar understanding, and I'm not saying that doesn't exist in a criminal standpoint, but, in the context of these cases, the cases - - the court seem to have focused on what was the Defendant's intent or understanding of his use of the vehicle.
And um, I think there were - - there had been similar cases in the past, uh, one, would be State vs. Varnado, [01-367 (La.App. 5 Cir. 9/13/01), 798 So.2d 191], in that particular case a uh, an employee had use of a transport van to haul employees from one location to another, and he was supposed to be back on Friday evening after transporting people to the work - - work site, and uh, he didn't make it back until Sunday evening. And uh, apparently the employer got uptight about Mr. Varnado using the van for the weekend, and uh, the Court - - the Court found there was sufficient proof of intent in that case due to the fact that the Defendant refused or failed to communicate with his employer's repeated requests or repeated attempts to contact him over that weekend period.
Uh, another case was State vs Spencer [97-811 (La.App. 5 Cir. 1/27/98), 707 So.2d 119]. Uh, in Spencer um, apparently it was a uh, test drive situation where the Defendant went to a mo - - and automobile location, and took the car for a test drive, and apparently the salesman, and the car lot didn't feel like a 24 hour test drive was reasonable under the circumstances, and um, the - - the Court seem to agree that they thought that 24 hours was kind of a long test drive for - - for their vehicle, and they - - they upheld the conviction for Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle.
Um, just for purposes of findings in this case, um, the Court believes that Ms. Spotsville hired [Defendant] to perform um, repair work to her automobile. And uh, the parties had agreed that he was going to pick that vehicle up from - - from her house, and take it to his repair shop. And uh, that - - that seem[s] to be a consistent belief from all the witnesses. Uh, Ms. Spotsville testified, [Defendant] testified, and his wife testified, they were all present at the location in the parking lot where this initial discussion took place where [Defendant] was going to come pick up the vehicle. There was a further discussion at Ms. Spotsville's home where, again, it was discussed that uh, we have other engagements we're going to right ...

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