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COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA
Present: Chief Judge Fitzpatrick, Judges Bumgardner and Frank
Argued at Salem, Virginia
Record No. 3376-02-3
KARL RAY TUCK
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
BY JUDGE RUDOLPH BUMGARDNER, III
DECEMBER 9, 2003
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF PITTSYLVANIA COUNTY
Charles J. Strauss, Judge
Gregory T. Casker for appellant.
Robert H. Anderson, III, Senior Assistant Attorney General
(Jerry W. Kilgore, Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
The trial court convicted Karl Ray Tuck of grand larceny. He
contends the evidence is
insufficient to support his conviction because it merely showed
he was in the car when it was
stolen. Finding the evidence established more than mere presence
at the time of the taking, we
On appeal, we review the evidence and all reasonable inferences
deducible therefrom in
the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, Commonwealth v.
Hudson, 265 Va. 505, 514,
578 S.E.2d 781, 786 (2003), and uphold the conviction unless it
is plainly wrong or without
evidence to support it, Code ? 8.01-680. The defendant and his
father, Clyde Ray Tuck, stopped
at Kim Mattox’s trailer at approximately 8:00 p.m. Clyde Tuck
indicated that their car was
inoperable, either out of gas or broken down, and asked for a
ride home. Bill Ridgeway, who
was visiting Mattox and knew Clyde Tuck, agreed to give them a
ride. Clyde Tuck sat in the
front passenger seat, and the defendant sat in the rear.
On the way to the Tucks’ trailer, Ridgeway stopped at his
residence. Both Tucks
remained in the car and waited for Ridgeway to return and take
them the rest of the way home.
After five minutes, while Ridgeway was still in the house, the
car drove off. Ridgeway and his
brother-in-law went to the Tucks’ trailer but could not find
them. They looked for the Tucks’
disabled vehicle but could not find it. Ridgeway reported the
vehicle stolen and kept trying to
locate the Tucks over the next six weeks. The vehicle was
eventually found when an unnamed
party wrecked it.
The defendant contends the evidence failed to show he was the
thief or that he was acting
in concert with his father. He argues that Hampton v.
Commonwealth, 32 Va. App. 644, 529
S.E.2d 843 (2000), and Moehring v. Commonwealth, 223 Va. 564,
290 S.E.2d 891 (1982),
control the case.
In Hampton, the defendant moved from the rear seat to the front
seat knowing the car was
stolen but not attempting to get out of it. Aside from his
presence and failure to oppose the
taking, no other circumstance proved he participated in the
theft or shared the perpetrator’s
criminal intent. This Court reversed the conviction because
moving to the front seat was
"consistent with the hypothesis that he did so for his own
comfort and convenience." 32
Va. App. at 652, 529 S.E.2d at 847.
In Moehring, the defendant was hitchhiking with a companion. The
companion stole a
truck when the owner left the keys in it while he paid for gas.
The companion drove off but
returned and picked up the defendant, who had continued to
hitchhike. Although the defendant
was present before the theft and accepted a ride after the
theft, he did not aid the theft or share
the thief’s criminal intent. 223 Va. at 568, 290 S.E.2d at
An accused is a principal in the second degree if he is present
at the commission of a
crime and either commits some overt act in furtherance thereof
or shares the perpetrator’s
criminal intent. Triplett v. Commonwealth, 141 Va. 577, 586, 127
S.E. 486, 489 (1925). The
trier of fact may infer that a person lent his countenance and
approval to a crime when he is
present without disapproving it and other circumstances support
such a finding. Foster v.
Commonwealth, 179 Va. 96, 100, 18 S.E.2d 314, 316 (1942). "‘[W]hether
a person does in fact
aid or abet another in the commission of a crime is a question
which may be determined by
circumstances as well as by direct evidence.’" Shiflett
v. Commonwealth, 151 Va. 556, 561, 145
S.E. 336, 338 (1928) (father aided son during murder) (quoting
Brown v. Commonwealth, 130
Va. 733, 736, 107 S.E. 809, 810 (1921)).
In Pugliese v. Commonwealth, 16 Va. App. 82, 482 S.E.2d 16
(1993), the defendant was
convicted of murder as a principal in the second degree and
robbery. He knew the shooter
intended to cheat the victim out of money. The perpetrator told
the defendant he was going to
shoot the victim, and the defendant was present when he did so.
The defendant remained in the
van while the perpetrator disposed of the body, helped dispose
of the van, and received part of
the stolen money. This Court concluded the defendant
countenanced the crimes and lent his
support to the murder and robbery when he accompanied the
perpetrator. The defendant knew of
the perpetrator’s announced intention to take the victim’s
money and did nothing to discourage
or report it. Id. at 94, 482 S.E.2d at 25.
The defendant and his father went to Maddox’s house, and they
asked for a ride. They
obtained a ride using the ruse that their car had broken down
and they were stranded. The two
continued the deception when they remained in the car while
Ridgeway went inside his
residence. When the car drove off five minutes later, neither
the defendant nor his father could
be found. They were not found at home, and no car was found
where the Tucks had said it broke
down. Neither the defendant, his father, nor the car could be
found for six weeks.
As in Pugliese, the defendant was an active participant in the
crime. He and his father
deceived the owner to gain access to his car. The defendant
accepted the ride with his father and
remained in the car with him when Ridgeway went inside. Ridgeway
planned to return and take
the Tucks the rest of the way home. The vehicle, the defendant,
and his father vanished together.
No evidence suggested anyone else took the car. The defendant
never reported the theft, and
neither he nor his father could be found for six weeks. The
evidence and the reasonable
inferences drawn from it, demonstrate that the defendant and his
father acted in concert and
shared the same criminal intent. Whether the defendant shared
the perpetrator’s criminal intent
is a question of fact. Creasy v. Commonwealth, 166 Va. 721, 726,
186 S.E. 63, 65 (1936)
(conviction upheld when defendant did not aid in crime, but
participated in its fruits).
The defendant was not merely present; other circumstances
supported the finding that he
committed overt acts, lent his support to the theft, and shared
the criminal intent. Accordingly,
Code ? 17.1-413, this opinion is not designated for publication.