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Sufficient evidence to support larceny conviction

There was sufficient evidence that appellant intended to permanently deprive her boyfriend’s mother of jewelry when she took it from the home and pawned it.

Appellant’s inconsistent explanations about the circumstances under which the jewelry was pawned negates the countervailing evidence that she later returned the jewelry.


Appellant Lindow was dating Ellen Hannah’s terminally ill son, Christopher, who lived with Hannah. Lindow would sometimes spend the night at Hannah’s home.

Hannah noticed that she was missing some jewelry worth about $400 and later found a pawn ticket. She took the ticket to the pawn shop and was shown her jewelry. She did not retrieve it or confront Lindow about it and instead contacted the police.

White, a police detective, visited Hannah, who told him where the missing jewelry was. White then interviewed Lindow at her home. Lindow admitted she took the jewelry and pawned it for gas money to take Christopher to a doctor’s appointment. She also said she had already retrieved the jewelry and placed it in Hannah’s mailbox.

White went back to Hannah’s home, spoke with her, checked the mailbox and recovered the jewelry. Lindow was charged with grand larceny. At trial, Lindow moved to strike on the basis that an element of the crime, intent to permanently deprive Hannah of her property, had not been proved.

After the court denied the motion, Lindow testified that Christopher brought her the jewelry, which he allegedly borrowed from Hannah, so that Lindow could pawn it for gas money. She also testified “for the first time,” that Christopher gave her the jewelry at the pawn shop and told her to redeem the items as quickly as possible to given them back to Hannah.

On cross-examination Lindow admitted this testimony was inconsistent with her prior statement to the police. At the close of evidence, she renewed her motion to strike. The court found her testimony was not credible, denied the motion and convicted Lindow of grand larceny.

Sufficient evidence

“Larceny is defined as ‘the wrongful or fraudulent taking of another’s property without his permission and with the intent to deprive the owner of that property permanently. … [T]he very existence of a trespassory taking permits the inference (unless other circumstances negate it) that the taker intended to steal the property.’ …

“[T]he evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that Lindow took the pieces of jewelry and pawned them, without Hannah’s permission. These actions alone constituted a trespassory taking and thus permitted the trier of fact, absent countervailing evidence, to draw an inference that Lindow intended to permanently deprive Hannah of the jewelry. …

“Lindow argues that such countervailing evidence exists because she retrieved the jewelry from the pawn shop and returned the pawned items to Hannah’s mailbox. …

“At trial, Lindow, a convicted felon, testified that she believed that Hannah had loaned Christopher the jewelry to be pawned for gas money. Not only did that testimony contradict Hannah’s account, but it also contradicted Lindow’s prior statement to Deputy White, which omitted any reference to a loan. The trial court recognized these inconsistencies and found Lindow’s testimony lacked credibility. …

“The trial court’s determination that Lindow’s evolving explanation lacked credibility discredited any countervailing evidence Lindow presented at trial. Lindow thus failed to rebut the inference that her trespassory taking was accomplished with the intent to permanently deprive Hannah of the jewelry. In fact, Lindow’s inconsistent explanations provided affirmative evidence of her guilt.”


Lindow v. Commonwealth, Record No. 1295-18-3, Nov. 12, 2019. CAV (Athey) from Campbell Cir. Ct. (Cook). Mark T. Stewart for appellant, Lauren C. Campbell for appellee. VLW 019-7-198, 6 pp. Unpublished.

VLW 019-7-198

Virginia Lawyers Weekly