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COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA
Present: Judges Benton, Humphreys and Senior Judge Hodges
Argued at Chesapeake, Virginia
Record No. 2162-02-1
JUSTIN LENARD RANDOLPH
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
JUDGE WILLIAM H. HODGES
OCTOBER 14, 2003
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF PORTSMOUTH
Johnny E. Morrison, Judge
T. George Underwood for appellant.
Jennifer Franklin, Assistant Attorney General (Jerry W. Kilgore,
Attorney General; H. Elizabeth Shaffer, Assistant Attorney
on brief), for appellee.
Justin Lenard Randolph, appellant herein, appeals his conviction
of grand larceny. On
appeal, appellant claims the evidence was insufficient to
support the conviction. Finding sufficient
evidence to support the grand larceny indictment, we affirm the
trial court’s judgment of conviction.
"On appeal, ‘we review the evidence in the light most
favorable to the Commonwealth,
granting to it all reasonable inferences fairly deducible
therefrom.’" Archer v. Commonwealth,
26 Va. App. 1, 11, 492 S.E.2d 826, 831 (1997) (citation
omitted). "The credibility of the
witnesses and the weight accorded the evidence are matters
solely for the fact finder who has the
opportunity to see and hear that evidence as it is
presented." Sandoval v. Commonwealth, 20
Va. App. 133, 138, 455 S.E.2d 730, 732 (1995).
In this light, the evidence adduced at trial established that
the Reverend Nancy Lee Jose’s
car was stolen. Thirty-five days later, appellant was driving
the car and was arrested for its theft.
Appellant told the arresting officer he did not know it was
stolen, he had borrowed the car to go
to the store, and he was returning home after buying cigarettes.
At trial, appellant and his girlfriend, a convicted felon,
testified that appellant’s brother,
Stanley Hill, had arrived at appellant’s home, driving the
stolen car, stating he had "a new car."
They both testified that shortly before appellant’s arrest Hill
gave appellant the keys to go to the
store to buy cigarettes. On rebuttal, Hill denied driving the
car or being at appellant’s home that
night. Instead, Hill testified that his cousin, Sean Ricks, was
at appellant’s house with the car and
that Ricks acquired the car in exchange for drugs.
When a defendant challenges on appeal the sufficiency of the
evidence to sustain his convictions, it is the appellate court’s
to examine the evidence that tends to support the convictions
to permit the convictions to stand unless they are plainly wrong
without evidentiary support. If there is evidence to support the
convictions, the reviewing court is not permitted to substitute
own judgment, even if its opinion might differ from the
conclusions reached by the finder of fact at the trial.
Commonwealth v. Jenkins, 255 Va. 516, 520, 499 S.E.2d 263, 265
(1998) (citations omitted).
The trial court was entitled to disbelieve appellant’s assertion
that he did not steal the
vehicle or that he did not know it was stolen. "In its role
of judging witness credibility, the fact
finder is entitled to disbelieve the self-serving testimony of
the accused and to conclude that the
accused is lying to conceal his guilt." Marable v.
Commonwealth, 27 Va. App. 505, 509-10, 500
S.E.2d 233, 235 (1998). Further, appellant’s girlfriend was a
convicted felon. The trial court
could discount her testimony as well. Code ? 19.2-269.
The trial court had before it the uncontroverted evidence that
appellant was in recent, see
Montgomery v. Commonwealth, 221 Va. 188, 269 S.E.2d 352 (1980)
("recent" possession four
weeks after theft), and Sullivan v. Commonwealth, 210 Va. 201,
169 S.E.2d 577 (1964) ("recent
possession" two-and-one-half months after theft), and
exclusive possession of the stolen vehicle.
"Unexplained or falsely explained possession of recently
stolen goods is a fact sufficient for the
judge or jury to infer that the person in possession of the
stolen goods was the thief." Lew v.
Commonwealth, 20 Va. App. 353, 358, 457 S.E.2d 392, 395 (1995)
221 Va. at 190, 269 S.E.2d at 353). The trial court rejected
appellant’s evidence in explanation
for his possession of the vehicle. Therefore, given appellant’s
recent, exclusive, and falsely
explained possession of the vehicle, the trial court could find
beyond a reasonable doubt that
appellant was the criminal agent.
Accordingly, the evidence supports the grand larceny conviction
and the judgment of the
trial court is affirmed.
Code ? 17.1-413, this opinion is not designated for publication.