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Connie Marie Powell v. the State of Wyoming

August 7, 2012

CONNIE MARIE POWELL, APPELLANT (DEFENDANT),
v.
THE STATE OF WYOMING, APPELLEE (PLAINTIFF).



Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable Michael K. Davis, Judge

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Voigt, Justice.

Before KITE, C.J., and GOLDEN, HILL, VOIGT, and BURKE, JJ.

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of any typographical or other formal errors so that correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.

[¶1] This is an appeal from a larceny conviction. Because there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant committed larceny, we reverse.

ISSUE

[¶2] The appellant has raised four issues in this appeal, but we will resolve only the single dispositive issue: was the evidence sufficient for a reasonable jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that the appellant committed larceny?

STANDARD OF REVIEW

In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence . . ., we examine and accept as true the State's evidence and all reasonable inferences which can be drawn from it. We do not consider conflicting evidence presented by the defendant. We do not substitute our judgment for that of the jury; rather, we determine whether a jury could have reasonably concluded each of the elements of the crime was proven beyond a reasonable doubt. This standard applies whether the supporting evidence is direct or circumstantial.

Anderson v. State, 2009 WY 119, ¶ 6, 216 P.3d 1143, 1145 (Wyo. 2009) (quoting Martin v. State, 2007 WY 2, ¶ 32, 149 P.3d 707, 715 (Wyo. 2007)).

FACTS

[¶3] The appellant worked as a bookkeeper for Rocky Mountain Pump Services (RMPS) from March 2005 to February 2007, when her employment was terminated. During that period, RMPS's primary officers and managers were Bradley Nelson, the project manager, Chad Federer, the construction foreman, Nick Hartsook, the office manager, and Jerry Krotz, the service manager. RMPS was in the business of constructing and maintaining gas stations, truck stops, and similar facilities.

[¶4] After terminating the appellant's employment, RMPS contracted with Melanie Field to handle the company's books until another bookkeeper could be hired. Field immediately found the books to be incomplete, inaccurate, and in need of "rebuilding." Painstaking reconstruction of the books, back to the time when the appellant was hired, revealed numerous discrepancies and missing records, with multiple paychecks to the appellant for the same pay period, copies of checks made payable to the appellant where the computer QuickBooks system showed those checks being paid to vendors, and a few checks made payable to the appellant where the issuing manager's signature appeared to be forged.

[ΒΆ5] Field's examination of the books was followed by a law enforcement investigation that included a review of the appellant's personal bank account records. Eventually, it was determined that 93 checks, totaling $78,200, and claimed to be "unauthorized" by RMPS, had been deposited into the appellant's personal account during her tenure as RMPS's bookkeeper. Of those checks, 86 were issued by Hartsook, and seven bore Nelson's ...

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