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Delinquency Adjudication – Theft – Sufficiency of Evidence

State v. Juan I. C., 2010AP3114, District 4, 7/21/11

court of appeals decision (1-judge, not for publication); for Juan I.C.: Susan E. Alesia, SPD, Madison Appellate; case activity

Credibility determination made by trial judge supported delinquency adjudication for theft of iPod that Juan borrowed but failed to return.

¶11      On the disputed issue of whether Juan repeatedly assured Max and JeVaughnte that he would either return the iPod or pay for it, the trial court found Max’s and JeVaughnte’s testimony to be more credible than Juan’s.  We must accept this determination.  Cogswell v. Robertshaw Controls Co., 87 Wis. 2d 243, 250, 274 N.W.2d 647 (1979) (when the trial judge sits as fact finder, the trial judge is the ultimate arbiter of the credibility of the witnesses).  From Max’s and JeVaughnte’s testimony that Juan repeatedly indicated that he would either return the iPod to Max or pay him for it, the trial court inferred that Juan was still in possession of the iPod after the time he claimed to have left it in the gym.  While the evidence supports other reasonable inferences—Juan may have referenced returning the iPod because he had lost it and still hoped to find it, or was embarrassed to admit that he had lost it—we conclude that the inference drawn by the court is reasonable, and we must accept it.  Id. (“When more than one reasonable inference can be drawn from the credible evidence, the reviewing court must accept the inference drawn by the trier of fact.”).

¶12      We conclude that this reasonable inference, combined with reasonable inferences that may be drawn from the fact that Juan was the last person to be seen with the iPod and from the court’s rejection of Juan’s version of events, are sufficient for the court to have concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that Juan intended to permanently deprive Max of the iPod.  While we may not have reached the same result on this record, we must uphold the adjudication viewing the evidence most favorably to the State and the delinquency order.

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