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Court of appeals finds sufficient evidence of intent to steal

City of Madison v. Jacob Ong, 2015AP1176, 10/20/16, District 4 (1-judge decision; ineligible for publication) case activity (including briefs)

The court rejects all challenges to this pro se appellant’s jury-trial conviction of an ordinance violation for stealing a letter from a mailbox.

The court first addresses Ong’s claim that the evidence was insufficient, particularly as to mens rea. Ong claims that the city failed to show he intended to permanently deprive the letter’s intended recipient of possession. The court notes the following testimony in concluding to the contrary:

several parts of the testimony supported a reasonable inference that Ong intentionally took the letter of another and intended to permanently deprive the letter’s owner of possession. That testimony included that the letter was plainly addressed to someone other than Ong; that Ong opened the letter; that Ong engaged in dishonest actions both before and after taking the letter; and that Ong returned the letter only after being caught by police.

(¶8). It rejects Ong’s argument that his own testimony about his intent overcame this evidence, noting that it is required to view the evidence in a light most favorable to the verdict. (¶9). It similarly rejects Ong’s attack on the credibility of a witness against him. (¶10).

Ong also claims that the court erred in failing to instruct the jury on the defense of mistake, and that this resulted in the real controversy not being fully tried. The court responds that Ong did not request this instruction despite ample opportunity to do so, and the jury would have understood Ong’s claims about his lack of the requisite mental state regardless of a lack of specific instruction. (¶¶13-14¶16).

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