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Evidence sufficient to to support juvenile delinquency finding

State v. J.L.M., 2015AP1695, 4/19/16, District 1 (1-judge opinion, ineligible for publication); case activity

The State charged J.L.M. with one count of robbery with use of force, as a party to a crime, due to his alleged involvement with a group of youths who stole M.H.’s bike and struck him several times in the process. J.L.M. lost at trial and challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction. 

J.L.M.’s crime required proof that M.H. was the owner of the stolen property, that J.L.M. took property from M.H., that J.L.M. did so with the intent to steal, and that J.L.M. acted forcibly.  The court of appeals had to view the trial evidence most favorably to the State and the conviction and determine whether no trier of fact, acting reasonably, could have found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Poellinger, 153 Wis. 2d 493, 507, 451 N.W.2d 752 (1990). That’s a tough standard of review, and J.L.M. did not satisfy it:

¶18 The trial court, as the finder of fact, found that evidence in this case was very strong that four individuals assaulted M.H. Ross’s testimony was unequivocal that all four individuals were together and that he felt threatened by these individuals. Schara testified that while he could not definitively say that all four individuals were actually striking M.H., they were all around him and appeared to be acting together. Bretzmann, who was behind Schara, confirmed that he saw four youths were crouched down, as if in a football huddle around M.H., within several feet of each other. Bretzmann also testified that he later saw two of the individuals emerge from the woods on the west side of the trail, one of whom had removed his shirt, and that they were walking a bike. The testimony of M.H. also confirms that J.L.M. played an active role in this event, starting with J.L.M.’s original involvement in blocking M.H.’s path on the Oak Leaf Trail.

¶19 J.L.M. in his statement to Bates [a human services worker] confirms his participation in this crime when he acknowledged that he stepped over M.H. to get to and take the bike while others were hitting M.H. on the ground. This, taken in conjunction with the other evidence received during the trial, is sufficient to sustain the trial court’s determination. J.L.M.’s testimony, while different than his statement to Bates, nonetheless confirms that he took M.H.’s bike, and the trial court found that in reviewing the totality of the evidence, J.L.M.’s trial testimony was not credible.

¶20 As discussed, intent is clearly an element of this offense in the taking of that property belonging to M.H. by either directly taking it or by intentionally aiding and abetting those directly concerned in the commission of this crime. This determination is based upon an individual’s acts, words, and statements, if any, and all the facts and circumstances of a case bearing upon intent. Looking therefore to the evidence that was adduced during the course of this trial, we conclude that the State has met its burden of proof to sustain an adjudication of delinquency.

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