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Washington v. Munden

filed: April 8, 1996.

STATE OF WASHINGTON, RESPONDENT,
v.
RUVIN MUNDEN, APPELLANT.



Superior Court County: King. Superior Court Cause No: 94-1-03373-1. Date filed in Superior Court: October 24, 1994. Superior Court Judge Signing: Hon. Anthony P. Wartnik.

Becker, J., Cox, J., Webster, J., concur

Author: Becker

BECKER, J. -- Ruvin Munden appeals his conviction of second degree burglary. The question is whether the trial court erred in permitting the jury to convict him as an accomplice when the State's evidence tended to show that he and two others accomplished the burglary as principals. Because the evidence did not exclude the possibility that he acted both as principal and accomplice, we affirm.

On May 19, 1994, at about 12:45 a.m., Munden was hanging around with two juvenile acquaintances, Josh Strickland and Brian Rice, outside the Sheridan Market. At some point Rice walked up to the market and began trying to kick out the front window of the market. Strickland, Rice, and Munden all testified at trial that at this point Munden left the group, saying he did not want anything to do with it.

Rice and Strickland testified that they entered the market through the broken window and began to bag up various items from the market. Meanwhile, the owner, whose living quarters were adjoining, became aware that someone was in the market and called the police. When the police arrived, Strickland jumped through the front window and began running but was caught by two police officers.

The owner told the police that he saw a person with long hair and a black leather jacket jumping from the rear market window. A police dog followed a body scent from the spot under the rear window to some blackberry bushes, where the police discovered Munden hiding. The police took Munden into custody. The market owner

looked at Munden and said he thought he was the same person he had seen jump out of the window.

Rice, who was not apprehended by the police that night, testified that he had also been wearing a black leather jacket as well as a black hooded sweatshirt. He said that he went to the back of the market, opened a second-story window, jumped out, and ran, coincidentally ending up in the same thicket of blackberry bushes as Munden. Rice said he eluded police by remaining hidden in the bushes when Munden emerged.

Munden denied involvement with the burglary. He testified that when he left the market, he went down a hill, then realized he was going the opposite direction from his home. He started back up the hill but turned around when he saw the police. Because of his past criminal record, he decided to hide in the bushes at the bottom of the hill.

A police officer found in Munden's pockets two plastic green lighters of the type sold in the store. The lighters were not unique, and Munden said that he had picked them up earlier that day from a friend's coffee table.

Over Munden's objection, the court gave the following instructions on accomplice liability, based on RCW 9A.08.020. Instruction 7:

You are instructed that a person is guilty of a crime if it is committed by the conduct of another person for which he is legally accountable. A person is legally accountable for the conduct of another person when he is an ...


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