Appeal from Superior Court of Benton County. Docket No: 94-8-00890-0. Date filed: 11/06/95. Judge signing: Hon. Mike R Johnston.
Authored by Dennis J. Sweeney. Concurring: Ray E. Munson, Philip J. Thompson.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sweeney
SWEENEY, C.J. On November 12, 1994, Michael Anderlik and several friends, Matthew Miles, Jacob Robinson and Jeremy Grillo, stole mail from several mail boxes in the city of Kennewick. Included in the items taken were checks belonging to Sharon Hodges. Mr. Anderlik used several of the stolen checks at local stores and for gas. On December 19, 1994, he was charged with forgery.
On January 11, 1995, the court granted Mr. Anderlik's motion for a deferred adjudication on the charge of forgery. RCW 13.40.125. As part of the deferred adjudication, Mr. Anderlik stipulated to the facts in the police report and gave up his right to hear and question witnesses, the right to call witnesses on his own behalf, his right to testify, and the right to a speedy trial and Disposition. On August 25, 1995, the court revoked Mr. Anderlik's deferred adjudication. Based on the stipulated facts in the police report, the Benton County Juvenile Court found him guilty of forgery.
Sufficient evidence of commission of a forgery. Mr. Anderlik first contends that the evidence was not sufficient to support the forgery conviction. We consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the State to determine if any rational trier of fact could have found all of the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Chapin, 118 Wash. 2d 681, 691, 826 P.2d 194 (1992); State v. Scoby, 117 Wash. 2d 55, 61, 810 P.2d 1358, Modified, 815 P.2d 1362 (1991).
A person is guilty of forgery if with intent to injure or defraud he falsely makes, completes, or alters a written instrument, or offers as true a written instrument which he knows is forged. RCW 9A.60.020(1).
The police reports here provide that Mr. Anderlik admitted taking two books of checks from Ms. Hodges' mailbox. He admits that he went to the SunMart, filled his car with gas, and used one of her checks to pay. Mr. Miles corroborates Mr. Anderlik's statement and adds that Mr. Anderlik wrote at least four to five other checks. Mr. Miles followed Mr. Anderlik to the SunMart "to see if he would get away with writing these checks." He saw Mr. Anderlik pass one check at the SunMart for gas. Mr. Robinson corroborates both Mr. Anderlik's and Mr. Miles' statements that checks were taken from a mailbox and then Mr. Anderlik forged some checks at different mini-marts and that Mr. Anderlik used a check for gas. Mr. Anderlik argues that Mr. Robinson's statement does not prove he paid for the gas with a check. But the context of the statement makes it clear that a check was used: they decided to "use the checks to go get gas" and then Mr. Anderlik "filled up the tank and went in a [sic] paid for the gas."
Relying on State v. Conklin, 79 Wash. 2d 805, 489 P.2d 1130 (1971), Mr. Anderlik argues that no evidence disproves his authority to use the checks. He is mistaken. Most significantly, the police report quotes Ms. Hodges as saying that no one should have her checks. But Conklin is distinguishable in any event. That case only requires the State to prove no authorization when the defendant claims he had authority. Id. at 808. No such claim is made here.
Mr. Anderlik does not claim nor does the record support a factual basis for his authority to pass these checks. Any claim of authority is also addressed by the court's unchallenged finding that he stole the checks. Cf. State v. Soderholm, 68 Wash. App. 363, 375-76, 842 P.2d 1039 (1993) (instruction that the jury must find "the maker did not authorize the making or drawing" of the instrument adequately covered the requirement of finding absence of authority beyond a reasonable doubt).
Sufficiency of the evidence of the corpus delicti. Mr. Anderlik next contends that the absence of evidence of a "corpus delicti" vitiates the conviction.
The "corpus delicti" is "'the objective proof or substantial fact that a crime has been committed.'" State v. Solomon, 73 Wash. App. 724, 727, 870 P.2d 1019 (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 344 (6th ed. 1990)), review denied, 124 Wash. 2d 1028, 883 P.2d 327 (1994). A confession or admission supports a conviction only when the State produces independent evidence sufficient to establish the corpus delicti of the crime charged. State v. Smith, 115 Wash. 2d 775, 780-81, 801 P.2d 975 (1990); Solomon, 73 Wash. App. at 727. Evidence need not establish the corpus delicti beyond a reasonable doubt. It needs only to support a "logical and reasonable deduction" that the crime occurred. State v. Riley, 121 Wash. 2d 22, 32, 846 P.2d 1365 (1993); Solomon, 73 Wash. App. at 727.
Here, Mr. Miles corroborates Mr. Anderlik's confession and adds that Mr. Anderlik "pre-wrote" at least four to five checks. Mr. Miles followed Mr. Anderlik to the SunMart "to see if he would get away with writing these checks" and saw Mr. Anderlik pass one check at the SunMart for gas. Mr. Robinson corroborates both Mr. Anderlik's and Mr. Miles' statements by saying that Mr. Anderlik took checks from a mailbox and then ...