Appeal from Superior Court of King County. Docket No: 95-1-02597-4. Date filed: 11/20/95. Judge signing: Hon. Richard A. Jones.
Authored by Walter E. Webster. Concurring: Mary K. Becker, Visiting Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Webster
WEBSTER, J. -- Guy Hardy argues that the trial court erred by refusing to sever two unrelated forgery counts for which the predicate acts occurred three months apart. As to the first count, the evidence evidently established to the jury's satisfaction that Hardy stole some checks from a past employer, and cashed one after forging the employer's signature. On the second count, the evidence showed that Hardy forged a second payee's endorsement on an authentic two party check, and then tried to cash it.
Because the evidence on each count was strong, his defenses were easily comprehended, the trial court properly instructed the jury, and the evidence in the short, simple trial was susceptible of compartmentalization, the trial court properly denied Hardy's motion to sever. Moreover, we hold that the information did not need to identify the particular portion of the uttered instrument that was forged, and thus we reject Hardy's contention that insufficient evidence supported his conviction on the second count. Consequently, we affirm the convictions.
Guy Hardy worked for MTR Sheet Metal from June until August 1994. On December 17, 1994, a Saturday, Anthony Fulfer, an MTR owner, was using a flatbed trailer to haul trash from his house to the shop. Over the course of making three round trips, he saw Hardy three times, walking up and down a street near MTR. The following Monday, Fulfer discovered MTR's office in disarray. He later discovered that some company checks were missing.
The day after Fulfer saw Hardy, Hardy went to Check-X-Change in Renton. He gave the teller a paycheck drawn on MTR's account, made payable to Guy Hardy, purportedly signed by Fulfer's father. Check-X-Change cashed the check after Hardy presented identification and endorsed the check. The bank returned the check, denying payment because Fulfer's signature was forged.
Detective Keith Hansen investigated. And three months after Hardy had cashed the MTR check, Hansen was at Check-X-Change when Hardy came in again. Hardy, who had been in an automobile accident, presented a check drawn on State Farm Insurance Company's account. The check, made jointly payable to Hardy and to the Back and Neck Pain Center, was purportedly endorsed by that center. Hardy then endorsed his name and presented the check for cash. After calling the Back and Neck Pain Center, Detective Hansen confronted Hardy, who confessed to writing the pain center's endorsement.
The state charged Hardy with two counts of forgery. *fn1 The court denied Hardy's motion to sever. In an unusual turn of events, the state's usual expert, Tim Nishimura, who is affiliated with the Washington State Patrol, testified for the defense. Moreover, the expert originally retained by the defense, Rex Smith, testified for the prosecution. This was the first time Smith testified as a prosecution witness.
At trial, Hardy did not contest that the MTR check was forged, but contended that he was not the forger, nor the person who cashed the check.
His expert could not identify or eliminate Hardy as the writer of the drawer's or the endorser's signature. Still, he found "indications" that Hardy was the writer of the address and telephone number (evidently part of the endorsement). The state's expert identified Hardy as the writer of Fulfer's signature.
As to the State Farm check, Hardy admitted that he had endorsed the check in his own name, and his expert testified that Hardy was not the writer of the pain clinic's endorsement. The prosecution expert identified Hardy as the writer of that endorsement.
The jury convicted Hardy on ...