Crimes – trial court erred in deny motion for judgment of acquital, intent to defraud etc.: Williams v. Commonwealth (COA 5/22/2009)

Williams v. Commonwealth
2009 WL 1424040
Opinion by Chief Judge Combs; Judge Acree concurred; Senior Judge Buckingham concurred in part and dissented in part by separate opinion.

The Court reversed appellant’s conviction and sentence entered subsequent to jury verdict finding him guilty of possession of a forged instrument.

The Court held that the trial court erred in denying appellant’s motion for a judgment of acquittal, as the Commonwealth failed to prove both appellant’s intent to defraud, deceive or injure another and that the written instrument was capable of deception, as required by KRS 516.050 and KRS 516.010. The instrument to which the charge pertained had been torn and discarded; it was one-sided, printed on ordinary, white printer paper; it had not been cut out of the sheet of paper on which it was printed; and the reverse side of the paper bore a photograph of a child’s face. Further, the circumstantial evidence could have proved innocence as well as guilt and could have applied equally to appellant’s roommate. In addition, the Commonwealth acknowledged that the evidence did not prove the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The Court also held that the issue was moot as to whether the trial court should have granted a motion for judgment of acquittal upon two charges on which the jury failed to reach a verdict. The trial court accepted the blank form without declaring a mistrial. Therefore, as a matter of law appellant was effectively acquitted of the charges.

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