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St. Louis v. State

Court of Appeals of Georgia

August 15, 2014

ST. LOUIS
v.
THE STATE

Loitering or prowling. Douglas State Court. Before Judge Dettmering.

James K. Luttrell, for appellant.

Matthew C. Krull, Solicitor-General, David Homes, Assistant Solicitor-General, for appellee.

Boggs and Branch, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 127

Barnes, Presiding Judge.

A jury found Richard Roy St. Louis guilty of the misdemeanor offense of loitering or prowling. On appeal from the denial of his motion for a new trial, St. Louis challenges the sufficiency of the evidence. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm.

On appeal from a criminal conviction, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and [St. Louis] no longer enjoys the presumption of innocence. We neither weigh the evidence nor assess the credibility of witnesses, but merely ascertain that the evidence is sufficient to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, conflicts in the testimony of the witnesses are a matter of credibility for the jury to resolve. As long as [328 Ga.App. 838] there is some competent evidence, even though contradicted, to support each fact necessary to make out the state's case, the jury's verdict will be upheld.

(Citation omitted.) Rollins v. State, 318 Ga.App. 311 (733 S.E.2d 841) (2012).

Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdict, the evidence showed that the female victim lived alone in an apartment in Douglas County. Around 6:45 a.m. on March 13, 2012, the victim was returning to her apartment after spending the night away from home. The victim had her dog with her and was walking up a cement walkway that led to her apartment door. The outdoor light near her apartment was not working and it was still dark outside. As the victim approached her apartment door, St. Louis suddenly jumped out of the darkness toward her dog. According to the victim, St. Louis appeared startled, was standing in a " low" stance, and " looked like he was not right." The victim began to scream, and St. Louis apologized. Although the victim's dog was on a leash, St. Louis tried to explain his conduct by telling the victim that he " thought it was a stray dog." St. Louis then fled into the nearby woods. The victim at that point noticed that the latch to the screen door of her apartment was no longer fastened and that the door was slightly propped open against the door frame, even though she always latched the screen door before leaving home.

Frightened by the encounter, the victim went inside her apartment and called her boyfriend and then the police. The victim was close enough to St. Louis during their encounter to " see what his face looked like in the dark" and was able to provide a description of his appearance.

Around 6:55 a.m., a patrol officer saw St. Louis, who met the description provided by the victim, walking down a street near the apartment complex. The officer stopped St. Louis, explained why he was stopping him, and asked for his name and identification, which St. Louis provided. The officer asked St. Louis where he was coming from and where he was going, and St. Louis told the officer that he lived at the apartment complex, that he had just walked from his apartment to a convenience store to buy some cigarettes, and that he was in the process of returning to his apartment.

When the officer asked St. Louis if he had encountered anyone that morning after leaving his apartment, St. Louis initially denied having contact with anyone. However, when the officer later repeated the same question, St. Louis admitted that he had encountered a lady and her dog at the apartment complex that morning, that he thought he had startled her because she began to scream, and that he ran [328 Ga.App. 839] away when she screamed at him. Later, when the officer searched St. Louis, he discovered a flashlight and thick wool gloves in his coat pocket. According to the officer, it was around 70 degrees outside that morning. The officer asked St. Louis about the flashlight and wool gloves, but St. Louis gave no explanation for why he had them.

Another patrol officer had been dispatched to the victim's apartment. When the officer arrived at the apartment, the victim was holding her dog and was shaking and crying. After the officer calmed the victim ...


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