IN THE INTEREST OF S. B., a child.
McFadden, Presiding Judge.
his palm prints were found at the scenes of two burglaries,
then-13-year-old S. B. was adjudicated delinquent for acts
that, if committed by an adult, would constitute the offenses
of burglary and attempted burglary. He appeals, challenging
the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the adjudications
and arguing, based on comments made by the juvenile court at
the adjudicatory hearing, that the juvenile court adjudicated
him delinquent for acts not alleged in the delinquency
petitions. Because the evidence was sufficient and the
juvenile court's written orders indicated that S. B. was
adjudicated delinquent for the acts alleged in the petitions,
Sufficiency of the evidence.
challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his
adjudications of delinquency. In considering this challenge,
"we construe the evidence and every inference from the
evidence in favor of the juvenile court's adjudication[s]
to determine if a reasonable finder of fact could have found,
beyond a reasonable doubt, that the juvenile committed the
acts charged." In the Interest of J. D., 275
Ga.App. 147, 147-148 (619 S.E.2d 818) (2005) (citations
construed, the evidence showed that in the early afternoon on
November 30, 2017, a house on Ellis Street was burglarized.
Two video gaming systems, numerous video games, video game
controllers, and other electronics were taken. It appeared to
the investigating officers that the burglar had entered
through a kitchen window at the rear of the house, and the
officers found S. B.'s palm prints on the outside of the
bottom lower window pane of that window. The resident of the
house testified that she did not know S. B., did not give S.
B. permission to be inside her house, and did not know why
his palm prints would have been on her kitchen window.
following week, in the early afternoon on December 4, 2017, a
house on Cleburne Street was burglarized. The back door was
kicked in, a bedroom was ransacked, and numerous items were
taken from the house, including video gaming systems and
video games. Screens had been cut out of three windows at the
back of the house, and it appeared to an investigating
officer that someone had tried to open those windows.
Officers found S. B.'s palm prints on the outside of the
windows. The resident of the house knew S. B., who went to
school with one of her children. Although S. B. had spent
time at the house in the past, in March 2017 the resident had
forbidden him from her house, and he did not have permission
to be there on December 4, 2017.
connection with both of these incidents, the state filed
delinquency petitions alleging that S. B. had committed acts
that, if committed by an adult, would constitute the offense
of burglary in the first degree. The juvenile court
adjudicated S. B. delinquent for acts constituting the
offense of first-degree burglary in connection with the
Cleburne Street house and for acts constituting the offense
of criminal attempt to commit first-degree burglary in
connection with the Ellis Street house.
"[a] person commits the offense of burglary in the first
degree when, without authority and with the intent to commit
a felony or theft therein, he or she enters . . . an
occupied, unoccupied or vacant dwelling house of
another[.]" OCGA § 16-7-1 (b). "A person
commits the offense of criminal attempt when, with intent to
commit a specific crime, he performs any act which
constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that
crime." OCGA § 16-4-1. Moreover, "[a] person
charged with commission of a crime may be convicted of the
offense of criminal attempt as to that crime without being
specifically charged with the criminal attempt in the
[charging document]," OCGA § 16-4-3, and "[a]
person may be convicted of the offense of criminal attempt if
the crime attempted was actually committed in pursuance of
the attempt[.]" OCGA § 16-4-2.
argues that the evidence was insufficient to support his
delinquency adjudications because the palm-print evidence was
the sole evidence of his involvement in the burglaries but
the state did not show that his palm prints were impressed on
the windows of the burgled houses at the time of the
burglaries. He also argues that there was a reasonable
explanation for the presence of his palm prints on the
windows and he argues that the evidence supported other
reasonable hypotheses inconsistent with his having committed
the acts alleged. We are not persuaded.
evidence is a form of circumstantial evidence. See Harris
v. State, 298 Ga. 588, 593 (4) (783 S.E.2d 632) (2016).
"To warrant a conviction on circumstantial evidence, the
proved facts shall not only be consistent with the hypothesis
of guilt, but shall exclude every other reasonable hypothesis
save that of the guilt of the accused." OCGA §
24-14-6. So "when fingerprint evidence is the only
evidence linking a defendant to the crimes on trial, the
[s]tate must prove to the exclusion of other reasonable
hypotheses that the fingerprints could have been impressed
only at the time of the commission of the crimes."
Roberts v. State, 296 Ga. 719, 721 (1) (770 S.E.2d
589) (2015) (citations omitted). It is for the juvenile
court, as factfinder, to decide whether the totality of the
evidence supported a reasonable hypothesis other than the
hypothesis that the fingerprints were impressed at the time
of the burglaries. See White v. State, 253 Ga. 106,
107 (1) (317 S.E.2d 196) (1984); In the Interest of H.
A., 311 Ga.App. 660, 662 (716 S.E.2d 768) (2011).
state argues that the palm-print evidence was not the only
evidence supporting the adjudications of delinquency. But
even if we view the palm-print evidence to be the only
evidence supporting the adjudications, it was sufficient.
From the circumstances surrounding the presence of S.
B.'s palm prints at the scenes of the burglaries, the
juvenile court could conclude that "the only reasonable
explanation [was] that they were impressed during the
commission of the crimes." Roberts, 296 Ga. at
722 (1) (citation omitted).
the Ellis Street house, S. B.'s palm prints were found on
the window through which the burglar gained entry. Although
S. B. "testified that he had left his [ ]prints [on] the
window during an earlier attempted burglary[, t]he [juvenile
court] was not required to believe that the [ ]prints had
been left at the earlier time but was authorized to find that
[S. B.'s] explanation was evidence of his commission of
the instant burglary." Moore v. State, 189
Ga.App. 810, 811 (377 S.E.2d 897) (1989). See Moon v.
State, 187 Ga.App. 558, 558-559 (370 S.E.2d 808) (1988)
(affirming burglary conviction where defendant's
fingerprints were on window through which entry was gained to
residence and there was no evidence presenting any other
reasonable explanation of how they came to be there than that
they were impressed on window at time of burglary).
the Cleburne Street house, S. B.'s palm prints were also
found on exterior windows. Although there was evidence that
he previously had visited that house with the resident's
permission, that had occurred more than six months before the
December 4 burglary. Since that time, the exterior of the
house had been pressure-washed. See In the Interest of J.
D., 275 Ga.App. at 149 (1) (state met burden of
excluding every reasonable hypothesis except that
defendant's fingerprints were impressed during burglary
by, among other things, presenting evidence that victim
regularly washed kitchen window on which defendant's
prints were found). Moreover, there was no evidence regarding
or explanation for how S. B.'s prints came to be on the
outside of windows from which the screens had been
cut, and the juvenile court was authorized to conclude that -
notwithstanding S. B.'s earlier visits to the house - the
only reasonable explanation for the presence of the prints in
that specific location was that they were impressed there
during the commission of the crime. See Roberts, 296
Ga. at 722-723 (1) (holding that circumstances surrounding
presence of defendant's fingerprints at crime scene led
"to the only reasonable explanation that they were
impressed during commission of the crimes," despite
evidence that defendant had been at scene for innocent
reasons on other occasions) (citation omitted); In the
Interest of J. D., supra at 149 (1) (evidence that
defendant had been in victim's house once and may have
been in living room "does not provide an innocent
explanation for the presence of his prints on the exterior
and interior of the rear kitchen window").
argues that other evidence shows that he was not the
perpetrator. He points to evidence that he was either in
school or at home with his mother when the burglaries
occurred - primarily his own testimony and that of his mother
but also evidence that his school did not mark him absent on
those days. He also points to evidence that other persons
were seen in the vicinity of the houses when the burglaries
occurred. But as stated above, it was for the juvenile court
as factfinder to assess this evidence and determine whether
the state had excluded every reasonable theory other than S.
B.'s guilt. White, 253 Ga. at 107; In the
Interest of H. A., 311 Ga.App. at 662. Because the
evidence supported a ...