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State v. James

Court of Appeal of Iowa

May 30, 2013

STATE OF IOWA, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ROBERTA ANN JAMES, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Black Hawk County, Nathan A. Callahan, District Associate Judge.

         Roberta James appeals from her conviction for theft in the third degree.

          Roberta A. James, Tripoli, appellant pro se.

          Mark C. Smith, State Appellate Defender, and Rachel C. Regenold, Assistant Appellate Defender, for appellant.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, Martha E. Trout, Assistant Attorney General, Thomas J. Ferguson, County Attorney, and Peter Blink, Assistant County Attorney, for appellee.

          Considered by Doyle, P.J., and Danilson and Mullins, JJ.

          DOYLE, P.J.

         This appeal arises from a shoplifting incident that occurred at a Waterloo Hobby Lobby store on December 11, 2010. Roberta James appeals from the judgment and conviction entered following a jury trial and guilty verdict on the charge of theft in the third degree, in violation of Iowa Code section 714.1(1) (2009). On appeal, she asserts there was insufficient evidence that she had the intent to deprive Hobby Lobby of its merchandise. She also raises additional issues pro se. We affirm.

         I. Background Facts and Proceedings.

         A reasonable jury could have found the following facts. On December 11, 2010, Roberta James was shopping in a Waterloo Hobby Lobby store. A store employee was told by the cashier that a "suspicious" person had come into the store, and the employee was asked to go back to the jewelry section of the store "to keep an eye on what's happening." The employee went to that section and observed James shopping for items used for making jewelry such as bracelets and necklaces. She thought it suspicious that James "would take four or five things off the rack and maybe put back one, but not that many went into the cart." She observed James do this at least four times. She saw James place about a dozen items in her shopping cart. She did not observe James place any items in her purse, and she did not see any items in the purse.

         After the assistant store manager was told by another store employee that James had placed items in her purse, she confronted James. The assistant manager could see "product" in James's purse, i.e., she observed several jewelry product tags in the purse. James's purse was very full. She also observed about three or four jewelry items in James's shopping cart. The assistant manager asked to look inside the purse. James said she would like to wait until she got to the front of the store because she had prescriptions in her purse. James started walking away and quickly went around a corner to the scrapbooking aisle. The assistant manager then heard "the plop of product falling in the cart." She said the sound of the "plop" was consistent with jewelry product hitting the plastic shopping cart. She did not hear any scrapbooking material go into the cart, and when she caught up with James, she did not observe any scrapbooking material in the cart.

         James kept shopping, placing a t-shirt and some unfinished wood products in her cart. The assistant manager followed James to the front of the store. As she did so, she observed James looking through her purse "to make sure there were no more products in there." She saw James taking things out of her purse. When they reached the front of the store, the jewelry items in James's cart were rung up on the cash register. The items totaled $731.31. The non-jewelry items were not included in the total.

         At some point while James was shopping, the police were called. An officer arrived as the items were being rung up. The officer opined the merchandise being ...


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