Judge: Not enough evidence for larceny conviction

Published 10:28 am Thursday, April 7, 2016

There was not enough evidence to convince a District Court judge that an Advance man had committed two crimes in 2014, despite testimony from the person whose belongings went missing.

Samuel Austin Doby, 21, of Casabella Drive, was charged with two felonies, breaking andr entering and larceny after breaking/entering, after it was alleged he took property from a mobile home belonging to Bessie Durham.

The felonies were reduced to misdemeanors.

Durham testified before Judge Mary F. Paul March 24 that on Sept. 10, 2014, she received a call from a neighbor there was a vehicle in the driveway and the front door was open at the mobile home she was no longer occupying at Alamosa Drive. She said she left her residence, calling law enforcement on the way, and when she arrived at the home five to 10 minutes later, she saw in the driveway a two-tone Dodge pick-up truck she did not recognize. Police arrived, and after determining there was no one inside, let her go in.

Missing, she said, were a washer and dryer, an antique desk, a refrigerator, mirrors, a jewelry box, and some purses.

“The only item recovered was a Camel tin can,” Durham said, that she used to collect change and which was found in the truck. When asked by Assistant DA Kaitlin Jones if she knows Doby, Durham said, “I know his family. I haven’t seen him since he was a little bitty boy.”

Durham said none of the items taken from the home have been returned.

Deputy Drew Renegar testified he was one of the officers who responded to Durham’s 911 call that day and said when he ran the tag on the Dodge truck, it came back to a Jeep Wrangler. He testified he saw the Camel tin inside the truck and gained entry into the truck, but Doby’s attorney, Wade Leonard, objected to any testimony regarding what was found inside, saying it was an “unlawful search of the vehicle, basically breaking and entering.”

Judge Paul agreed, saying, “Individuals have a constitutional right to the privacy of their vehicle. Deputy Renegar would have to have had a search warrant. He should have located the owner of the truck and asked permission, so any testimony regarding the search of the truck is suppressed.”

Durham’s neighbor testified he saw another resident, Alex Whittington, at the mobile home that day.

When he was visited by the police, Whittington called Doby to his home, where Doby was questioned by Deputy Renegar. Doby ended up giving a written statement, which Leonard objected to because Doby was not read his Miranda rights.

Jones argued Doby gave a voluntary statement, drove himself to the meeting and could have left at any time.

Paul overruled.

She asked Renegar why it took so long for warrants to be issued for Doby’s arrest, and Renegar said it was because the case went to another division before being given back to him, and that he was a new officer.

“If he’s a new officer, then maybe he (Doby) is a new thief,” Leonard said. He made a motion to dismiss the case and Paul allowed it. Doby was ordered to pay an attorney fee.