Friday, March 24, 2017

State v. Naylor,

 Opinion handed down March 14, 2017


            Orlando Naylor was convicted in the Circuit Court of Ste. Genevieve County of first-degree burglary for entering a restaurant’s office area while another person was present inside the building.[1]  The Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, held that there was insufficient evidence to convict Naylor of this crime because no person was in the office area during the commission of the crime.[2]  On appeal to the Supreme Court of Missouri, the court expanded the definition of the term “structure,” thus reversing the appellate court’s decision.[3]



I.  Facts and Holding

Orlando Naylor was convicted in the Circuit Court of Ste. Genevieve County of first-degree burglary, misdemeanor stealing, and driving with a revoked license.[4]  And “[t]he circuit court sentenced Naylor as a prior and persistent offender to fifteen years’ imprisonment for burglary, one year imprisonment for stealing, and seven years’ imprisonment for driving while revoked.”[5]  The sentences were to be served concurrently.[6]
On May 16, 2014, Melissa Giesler arrived to her job at Missy’s Family Restaurant in Ozora, Missouri.[7]  The restaurant had an office that had an “Office” sign on its door.[8]  No one could access the office from outside the building; instead, one had to go through an inside hallway in order to access it.[9]  The closest door to the office was a side door, which was kept locked and was only used by employees.[10]
Once Giesler arrived at work, she put her purse on the desk in the back office.[11]  When the restaurant closed for the day, Giesler noticed that $165 were missing from her purse, and that the side door to the office was unlocked.[12]  Giesler contacted the general manager of the nearby Ozora Truck Stop in order to see if she could view its surveillance tapes.[13]  The tapes showed a person parking at the Ozora Truck Stop, then walking out of view.[14]  A short time later, the same person from the initial frame came back to the vehicle.[15]  Additionally, “the person who exited Missy’s Family Restaurant by the side door had the same appearance as the person who had parked at the Ozora Truck Stop.”[16]
A couple weeks later, on May 30, 2014, Officer Jerod Darnell and his partner stopped a car for a traffic violation.[17]  The car was a 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix with the license plate “PH5 U6Y,” and it was driven by Orlando Naylor.[18]  Officer Darnell’s partner recognized that Naylor’s car matched the description of the car in the Missy’s Family Restaurant surveillance video.[19]  The detectives placed Naylor under arrest, and he consented to a vehicle search.[20]  During the search, they found $675 in cash and a baseball cap.[21]
After the search and subsequent interrogation, Naylor was charged as a prior and persistent offender with one count of first-degree burglary, one count of stealing, and one count of driving with a revoked license.[22] 
            As for the first-degree burglary charge, the State contended that Naylor committed first-degree burglary on May 16, 2014, when he knowingly and unlawfully entered a room in Missy’s Family Restaurant that was not open to the general public.[23]
Following a jury trial, Naylor was found guilty of first-degree burglary, misdemeanor stealing, and driving while revoked.[24]  He appealed these convictions.[25]
II.  Legal Background
The offense of first-degree burglary occurs when a person “knowingly enters unlawfully or knowingly remains unlawfully in a building or inhabitable structure for the purpose of committing a crime therein.”[26]  Further, one of the following three circumstances must be present: “(1) the person is armed with a deadly weapon; (2) the person causes or threatens immediate physical injury to any person who is not a participant in the crime; or (3) another person, who is not a participant in the crime, is present in the structure.”[27]
Missouri law states that “[a] person enters or remains unlawfully on a property ‘when he [or she] is not licensed or privileged to do so.’”[28]  And “[a] license or privilege to enter or remain in a building which is only partly open to the public is not a license or privilege to enter or remain in that part of the building which is not open to the public.”[29]  Further, “knowledge is typically inferred from circumstantial evidence because direct evidence is rarely available.”[30] 
Naylor argued there was insufficient evidence presented at trial “from which the jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that he knowingly entered unlawfully into an area of Missy’s Family Restaurant and that another person was present in the structure.”[31]
III.  Instant Decision

The Eastern District, relying on the definitions in section 569.160, held that there was insufficient evidence to convict Naylor of first-degree burglary, because, at the time that Naylor was inside of the office, no other person was present in the office.[32]  While Giesler was, in fact, present inside the restaurant building, she was not present inside of the office.[33]  There was no evidence that any other person was present inside of the office during the commission of Naylor’s crime.[34]  Through this restricted definition of “structure,” the court found that there was insufficient evidence from which a jury could find Naylor guilty of the crime of first-degree burglary.[35]
On appeal, the Supreme Court of Missouri analyzed the case under the question of whether the State presented sufficient evidence from which a trier of fact could have reasonably found the defendant guilty.[36]
Specifically, in regards to the definition of “structure,” the court cited to case law that held, where another person is in the building, compared to the room – as argued by Naylor – there is sufficient evidence to charge the person with first-degree burglary.[37] 
The facts show that Giesler was present in the restaurant building while Naylor entered the office of the same building.[38]  According to the court’s analysis, the restaurant’s office and the restaurant itself were both “integral parts of the same building.”[39]  Further, “[t]he office was located at the back of the building down a hallway.”[40]  Because the undisputed evidence established that Giesler was in the restaurant during the incident, regardless of the fact that she was at no point present in the office, the State presented sufficient evidence that Naylor, and another person not participating in the crime, were present in the same building.[41]  This was sufficient to establish one of the circumstances required by section 569.160.1(3).[42]

IV.  Comment

The court’s decision to define “structure” on a case-by-case basis when determining whether a defendant can be convicted of first-degree burglary makes practical sense.  A practical analysis would be necessary in a case where, for example, a defendant steals from a very small corner of a large warehouse.  Because in that situation, is another person still technically inside the structure if he or she is almost a quarter of a mile away from the person committing the burglary?  In addition, factors such as the accessibility of one section of a structure from another are imperative in determining the element of whether another person, who is not a participant in the crime, is present in the structure.  However, the Supreme Court of Missouri neglected to take into account the original intent behind the element of the crime.  Is the charge of burglary related to trespassing onto another’s property, or does it also involve violating another person’s privacy?  What is the legal significance of requiring the crime be committed in the same structure as another?  Had this court analyzed the legislature’s policy considerations, then this case may have come out in Naylor’s favor.
-       Sheaffer Fennessey




* In the interest of brevity, this online case summary discusses only one of Naylor’s points on appeal.  Specifically, it discusses the issue of whether there was insufficient evidence to convict Naylor of first-degree burglary and analyzes this issue through the requirement that another person must be present in the “structure,” as required by Missouri Revised Statutes section 569.160.1.
[1] State v. Naylor, No. SC 95847, 2017 WL 977285, at *1 (Mo. Mar. 14, 2017).
[2] State v. Naylor, No. ED 103010, 2016 WL 3418806, at *11 (Mo. Ct. App. June 21, 2016), transferred, No. SC 95847, 2017 WL 977285 (Mo. Mar. 14, 2017).
[3] Naylor, 2017 WL 977285, at *5.
[4] Id. at *1; Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 569.160, 570.030, 302.321 (2000).
[5] Naylor, 2017 WL 977285, at *1.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] Id.
[10] Id.
[11] Id. at *2.
[12] Id.
[13] Id.
[14] Id.
[15] Id.
[16] Id.
[17] Id.
[18] Id.
[19] Id.
[20] Id.
[21] Id.
[22] Id.
[23] Id.
[24] Id.
[25] Id.
[26] Id. at *3 (quoting Mo. Rev. Stat. § 569.160.1 (2000)).
[27] Id.
[28] Id. (alteration in original) (quoting § 569.010(8)).
[29] Id. (quoting § 569.010(8)).
[30] Id. (quoting State v. Hunt, 451 S.W.3d 251, 257 (Mo. 2014) (en banc)).
[31] Id. at *2.  Naylor also argued that the sign on the door of the office at Missy’s Family Restaurant was ambiguous and that there was no way of telling whether restaurant patrons were allowed to enter.  Id. at *3–4.
[32] State v. Naylor, No. ED 103010, 2016 WL 3418806, at *10 (Mo. Ct. App. June 21, 2016), transferred, No. SC 95847, 2017 WL 977285 (Mo. Mar. 14, 2017).
[33] Id.
[34] Id.
[35] Id. at *11.
[36] Naylor, 2017 WL 977285, at *3.
[37] Id. at *5; see also State v. Bowman, 311 S.W.3d 341, 347 (Mo. Ct. App. 2010) (finding sufficient evidence to support a first-degree burglary conviction because common areas in an apartment building may be considered part of the apartment).
[38] Naylor, 2017 WL 977285, at *5.
[39] Id.
[40] Id.
[41] Id.
[42] Id.