State v. Korth
Case # A153685
Full Text of Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A153685.pdf
Defendant Korth was arrested for driving a stolen truck. Korth explained to a Police Officer that he had borrowed the truck from “a guy named Dave.” Dave was “a friend of a friend” whom Korth had met a week and a half prior. Korth said that Dave “was pretty transient” and had been living out of the truck. Korth was supposed to return the truck to Dave the day Korth was arrested. Another Officer took inventory of the truck’s contents and discovered “a couple huge sets” of “jiggle keys.” Jiggle keys are “regular old keys that [people] use to steal Honda Accords and Toyota Camrys, because those are easy to steal with any old key.” The keys found in the truck included different car keys, home keys, and safe keys. Korth first lied about owning the keys, but he eventually admitted that the they belonged to him. He was ultimately convicted of Unlawful Use of a Vehicle (“UUV”) and Possession of a Stolen Vehicle (“PSV”).
Korth now appeals, arguing that the State had failed to prove that Korth knew that the truck was stolen. He points out that a “proper key” was in the truck’s ignition and the truck showed no signs of vandalism or of being “hot-wired.” The State counters that Korth’s story of borrowing the truck from a transient, near stranger is “implausible,” especially in light of the fact that Korth lied about owning the jiggle keys.
The Court of Appeals agrees with Korth. It especially notes that Korth’s “implausible” story is not, by itself sufficient to support a reasonable inference that Korth actually knew the truck was stolen. Additionally, Korth’s lie about the jiggle keys does not, by itself, sufficiently support an inference that he knew the truck was stolen. Finally, the presence of the jiggle keys in addition to the implausible story and Korth’s lies about owning the jiggle keys do not overcome the facts that Korth used a valid key to operate the truck and that there was no physical damage to the truck to indicate it had been stolen. Overall, the evidence is insufficient to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Korth knew the truck was stolen. Accordingly, the Korth’s conviction for UUV and PSV are reversed.