Raymond Ladd was indicted at the 1955 Spring Term of the Jackson Circuit Court for grand larceny of 1,000 pounds of lespedeza-sericea seed of the value of $250, the personal property of Walter L. Johnson. His first trial resulted in a hung jury. The second trial on March 26, 1956, resulted in a verdict of guilty of grand larceny, and a judgment of guilt and a sentence of imprisonment for two years. A motion for a new trial filed within the time allowed by law was overruled.
The evidence for the State was that Robert Haas, sometime in the Fall of 1953, sold his father-in-law, Walter Johnson 1,000 pounds of lespedeza-sericea seed which had been cleaned and scarified by Cedric Brewer, who had, after that operation, placed them in tow sacks bearing the initials "B. H." Haas sometimes was also known as Bob or Bobby Haas. Two of these sacks (one containing seed) were introduced in evidence, and Haas recognized them as being sacks in which the seed were placed by Brewer. He also identified them as the sacks that he found about February 13, 1954, in Raymond Ladd's barn loft when, in the company of the sheriff of DeKalb County, a search was made of Ladd's premises. Johnson testified as to the purchase
Cedric Brewer testified in behalf of the State that he had cleaned and scarified the seed for Haas and had marked "B. H." on the sacks in which he placed the seed. He could not positively state that the sacks in evidence were the ones in which he put the seed, but he was able to say that the sacks exhibited were "just like the ones I put "B. H.' on."
When Haas, Johnson, and Sheriff Noles went to Ladd's house in February, 1954, they did not find him. Ladd's barn was about 100 yards behind the house. The searching party found the barn locked, but Hass "got in one of the stalls and got up in the loft and let" the others in. They all went up in the loft and found one sack with seed in it and several empty sacks with "B. H." on them.
Upon the State resting its case, the defendant moved that (1) the evidence be excluded and (2) the defendant be discharged.
The defendant did not take the stand. He brought in evidence, the tendency of which was to show that Mitchell was the thief and not he, and furthermore that Mitchell's reputation for truth and veracity was such that he should not have been entitled to have been believed in a court of justice. Ladd also adduced testimony that about the time of Johnson's loss Mitchell had sold similar seed to at least two farmers on Sand Mountain.
The following charges were refused the defendant:
We consider the two latter charges were covered by the oral charge which read pertinently as follows:
See Code 1940, Title 7, § 273.
We consider that the principal question on appeal here revolves around whether or not Claude Frank Mitchell was an accomplice of Ladd's; and, if so, whether there was sufficient independent evidence to corroborate his testimony. Code 1940, Title 15, § 307, reads:
The prosecution's evidence has made Mitchell, as a matter of law (i. e., for the purposes of requiring corroboration under § 307, supra), an accomplice. He admittedly was driving the truck at the outset of the whiskey running expedition, and, under familiar principles, being a participant in an illegal venture for one purpose, he becomes one for all, i. e., we look at him as a derivative accomplice so far as requiring corroborative evidence before we can say there is a prima facie case.
No discernible common pattern arises from the decisions on the sufficiency of the evidence to corroborate an accomplice's testimony. Evidence which logically and rationally is as consistent with innocence as with guilt does not corroborate. Sorrell v. State, 249 Ala. 292, 31 So.2d 82.
However, from the discovery of the sacks in Ladd's barn—some with seed in them—the jury could have inferred a sufficient corroboration of Mitchell's testimony. When evidence "tending to connect" the defendant with the commission of the offense is offered, its sufficiency is for the jury, Horn v. State, 15 Ala.App. 213, 72 So. 768. In Smothers v. State, Ala.App., 83 So.2d 374, testimony of Smothers' going along a dead end trail toward where a still was found was corroborative enough to satisfy the statute. That the defendant was present with his coindictee when stolen hogs were sold, was held sufficiently corroborative of the accomplice's testimony of the theft, Dukes v. State, 33 Ala.App. 474, 34 So.2d 707. See also Fagan v. State, 35 Ala.App. 13, 44 So.2d 634. The constructive possession of the seed logically called for the defendant to offer an explanation as to how they came into his hands, Vinet v. State, Ala.App., 83 So.2d 357. The fact that the barn was locked could be considered to bolster the implication of the defendant's possession. Thus, in Lawson v. State, Ala.App., 82 So.2d 812, 813, this court, per Harwood, P. J., said:
A farmer's barn is a part of his working establishment, and it is only reasonable for the jury to consider, without mere speculation, the use of it by the defendant in the light of the use to which a reasonable man similarly situated would put his barn.
That Haas, who was a small man, was able to enter the barn in spite of the lock, was not enough to negative Ladd's possession of his own barn; the quality and extent of this possession, on this record, present a jury question, English v. State, Ala.App., 84 So.2d 673.
Having searched the record without discerning error in the trial below, we consider the judgment below is due to be