Whitley v. Commonwealth

In Whitley v. Commonwealth, 223 Va. 66, 72-74, 286 S.E.2d 162, 166-67 (1982), the evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth, supported the jury's finding that the defendant murdered the victim in order to steal her car. See Whitley, 223 Va. at 72-74, 286 S.E.2d at 166-67. It established that, on the night of the murder, the defendant's car was "broken down," the defendant previously had expressed an interest in buying a car from the victim's daughter, and the defendant killed the victim, took her car keys and stole her car. See 223 Va. at 73-74, 286 S.E.2d at 166. The defendant had presented the hypothesis that his statements to police (in which he said that he entered the victim's house to use the phone and that the victim said something which "provoked the fatal attack") and the physical evidence (which established that he removed the victim's clothing and sexually assaulted her with two umbrellas) required a finding that "the killing was the act of a 'sexual psychopath' and that the larceny of the automobile was committed 'only as an after-thought.'" 223 Va. at 72-73, 286 S.E.2d at 166. The Court held "the jury logically could have concluded that both sex and robbery motivated the defendant's conduct," despite the fact that the taking may not have occurred until after the victim's death and that the jury was entitled to reject the defendant's statements about what occurred and why. 223 Va. at 73-74, 286 S.E.2d at 166.