Mendicoa v. State

In Mendicoa v. State, 771 P.2d 1240, 1245 (Wyo. 1989), the Court first noted that we were dealing with a specific type of larceny, i.e., livestock rustling. The decision rested in significant part upon the fact that the disappearance of the cattle could be traced to a reasonably ascertainable time, but that there was no evidence linking Mendicoa to the disappearance. In Mendicoa, the State argued that, although mere possession of recently stolen property is insufficient to support a conviction of larceny, possession in conjunction with other incriminating circumstances, such as misstatement and concealment, will support such a conviction. The Court expressed our view that we had no quarrel with that construct as a general principle. 771 P.2d at 1244. The decision to reverse Mendicoa's convictions then rested on our determination that such an inference could not be drawn in Mendicoa's case. The application of the inference depends upon the recency of the alleged theft. Id. Therefore, the Court held that possession of stolen cattle which, at a minimum, was over a month after their disappearance, to as much as one and one-half years after, was not "recent" enough to fit within the rule. 771 P.2d at 1245. Moreover, over Mendicoa's objection, the jury was instructed regarding the permissible inference of theft from the unexplained possession of recently stolen property. The conclusion was that the predicate fact of recency, upon which the inference depends, was not established by the evidence. 771 P.2d at 1245-46.