Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Page 1


Court of Appeal Declares:

Standing by Truck Containing Baseball Bat Does Not Constitute Possession of Billy


By a MetNews Staff Writer


The Fifth District Court of Appeal on Friday reversed the conviction of a man for possessing a billy, declaring that the fact he was standing by a truck that had a souvenitr baseball bat under the passenger seat, even coupled with other circumstances, was insufficient to establish the crime.

Justice M. Bruce Smith wrote the opinion, which was not certified for publication.

The defendant, Guillermo Willy Aquino, was spotted by Corporal Paul Speers of the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department standing by the tailgate of a truck at a gas station. He then saw Aquino walk to the front passenger door.

Speers testified:

“It is very common for people to, when they’re up to no good, to walk away as soon as they see us, try to walk out of sight, which he did, and then hide something or grab something.  Happens all the time.”

The owner of the truck gave his consent to search the vehicle and Speers found about 20 or 30 pieces of jewelry, a bag containing silverware, tools, and a dog, as well as a small bat and a metal handle.

The District Attorney’s Office brought charges against Aquino, the driver, and a passenger. Acquino pled guilty to misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine, and was tried on the charge of posessing a billy.

The Court of Appeal reversed the conviction for possessing such a weapon, and remanded for resentencing on the misdemeanor.

Smith wrote:

“The statute does not define a billy and it has been described in case law as including objects with innocent uses, such as baseball bats and table legs….Since a billy thus is effectively anything that can conveniently be used as a club, practicality demands that the breadth of the offense be reduced by requiring proof not just of knowing possession of the object, but also of possession of the object by the defendant for unlawful use.”

The jurist went on to declare:

“The evidence did not show that Aquino had knowledge of or control over the bat and bar, so it did not prove he possessed them at all. If it had shown he possessed them, it would not have shown he possessed them as weapons or that he would use them for an unlawful purpose.”

Smith said that the prosecution argued that Aquino might have slipped the bat and piece of metal under the front seat because they had been intended to be used as weapons, that the jewelry and silverware might have been stolen, and that the tools might have been intended to be used in perpetrating a theft.

“But this suggests a chain of speculation,” Smith said, “not substantial evidence supporting proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Before this jury, Aquino was not even accused of doing, let alone shown to have done, the presumed underlying crimes the People rely on to support their proposed sequence of inferences.”

The case is People v. Aquino, F071456.


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