[13 FSM Intrm. 82]
[13 FSM Intrm. 83]
* * * *
* * * *
ALIKSA B. ALIKSA, Associate Justice:
This matter was called for trial on December 8, 2004. Paliknoa Welly, State Prosecutor, appeared for the State. Defendant was represented by Steve George, Public Defender. The following witness testified for the Plaintiff: Officer Burdy Talley
The Defendant was charged with two counts in the Information: Negligent Driving, in violation of Kosrae State Code, Section 13.708 and Unauthorized Operation of a Motor Vehicle, in violation of Kosrae State Code, Section 13.702.
After presentation of the Plaintiff's case in chief, the Defendant made a verbal motion for judgment of acquittal on both counts. I deferred ruling on that motion and took it under advisement. I find that that the State, in its case in chief, had not presented a prima facie case for either of the charged offenses. Accordingly, I now grant the Defendant's motion for acquittal on both counts: negligent driving and unauthorized operation of a motor vehicle. Therefore, I find the Defendant not guilty and acquit him on both charges. The Information is dismissed. This Judgment of Acquittal sets forth my findings of facts and reasoning.
I. Findings of Facts.
Based upon the evidence presented at the trial, I find the following facts. The evidence was undisputed. The Defendant was driving towards Malem from Tofol. As he passed the Central Police
[13 FSM Intrm. 84]
Station, near the Public Works site, Defendant's car ran out of gas or encountered another mechanical problem with his car, which caused the car's engine to die. Defendant's car rolled off the road and was pushed up upon a concrete culvert. Defendant walked to the Police Station, reported the problem and requested police assistance to remove his car from the culvert. Police Officer Talley went to assist the Defendant with removing his car from the culvert. Officer Talley, while at the scene, asked Defendant's wife, "who was driving the car?". Defendant's wife replied that it was the Defendant. The Information followed.
II. Conclusions of Law.
A. Negligent Driving
The offense of negligent driving, Kosrae State Code, Section 13.708, requires proof of "driving a vehicle in such a manner as to constitute a substantial deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would exercise in the situation."
The State did not present any witnesses who saw the Defendant driving his vehicle. Therefore, there was no evidence presented to show the manner in which Defendant was driving his vehicle, and whether it was a substantial deviation from the appropriate standard of care. Officer Talley testified that the Defendant reported that he had a problem with his vehicle. It is reasonable to infer that this problem may caused the vehicle to leave the road and come to rest in the culvert.
Based upon the evidence presented during the Plaintiff's case in chief, I found that the State had failed to present a prima facie case of the criminal offense of negligent driving. Defendant's Motion for Acquittal of Count I is granted and Count I is dismissed
B. Unauthorized Operation of a Motor Vehicle
The offense of unauthorized operation of a motor vehicle, Kosrae State Code, Section 13.702, requires proof of "operating a motor vehicle on a road without possessing a valid license or learner's permit."
The State did not present any witnesses who saw the Defendant operating his vehicle. The State did not present any evidence that the Defendant did not possess a driver's license or learner's permit. Therefore, there was no evidence presented to prove that the Defendant operated his vehicle without a valid license or permit in his possession.
Based upon the evidence presented during the Plaintiff's case in chief, I found that the State had failed to present a prima facie case of the criminal offense of unauthorized operation of a motor vehicle. Defendant's Motion for Acquittal of Count II is granted and Count II is also dismissed.
III. Judgment of Acquittal.
Defendant's Motion for Acquittal, based upon KRCrP Rule 29, is granted. Count I and II of the Information are dismissed. The Information in its entirety is also dismissed.
* * * *