The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a local man who stole a Clinton woman’s wallet while performing a vacuum cleaner demonstration in her home last January.
Christopher M. Emery, 26, was convicted by a Clinton County jury last year and sentenced in October to up to 10 years in prison for a charge of first-degree theft stemming from the incident. He was also fined $1,000 and ordered to pay victim restitution.
In his appeal, Emery claimed the state had not shown sufficient evidence that he took the wallet from the victim’s person or immediate presence, one of the elements required for the theft to be charged as a Class C felony.
Emery and an accomplice went to the victim’s house on Jan. 22, 2009, to allow the woman to cancel her day-old purchase of a vacuum cleaner and to return the machine she had traded in.
State prosecutors had argued that Emery stole the wallet off a chair as the three met in the woman’s kitchen. Emery’s accomplice unexpectedly gave the woman a hug, and she told jurors that she believed Emery stole the wallet from her purse while she was being distracted by the abrupt embrace from the other man. The two men then abruptly left, and the woman discovered her wallet was missing the next morning.
Emery argued in his appeal that he could have taken the wallet when his accomplice was performing a vacuum cleaner demonstration upstairs a few minutes before the incident in the kitchen. But the appellate court ruled in favor of the state, stating in its opinion filed Wednesday that “the evidence here showed Emery in the immediate presence of (the victim) and the purse when the wallet was stolen.”
Two other first-degree theft charges against Emery stemming from similar incidents last January were dismissed by the local court after a Clinton County judge ruled that the wallets in the two other instances were not taken from the victims’ immediate presence.
After his conviction last year on the single first-degree theft charge, Emery’s probation was revoked for a February 2007 burglary at the Salvation Army Citadel in Clinton. He was fined $750 and ordered to serve up to five years in prison in addition to the 10-year sentence for first-degree theft.