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United States v. Wyatt

February 4, 1971


Duffy, Senior Circuit Judge, and Fairchild and Kerner, Circuit Judges.

Author: Duffy

DUFFY, Senior Circuit Judge.

After a bench trial, defendant Wyatt was found guilty of receiving and concealing a stolen motor vehicle in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. ยง 2313 (The Dyer Act). He was sentenced to imprisonment for two and a half years and fined $1,000. The prison sentence was suspended and defendant was placed on a two and a half year probation.

Defendant, living with his wife and two sons, was a resident of Indianapolis, Indiana. The story leading up to his arrest on June 19, 1968 at Indianapolis is indeed bizarre.

The story begins on March 28, 1968, about two and a half months prior to defendant's arrest. On that date, Mrs. James P. Marx of El Paso, Texas, decided to rent two automobiles, one for her own use and one for the use of her friend, Florence Collins.

Mrs. Marx and Mrs. Collins went to the Hertz Corporation's rental office at El Paso International Airport where Mrs. Marx signed an agreement to rent a 1968 Ford which is the automobile in question in this case. The automobile was described as a White Ford 1968 4-door identified by Hertz as No. 255. A Texas license plate was on the automobile and it had a Hertz car company license number somewhere on the left side of the mirror and letters and ownership papers were in the glove compartment of the car.

The rental agreement (Government Exhibit 3) indicated that the rental fee was charged on a "Chevron National" credit card issued to James P. Marx. The agreement also provided that the automobile was to be returned by "3/29/68 PM" which was the day following the date of the agreement.

Mrs. Marx also executed an endorsement authorizing Mrs. Collins to drive the automobile. This endorsement also provided that Mrs. Marx was to pay all charges and would be responsible for all loss or damage incurred or sustained as a result of the use of the automobile by the additional driver.

Mrs. Collins drove the rented Ford around El Paso for two or three days. A Paul Kluck whom she had known for two or three weeks, and a couple named William Hicks and Jeannie Math whom Mrs. Collins had known briefly, drove around El Paso with Mrs. Collins, and then all of them left that city together. William Hicks testified he had been with Mrs. Collins on March 28, 1968, drinking all over El Paso and that they had used a White 1967 or 1968 Ford to get around in.

It took about 24 hours for the four to drive from El Paso to Owensboro, Kentucky, where they all stayed for two or three days, and then, at the instigation of William Hicks and Jeannie Math, Mrs. Collins drove these two to Indianapolis. Paul Kluck remained in Owensboro. Mrs. Collins testified she didn't know any one in Indianapolis and intended to return to Owensboro.

The three arrived in Indianapolis on April 6, 1968. They first drove to the homes of Hicks' brother-in-law and brother. They then drove to the Brookside tavern where they spent a number of hours drinking or until the tavern was closing in the early hours of the next morning. The rented Ford was parked outside the tavern close to the entrance. Mrs. Collins testified that she left the tavern about closing time intending to return to Owensboro but that the car would not start. Two men who looked at the car reported to her that a coil of wire and some other things had been removed; also, that one of the tires was flat.

Upon hearing that the car would not run, Mrs. Collins testified she called Paul Kluck in Owensboro who told her he would call Hertz and let them know where the car was and that he would take care of it. Mrs. Collins returned to Owensboro by bus. She never again saw the car after leaving it outside the Brookside tavern.

On April 5, 1968, the El Paso police department recorded a report from Mrs. Marx that the Hertz vehicle had been stolen by Mrs. Collins. Mrs. Collins was indicted for an alleged violation of the Dyer Act. However, on November 15, 1968, the Government dismissed this indictment on the ground that evidence of the offense was inconclusive.

Nothing is known of the whereabouts or location of the automobile in question for the period of over two months after Mrs. Collins left it outside the Brookside tavern. However, on June 19, 1968 it was seen in ...

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