PEOPLE OF MI V GEORGE PATRICK MERLINO JRAnnotate this Case
STATE OF MICHIGAN
COURT OF APPEALS
PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN,
June 12, 1998
LC No. 94-003811
GEORGE PATRICK MERLINO, JR,
Before: Wahls, P.J., and Jansen and Gage, JJ.
Defendant appeals by leave granted after remand from the Supreme Court his convictions of
two counts of receiving and concealing stolen property, MCL 750.535; MSA 28.803, unlawful driving
away of an automobile, MCL 750.413; MSA 28.645, and habitual offender, third offense, MCL
769.11; MSA 28.1083. We affirm.
Police attempted to stop a vehicle driving with a broken tail light and expired plates at 3:30 a.m.
on February 23, 1994. The driver lost control of the truck, ran into a mailbox, and fled on foot.
Officers lost sight of him, but followed his tracks in the fresh snow. They found defendant hiding in a
garage, without any shoes or a coat. Defendant attempted to run away, but he was tackled and
Defendant was found guilty as charged after a bench trial. In its findings of fact, the trial court
doubted that the officer got a good look at the driver while in the car. The court found that it was more
than likely that defendant was the only person that was out in the vicinity of where he was apprehended.
The officers lost sight of the person, then picked up the trail from that point, and followed it to the
garage where they found defendant.
On appeal, defendant argues that the court failed to apply the reasonable doubt standard when
it stated that it was more than likely that defendant was the only person out in the area. Defendant also
asserts that the court made improper findings of fact, and that the conviction was based on insufficient
evidence. We disagree.
It is a fundamental principle that an accused’s guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt
to sustain a conviction. People v Hubbard, 387 Mich 294, 299; 196 NW2d 831 (1972). There is no
indication that the trial court failed to apply the appropriate standard. The court only observed that it
was more likely than not that defendant was the only person in the vicinity. The actual finding of guilt
was further supported by the finding that the officers followed defendant’s tracks in the fresh snow from
the place where they lost sight of the driver to the garage where they found defendant. Defendant was
without shoes or a coat, and attempted to flee when he was apprehended.
These findings of fact met the requirements of MCR 2.517 where they established that the court
was aware of the factual issues and correctly applied the law. People v Vaughn, 186 Mich App 376,
384; 465 NW2d 365 (1990). Viewed in a light most favorable to the prosecution, there was sufficient
evidence to justify a rational finder o fact in finding that defendant was guilty beyond a reasonable
doubt. People v Wolfe, 440 Mich 508, 514; 489 NW2d 748 (1992).
/s/ Myron H. Wahls
/s/ Kathleen Jansen
/s/ Hilda R. Gage