Washington v. Woodlyn (Majority)Annotate this Case
David Woodlyn cashed a series of blank checks written by Dora Kjellerson, an elderly woman suffering from dementia. The State charged Woodlyn with theft in the second degree, an alternative means crime. The jury's "to convict" instruction required the jury to unanimously agree on Woodlyn's guilt-but not on how he committed the crime. The jury returned a general verdict of guilty. Woodlyn appealed, arguing the general verdict violated his right to jury unanimity under article I, section 21 of the Washington constitution insofar as the evidence was insufficient to support conviction under the "wrongfully obtained" alternative. The Court of Appeals agreed that the evidence of this means was insufficient, but nonetheless affirmed, holding that any error was harmless. The court reasoned that the absence of evidence of the theft by taking alternative reasonably showed that the jury's verdict rested on the theft by deception alternative. The Washington Supreme Court rejected the Court of Appeals reasoning, finding the State failed to support one or more alternative means did not establish that the jury relied unanimously on another, supported alternative. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeals in result because it concluded the evidence before the jury was sufficient to support both alternative means of second degree theft.