The state Division II state Court of Appeals issued a ruling Tuesday that clarifies when a car is just a mode of transportation versus a deadly weapon in the eyes of the law.
The decision stems from a case of gasoline theft from a Bonney Lake Safeway back in September 2005.
A woman named Josephine K. Sparling pumped $20 worth of gas into her car then tried to pay for it with a stolen check, according to court records. The station attendant called her on it (the check contained a man’s name) and summoned the store manager. Sparling apparently got nervous, went to her car and began to drive away.
She reportedly accelerated when the manager walked toward her car and held up his hand for her to stop, clipping his thigh before speeding away.
Sparling later was arrested, charged, tried and convicted of first-degree robbery, attempting to elude a police vehicle, drug possession and forgery.
She appealed her robbery conviction, arguing, according to court records, that: “1) she did not ‘display’ a deadly weaopn because a car is incapable of being concealed, and 2) there was insufficient evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that she used or threatened to use force to retain the stolen gasoline or to overcome resistance to the taking.”
The three-member appeals court panel reject her argument in a six-page decision, which boiled down to this: “…the character of Sparling’s car as a deadly weapon was not revealed or displayed until she used it in an attempt to run over (the manager). Before that, it appeared to be transportation.”
So there you go.