Submitted July 17, 2013
Alicia Pyles, pro se
Ronald and Nancy Trice, pro se
DECISION AFTER TRIAL
Kenneth S. Clark, Jr. Judge
In this civil action, the Court is called upon to determine the damages owed to Plaintiffs, Roland and Nancy Trice, following the theft of jewelry and other personal items from their residence. On July 17, 2013, the Court held a bench trial in the above-captioned de novo appeal. After consideration of the evidence and the applicable law, the Court finds in favor of Plaintiffs in the amount of $1, 500.00.
Findings of Fact
After considering the evidence and determining the weight and credibility such evidence should be given, the Court finds the following facts:
Plaintiffs Ronald and Nancy Trice are the parents of Ronald Trice, Jr. In 2010 and 2011, Ronald Trice, Jr. and Defendant Alicia Pyles, were in a relationship. From late 2010 through August, 2011, Ronald Trice, Jr. stole various items of jewelry from his parents, the Plaintiffs. Defendant Pyles assisted Ronald Trice, Jr., in the pawning or disposal of some of these items, but not all of them. The Court finds credible Defendant's testimony that she was unaware of the full extent of the thefts committed by Ronald Trice, Jr.
On August 3, 2011, Ronald Trice, Jr. and Defendant were arrested. Ronald Trice, Jr. was charged in Superior Court with felony thefts and related offenses, in each of which the State alleged he had committed thefts valuing in excess of $1, 500.00. Defendant was charged in this Court with five counts each of Receiving Stolen Property Under $1500, Selling Stolen Property Under $1500 and Conspiracy in the Third Degree, for her role in the theft of Plaintiffs' jewelry and other personal items.
On November 7, 2011, Ronald Trice, Jr. pled guilty in Superior Court to misdemeanor Theft and Conspiracy in the Third Degree relating to the theft of Plaintiffs' jewelry and other personal items. He was ordered to pay $19, 525.00 in restitution. Ronald Trice, Jr.'s sentence does not provide that his restitution order is joint and several with any co-defendant.
On November 14, 2011, pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pled guilty in this Court to one count of Conspiracy 3rd, and the State entered nolle prosequis on the remaining charges. In the plea agreement, Defendant agreed to pay restitution, joint and several with her co-conspirator, Ronald J. Trice, Jr., in an amount to be submitted by the State within thirty days of the plea. In neither the plea agreement, nor on the record of the plea, did Defendant agree to pay restitution in excess of the statutory misdemeanor value limit. The State, however, submitted no request for any amount of restitution. Nearly a year later, on October 11, 2012, following the payment of her fines and costs, Defendant was discharged by the Court.
On November 27, 2012, Plaintiff Nancy Trice wrote to the Superior Court to request that the remainder of Ronald Trice Jr.'s restitution order be satisfied. Her letter stated, in pertinent part, "I would like to say the restitution has been paid in full [by] my son, Ronald J. Trice, Jr. … As far as I am concerned his debt has been paid in full." Subsequently, in its December 4, 2012 Violation of Probation Sentence of Ronald Trice, Jr., the Superior Court ordered: "As to restitution, the victim was in court and has waived the remaining balance of the restitution owed her."
On November 2, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a civil suit against Defendant in the Justice of the Peace Court, seeking recovery of $15, 000.00 in damages. On February 8, 2013, the Justice of the Peace Court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiffs. Defendant timely filed a de novo ...