A reasonable presumption.
by Lisa Y. Henderson
State v. Thomas S. Jones, 20 NC 120 (1838).
This case arose in Chowan County on a charge of petit larceny of four pigs. Two were found in Thomas Jones’ possession, and two in the possession of a free person of color who bought them from Jones after he branded them with the mark of a long-dead uncle. Jones lived with his father, whose pigs were differently marked. A week after he was indicted, Jones left for Tennessee and did not return to Chowan County until the week before the next court term. Jones called his brother-in-law Dennis, who testified that Jones asked him to come to Edenton on a Sunday morning to hunt for some lost pigs, which he described particularly. After looking two or three places, they stopped at a free colored woman’s house and found the pigs. Jones took them, sold two, and took the rest to his father’s house. A Mrs. King and Jones’ brother William Jones also testified that Jones told them he had lost some pigs. Mr. Smith, a merchant in Edenton, testified that on Saturday night Jones asked him to help look for some pigs and the next morning told him he had found them. Witness McNider testified that “about a half an hour by sun” on Sunday, Jones told him he had found all his pigs in a negro woman’s possession. Jones was convicted.
“The presumption arising from possession of stolen goods is stronger or weaker as the possession is more or less recent. A recent possession raises a reasonable presumption of guilt.” Judgment affirmed.