BY THE COURT
most fundamental rule of statutory construction is that the
intent of the Legislature governs if that intent can be
ascertained. An appellate court must first attempt to
ascertain legislative intent through the statutory language
enacted, giving common words their ordinary meanings.
construing statutes to determine legislative intent,
appellate courts must consider various provisions of an act
in pari materia with a view of reconciling and
bringing the provisions into workable harmony if possible.
the words of K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5805(c) are given their
ordinary meaning, and the language is read in context with
the other subsections of the statute, it is clear that the
terms "tool" and "device" are
both modified by the descriptive phrase
"designed to allow the removal of any theft detection
device." Thus, the phrase "designed to allow the
removal of any theft detection device" requires an
intentional design particular to, and designed for the
purpose of, the removal of any theft detection device.
Viewing all the evidence in a light most favorable to the
State, no rational fact-finder could have found defendant
guilty of possessing a tool or device designed to allow the
removal of any theft detection device. Without evidence of
what tool defendant may have used, it could not meet its
burden of proof regarding the intentional design element.
Defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal should have
from Riley District Court; Meryl D. Wilson, judge.
Jennifer C. Roth, of Kansas Appellate Defender Office, for
Bethany C Fields, deputy county attorney, Barry R. Wilkerson,
county attorney, and Derek Schmidt, attorney general, for
Hill, P.J., Standridge, J., and Neil B. Foth, District Judge,
Dawn Justice-Puett appeals her conviction for possession of a
theft detection device remover, claiming she did not violate
the terms of the statute. K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 21-5805(c) reads:
"Unlawful acts involving theft detection
shielding devices. It shall be unlawful to:
. . . .
"(c) possess any tool or device designed to allow the
removal of any theft detection device from any merchandise
with the intent to use such tool to remove any theft
detection device from any merchandise without the permission
of the merchant or person owning or holding such
argues that the statute only prohibits possession of either a
tool or device specifically designed to remove or
defeat theft detection devices on merchandise. Since the
State had no specific evidence of what Justice-Puett used to
cut a security detection device from two cell phone screen
protectors, she argues that the State could not possibly have
met its burden of proving that she possessed such an
intentionally designed tool or device. She appeals the
district court's denial of her motion for judgment of
acquittal, as well as the jury's verdict, based on
insufficiency of the evidence. Justice-Puett was also
convicted of misdemeanor theft but does not appeal that
State makes simultaneous or alternative arguments. The
State's primary argument at trial and on appeal is that
the statute prohibits possessing any kind of tool or
device capable of removing a theft detection device;
that if it is capable, it was "designed to allow"
that removal. For example, if a theft detection device may be
removed from merchandise by cutting it away, then a ...