153 S.W.3d 307 (Mo.banc. 2005), SC 85990, State v. Belton

Docket Nº:SC 85990.
Citation:153 S.W.3d 307
Party Name:STATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Phillip BELTON, Appellant.
Case Date:January 25, 2005
Court:Supreme Court of Missouri

Page 307

153 S.W.3d 307 (Mo.banc. 2005)

STATE of Missouri, Respondent,


Phillip BELTON, Appellant.

No. SC 85990.

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc.

January 25, 2005

Page 308

Kent Denzel, Office of the Public Defender, Columbia, MO, for Appellant.

Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, Atty. Gen., Shaun J. Mackelprang, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, MO, for Respondent.


Phillip Belton attended a gathering at Donald Adkins' home in December 1999. During the gathering, he waved a gun in the dining room, threatened to shoot Adkins in the head, and shot Adkins dead. Belton was charged with second-degree murder, section 565.021, 2 and armed criminal action, section 571.015.

Page 309

Belton was convicted by a jury of the lesser-included crime of involuntary manslaughter in the first degree, section 565.024, RSMo Supp.1999, and armed criminal action. Belton was sentenced to two consecutive five-year prison terms. On appeal, he challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his involuntary manslaughter conviction and alleges instructional error on the armed criminal action charge. Finding no reversible error, the judgment is affirmed.


Belton contends the evidence is insufficient to convict him of involuntary manslaughter in the first degree. When considering the sufficiency of the evidence on appeal, this Court must determine whether sufficient evidence permits a reasonable juror to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom are viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, disregarding any evidence and inferences contrary to the verdict. State v. Tisius, 92 S.W.3d 751, 763-64 (Mo. banc 2002).

To convict Belton of involuntary manslaughter in the first degree, the State had to prove that he recklessly caused Adkins' death. Section 565.024.1(1), RSMo Supp.1999. 3 A person acts recklessly when he or she consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will follow and such disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the situation. Section 562.016.4. Recklessness resembles knowing conduct in one respect in that it involves awareness, but it is an awareness of risk, that is, of a probability less than a substantial certainty. State v. Beeler, 12...

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