J. R. M., In Interest of, No. 57598

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtFINCH; All concur except DONNELLY; DONNELLY
Citation487 S.W.2d 502
Decision Date11 December 1972
Docket NumberNo. 57598
PartiesIn the Interest of J.R.M., a child under seventeen years of age, Appellant.

Page 502

487 S.W.2d 502
In the Interest of J.R.M., a child under seventeen years of
age, Appellant.
No. 57598.
Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc.
Dec. 11, 1972.

Page 503

J. Arnot Hill, Hill & McMullin, Kansas City, for appellant.

James F. Speck, Asst. Pros. Atty., Kansas City, for respondent.

FINCH, Chief Justice.

This case was transferred here by the Missouri Court of Appeals, Kansas City District, to resolve constitutional issues concerning the search and seizure of evidence from an automobile. Sole jurisdiction as to constitutional questions lies in this Court. Art. V. § 3, Constitution of Missouri, V.A.M.S. We decide the case as though here on direct appeal. We reverse and remand.

The Juvenile Officer of Jackson County filed a petition in Juvenile Court alleging that appellant, J.R.M., a 16-year-old male, was in need of care, treatment and services of the court because allegedly he murdered a 13-year-old girl. After an extensive hearing, at which appellant was represented by counsel, the Juvenile Court sustained the petition and ordered appellant committed to the custody of the State Division of Mental Health.

The first question presented on appeal is whether the evidence was sufficient to authorize the Juvenile Court to assume jurisdiction over J.R.M. The Court of Appeals first concluded that if evidence obtained in the search of the automobile was excluded, the remaining evidence would be insufficient. However, when all evidence introduced, including that taken from the automobile, was considered, the court held it to be sufficient to show beyond a reasonable doubt that appellant killed the girl, and that the court should assume custody of him. We agree with both of those conclusions. Hence, we proceed to the other questions raised, viz., whether appellant had standing to object to the search and seizure, and if he did, whether the warrantless search was permissible and valid.

On the morning of October 9, 1970, the body of a 13-year-old girl was discovered in Swope Park in Kansas City. Death had been caused by blows to the head by some instrument like a ball peen hammer. Investigation disclosed that on October 6 and 7 the deceased and a girl friend had gone from school to a Katz Store, from which, after a time, they started to hitchhike a ride home. The deceased's girl friend told police that on both days they were picked up by a boy driving a red Corvair. It had certain distinguishing scratches and marks. The girl also noticed a sticker on the car radio which read 'Made Especially for _ _ M_ _.'

The police learned that on October 8 the deceased again went from school to the Katz Store and had a coke with a classmate, after which both went out to catch a bus. The deceased missed her bus but then was observed by her classmate getting into a red Corvair. On the following day her body was discovered.'

Investigation at the school disclosed the name of a student whose last name was the same as the one on the sticker in the Corvair. The police went to the address of that student and there observed a red Corvair parked in the driveway. An officer looked through the window of the car and observed on the radio a sticker which read 'Made Especially for _ _M_ _.'

On the next morning, October 10, appellant and his father were called to the police

Page 504

station and asked about the murder. Questioning of appellant was not permitted by the father. However, appellant did state that he knew the deceased and that she had been in the Corvair. At the trial, the police testified that appellant had said she was in the Corvair only on October 6, but appellant testified that he had stated to the police that deceased was in the car on October 6 and 7.

On October 13 the police located the Corvair on a downtown parking lot rented by appellant's father. They testified at the trial that they had been unable to locate it between October 10 and October 13. No one was present when the police located it on the parking lot. They proceeded to have it towed to the police station where they examined it thoroughly and had it partially disassembled by police technicians. No search warrant had been obtained. The police testified that they had talked to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office about a search warrant and were told that one could not be obtained under Missouri law, but that they could seize and examine the car on the basis of the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in Chambers v. Maroney, 399 U.S. 42, 90 S.Ct. 1975, 26 L.Ed.2d 419. Subsequently, on October 26, thirteen days after the car was seized, appellant was arrested.

The examination of the automobile at the police garage consisted of a thorough vacuuming of the interior, obtaining scrapings of dust and fibers adhering to the vinyl upholstery, removal of a portion of the right floor mat, dismantling of the right front seat, and dismantling of the right front door panel and door sill. The police officer who conducted the initial examination testified that prior to any dismantling, he observed what appeared to be blood stains on inconspicuous portions of the right seat, right door panel and on a book under the right seat.

The laboratory expert testified in detail concerning the contents of the vehicle which he examined. He told of the various blood stains and stated that, where sufficient for grouping purposes, they were type 'O' negative human blood, the blood type of the deceased girl. An expert also testified as to scrapings removed from the right seat and carpet of the Corvair. He identified a human hair of the deceased as coming from the vehicle. In addition, four fibers from a seat scraping were found to be identical to fibers found in the jumper the victim wore on the day she was killed. Her mother testified that October 8 was the only day the victim had worn that particular jumper. The expert also testified that the blouse of the victim had a synthetic fiber on it of a similar microscopic characteristic as fiber in the carpet in the Corvair.

According to the theory of the State, blood had dripped down from the head would onto parts of the girl's body and garments, as well as causing the blood spots found in the car. This theory was buttressed by the fact that the position of the deceased's right arm was such when rigor mortis set in that it indicated that she had been in a bent or wedged position in the right front seat of the automobile with her right arm propped against the car door.

Prior to trial, appellant filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained by search and seizure of the automobile, which motion the court heard with the case. Appellant also objected to the evidence when offered. The court overruled the motion and objections and in deciding the case considered the evidence obtained by search and seizure of the automobile. The court concluded that appellant had no standing to object to the search and seizure, but even so went ahead and stated additionally that he considered the search and seizure to have been permissible under the case of Chambers v. Maroney, supra.

The second question for decision is whether appellant had standing to assert that the warrantless search and seizure of the Corvair violated his rights under the

Page 505

Fourth Amendment to the Federal Constitution and Art. I, § 15, of the Constitution of Missouri, V.A.M.S. The State claims he did not, saying he had no possessory interest therein (he did not own the car or have possession or custody thereof at the time of seizure), he was not on the premises when the search occurred, and possession of the seized evidence itself (automobile) was not an essential element of the crime charged.

It seems clear that earlier federal cases equated standing to attack search and seizure with property or possessory rights in the premises searched or items seized. See Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 6 S.Ct. 524, 29 L.Ed. 746. However, beginning at least with Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257, 80 S.Ct. 725, 4 L.Ed.2d 697, it seems clear that the United States Supreme Court recognized a liberalized basis for determining standing. In Jones, defendant had permission of the lessee of an apartment to use that apartment. He had a key thereto, kept some clothes in the apartment and had slept there. He also was present at the time the officers made their search and found narcotics. Defendant made no claim of ownership of the narcotics, but claimed a right to have quashed the evidence seized by the officers. The Supreme Court agreed. It first held that it was unfair to require one to claim and prove ownership to acquire standing when such proof was sufficient to convict him of the crime charged, and that standing should be conferred automatically on one in such dilemma. Secondly, the court held it no longer was necessary to establish ownership or some property right in the premises. Distinctions between lessee, licensee, invitee and guest were eliminated.

In finalizing its announcement that the defendant Jones had standing, the court said, 362 U.S. l.c. 267, 80 S.Ct. l.c. 734: 'No just interest of the Government in the effective and rigorous enforcement of the criminal law will be hampered by recognizing that anyone legitimately on premises where a search occurs may challenge its legality by way of a motion to suppress, when its fruits are proposed to be used against him. This would of course not avail those who, by virtue of their wrongful presence, cannot invoke the privacy of the premises searched. As petitioner's testimony established Evans' consent to his presence in the apartment, he was entitled to have the merits of his motion to suppress adjudicated.'

Several cases following Jones involved the question of standing. In Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 87 S.Ct. 1642, 18 L.Ed.2d 782, a robbery of a cab company occurred and defendant was seen fleeing therefrom. He was followed until he entered a private residence. Police were alerted, went to the house,...

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35 practice notes
  • State v. Dodson, No. 37584
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • August 16, 1977
    ...unreasonable searches and seizures, as its purpose is to protect the individual's reasonable expectations of privacy. In re J.R.M., 487 S.W.2d 502 (Mo. banc 1972); State v. Drake, 512 S.W.2d 166 (Mo.App.1974). A person must be a victim of the illegal search to assert those protections. He m......
  • State v. McCrary, No. 62236
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • September 8, 1981
    ...or to understandings that are recognized and permitted by society." Rakas, 439 U.S. at 143 n.12, 99 S.Ct. at 430 n.12. In In re J.R.M., 487 S.W.2d 502, 508 (Mo.banc 1972), this Court held that the test for standing under Mo.Const. Art I, § 15, to be "whether defendant was entitled to and di......
  • State v. Wiley, No. 58613
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • April 14, 1975
    ...by way of a motion to suppress, when its fruits are proposed to be used against him.' 362 U.S. at 267, 80 S.Ct. at 734. In re J.R.M., 487 S.W.2d 502 (Mo. banc 1972); State v. Ross, 438 S.W.2d 8 (Mo.1969). Jones also held that there was substantial basis for a search warrant based on an info......
  • State v. Achter, No. 9562
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • July 22, 1974
    ...would be free from governmental intrusion. Mancusi v. DeForte, 392 U.S. 364, 368, 88 S.Ct. 2120, 20 L.Ed.2d 1154 (1968); In re J.R.M., 487 S.W.2d 502, 505--509 (Mo. banc 1972) (comprehensive analysis of United States Supreme Court It is settled law that one has no standing to complain of th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
35 cases
  • State v. Dodson, No. 37584
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • August 16, 1977
    ...unreasonable searches and seizures, as its purpose is to protect the individual's reasonable expectations of privacy. In re J.R.M., 487 S.W.2d 502 (Mo. banc 1972); State v. Drake, 512 S.W.2d 166 (Mo.App.1974). A person must be a victim of the illegal search to assert those protections. He m......
  • State v. McCrary, No. 62236
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • September 8, 1981
    ...to understandings that are recognized and permitted by society." Rakas, 439 U.S. at 143 n.12, 99 S.Ct. at 430 n.12. In In re J.R.M., 487 S.W.2d 502, 508 (Mo.banc 1972), this Court held that the test for standing under Mo.Const. Art I, § 15, to be "whether defendant was entitled to......
  • State v. Wiley, No. 58613
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • April 14, 1975
    ...by way of a motion to suppress, when its fruits are proposed to be used against him.' 362 U.S. at 267, 80 S.Ct. at 734. In re J.R.M., 487 S.W.2d 502 (Mo. banc 1972); State v. Ross, 438 S.W.2d 8 (Mo.1969). Jones also held that there was substantial basis for a search warrant based on an info......
  • State v. Achter, No. 9562
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • July 22, 1974
    ...would be free from governmental intrusion. Mancusi v. DeForte, 392 U.S. 364, 368, 88 S.Ct. 2120, 20 L.Ed.2d 1154 (1968); In re J.R.M., 487 S.W.2d 502, 505--509 (Mo. banc 1972) (comprehensive analysis of United States Supreme Court It is settled law that one has no standing to complain of th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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