State v. Anderson

Decision Date29 March 2000
Docket NumberNo. 20192.,20192.
Citation2000 SD 45,608 N.W.2d 644
PartiesSTATE of South Dakota, Plaintiff and Appellee, v. Robert LeRoy ANDERSON, Defendant and Appellant.
CourtSouth Dakota Supreme Court

Mark Barnett, Attorney General, Gary Campbell, Assistant Attorney General, Pierre, South Dakota, for plaintiff and appellee.

John A. Schlimgen, Sioux Falls, for defendant and appellant.


[¶ 1.] A jury convicted Robert Leroy Anderson (Anderson) of kidnapping Piper Streyle (Piper) pursuant to SDCL 22-19-1(2). He was sentenced to life imprisonment in the state penitentiary. In this appeal, Anderson raises five issues for our review. We affirm.


[¶ 2.] At the time of her kidnapping, Piper was a twenty-eight year-old wife and mother who lived with her husband, Vance, and their two small children, Shaina and Nathan, ages three and two. The Streyle family lived in a trailer home in rural McCook County. There, they ran a children's bible camp each July.

[¶ 3.] Piper was last seen by her husband on Monday, July 29, 1996, when he left for work at 6:20 a.m. Before he left for work, Vance arranged with Piper to call home at noon to find out where she was going to leave the children before she went to work. When Vance left for work, the house was neat and tidy. Later that day, Piper failed to show up for work. A co-worker of Piper's called the Streyle residence to check on Piper but could only reach Shaina. Shaina, extremely agitated, did not know the whereabouts of her mother. The authorities were contacted and when they arrived at the Streyle residence, they found the Streyle children alone, with Shaina extremely upset.

[¶ 4.] The evidence at the Streyle home suggested Piper had been kidnapped. The inside of the trailer was in disarray and Piper's purse and glasses were still there. A step to the front porch was overturned with nails sticking up, as indicating a struggle had occurred. Missing from the residence was Piper's black and white t-shirt with the words "Code Zero" on the front, and Nathan's blue tent.1 An expended.9-mm pistol shell casing was found in the driveway.

[¶ 5.] In September 1996, a large-scale search for Piper was conducted in the area of the Big Sioux River near Baltic, South Dakota. The searchers found a vibrator, a clump of duct tape, and half of a black and white t-shirt with "Code Zero" on the front. The shirt and tape were found close to each other. A large number of light brown human hairs, varying from two to six inches in length, were stuck to the duct tape. Unidentifiable human blood was also on the duct tape. The other half of the "Code Zero" t-shirt was turned in by a citizen on November 15, 1996. He had originally found the shirt lying on a road on July 29, 1996.2

[¶ 6.] Law enforcement's investigation of Piper's disappearance began focusing on Anderson, especially after he admitted he had been at the Streyle home on the morning of July 29. Vance remembered that on Friday, July 26, 1996, Anderson had visited their home. Anderson was wearing a black baseball cap, and his vehicle appeared to be dark and dirty. Vance remembered Anderson acted very strangely, standing there waiting for Vance to speak. Eventually, Anderson asked about the bible camp. While Vance explained that he would mail Anderson a brochure on the camp, Piper came to the door with paper and a pen so that Anderson could write down his name and address. While Shaina watched, Vance introduced Anderson to Piper.

[¶ 7.] A public request for information led to reports from Donnie Theel and Darrell Goth that a black vehicle had been in the area of the Streyle trailer on July 29, 1996. Theel, a highway worker, was driving a road grader by the Streyle home on July 29 at approximately 9:45 a.m. As he approached, a black vehicle turned around in the road near the Streyle trailer. The vehicle was a Bronco or Blazer, colored a faded "kind of blah" black. Theel observed this vehicle two more times that morning, first at about 10:45 a.m., then at 12:30 p.m.

[¶ 8.] The other eyewitness, Goth, had gone to the home of a relative that morning at approximately 10:00 a.m. and stayed an hour, measuring the roof. The house was across the road and northeast from the Streyle trailer, about a block and a half away. Goth reported he heard the Streyle door open when he was about halfway finished, and heard unidentifiable voices, then the door closed. When Goth left at around 11:00 a.m., he saw a dark-colored pickup go by, headed north, just before Theel's road grader passed. The dark vehicle did a U-turn in the road about a quarter of a mile away, and headed south.

[¶ 9.] Finally, Tim and Sara Beaner also saw the dull black Bronco near the Streyle home on July 29. The Beaners testified they first passed the Streyle home at 11:45 a.m. They saw Shaina and Nathan standing alone by the roadside, looking upset. When the Beaners came back past them at approximately 12:10 p.m., the Bronco was blocking the driveway. They saw a man in a black baseball cap walking from the house to the Bronco.

[¶ 10.] After interviewing Anderson, the police obtained search warrants for his blue3 Bronco, home and clothing. When officers examined the Bronco, they found substantial evidence linking Anderson to Piper's kidnapping, including several relevant store receipts. A receipt dated July 29, 1996, at 8:13 a.m. from the Menards store at Sioux Falls recorded Anderson's purchase of a roll of duct tape, a paintbrush, and a 5-quart paint bucket. Another receipt indicated his purchase of black Tempera paint on July 25, 1996 at a Ben Franklin Crafts store in Sioux Falls. When an officer asked Julie Bradfield, a clerk there, if the Tempera paint would wash off, she replied "[w]hat are you going to do, paint a car?" Bradfield told the officer that Anderson had also asked her that question on July 25th. She subsequently positively identified him in a lineup and in court.

[¶ 11.] After examining the Bronco, officers noted black paint on the blue Bronco. Rex Riis, of the State Forensic Lab, took samples of the black substance from nine places on the Bronco's exterior. He compared them to black Tempera paint visually, chemically, and microscopically and concluded the black substance was the same as the Tempera paint. Riis also confirmed the black Tempera paint was on numerous objects in the Bronco. Later testing found it took twenty-two minutes to paint a Bronco of the same size and type as Anderson's. The paint dried quickly, giving it a dull, flat black appearance. When the paint had dried, it could be easily washed off the Bronco except for traces of residue in places protected from the force of the water.

[¶ 12.] Following this investigation, the State charged Anderson with two counts of kidnapping.4 On May 8, 1997, a jury convicted Anderson of kidnapping Piper pursuant to SDCL 22-19-1(2), to facilitate the commission of a felony, specifically rape. The trial court sentenced Anderson to life imprisonment in the state penitentiary. Additional facts will be recited herein as they relate to specific issues.

[¶ 13.] 1. Did the trial court abuse its discretion in denying

Anderson's motion for mistrial after Shaina failed to

[¶ 14.] Statements of child witness, Shaina.

[¶ 15.] Shaina was the minor child witness in this case. Shaina had been present at the time Piper was kidnapped. At 3:00 p.m. on July 29, 1996, Piper failed to show up at work. As it was unlike Piper to be late for work without calling first, Patty Sinclair, a co-worker, called the Streyle residence. Shaina answered the phone. Sinclair asked the little girl whether her mother was home. Shaina responded "no." When Sinclair asked whether her father or a babysitter were there, Shaina also replied "no." Shaina then said very softly, "[t]hey [probably] killed ..." She then said "bye" and hung up.

[¶ 16.] When Sinclair called five minutes later, Shaina answered again, but was crying "extremely hard," almost hysterically. Sinclair could barely understand what Shaina was saying and tried to keep the little girl calm. Sinclair testified at trial:

As I recall, I asked her to calm down because I could not understand her and she said that she didn't — that her mommy was — a — that she didn't want her mommy to die and she said that twice. She didn't want her daddy to die and she didn't want her daddy to be hurt, as I recall.

Shaina told Sinclair her mother had left "a while ago ... with a man in a black car."5 Shaina also indicated she knew the man who had left with her mother. Sinclair stayed on the phone with Shaina for 45 to 50 minutes until the phone was hung up at 4:50 p.m. During this phone call, 911 was contacted and the McCook County Sheriff Gene Taylor, was alerted.

[¶ 17.] When Sheriff Taylor reached the Streyle home at 5:09 p.m., there was no response when he knocked on the front door. However, the inner door to the house was open. Hearing a child's voice, Taylor stepped inside and yelled "is anyone home?" When there was no answer, Taylor went to the rear of the house where he could hear a child's voice. It was in the rear bedroom he found Shaina crying.

[¶ 18.] Taylor testified that Shaina told him she did not know where her mother was but that her father was at work. She also told him her mother was going to die. Taylor searched for and found Nathan. He also noticed the house was in disarray.

[¶ 19.] Vance called home shortly thereafter to find out where his children were. He had gone to the babysitter's house but discovered the children were not there. Taylor instructed Vance to come home immediately. Vance arrived home at approximately 6:00 p.m., where he found Nathan in a "wiped out" state, while Shaina exhibited excitement, fear and anxiety. Shaina "babbled and chattered" with him. Vance testified: "[i]n order of sequence, she told me that he took my mommy. He took the tent. That's okay. We have another one. And then she proceeded...

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