State v. Blair

Decision Date31 August 1982
Docket NumberNo. 62782,62782
Citation638 S.W.2d 739
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Walter Junior BLAIR, Appellant.
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Phillip H. Schwarz, Gerald M. Handley, Kansas City, for appellant.

John Ashcroft, Atty. Gen., John M. Morris, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, Robert DaKopolis, Pros. Atty., Kansas City, for respondent.


Appellant was convicted of capital murder, § 565.001, RSMo 1978, and sentenced to death by a jury pursuant to § 565.008, RSMo 1978. This Court has jurisdiction for this original appeal under Mo.Const. art. V, § 3. Review includes consideration of both alleged trial errors and the death sentence. § 565.014.

The jury could reasonably have found that on April 2, 1979, Kathy Jo Allen was allegedly raped by Larry Jackson at her apartment. Thereafter, Jackson was arrested, charged with the rape, and placed in custody in the Jackson County Jail on this and other charges. 1 While in jail, Jackson attempted to prevent Miss Allen from testifying against him. He made four or five threatening telephone calls to Miss Allen, and other phone calls were made to her by Jackson's girl friend and by a Jackson County Jail inmate posing as an attorney. When these efforts proved unsuccessful, Jackson approached other inmates in the Jackson County Jail and asked if they would keep Miss Allen from appearing in court. Several inmates referred Jackson to appellant, who had been released from the Missouri State Penitentiary about eight months previously and who was then in the same jail. According to appellant's confession, he had a reputation in jail of not being afraid of anyone and of "being able to hold my own." Sometime during June or July of 1979, Jackson met appellant in the maximum security section of the jail and offered appellant $2,000 to keep Miss Allen from testifying. During subsequent conversations, Jackson told appellant he wanted the rape victim killed, preferably by putting a bomb in her apartment. Jackson further stated that his brother had some money coming in from a car accident and that this money would be used to pay appellant.

On July 16, 1979, appellant was released on bond from the Jackson County Jail. Appellant then spoke with Jackson, who was still in jail, several times by telephone about the proposed murder and Jackson raised his offer to $6,000. At some time after his release, he went to visit members of the Jackson family "to see if [the proposal] was for real." The family gave him Kathy Jo Allen's address and telephone number and provided him with a car (1964 Oldsmobile) which he could use to keep her under surveillance.

On Friday, August 17, three days before Miss Allen was scheduled to go to court and testify regarding the rape, appellant told a friend, Ernest Jones, that he was going to watch the "white girl" that night and that he might "take her out [kill her]." The next day when appellant saw Jones, he told Jones that he had seen the girl and her boyfriend having sex and that if he had had a gun he would have killed them both. At around 8:00 or 9:00 p. m. that same evening of Saturday, August 18, appellant met Ernest Jones at a community center and showed him a .32 caliber pistol which appellant said he had stolen out of a car that day. At 2:00 or 2:30 a. m. that morning (Sunday, August 19), appellant and his girl friend, Sharon Jones, left Ernest Jones's residence and went to the home of appellant's mother, where appellant lived. Several minutes after they arrived at the house, appellant left, telling Sharon Jones that he was "going to kill the white bitch" and that he would be back before sunrise. According to Sharon Jones, appellant wore a dark gold hooded shirt or sweater, blue jeans, high-topped black tennis shoes, and black leather driving gloves.

After leaving his house, appellant walked to the apartment of Kathy Jo Allen, where he hid across the street and watched for suspicious activity. Seeing none, appellant stood under the apartment bedroom window, removed the screen, and entered the bedroom. At this time Miss Allen and her boyfriend, Robert, were asleep on a mattress in the living room. Appellant took Robert's wallet and watch from a table and removed a pillow case which he wrapped around the lower part of his face. At around 6:00 a. m., Robert woke up. Appellant pointed the gun and told Robert to stay where he was and, when Robert began to sit up, said, "If you move again ... I'll blow your f______ brains all over this room." When Miss Allen awoke, appellant stated that he was just there to rob them and that he was not going to hurt or kill anyone. Appellant removed the money from Robert's wallet and took a man's diamond ring which Robert had attempted to hide under his pillow. Appellant said that he wanted Kathy to act as his driver and ordered her to get dressed. He refused Robert's offer of the keys to his car and Robert's suggestion that he (Robert) act as driver. As appellant and Allen prepared to leave, appellant told Robert that Allen would be right back in seven to ten minutes. Appellant took Miss Allen to her car and the two drove away. Robert called the police. He had not seen appellant's full face, but gave a description of appellant's height, weight, age, and clothing. This description matched that of appellant, although Robert tentatively identified Ernest Jones in a lineup as the perpetrator.

At around 6:30 a. m., a woman named Moore who lived on E. 34th Street in Kansas City heard screaming and two gunshots, another scream, and a third shot. Shortly thereafter, she saw a black male walk past her house. At approximately 7:00 a. m., police found the body of Kathy Jo Allen next to her abandoned car in a vacant lot at 34th and Tracy. This location was four blocks from appellant's home. The victim was nude from the waist up (her blouse was found nearby) and had been shot in the head, chest, and wrist. Subsequent examination of the gunpowder burns around the wounds indicated that the shots had been fired from close range, in the area of two to two and one-half feet away. The body also bore abrasions and lacerations which were consistent with the victim's being struck in the head with a brick before her death. Also found at the scene were an expended bullet discovered under the body and several tennis shoe footprints around the victim, which were photographed.

Also at around 7:00 a. m. that morning, appellant returned to his mother's house. When he arrived, his girl friend (Sharon Jones) observed that he was out of breath and that he was carrying a pillowcase with objects in it. Appellant emptied the pillowcase on the floor and Jones saw a brown purse, a silver diamond ring, two watches, and appellant's gun and gloves. Shortly thereafter, appellant heard police helicopters circling overhead. He put the items back in the pillowcase and left the house. An hour later, he returned without the pillowcase but wearing the man's watch and the ring. That day (Sunday, August 19), appellant and Sharon Jones went over to Ernest Jones's house. Appellant told Ernest Jones how he had abducted Kathy Jo Allen and that at the vacant lot "he hit her with a brick and that she wouldn't fall so he shot her." Appellant passed around the diamond ring and man's watch he had taken and also displayed the driver's license of Kathy Jo Allen. Appellant stated that all he had to do was to show the victim's driver's license to Larry Jackson's family and they would pay him. That evening, appellant took Kathy Jo Allen's purse, the stolen pillowcase, and a spent shell casing and burned them in his backyard.

The next day, Monday, August 20, appellant and Ernest Jones went to a pawnshop where they attempted to pawn the stolen diamond ring, but were unable to do so. Nevertheless, they saw an older brother of Ernest Jones, Frederick Jones, who pawned the ring for $50. He gave the money to Ernest Jones who in turn gave it to appellant. On Tuesday morning, August 21, appellant showed Larry Jackson's relatives the victim's driver's license. Appellant spoke with Jackson by telephone and, according to appellant's confession, Jackson said that he appreciated what appellant had done, loved him like a brother, and that appellant would get the promised $6,000. Also that morning, police arrested Frederick Jones, who had pawned the ring, and shortly thereafter took Ernest Jones into custody. When appellant heard about these arrests, he gave Ernest Jones's girl friend, Tina Jackson, a telephone number and told her to have Ernest call him at that number so he could provide Ernest and Frederick with bond money. Appellant said that Ernest should ask for "Cody" when he called. That afternoon, police interviewed Tina Jackson, obtained from her the telephone number given by appellant and determined that the number corresponded to an apartment at 4406 Tracy rented by Linda Robertson, who was Larry Jackson's sister. When police went to this residence, they were told by Robertson that appellant was not there. Thereafter, officers went to appellant's home, where they were admitted by appellant's mother. In appellant's room, they saw an orange or gold hooded sweater, which they seized. Later analysis of this sweater revealed paint chips consistent with the paint on the outside of Kathy Jo Allen's apartment and cat hair consistent with a cat owned by the victim.

On Wednesday morning, August 22, Ernest Jones assisted police by making two telephone calls to the number given by appellant. Subsequently, assured that appellant was at the location because a person answered by the code name "Cody", police officers entered the apartment of Linda Robertson and found appellant there together with several members of the Jackson family. A man's watch similar to Robert's was found near appellant and a pistol was later found in a closet of the apartment. Forensic analysis of the pistol revealed that two expended bullets found in and...

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