State v. Burns

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Citation581 S.W.2d 590
Docket NumberNo. 39857,39857
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Luke BURNS, Appellant.
Decision Date17 April 1979

Stuart A. Cofman, St. Louis, at trial; Robert C. Babione, Public Defender, Charles V. Mostov, Asst. Public Defender, St. Louis, on appeal, for appellant.

Paul Robert Otto, Steven D. Steinhilber, Asst. Attys. Gen., Jefferson City, John D. Ashcroft, Atty. Gen., George A. Peach, Circuit Atty., Maureen Dickman, St. Louis, for respondent.

REINHARD, Presiding Judge.

Defendant Luke Burns was charged by information with robbery in the first degree by means of a dangerous and deadly weapon and armed criminal action. A jury convicted defendant to both charges. Under the Second Offender Statute, the trial court sentenced defendant to fifteen years on the robbery conviction and three years on the armed criminal action conviction, the sentences to run consecutively. Pursuant to a recent Missouri Supreme Court decision, the trial court subsequently set aside the sentences, but upon resentencing, reimposed the same sentences. Defendant appeals.

The evidence adduced at trial reveals the following. On February 15, 1977, Larry Smith was working as an attendant at a service station at 3620 South Kingshighway. At approximately 5:30 that evening, while waiting on a car, Smith noticed a white Dodge with a black vinyl top pull in next to the service station office. A man and a woman alighted from the car and entered the office. When Smith went to the office to serve them, the gentleman asked Smith several questions about various products the station was selling. After answering these queries, Smith then stepped away to deposit some receipts in a cash box, at which time the man stepped over and pressed a gun into the attendant's ribs. The man then forced Smith into the bathroom, told him to lie on the floor, and demanded money. Smith complied, and after tying up Smith, the assailant departed. Smith testified that he had several opportunities to see the man's fact during the entire encounter.

After working himself free, Smith hurried from the restroom to find a waiting customer, who had had the foresight to commit to memory the license number of the white Dodge as it left the station. A subsequent police check of the license number showed Luke Burns to be its registered owner.

On February 17, 1977, the police showed Larry Smith 5 pairs of photographs of possible suspects. Smith picked the photograph of defendant as being the photograph of the man who had robbed him. That evening, Smith also picked defendant out of a line-up conducted at the police station. Defendant was the only individual in the line-up whose photos had been among those shown to Smith earlier in the day. Police had arrested defendant that day as he drove a car carrying the license number reported to the police by the resourceful customer. At trial, defendant offered an alibi defense.

Other facts will be given as necessary in the course of the opinion.

As his first point of error, defendant asserts that that trial court erred in passing before the jury the set of photographs from which Larry Smith had selected defendant's picture, and in allowing the term "mug shots" to be used in reference to these pictures. The activity out of which this contention arises occurred during the testimony of Larry Smith. The defendant objected to the pictures being shown to the jury because the photographs contained booking numbers, arguably representing evidence of another crime. The court permitted the photographs to be shown to the jury only after the booking numbers on all pictures were covered. The references to the pictures as "mug shots" came from Smith, who twice stated on direct examination that the police showed him "some mug shots." Defendant objected only after Smith's second use of that phrase. At no time did the State denominate the photographs as "mug shots."

As to the court's allowing the photographs to be passed before the jury, we find no error. The defendant was challenging the identification made by the victim and was presenting an alibi defense. The objectionable portions were blocked out before the photographs were shown to the jury. Confronted with similar facts, the Supreme Court in State v. Crossman, 464 S.W.2d 36 (Mo.1971) ruled that the photographs were admissible. In so holding the court stated that "the introduction of the photographs helped the jury to determine the accuracy or inaccuracy of the identification made by the witness." 464 S.W.2d at 41. See also State v. Futrell, 565 S.W.2d 465, 467 (Mo.App.1978), in which this court relied on Crossman in upholding a similar presentation of "mug shots" to the jury. The court did not commit prejudicial error in allowing the jury to view these pictures.

We also reject defendant's contention that the court erred in allowing Larry Smith to twice use the term "mug shots" while referring to the police photographs shown him. We first note that defendant failed to object when Smith first used the term, and then failed to raise this issue in his motion for a new trial. Therefore, this narrow point may only be considered under the plain error articulated in Rule 27.20(c). State v. Hamell, 561 S.W.2d 357, 361 (Mo.App.1977). Under the rule, the court may consider plain errors not effectively preserved for review, when the court deems that manifest injustice or miscarriage of justice has resulted therefrom. Without condoning the use of the term "mug shots," we do not believe the plain error rule applicable here. Considering the positive and repeated identification of defendant by the victim, the recording by another witness of the license plate found to be registered in defendant's name, and defendant's arrest while driving the vehicle carrying that plate, it becomes readily apparent that no injustice or miscarriage of justice will result from our refusal to invoke the rule in this circumstance. State v. Ray, 554 S.W.2d 596, 598 (Mo.App.1977). Moreover, we are not persuaded that the use of the term "mug shots," by the victim only, necessarily indicates the commission of separate crimes, particularly here when used by Smith only in the context of identification and not in reference to another crime. See State v. Rutledge, 524 S.W.2d 449, 458 (Mo.App.1975).

Defendant next urges that the court erred in overruling his motion to suppress identification testimony based on a line-up. Also in this vein, defendant further asserts that Larry Smith's in-court identification was tainted because at trial the state presented to him the photographs shown him on February 17.

We will deal first with defendant's second point. We recite the well-established principles that the propriety of identification procedures is to be determined from the totality of the circumstances. The validity of an allegedly tainted in-court identification is to be resolved by considering the presence of an independent basis for the identification apart from the challenged pre-trial identification procedures, the absence of any suggestive influence by others, and positive courtroom identification. State v. Boothe, 485 S.W.2d 11, 13...

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14 cases
  • Sours v. State, 61458.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • August 18, 1980
    ...fifteen years for assault with intent to do great bodily harm with malice) (reversed for defect in jury panel); State v. Burns, 581 S.W.2d 590 (Mo.App.1979) (per Reinhard, P. J.) three years for armed criminal action to run consecutively to fifteen years for robbery first degree); State v. ......
  • State v. Trimble, 11898
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • June 8, 1983
    ...of a defendant's constitutional rights and does not necessarily require suppression of the eyewitness identification. State v. Burns, 581 S.W.2d 590, 594 (Mo.App.1979); State v. Conley, 541 S.W.2d 4, 6 It has already been observed that the investigating officers used an older picture of def......
  • State v. Walker, 40479
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 28, 1981
    ...suggestive of the defendant, as the other participants in the lineup tableau shared physical characteristics with him. State v. Burns, 581 S.W.2d 590, 594 (Mo.App.1979); State v. Conley, 541 S.W.2d 4, 6 (Mo.App.1976). The state introduced a police photograph of defendant with photographs of......
  • State v. Rodgers
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • August 17, 1999
    ...or photos in the police files. We have repeatedly expressed our disapproval of the use of the term "mug shots." See State v. Burns, 581 S.W.2d 590, 593 (Mo. App. 1979); State v. Rutledge, 524 S.W.2d at 458. Nonetheless, we have been reluctant to conclude that this error necessarily connotes......
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