State v. Denzmore, ED 99468.

Decision Date19 August 2014
Docket NumberNo. ED 99468.,ED 99468.
Citation436 S.W.3d 635
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Raymon DENZMORE, Appellant.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Gwenda R. Robinson, Assistant Public Defender, St. Louis, MO, for appellant.

Evan J. Buchheim, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, MO, for respondent.

PATRICIA L. COHEN, Judge.

Introduction

Raymon Denzmore (Defendant) appeals the judgment of conviction entered after a jury found him guilty of one count of first-degree robbery, one count of armed criminal action, two counts of kidnapping, one count of resisting arrest, and one count of leaving the scene of an accident. Defendant claims the trial court erred in: (1) denying his motion to sever Defendant's trial from that of his codefendant; (2) overruling his motions for judgment of acquittal because the State presented insufficient evidence to support Defendant's conviction of felony leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident; and (3) imposing a forty-four-year prison sentence. We affirm.

Factual and Procedural Background

Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the following evidence was adduced at trial: On January 15, 2011 at approximately 10:30 p.m., Kristin Hemker and Michelle Beeks were leaving the restaurant where they worked and walking to Ms. Hemker's car, when Ms. Hemker noticed Defendant and his co-defendant, Alon Monigan, watching them from a dirty, green Ford Taurus in the parking lot. Ms. Hemker reached her car, a 2002 Nissan Altima, and entered the driver's seat. Ms. Beeks placed her bag in the back seat and was sitting down and closing the passenger's door, when Defendant, then seventeen years of age, “jumped” into the seat behind Ms. Hemker, pointed a silver and black gun at her, and ordered, “Just drive, bitch.” When Ms. Hemker stopped the car at a stop sign, Defendant pushed the back of her head with his gun and stated, “Drive, bitch.”

After about six or seven blocks, Defendant directed Ms. Hemker to park the car outside of an apartment building and ordered Ms. Hemker and Ms. Beeks to “get out and leave our phone[s] and our purse[s] and leave everything.... just go and keep walking.” When Ms. Hemker exited the car, she noticed Mr. Monigan sitting in the green Taurus she had seen in the restaurant parking lot.

On January 16, 2011, at approximately 8:45 p.m., Alexandra Quigley drove home from work and parked her car in front of her house. She passed through the iron gate in front of her stoop, and when she turned around to close it, Mr. Monigan pulled it open. Ms. Quigley threw her purse at him, but Mr. Monigan continued to approach her, pointed a black and silver gun at her head, and repeatedly ordered, “Get in the car.” Two other men were standing on the street near Mr. Monigan's car. Ms. Quigley's husband, Nicholas Quigley, opened the door when he heard an “aggressive,” male voice. Ms. Quigley ran inside the house and called the police.

Mr. Quigley rushed out the door and hit Mr. Monigan as he attempted to flee. Mr. Quigley and Mr. Monigan fought, and Mr. Monigan struck Mr. Quigley's face and head several times with his gun. When he realized that the two other men had joined the fight, Mr. Quigley disengaged, and Mr. Monigan and the two other men ran to their car and drove away.

On the night of January 21, 2011, Police Officer William Hoffman was patrolling downtown St. Louis when he noticed a gray Altima that matched the description of the vehicle taken from Ms. Hemker on January 15. Defendant was driving the Altima, and Mr. Monigan was riding in the passenger's seat. Officer Hoffman followed the Altima, verified the license plate, and attempted to pull over the vehicle. When Officer Hoffman activated his lights and siren, Defendant began driving “a[t] a very high rate of speed and disregarding the red lights....” Officer Hoffman pursued the Altima for about five blocks on wet, icy roads. Finally, Defendant made a sharp left turn in front of a restaurant, hit a parked car, and propelled it over the curb and through the restaurant's front window, causing “a pretty big explosion.” Defendant and Mr. Monigan exited the Altima and fled on foot. Police officers later located Defendant and Mr. Monigan hiding in a nearby parking garage and arrested them.

Police recovered from the Nissan Altima, among other things, a black and silver gun, Ms. Quigley's purse, and the Quigleys' insurance card. Forensic analysts found Defendant's DNA on the Altima's deployed driver's side airbag.

On January 21, 2011, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department conducted two live line-ups, one with Defendant and another with Mr. Monigan. Ms. Hemker identified Defendant as [t]he man that got in [her] car with the gun” and Mr. Monigan as the man driving the green Taurus. Ms. Beeks identified Defendant as the gunman, but she did not identify anyone in Mr. Monigan's line-up. Mr. and Ms. Quigley identified Mr. Monigan as the man who robbed Ms. Quigley on January 16. Neither Mr. Quigley nor Ms. Quigley identified Defendant.

The State charged Defendant and Mr. Monigan, under the same indictment, with: first-degree robbery and armed criminal action relating to Ms. Hemker (Counts I and II) and kidnapping Ms. Hemker and Ms. Beeks (Counts III and IV). Additionally, the State charged Defendant with resisting arrest (Count XI) and the class D felony of leaving the scene of a motor vehicle accident (Count XII).1

Prior to trial, Defendant filed a motion to sever his case from Mr. Monigan's, which the trial court denied. After a five-day trial, the jury found Defendant and Mr. Monigan guilty on all counts. The trial court sentenced Defendant to consecutive terms of twenty years' imprisonment on Counts I and II, to run concurrently with five-year sentences on Counts III and IV and consecutively with two-year sentences on Counts XI and XII, for a total of forty-four years' imprisonment. Defendant appeals.

Standard of Review

The decision to sever a joint trial lies within the sound discretion of the trial court. State v. Isa, 850 S.W.2d 876, 885 (Mo. banc 1993). We will disturb that ruling only if there has been an abuse of discretion resulting in clear prejudice to the defendant. Id.

When a criminal defendant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction, our review is “limited to determining whether sufficient evidence was admitted at trial from which a reasonable trier of fact could have found each element of the offense to have been established beyond a reasonable doubt.” State v. Burrell 160 S.W.3d 798, 801 (Mo. banc 2005). We accept as true all the evidence favorable to the State, including all favorable inferences drawn from the evidence, and we disregard all evidence and inferences contrary to the verdict. State v. Crawford, 68 S.W.3d 406, 407–08 (Mo. banc 2002).

Defendant concedes that he did not preserve for appeal his challenge to the constitutionality of his sentence and requests plain error review. Pursuant to Rule 30.20, “plain errors affecting substantial rights may be considered in the discretion of the court when the court finds that manifest injustice or miscarriage of justice has resulted therefrom.” Rule 30.20.

Discussion
A. Motion to Sever

In his first point on appeal, Defendant claims the trial court clearly erred in denying his motion to sever his trial from that of Mr. Monigan. More specifically, Defendant asserts that, as a result of the trial court's refusal to sever, “there was prejudicial evidence admitted at the joint trial that would have been inadmissible against [Defendant] in a separate trial, namely five counts of offenses with which the State had charged Mr. Monigan only and in which [Defendant] had not participated.” The State counters that severance was not required and Defendant failed to establish that he was prejudiced.

Missouri courts generally favor joint trials because they “further the interests of justice by avoiding inconsistent verdicts and lead to more accurate assessments of relative culpability.” State v. Farr, 69 S.W.3d 517, 525 (Mo.App. S.D.2001); see also Isa, 850 S.W.2d at 885. Under Rule 24.06 and Section 545.880, which govern the propriety and procedure of severing joint trials, severance is required, upon the defendant's written motion, if the trial court finds the probability for prejudice exists or a separate trial is necessary to achieve a fair determination of defendant's guilt or innocence. Rule 24.06(b); Mo.Rev.Stat. § 545.880.2; see also State v. Kidd, 990 S.W.2d 175, 182 (Mo.App. W.D.1999).

The purpose of severance “is to protect defendants in joint trials from being convicted on evidence that would be inadmissible against them in a separate trial.” State v. Ward, 782 S.W.2d 725, 729 (Mo.App. E.D.1989). “Severance is required when the proof is such that a jury could not be expected to compartmentalize the evidence as it relates to the separate defendants.” State v. Oliver, 791 S.W.2d 782, 786 (Mo.App. E.D.1990). Severance is not required when a less drastic course, such as the provision of proper jury instructions, will prevent prejudice to the defendant. Isa, 850 S.W.2d at 885; Kidd, 990 S.W.2d at 182. On appeal, the defendant bears the burden of affirmatively showing that the joint trial prejudiced his right to a fair trial. Kidd, 990 S.W.2d at 182.

In the instant case, the prosecutor explained to the venire panel that Defendant and Mr. Monigan faced separate charges. The prosecutor stated that Mr. Monigan [was] charged with incidents that are alleged to have occurred on three separate dates”January 15, January 16, and January 20, 2011 while Defendant was charged with the incidents that occurred on January 15 and 20, 2011. The State's evidence relating to the January 16, 2011 offenses against the Quigleys incriminated only Mr. Monigan. Ms. Quigley testified that Mr. Monigan was...

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