State v. Harrell, WD32303

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Citation637 S.W.2d 752
Docket NumberNo. WD32303,WD32303
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Timothy HARRELL, Appellant.
Decision Date29 June 1982

Jeffery L. Alena, Kansas City, for appellant.

John Ashcroft, Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, Philip M. Koppe, Carl S. Yendes, Asst. Attys. Gen., Kansas City, for respondent.



Defendant appeals from a conviction by jury of robbery in the first degree. His points on appeal all relate to the refusal by the trial court to strike members of the venire for cause.

During the course of the voir dire, venireman Sipes and venirewoman Confer were stricken for cause because of their expressed prejudice arising from other robberies in which each of them had been involved. Venireman Downs was also stricken for cause because of his claim of knowledge of what was going on in the Westport Area of Kansas City and his admission that the knowledge mentioned would prejudice him against the defendant. The voir dire examination then continued as follows:

"MR. ALENA: Would any of you give greater credence to the testimony of a police officer merely because he is a police officer?

DORIS HUMPHREY: Greater than what?

MR. ALENA: Greater than any other witness. Would you be more apt to believe a police officer solely because he is a police officer?

DORIS HUMPHREY: I think they have more information.

MR. ALENA: Your name again is Mrs. Humphrey?

DORIS HUMPHREY: Yes. They should know what they are talking about.

MR. ALENA: Well, do you think that because of the fact that--I am going to ask you this again, based on that answer. Do you think that because one of the witnesses in this case is a Kansas City Missouri police officer, as the prosecutor stated, would you give more weight to his testimony than, say, to the testimony of the defendant or the testimony of the victim or the testimony of any other defendant's witnesses?

DORIS HUMPHREY: Well, I would think that he is trained, you know, in this type of thing and I think yes, that he should have--

MR. SCHAFFER: May I inquire if Mr. Alena is finished?

THE COURT: You don't need to. Step up here.


THE COURT: Are you going to strike her?

MR. ALENA: Judge, I would ask that she be stricken for cause based on--

THE COURT: Overruled. Absolutely no basis for it. Go ahead.


MR. SCHAFFER: Mrs. Humphrey, you mentioned before that your nephew was with the highway patrol?

DORIS HUMPHREY: It's a cousin.

MR. SCHAFFER: A cousin. I assume because of that you know they go through extensive training.


MR. SCHAFFER: What I gather from what you're saying is because of their training, when they are testifying about the things they are trained about, you have an inclination to believe that they would know more than the average person about that area, is that correct?


MR. SCHAFFER: But as far as when they are talking about whether red is red or blue is blue like everybody knows, you would give them the same weight, is that correct; you would give them special weight to those things that they are trained to know and pay attention about.


MR. SCHAFFER: And those things that they would have seen that they weren't specifically trained for, you would accept them just like any other person who takes the oath and says what they know, is that what you're saying, ma'am?


Veniremen Parker and James then stated that they felt like Humphrey did. Then the matter proceeded as follows:

"MR. SCHAFFER: Your Honor, before we proceed with any more questioning, I think the jury should understand that they needn't feel guilty about having the attitude that a person who is trained in special areas of life is entitled or could be given more credibility than other persons who are not so trained.

THE COURT: Of course not, but I don't understand Mr. Parker's answer that he doesn't think that would prejudice or bias him. I don't quite understand that, so if you want to question about that later on....

* * *

* * *

Do you all understand that under the law, as Mr. Schaffer said, the fact that the defendant has been charged with a crime does not mean or proves he is guilty of a crime? Does anybody have any problems accepting that? In other words, do any of you feel that merely because the defendant is here charged with robbery in the first degree that he must have done it? Anybody in this section?

DORIS HUMPHREY: I feel like there is a lot of credence for it if he has been arrested.

MR. ALENA: In other words, you feel that merely because he has been charged, he must be guilty?

DORIS HUMPHREY: Well, no, not to that extent but I feel like there is certainly a lot that points toward it.

MR. ALENA: Could you put any of these feelings aside and wait until you have heard all of the evidence in this case before forming or expressing an opinion of the defendant's guilt?

DORIS HUMPHREY: I suppose. I don't--

MR. ALENA: Do you think--

THE COURT: I'm sorry, I didn't hear your answer.

DORIS HUMPHREY: I didn't answer.

THE COURT: Would you answer that question, please?

DORIS HUMPHREY: I think maybe I could.

THE COURT: When you say you think and maybe you could, are you expressing some reservation about that?


THE COURT: I see. Go ahead.

MR. ALENA: I'm not quite sure. Do you believe you could set aside the fact of the arrest and him being here and base your decision solely on the evidence that you hear from the witnesses produced by both the prosecutor and myself?

DORIS HUMPHREY: I would certainly try.

MR. ALENA: In good conscience, do you think you could?


MR. ALENA: I saw some other hands. Miss Ocheskey?

MARY OCHESKEY: I just feel like her, too. I mean you don't get arrested unless there is evidence, but I would wait until it's all presented, but I mean, you wouldn't come out and arrest me because somebody got robbed in that part of the neighborhood, and said you were there.

MR. ALENA: In other words, you think by the fact that Timothy Harrell is here, he must be guilty?

MARY OCHESKEY: There has to be evidence there or he wouldn't be here.

MR. ALENA: Then could you wait, in good conscience, until you have heard all of the evidence in the case to decide whether or not he was guilty or innocent?


MR. ALENA: You don't think your preconceived feelings would interfere with your reaching a not guilty verdict if the prosecutor does not in fact prove Timothy Harrell guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?

MARY OCHESKEY: Right now I don't have any feelings one way or the other because I know nothing about the facts. That he has been arrested is all there is evidence.

MR. ALENA: And you think that's enough to indicate he might be guilty?

MARY OCHESKEY: It's strong.

MR. ALENA: Could you put that feeling aside?

MARY OCHESKEY: Yes, I could, yes.

MR. ALENA: That wouldn't give you any problems with your conscience or anything?


After some intervening interrogation by counsel, the trial court returned to the subject of whether the mere fact of the defendant being charged should be considered as evidence against him. The following occurred at that point:

"THE COURT: Let me ask this question of the jury and particularly Mrs. Humphrey and Mrs. Ocheskey; the fact that the defendant has been charged with an offense is not evidence and it creates no inference that any offense was committed or that the defendant is guilty. In the event you were chosen as a juror in this case, could you follow that rule of law? Do we have anybody that would have any problem following that rule of law?

MARY OCHESKEY: No. I said yes on what he said meaning-- THE COURT: Yes, I rephrased it because I wanted only no answers. Would anybody have any problem with that rule of law? Okay. Thank you.

And Mrs. Humphrey, do you understand what I said there?

DORIS HUMPHREY: You're saying he is innocent until proven otherwise.

THE COURT: Unless and until the jury finds him guilty, he has the presumption of innocence and the fact that he has been charged is not evidence and will not be presented as evidence to prove guilt. The formality of a charge is not evidence that can cause or allow the jury to think that the defendant is guilty. Can you follow that?


On the basis of the foregoing, defendant moved to strike venirewomen Humphrey and Ocheskey for cause. Those motions were overruled. Defendant also moved to strike the entire panel, and that motion was also overruled. These rulings constitute the points relied upon for reversal by defendant on this appeal.

With respect to the refusal to strike Humphrey and Ocheskey, defendant contends that each of those venirewomen was disposed to attach weight to the mere fact that defendant had been arrested and charged with the crime. Not infrequently a prospective juror states initially on voir dire...

To continue reading

Request your trial
13 cases
  • State v. Evans
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • 9 Enero 1991
    ...responses were so inflammatory and prejudicial that it can be said a right to a fair trial has been infringed. State v. Harrell, 637 S.W.2d 752, 757 (Mo.App.1982). Two cases in point make clear that Ramsey's lone comment fell short of that line. In State v. Taylor, 324 S.W.2d 643 (Mo.1959),......
  • State v. Edmonson, 17685
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 11 Marzo 1992
    ...Specifically, Draper and Schnick point with approval to (1) State v. Butler, 660 S.W.2d 225, 227 (Mo.App.1983), and State v. Harrell, 637 S.W.2d 752, 757 (Mo.App.1982), where defendants were held not to have been prejudiced because the testifying police officers did not provide any elements......
  • State v. Reed
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 6 Abril 1990
    ...they were "so inflammatory and prejudicial that it can be said that a right to a fair trial has been infringed." State v. Harrell, 637 S.W.2d 752, 757 (Mo.App.1982). The comments complained of were responses to Reed's counsel's questions by Hunter. Earlier Hunter stated in reply to a questi......
  • State v. Brooks
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 7 Mayo 1985
    ...but then the officer's testimony was not critical to the case. See State v. Butler, 660 S.W.2d 225, 227 (Mo.App.1983); State v. Harrell, 637 S.W.2d 752, 757 (Mo.App.1982). Here the concern was with the venireperson's prejudice against Brooks if he did not testify. But in fact Brooks did tes......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT