State v. Holmes

Decision Date09 December 1968
Docket NumberNo. 1,No. 52247,52247,1
Citation434 S.W.2d 555
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Walter Gene HOLMES, Appellant
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Norman H. Anderson, Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, William A. Moffitt, Jr., Sp. Asst. Atty. Gen., St. Louis, for respondent.

Harold A. Kyser, Belisle, McNabb & Kyser, Butler, for appellant.


Defendant was prosecuted under the Second Offender Act for burglary and stealing and upon the jury's finding of guilty on both charges, the trial court sentenced defendant to a term of 10 years for burglary and 5 years for stealing, the sentences to be served concurrently. On this appeal defendant's sole contention is that the convictions were based upon circumstantial evidence that was insufficient to establish his guilt, and therefore, the trial court erred in overruling his motions for judgment of acquittal and for a new trial. For the reasons hereinafter appearing it is our view that the evidence was sufficient to support the jury's findings but reversal of the judgment and sentence is required because of insufficient findings by the court of the applicability of the Second Offender Act.

Maude Hayes was the operator of a beer tavern located twenty miles from Butler, Missouri, and about five miles east of Hume. Maude lived in rooms in the rear of the tavern and her husband lived in a cabin on a river. Maude and defendant knew each other, the defendant having performed various odd jobs and errands for her. Defendant resided with his mother and stepfather in Worland.

On the date of the crime, November 22, 1965, Maude requested defendant to pick up some groceries for her and gave him a grocery list and five dollars. Defendant picked up the groceries in Rich Hill and returned to the tavern with them in the afternoon. The groceries amounted to $5.27 and Maude gave defendant two bottles of 'pop' worth twenty cents, a nickle and two cents. Defendant left the tavern about 5 o'clock P.M. and returned to his residence where he remained until about 6:30 o'clock P.M. before leaving and returning to the tavern. He ordered a beer and paid Maude 20 cents and told her he would have to owe her the remaining five cents because he did not have enough money to pay the full amount. Maude replied this was all right. It was Maude's practice that when someone charged a purchase she put a ticket in the cash register drawer with the person's name and the amount owing her on it.

After the beer transaction with defendant, Maude went into her living quarters to turn off the television set. When she returned to the tavern portion of the building the defendant was going out the front door. She asked him if he was coming back but he did not answer. She sat down and shortly afterwards heard a 'little racket' near a west window. She looked east, heard a loud shot and felt a stinging sensation in her ear and blood began running down her face. She went to the rear of the tavern to get a wash cloth and upon returning to the bar-room saw the defendant come running in the front door. He was not carrying a gun. Defendant said someone was shooting at him, that 'they' were not shooting at Maude, but 'they are after me'. Defendant then suggested the tavern light be put out and turned it off. He then went out the front door and Maude telephoned the sheriff. This was about 7:00 o'clock P.M. Defendant came back in the tavern and this time he had a gun in his hand and suggested that a bullet might be in Maude's head and an ambulance should be called to take her to the hospital. Maude said she wanted to wait for the sheriff. Defendant helped Maude attempt to telephone a doctor. Deputy Schwander arrived at the tavern about 7:30 o'clock P.M. Maude was sitting and blood was running down her head. Defendant was nearby. The deputy asked Maude what the trouble was and she told him they could not get a doctor and the deputy said he would take her to Butler. The defendant was told to remain there outside the tavern and was near his truck when Maude and the deputy departed. The doors and windows to the building were all locked and all lights turned off.

Defendant appeared at the Fay Wehar home about a mile and a quarter from the tavern between 7:00 o'clock and 8:00 o'clock P.M. in his truck. He acted 'quite nervous' and 'talked real fast'. He asked to use the telephone to call the sheriff saying someone had taken a shot at him through the windshield. The sheriff received defendant's call about 8:30 o'clock P.M. and instructed defendant to remain at the tavern. After Maude had been treated at the hospital she and Deputy Schwander left the hospital and arrived back at the tavern between 9:00 o'clock and 9:25 o'clock P.M. When Deputy Schwander arrived at the tavern Maude unlocked the door and pulled on the light. She did not see where Deputy Schwander went. The deputy saw defendant on the roof of the tavern. Sheriff Sivils and Deputy Mills arrived shortly after Maude and Deputy Schwander and went looking for the defendant. The sheriff called out to defendant who came around from the rear of the tavern building. He was advised by the sheriff that he was under arrest for investigation and was asked for his gun. Upon defendant's compliance with this request the gun was placed in the sheriff's automobile. The defendant told the sheriff of two shots through the windshield of his truck and these were examined by the parties and the back seat of the truck was removed in a futile search for bullets. However, during the search for the bullets the sheriff discovered some papers, cigarettes and money down at the side of the truck and upon his inquiry of defendant about these the defendant told the officer that he was going 'to go to the bank for Mrs. Hayes the next morning'.

In the meantime Maude had entered the tavern and saw a carton of cigarettes on the floor. Since the carton had not been there when she left for the hospital she went to the cash register to check it and found a lock on it that she had left pushed down had been pulled up and that about thirty dollars had been removed from the register. Additionally, papers and charge tickets kept beneath the till had been removed. She went to the kitchen where she kept a 'secret box' and a 'secret place' and discovered a two-dollar roll of nickels, checks and other things were missing. Two cartons of Camel cigarettes and one carton each of Winston and L & M cigarettes were gone from the tavern. Maude notified the officers of the burglary. In defendant's truck the sheriff found items which Maude identified as hers and that she kept beneath the register till. These were a charge ticket with defendant's name on it for four beers and some money, the grocery ticket list she had given defendant the same day and a charge ticket with another individual's name on it. Various other articles found by the sheriff in defendant's truck and identified by Maude as her property were admitted. The defendant had a two-dollar roll of nickels in his pocket. The officer also stated that some of the items were in a cigarette carton in the truck. Fifty one-dollar bills were found in the bottom of the side of the truck with tools, rags and bottles on them. The sheriff said he asked defendant where he obtained the dollar bills and the defendant said that was for the sheriff to find out. The sheriff then arrested defendant for burglary.

Defendant did not testify but did offer evidence in his defense. His sister testified that when she saw him four days before the burglary the defendant had $50.00 in a roll of bills in an old glove and on November 20 she and her husband paid defendant $18.00 in cash. Another witness testified she paid defendant $15.00 by check dated November 13 for labor and gave defendant a check for $6.50 dated November 22 for labor and another check for $2.00 dated the same date for cartage. Maude's endorsement 'for deposit only' was on the $6.50 check. Defendant's stepfather said that about two weeks before Thanksgiving while defendant was visiting him in Kansas City he gave defendant two one-dollar bills and a two-dollar roll of nickels.

Investigation by officers the night of November 22 and the next morning revealed one of the west tavern windows was partially raised, a bullet hole in another window evidence of tampering with south and west windows and a bullet in a door facing.

In testing the sufficiency of evidence in a criminal prosecution by a motion for a judgment of acquittal, the facts in evidence and the favorable inferences reasonably to be drawn therefrom must be considered in the light most favorable to the state and all evidence and inferences to the contrary must be cisregarded. State v. McClinton, Mo., 418 S.W.2d 55; State v. Burrage, Mo., 418 S.W.2d 101.

It is defendant's position that his convictions were based wholly on circumstantial evidence, and, therefore the circumstances must be consistent with each other and be inconsistent with any reasonable hypothesis except that of guilt. We agree that the latter proposition is the law of this state. State v. Allen, Mo., 420 S.W.2d 330. The...

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