State v. Jackson, WD83615

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtCYNTHIA L. MARTIN, JUDGE.
Decision Date21 December 2021
PartiesSTATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent, v. CHRISTOPHER R. JACKSON, Appellant.
Docket NumberWD83615



No. WD83615

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division

December 21, 2021

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The Honorable Joel P. Fahnestock, Judge.

Before: Cynthia L. Martin, Chief Judge, Presiding, Lisa White Hardwick, Judge, and Thomas N. Chapman, Judge.


Christopher R. Jackson ("Jackson") appeals from a judgment convicting him of one count of rape in the first degree, one count of domestic assault in the second degree, one count of attempted tampering with a victim, and two counts of violating an order of protection. Jackson claims on appeal that the trial court erred in overruling his objection to the State's use of a peremptory strike, in allowing testimony about prior uncharged acts of abuse, in instructing the jury how it could consider the evidence of prior uncharged acts of abuse, and in finding that he was a prior assault offender. Finding no error, we affirm


Jackson's convictions. However, we remand this matter to the trial court with instructions to correct a clerical error in the judgment.

Factual and Procedural History

The State charged Jackson as a prior assault offender with one count of rape in the first degree, one count of domestic assault in the second degree, one count of attempted rape in the first degree, one count of attempted tampering with a victim, and two counts of violation of an order of protection. Viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's verdicts, [1] the evidence at trial established the following:

On the evening of January 27, 2019, L.D. ("Victim") was asleep in her bedroom when her boyfriend, Jackson returned home, undressed, and then crawled in bed next to Victim. Jackson began to undress Victim, and she said "[N]o, I'm not in the mood for any of that, chill, not in the mood for it" because she had just returned from her grandmother's funeral and was still grieving. Jackson told Victim that she "didn't even know that woman." After Victim said that she "just [was] not in the mood" and that she did not want to have sex, Jackson hit the left side of Victim's face with his closed fist and attempted to pin her down to the bed. Jackson then "yanked" Victim's clothes off her body and hit her "multiple times in the face." Victim told Jackson to stop and fought back, but Jackson then penetrated Victim's vagina with his penis. Victim said, "No, please don't do this. Why are you doing this?" Jackson said "mean" and "insulting stuff," like "I go to work all the time," and "this is mine." Jackson grabbed Victim by her hair and "yank[ed] it back and forth, real fast, "
while continuing to penetrate her. Chunks of Victim's hair were later discovered on the bedroom carpet and on the mattress.

Once Jackson was no longer penetrating Victim, she went to the bathroom to look at her face. Victim began crying because "[her face] was all bruised up." Jackson came into the bathroom and said, "I'm not done with you. What are you doing?" before grabbing Victim's hair and dragging her back to the bedroom. Victim attempted to fight back, but she was overpowered. Once Jackson had taken Victim to the bedroom, Jackson began kicking Victim "real hard" and tried to lift Victim onto the bed when she "kept falling down on purpose so [she would not] have to get [in]to the bed." Jackson retaliated by punching Victim's stomach with a closed fist. Victim stopped resisting at that point due to the pain she was suffering and "just let [Jackson] have his way." Jackson forced Victim to have intercourse a second time. Victim waited for Jackson to fall asleep, and once he had been asleep for one or two hours, Victim left the bedroom and called the police.

The police arrived while Jackson was still sleeping. An officer transported Victim to a nearby hospital, where Victim was examined by a sexual assault nurse examiner ("SANE") nurse. Victim reported to the SANE nurse that she had been sexually and physically assaulted by an intimate partner. The SANE nurse noted that Victim's left temple and cheek were swollen and bruised. The SANE nurse collected swabs of Victim's cervix. Those cervical swabs were later tested for the presence of DNA. The fluid swabbed from Victim's cervix contained DNA matching the DNA of Victim and of Jackson.

Victim sought and obtained an order of protection against Jackson. The order of protection provided that Jackson "shall not communicate with [Victim] in any manner or


through any medium," and "strictly prohibited" "the use of third parties, including children, to communicate." A process server personally served Jackson with the order of protection on February 26, 2019. Thereafter, Jackson sent at least four letters to Victim, asking Victim not to answer calls from the prosecutor's office, to live elsewhere to avoid receiving a subpoena, not to come to court, and to ask that Jackson's charges be dropped.

Jackson was tried before a jury in October 2019. Prior to voir dire, the trial court found beyond a reasonable doubt that Jackson was a prior assault offender because he pleaded guilty and was convicted of domestic battery in Johnson County, Kansas in 2015.

The jury acquitted Jackson of attempted rape in the first degree but found Jackson guilty of the remaining five charges. The trial court entered a judgment ("Judgment") sentencing Jackson as a prior assault offender[2] to fifteen years' incarceration for the first-degree rape conviction, five years' incarceration for the second-degree domestic assault conviction, seven years' incarceration for the tampering with a victim conviction, and three years' incarceration for each of the convictions for violating an order of protection. The Judgment ordered that the domestic assault sentence was to run consecutively to the rape sentence, but that the tampering with a victim and violating an order of protection sentences


were to run currently with the rape sentence. Thus, Jackson was sentenced to a total of twenty years' incarceration. Jackson appeals. Additional facts are discussed in the analysis portion of the Opinion as necessary.


Jackson presents four points on appeal, challenging the peremptory strike of a potential juror, the admission of prior uncharged acts, a jury instruction's reference to evidence of prior uncharged acts, and the trial court's determination that he was a prior assault offender. We address the points in turn.

Point One: State's Peremptory Strike of Venireperson No. 5

Jackson argues that the trial court clearly erred in overruling his objection to the State's peremptory strike of Venireperson No. 5 as an improper attempt to exclude a potential juror in contravention of Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986). Venireperson No. 5 was the only potential juror who self-identified as Native American.

Our review of a trial court's denial of a Batson challenge is for clear error. State v. Gilbert, 628 S.W.3d 702, 707 (Mo. App. W.D. 2021). A trial court's ruling on a Batson challenge constitutes clear error if "we . . . have a 'definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been made.'" Id. (quoting State v. Bateman, 318 S.W.3d 681, 687 (Mo. banc 2010)). "A trial court's determination that a peremptory strike was made on racially neutral grounds is entitled to great deference on appeal," State v. Boyd, 597 S.W.3d 263, 268 (Mo. App. W.D. 2019), "because its findings of fact largely depend on its evaluation of


credibility and demeanor." Gilbert, 628 S.W.3d at 707 (quoting State v. Evans, 490 S.W.3d 377, 384 (Mo. App. W.D. 2016)).

Pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, peremptory challenges may not be used to remove "potential jurors solely on account of their race." Batson, 476 U.S. at 89. The Missouri Supreme Court has identified a three-step burden-shifting procedure for trial courts to use to determine whether a peremptory challenge by the state runs afoul of the Equal Protection Clause:

First, the defendant must raise a Batson challenge with regard to one or more specific venirepersons struck by the state and identify the cognizable racial group to which the venireperson or persons belong. The trial court will then require the state to come forward with reasonably specific and clear race-neutral explanations for the strike. Assuming the prosecutor is able to articulate an acceptable reason for the strike, the defendant will then need to show that the state's proffered reasons for the strikes were merely pretextual and that the strikes were racially motivated.

State v. Meeks, 495 S.W.3d 168, 172-73 (Mo. banc 2016) (quoting State v. Parker, 836 S.W.2d 930, 939 (Mo. banc 1992)).

Jackson challenges only the third step, and argues that the trial court clearly erred when it concluded that Jackson failed to demonstrate that the State's proffered reason for exercising a peremptory challenge to strike Venireperson No. 5 was merely pretextual and was instead racially motivated. We disagree.

During voir dire, the State asked, "Is there anyone here who has a close personal friend or family member who has been convicted of domestic violence or sexual assault or some other violent crime?" Six members of the venire panel raised their hands. One was Venireperson No. 5, who had the following exchange with the prosecutor:

Q: Juror Number 5?
A: Both my brothers served 20 years. Both of them were jumped by their children, they got convicted, 20 years.
Q: So that happened 20 years or more ago?
A: Yeah.
Q: Was that prosecuted here in Jackson County?
A: Yes.
Q: Do you believe that they were prosecuted fairly?
A: No.
Q: And to have that experience and have two brothers that had been sentenced and feel like the system didn't treat them fairly, is that something that has got

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