State v. Jones, 54161

Decision Date12 March 1991
Docket NumberNo. 54161,54161
Citation809 S.W.2d 45
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Gunnell JONES, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

Application to Transfer Denied June 11, 1991.

Dave Hemingway, St. Louis, for defendant-appellant.

William L. Webster, Atty. Gen., Joseph P. Murray, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for plaintiff-respondent.

KAROHL, Judge.

This is a direct appeal after convictions on charges of robbery in the first degree, § 569.020 RSMo 1986 and armed criminal action, § 571.015 RSMo 1986. Defendant was sentenced to serve consecutive terms of ten years and three years on these charges. The only issue on appeal is whether the court erred in allowing cross-examination of defendant which went beyond the nature, dates, places and the resulting sentence of each prior crime to which he entered pleas of guilty. See State v. Phelps, 677 S.W.2d 418 (Mo.App.1984). We affirm.

"[A]ny prior criminal convictions may be proved to affect [any persons] credibility in a civil or criminal case and, further, any prior pleas of guilty ... may be proved to affect his credibility in a criminal case." Section 491.050 RSMo 1986. Proof of prior convictions is relevant for the purpose of impeachment. For the purpose of impeaching a defendant's credibility it is unnecessary for the inquiry go into details of the crimes leading to the prior convictions. Phelps, 677 S.W.2d at 421. A prosecutor may not unduly emphasize a conviction, delve into details of the crimes leading to the prior convictions so as to aggravate them, or use them to suggest guilt of the offense presently charged. State v. Frison, 775 S.W.2d 314, 318 (Mo.App.1989): State v. Applewhite, 771 S.W.2d 865, 869 (Mo.App.1989); State v. Powell, 632 S.W.2d 55, 58 (Mo.App.1982). The question is whether the court erred in permitting the prosecutor to violate approved limits of cross-examination on defendant's priors. The answer lies in the following facts.

Defendant was charged with robbing a woman of her purse. She testified a man pointed a gun at her while she was seated in her automobile. He demanded her purse which she threw out the window. Subsequently, defendant gave two written confessions. The confession statements confirmed details in the victim's testimony. Some of these details were not included in a police report of the robbery.

At trial defendant testified he did not rob the victim and gave the statements involuntarily by reason of police coercion. On cross-examination the following occurred:

Prosecutor: Have you pleaded guilty to any crimes?

A. Yes.

Q. What did you plead guilty to?

A. Second Degree Robbery and Attempt.

Q. Attempt what?

A. Robbery.

Q. Attempted Robbery in the Second Degree?

A. Yes.

Q. Were those both in the City of St. Louis?

A. Yes.

Q. Did both those crimes occur on February 22nd of 1987?

* * * * * *

A. Well, you asked me if I pled guilty. I'm telling you why and that's why.

Q. Did you plead guilty in front of a judge?

A. Yes.

Q. Did the Judge ask you all those questions?

A. Yes.

Q. Was one of the questions whether or not you were in fact guilty of the crime?

A. Yes. She told me--

Defense counsel interrupted the answer with an objection that the questions went "beyond proper examination on this particular issue." The court overruled the objection after argument of the prosecutor that the defendant was volunteering unresponsive answers which may have left the jury with an impression "that somehow he got horn-swoggled by his lawyer or something else." Defendant then testified he entered guilty pleas in a form dictated by his lawyer. Unresponsive portions of defendant's answers strongly implied he was not guilty of the charges but pleaded guilty by answering questions falsely so the court would accept his pleas. In summary, the defendant acknowledged he had prior guilty pleas to felonies but conditioned his acknowledgement on an explanation that he was not guilty.

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5 cases
  • Obasogie v. Norman
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of Missouri
    • 18 d1 Março d1 2019
    ...of any conviction; only the fact of the conviction may beproven. See State v. Scott, 459 S.W.2d 321, 323 (Mo. 1970); State v. Jones, 809 S.W.2d 45, 46 (Mo. App. 1991). This Court has found prejudicial error in cross-examinations on prior convictions when prosecutors have discussed the name ......
  • State v. Givens
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 20 d2 Abril d2 1993
    ...the state to test and challenge denials of guilt and statements designed to blunt the impact of prior convictions. State v. Jones, 809 S.W.2d 45, 46-47 (Mo.App.1991). Here, at trial, appellant admitted the guilty plea, but denied committing the charged offense saying that he pled guilty bec......
  • State v. Leisure
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 4 d2 Agosto d2 1992
    ...of the conviction. Proof of prior convictions is relevant to impeach the credibility of a witness. § 491.050 RSMo.1986; State v. Jones, 809 S.W.2d 45, 45-46 (Mo.App.1991). Here, the State asked whether defendant was convicted of obstructing justice and was prepared to back it up with a cert......
  • State v. Simmons, s. 57128
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • 25 d2 Fevereiro d2 1992
    ...the trial court's discretion to permit the prosecutor to test and challenge the statements. Powell, 632 S.W.2d at 58; State v. Jones, 809 S.W.2d 45, 46-47 (Mo.App.1991). The state is entitled to rebut the inference raised by the defendant that his prior plea of guilty was made solely becaus......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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