State v. Jones, WD 83812

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtKaren King Mitchell, Judge
Citation637 S.W.3d 526
Parties STATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Christopher Lamar JONES, Appellant.
Docket NumberWD 83812
Decision Date09 November 2021

637 S.W.3d 526

STATE of Missouri, Respondent,
Christopher Lamar JONES, Appellant.

WD 83812

Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District.

OPINION FILED: November 9, 2021
Motion for Rehearing and/or Transfer to Supreme Court Denied December 21, 2021
Application for Transfer Denied February 8, 2022

Eric S. Schmitt, Attorney General, and Kristen S. Johnson, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, MO, Attorneys for Respondent.

Matthew G. Mueller, St. Louis, MO, Attorney for Appellant.

Before Division One: W. Douglas Thomson, Presiding Judge, and Alok Ahuja and Karen King Mitchell, Judges

Karen King Mitchell, Judge

Christopher Jones appeals, following a jury trial, his convictions of second-degree murder, § 565.021,1 armed criminal action,

637 S.W.3d 530

§ 571.015, and tampering with physical evidence, § 575.100, for which he was sentenced to concurrent terms of thirteen years’ imprisonment for murder, six years’ imprisonment for armed criminal action, and one year in the county jail for tampering. Jones raises five points on appeal. First, he argues that § 547.170 is unconstitutional insofar as it suspends the writ of habeas corpus in violation of Article I, § 12, of the Missouri Constitution. Second, he argues that the trial court plainly erred in allowing him to remain in jail after his initial appearance in violation of §§ 544.470 and 544.320. Third, he claims that the trial court erred in admitting evidence of his prior security license revocation for giving false information to a 911 radio dispatcher because that evidence constituted inadmissible evidence of prior bad acts. Fourth, he argues that the trial court erred in admitting State's Exhibit 79 (the letter revoking Jones's prior security license) because, he contends, it constituted improper character evidence. Finally, he argues that the trial court erred in allowing the State to argue during rebuttal closing argument that Jones's act of pointing his weapon at Victim constituted the use of deadly force in Missouri. Finding no error, we affirm.


In 2018, Williams Graves was working as the manager for Yum Yum Club in Kansas City. At the time, Yum Yum Club had employed Force One as a security team for the club. Force One security members were stationed at both the front and back doors of the club, and their responsibility was "to search, check IDs, pat-down, look inside purses, make sure no alcohol or weapons were getting inside the facility." Their authority was limited to protecting the Yum Yum Club, so they were supposed to stay on the property.

On the evening of June 29, 2018, Jones was working for Force One and was assigned front-door duty at Yum Yum Club, alongside Markell Pinkins. Graves was doing paperwork in his office when he noticed on a security camera that both Pinkins and Jones were running away from their station at the front door. Graves jumped up from his desk and ran out the front door to see what was going on.2

Graves saw Pinkins and Jones across the street at the Jubilee Market, and when Graves approached, he saw that both Pinkins and Jones had guns drawn and pointed at Victim, who was behind the wheel of a car. Pinkins and Jones were on opposite sides of the vehicle; Pinkins was on the driver's side, and Jones was on the passenger side. Graves tried to ask what was going on, but neither Pinkins nor Jones responded. Graves witnessed both men yelling at Victim to "get the fuck out the car" and "turn the car off," over and over again. A passenger got out of the vehicle, and, at that point, Graves recognized Victim as a regular customer of Yum Yum Club. Graves then attempted to speak with Victim through the open passenger window, advising Victim that there were guns on him and that, if he would turn the car off, Graves could get the situation resolved. Victim appeared drunk to Graves, but Victim had no weapons on him, and he made no threatening remarks to anyone.3 In response to Graves's suggestion that he turn off the vehicle, Victim responded with, "nah, I'm going that way," suggesting he was headed home. The car then moved slightly forward, and Pinkins and Jones both fired shots into the vehicle,

637 S.W.3d 531

striking Victim repeatedly. Victim exclaimed to Graves, "W[e]ll, they shot me," and he slumped over.

After both Pinkins and Jones shot Victim, Jones removed Victim from the vehicle, causing the vehicle to roll forward slightly until another Force One officer, Antonio Nash, was able to get inside and put his foot on the brake. Jones then put Victim on the ground and handcuffed him. Victim was bleeding from his chest.

Law enforcement officers were dispatched to the scene at 10:54 p.m. When they arrived, they unhandcuffed Victim and began rendering first aid to him. Jones advised Officer Tyler Moss of the Kansas City Police Department that Pinkins had shot Victim and that Pinkins was the only shooter. Jones further claimed that Pinkins did not draw his weapon until Victim drove the car towards them. Victim was transported to a hospital where he died of his wounds.4

Investigation of the scene revealed two 9mm shell casings and three 40-caliber shell casings. The gun Pinkins fired was a 9mm. Upon questioning by a crime scene investigator (CSI), Jones denied carrying a firearm and said his only interaction at the scene was pulling Victim from the vehicle. The CSI tested Jones's hand with ferrotrace, a chemical designed to react to iron, indicating that the person may have handled a gun. The ferrotrace did not indicate that Jones had handled a weapon. The CSI also collected some of Jones's clothing with apparent blood, and that was when she noticed an empty gun holster on his belt. Jones also had three live rounds in his pants pocket.

In a subsequent interview, Jones maintained that he did not have a gun and that Pinkins was the only person who shot Victim. Jones claimed that, when they approached Victim's vehicle, Pinkins was on the driver's side with Jones just behind him. Jones further indicated that Pinkins first drew his weapon after the second command to Victim to get out of the car, and he claimed that Pinkins shot Victim only after Victim "made a move" like he was going to drive into Pinkins. Jones acknowledged that more than one gun was fired, but he claimed not to know who else shot besides Pinkins.

When asked if he owned any firearms, Jones initially claimed he owned a single Glock 19, which was a 9mm handgun, and that it was at his home. When asked about the last time he fired it, Jones claimed he had used it earlier that day out on a practice range. Jones repeatedly denied discharging any firearm at Jubilee Market.

Upon further questioning, Jones indicated that the gun he owned was actually a Glock 22 and it was 40-caliber. He also initially claimed that he "qualified" on the gun about one week earlier, but later indicated it had been about three weeks earlier. Jones acknowledged that, as a security officer, his job was to protect the property he was hired to protect; he also claimed that, if he saw a crime or felony in progress, it was his responsibility to act on it.5

When confronted with information from other witnesses who indicated that Jones fired his gun, Jones said that "it was self-defense" and indicated he was concerned because he was not commissioned as a

637 S.W.3d 532

security officer in Kansas City.6 After the detective suggested to Jones that, if it was self-defense, Jones needed to clarify that, Jones claimed for the first time that Victim "came at [him]," despite his previous statements indicating that the driver drove towards Pinkins who was on the opposite side of the car as Jones. When asked where the gun that he fired was located, Jones acknowledged that he had given it to another Force One security officer, Leon Donovan. Jones maintained that he did not draw his weapon on Victim until after the second command to turn off and exit the car, but he claimed that Pinkins drew his weapon on the first command.

Further investigation uncovered multiple surveillance camera and cell phone videos depicting the entire incident from various angles.7 The videos showed Pinkins and Jones with their guns drawn far earlier than Jones indicated. A search of Jones's phone records revealed a call to Donovan at 12:01 a.m., and a surveillance video showed Jones then meeting up with Donovan in an alley to transfer the gun. Upon questioning, Donovan revealed that the gun had been hidden beneath some floorboards behind the bar at the Yum Yum Club. Subsequent ballistics testing confirmed that the gun, in fact, fired the 40-caliber shell casings found at the scene.

Jones was charged by amended information with second-degree murder, armed criminal action, and tampering with physical evidence.8 After finding him guilty on all counts, the jury recommended that Jones be sentenced to thirteen years’ imprisonment for murder, six years’ imprisonment for armed criminal action, and one year in the county jail for tampering. The court sentenced Jones in accordance with the jury's recommendation and ordered the sentences to run concurrently. Jones appeals.


Jones raises five claims on appeal. First, he argues that § 547.170...

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