State v. Martin, Nos. 62589

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtKAROHL; AHRENS, P.J., and SIMON
Citation882 S.W.2d 768
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. EZELL MARTIN, Appellant. Ezell MARTIN, Movant-Appellant, v. STATE of Missouri, Respondent.
Decision Date06 September 1994
Docket Number64940,Nos. 62589

Page 768

882 S.W.2d 768
STATE of Missouri, Respondent,
v.
EZELL MARTIN, Appellant.
Ezell MARTIN, Movant-Appellant,
v.
STATE of Missouri, Respondent.
Nos. 62589, 64940.
Missouri Court of Appeals,
Eastern District,
Division Four.
Sept. 6, 1994.

Page 769

Robert E. Steele, Jr., St. Louis, for appellant.

Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, Atty. Gen., R. Martin Dajani, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for respondent.

KAROHL, Judge.

Defendant, Ezell Martin, was charged with one count of tampering in the first degree, in violation of § 569.080 RSMo1986. Defendant was also charged as a prior and persistent offender. After a guilty verdict, he was sentenced by the court to a term of twelve years. Defendant filed a Rule 29.15 pro se motion, contending, among other things, that the State did not prove that he was a persistent offender. His court-appointed counsel then filed an amended motion, which incorporated defendant's pro se motion, as well as presenting additional points for relief. After an evidentiary hearing, the motion court issued findings of fact and conclusions of law denying defendant's motion.

In this consolidated appeal, defendant raises two points: (1) the trial court committed plain error in that the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was a prior and persistent offender and (2) the trial court committed prejudicial error when it denied defendant's motions for judgment of acquittal, because the evidence was insufficient to establish defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We affirm the conviction. However, we reverse and remand for resentencing if the State proves defendant was a prior and persistent offender and for a retrial if it does not.

The charge of tampering in the first degree was proven with the following evidence. On November 2, 1992, Todd Valentine parked his 1983 Buick Riviera in the Schnucks parking lot at approximately 1:00 p.m. to go to work. The car was in perfect condition; in particular, it did not have a broken steering column. Valentine took the keys to the car with him. On that day, Valentine did not give anyone, including defendant, permission to operate his car. At approximately 5:00 p.m., Valentine finished work and went to the parking lot, where he discovered that his car was missing. He reported the missing vehicle to police at approximately 5:15 p.m. and provided them with a description of his car and the license plate number. At about 7:00 p.m., St. Louis Police Officer Anthony Boone received the latest "hot list" of the license plate numbers of all vehicles reported stolen in St. Louis City and County. At approximately 7:22 p.m., Officer Boone saw a Buick Riviera with a plate number matching one on the "hot list." Boone verified that the license plate was still reported stolen, called for an assist car, and followed the vehicle until the driver pulled over to the curb on Bacon Street. Defendant was the only person in the car. Boone observed that the steering column was

Page 770

broken or "peeled back," exposing a switch that allowed the car to be started without keys. Boone found keys in the car's ignition, but these keys did not start the ignition or open the doors or trunk. Boone found a screwdriver in the car. Police called Valentine to the scene, where he identified the vehicle as the one he had reported missing a few hours earlier. Valentine did not recognize the keys that were found in the car's ignition, nor did the screwdriver belong to him. Valentine's keys would no longer operate the vehicle, forcing him to use a screwdriver and the exposed switch to operate it until the steering column was repaired.

We find defendant's second point on appeal challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support a guilty verdict is wholly without merit. In reviewing the record on appeal, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the State, together with all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom and ignore contrary evidence and inferences. State v. Livingston, 801 S.W.2d 344, 345 (Mo. banc 1990). These principles apply whether the evidence is direct or circumstantial. State v. Simpson, 718 S.W.2d 143, 146 (Mo.App.1986).

Defendant was convicted of violating § 569.080.1(2) RSMo1986, tampering in the first degree, which provides "[a] person commits the crime of tampering in the first degree if ... [h]e knowingly receives, possesses, sells, alters, defaces, destroys or unlawfully operates an automobile, airplane, motorcycle, motorboat or other motor-propelled vehicle without the consent of the owner thereof." Defendant claims the evidence was not sufficient to prove the "knowingly" element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Direct proof of the required mental state is seldom available, and such intent is usually inferred from circumstantial evidence. Simpson, 718 S.W.2d at 146. Even in a circumstantial evidence case, the evidence need not be conclusive of guilt, nor must the evidence exclude every hypothesis of innocence. Id.

Absence of consent of owner is undisputed. The dispute is on proof defendant knew he did not have consent. The steering column in the vehicle was not broken when Valentine parked his...

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26 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Johnson, No. 04-1839.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • August 17, 2005
    ...enforcement spots the defendant driving a vehicle that has been reported stolen and apprehends the defendant. See, e.g., State v. Martin, 882 S.W.2d 768, 769-70 (Mo.Ct.App.1994). Thus, a violent confrontation at the point of appropriation of the vehicle and a recklessly absconding defendant......
  • Sprofera v. State, WD 82443
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 27, 2020
    ...by State v. Pierce , 548 S.W.3d 900 (Mo. 2018) ); State v. Herret , 965 S.W.2d 363, 364-65 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998) ; State v. Martin , 882 S.W.2d 768, 772 (Mo. App. 1994). Moreover, in Cowan and Herret , it appeared that the trial court's finding that the defendant was a recidivist itself affe......
  • State v. Kidd, No. WD 58712.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 26, 2002
    ...prejudice); Strickner v. State, 943 S.W.2d 326, 328 (Mo.App.1997) (finding no prejudice but remanding for resentencing); State v. Martin, 882 S.W.2d 768 (Mo.App.1994) (remanding to allow the State to amend information to charge four prior convictions proven at trial without discussing preju......
  • State v. Scroggs, WD 79068
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 4, 2017
    ...evidence need not be conclusive of guilt, nor must the evidence exclude every hypothesis of innocence." Id. (quoting State v. Martin , 882 S.W.2d 768, 770 (Mo. App. E.D. 1994) ).We find, based on the totality of the circumstances, that the evidence presented at trial supports a finding that......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • U.S. v. Johnson, No. 04-1839.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • August 17, 2005
    ...enforcement spots the defendant driving a vehicle that has been reported stolen and apprehends the defendant. See, e.g., State v. Martin, 882 S.W.2d 768, 769-70 (Mo.Ct.App.1994). Thus, a violent confrontation at the point of appropriation of the vehicle and a recklessly absconding defendant......
  • Sprofera v. State, WD 82443
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • October 27, 2020
    ...by State v. Pierce , 548 S.W.3d 900 (Mo. 2018) ); State v. Herret , 965 S.W.2d 363, 364-65 (Mo. App. E.D. 1998) ; State v. Martin , 882 S.W.2d 768, 772 (Mo. App. 1994). Moreover, in Cowan and Herret , it appeared that the trial court's finding that the defendant was a recidivist itself affe......
  • State v. Kidd, No. WD 58712.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • March 26, 2002
    ...prejudice); Strickner v. State, 943 S.W.2d 326, 328 (Mo.App.1997) (finding no prejudice but remanding for resentencing); State v. Martin, 882 S.W.2d 768 (Mo.App.1994) (remanding to allow the State to amend information to charge four prior convictions proven at trial without discussing preju......
  • State v. Scroggs, WD 79068
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • April 4, 2017
    ...evidence need not be conclusive of guilt, nor must the evidence exclude every hypothesis of innocence." Id. (quoting State v. Martin , 882 S.W.2d 768, 770 (Mo. App. E.D. 1994) ).We find, based on the totality of the circumstances, that the evidence presented at trial supports a finding that......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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