State v. Richardson, No. 76059

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtCOVINGTON
Citation923 S.W.2d 301
Decision Date28 May 1996
Docket NumberNo. 76059
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Antonio RICHARDSON, Appellant.

Page 301

923 S.W.2d 301
STATE of Missouri, Respondent,
v.
Antonio RICHARDSON, Appellant.
No. 76059.
Supreme Court of Missouri,
En Banc.
May 28, 1996.
Rehearing Denied June 25, 1996.

Page 306

Craig A. Johnston, Asst. Public Defender, Columbia, for Appellant.

Page 307

Jeremiah W. (Jay) Nixon, Attorney General, John M. Morris, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, for Respondent.

COVINGTON, Judge.

Antonio D. Richardson was convicted by a jury of murder in the first degree, section 565.020, RSMo 1986, and murder in the second degree, section 565.021, RSMo 1986. The trial court fixed punishment at death for the conviction of murder in the first degree and life imprisonment for the conviction of murder in the second degree. The postconviction court overruled appellant's Rule 29.15 motion. The judgments are affirmed.

THE CASE

The evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict. State v. Storey, 901 S.W.2d 886, 891 (Mo. banc 1995). Twenty-year-old Julie Kerry and her nineteen-year-old sister, Robin, took their nineteen-year-old cousin, Thomas Cummins, to the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis on the night of April 4, 1991. The sisters wanted to show Cummins a poem they had painted on the deck of the abandoned bridge connecting Missouri and Illinois across the Mississippi River.

Earlier that evening, appellant Antonio Richardson, Marlin Gray, Reginald Clemons, and Daniel Winfrey went to the home of a mutual friend in St. Louis where they drank beer, smoked marijuana, and watched television. Antonio Richardson was a sixteen-year-old juvenile. At Gray's suggestion, the group went to the Chain of Rocks Bridge to smoke more marijuana. When the marijuana would not light, the group started back toward their cars, inadvertently leaving a flashlight that had been brought to the bridge by appellant.

After the Kerry sisters and Cummins arrived, they walked toward the Illinois side of the bridge, where they encountered appellant and his associates returning to the Missouri side of the bridge. The two groups exchanged pleasantries and talked for a short time. Gray showed Cummins and the Kerrys how to climb down a manhole on the deck of the bridge to a metal platform that leads to a concrete pier supporting the bridge. Gray told Cummins the platform was a good place to be "alone with your woman." When the two groups separated, the Kerrys and Cummins continued to walk eastward toward Illinois.

While appellant and his friends walked toward the Missouri side of the bridge, Clemons suggested that they rob the Kerrys and Cummins. Gray replied, "Yeah, I feel like hurting somebody." The group turned around and walked in the direction where they had last seen their intended victims. When Gray handed Winfrey a condom, Winfrey responded to the implication by saying he "wasn't going to do it." Gray and Clemons pushed Winfrey against the bridge railing and threatened him until Winfrey agreed to "do it."

Appellant's group continued to walk toward the Illinois side of the bridge and eventually came upon the Kerrys and Cummins. Appellant went to the side of the bridge and yelled something to some campers on the river bank below. At that point, the Kerrys and Cummins began walking back toward the Missouri side of the bridge. Appellant and his friends followed them back.

As the groups passed a bend in the bridge, Gray put his arm around Cummins, walked him back a short distance, and told him, "[T]his [is] a robbery. Get down on the ground." Cummins immediately complied. At that time, appellant, Clemons and Winfrey grabbed Julie and Robin Kerry. One of the three told the girls to stop screaming or they would be thrown off the bridge. Appellant held the first sister's shoulders down while Clemons ripped off her clothing and raped her. Appellant then raped the first sister while Clemons held her down. Winfrey held the second sister on the ground and covered her face with her coat. At some point, one of the assailants told Cummins that he had "never had the privilege of popping anybody," and that Cummins would be shot if he looked up. Gray then told Winfrey to watch Cummins, which he did. Gray and Clemons tore off the second sister's clothes and each raped her.

Appellant forced the first sister into the manhole and followed her while Gray raped

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the second sister. When Gray had finished raping the second sister, he asked Winfrey, who was still watching Cummins, where appellant had gone. Winfrey pointed to the Missouri side of the river. Gray then ran off toward the Missouri side in search of appellant and the first sister. Clemons, after completing his rape of the second sister, forced her down the same manhole through which appellant had taken the first sister. Clemons then robbed Cummins, forcing him to surrender his wallet, wristwatch, cash and keys. Clemons forced Cummins to get up and, while holding Cummins' head down so he could not see Clemons, walked Cummins a short distance on the bridge and made him lie down again. Cummins heard two of the assailants discussing whether he would live or die. Clemons then forced Cummins down the manhole and followed him. Winfrey went toward the entrance of the bridge to find Gray.

Under the bridge, the Kerrys and Cummins were told to step out onto the concrete pier below the metal platform. The three were told not to touch each other. Julie and Robin Kerry were pushed from the pier, falling a distance of approximately seventy feet. Cummins was told to jump. Believing his chances of survival were better if he jumped instead of being pushed, Cummins jumped from the bridge.

When Cummins came to the surface in the strong current of the Mississippi River, he saw Julie Kerry nearby in the water and called for her to swim. The current brought them near to one another and Julie Kerry grabbed Cummins. Cummins broke free after he started to drown. Cummins did not see Julie Kerry again.

Appellant and Clemons met Winfrey and Gray near the entrance to the bridge. Clemons said, "We pushed them off. Let's go." The group ran to their cars, drove to a gas station in Alton, Illinois, and bought a sandwich and cigarettes. The group then drove to an observation point over the Mississippi River called the Chair, where they sat and watched the river. Gray and Clemons remarked that the victims would "never make it back to shore." Gray told Clemons that appellant was "brave" to push the Kerry sisters off the bridge. Gray told Winfrey that he "should have got some of the pussy."

Julie Kerry's body was found three weeks after the crimes in the Mississippi River by the sheriff of Pemiscot County, Missouri. The body of Robin Kerry was never recovered. Cummins survived and testified at appellant's trial.

In the penalty phase of the trial, the state introduced victim impact evidence and testimony concerning appellant's attempt to threaten a witness for the state during the guilt phase of the trial. Appellant presented witnesses in mitigation including four relatives, who testified about his childhood, and a social worker, who described appellant's low score on I.Q. tests. The jury returned a form of verdict stating that it was unable to agree on punishment. As provided under section 565.030.4(4), RSMo 1986, the trial court entered judgment. The court imposed a sentence of death, finding that the evidence established the following statutory aggravating circumstances: that the murder of Julie Kerry was committed while appellant was engaged in the commission of the unlawful homicide of Robin Kerry, section 565.032.2(2); that the murder was committed while appellant was engaged in the attempted commission of the unlawful homicide of Thomas Cummins, section 565.032.2(2); that appellant committed the murder while knowingly aiding or encouraging Gray and Clemons in the perpetration of rape and attempted robbery, section 565.032.2(4); that the murder was outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhuman, section 565.032.2(7); and that appellant committed the murder for the purpose of avoiding his lawful arrest or that of Gray or Clemons, section 565.032.2(10).

VOIR DIRE

Appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in sustaining the state's challenges for cause of thirteen venirepersons. The Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, which guarantee an impartial jury, prohibit the exclusion of venirepersons "simply because they voiced general objections to the death penalty or expressed conscientious or

Page 309

religious scruples against its infliction." Gray v. Mississippi, 481 U.S. 648, 657, 107 S.Ct. 2045, 2051, 95 L.Ed.2d 622 (1987) (quoting Witherspoon v. Illinois, 391 U.S. 510, 522, 88 S.Ct. 1770, 1777, 20 L.Ed.2d 776 (1968)). Only those jurors "irrevocably committed ... to vote against the death penalty regardless of the facts and circumstances that might emerge in the course of the proceedings" are properly excluded from the panel. Gray, 481 U.S. at 657-58, 107 S.Ct. at 2051 (quoting Witherspoon, 391 U.S. at 522 n. 21, 88 S.Ct. at 1777 n. 21). The standard for determining when a prospective juror may be excluded for cause because of his or her views on the death penalty is whether the juror's views would "prevent or substantially impair the performance of his duties as a juror in accordance with his instructions and his oath." Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412, 424, 105 S.Ct. 844, 852, 83 L.Ed.2d 841 (1985). 1 The trial court has broad discretion in determining the qualifications of prospective jurors; its ruling on a challenge for cause will not be disturbed on appeal unless it is clearly against the evidence and constitutes a clear abuse of discretion. State v. McMillin, 783 S.W.2d 82, 91 (Mo. banc 1990). Venirepersons may properly be excused if their views would preclude following instructions given by the court, including the inability to follow instructions regarding the burden of proof. State v. Gray, 887 S.W.2d 369, 383 (Mo. banc...

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46 practice notes
  • State v. Deck, No. 80821
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 1, 1999
    ...or detection. State v. Clemons, 946 S.W.2d 206 (Mo. banc 1997); State v. Copeland, 928 S.W.2d 828 (Mo. banc 1996); State v. Richardson, 923 S.W.2d 301 (Mo. banc 1996); State v. Gray, 887 S.W.2d 369 (Mo. banc 1994); State v. Ramsey, 864 S.W.2d 320 (Mo. banc 1993); State v. Six, 805 S.W.2d 15......
  • State v. Kinder, No. 75082
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 17, 1996
    ...and his oath.' " Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412, 424, 105 S.Ct. 844, 852, 83 L.Ed.2d 841 (1985). See also State v. Richardson, 923 S.W.2d 301, 308-09 (Mo. banc), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 117 S.Ct. 403, 136 L.Ed.2d 317 (1996). Subject to the rules just stated, the trial court has ......
  • State v. Skillicorn, No. 78864
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 29, 1997
    ...reversal if the juror was removed by a peremptory strike and did not serve. Section 494.480.4, RSMo Supp.1993." State v. Richardson, 923 S.W.2d 301, 310 (Mo. banc 1996). Venirepersons Huddleston, DeMasters, Homan, Akridge, and Heitmeyer did not serve as jurors; therefore, the trial cou......
  • State v. Taylor, No. 78086
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • April 29, 1997
    ...defense counsel's objection. A prosecutor may not comment adversely on the defendant's decision not to testify. State v. Richardson, 923 S.W.2d 301, 314 (Mo. banc), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 117 S.Ct. 403, 136 L.Ed.2d 317 (1996). While a direct reference generally requires reversal, an i......
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74 cases
  • State v. Deck, No. 80821
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • June 1, 1999
    ...or detection. State v. Clemons, 946 S.W.2d 206 (Mo. banc 1997); State v. Copeland, 928 S.W.2d 828 (Mo. banc 1996); State v. Richardson, 923 S.W.2d 301 (Mo. banc 1996); State v. Gray, 887 S.W.2d 369 (Mo. banc 1994); State v. Ramsey, 864 S.W.2d 320 (Mo. banc 1993); State v. Six, 805 S.W.2d 15......
  • State v. Kinder, No. 75082
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • December 17, 1996
    ...and his oath.' " Wainwright v. Witt, 469 U.S. 412, 424, 105 S.Ct. 844, 852, 83 L.Ed.2d 841 (1985). See also State v. Richardson, 923 S.W.2d 301, 308-09 (Mo. banc), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 117 S.Ct. 403, 136 L.Ed.2d 317 (1996). Subject to the rules just stated, the trial court has broad......
  • People v. Hale
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court (New York)
    • June 6, 1997
    ...argument in cases he cites from other jurisdictions. See State v. Harris, 141 N.J. 525, 662 A.2d 333, 351-53 (1995); State v. Richardson, 923 S.W.2d 301, 308 (Mo.1996); Commonwealth v. Yarris, 519 Pa. 571, 549 A.2d 513 (1988); James v. State, 453 So.2d 786, 792 (Fla.1984); Stebbing v. State......
  • State v. Williams
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • January 21, 1998
    ...a death sentence for the defendant because of his young age. The defendant was eighteen when he committed crime. In State v. Richardson, 923 S.W.2d 301, 309 (Mo.) (en banc), cert. denied, --- U.S. ----, 117 S.Ct. 403, 136 L.Ed.2d 317 (1996), an en banc panel of the Missouri Supreme Court he......
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