State v. Ricks, 12694

Decision Date12 November 1982
Docket NumberNo. 12694,12694
Citation642 S.W.2d 375
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Danny RICKS, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtMissouri Court of Appeals

John D. Ashcroft, Atty. Gen., Kristie Green, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for plaintiff-respondent.

Blair Buckley, Jr., Public Defender, Caruthersville, for defendant-appellant.


Defendant was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to forty-five years' imprisonment. His two points contend that (1) "the State had not established a corpus delicti in its failure to prove the cause of death of the alleged victim", and (2) "[t]he trial court erred in overruling Defendant's motion for mistrial and not granting Defendant's motion that the jury be instructed to disregard the testimony of the coroner that wounds went through vital organs because the coroner was not a medical expert, did not base his opinion on his own examination of the body, and based his opinion on inadmissible hearsay."

The victim, Johnny Ricks, defendant's brother, had shot defendant's wife in the leg. Defendant was not present when it occurred. Shortly thereafter Johnny Ricks was in or near his car when defendant approached him. A witness for the state said that Johnny told defendant that the shooting was accidental, then rose from inside the car with his hands raised. Defendant then stepped back and shot him five times. Defendant testified that Johnny was lying on the front seat of his car while they discussed the shooting and was reaching for a pistol in the glove compartment when defendant shot him. After the shooting Johnny Ricks bled from wounds in his chest. When the police officers arrived his pulse "was very weak". Shortly thereafter the pulse ended.

The coroner testified that he found five gunshot wounds in the victim's body, two in the lower left abdominal area, two in the left chest area, and one in the left arm. He said that the lungs and the heart are "vital organs" that lie below those wounds, and that Johnny's death was caused by "Gunshot wound."

Defendant presented evidence that Johnny had taken Valium and had been drinking beer and whiskey shortly before the shooting; that his eyes were dilated and that he appeared intoxicated. Defendant contends that his death could have been caused by the alcohol and Valium or that "[a]ny number of possible physiological complications could have caused the alleged victim's death, such as a heart attack or stroke brought on by his feelings of stress from his own guilty actions compounded by his confrontation with the Defendant."

Expert testimony from a medical physician is not required to prove the cause of death; circumstantial evidence may be sufficient. State v. Brandt, 467 S.W.2d 948, 951 (Mo.1971). The cause of death is sufficiently established when the facts in evidence are such that every person of average intelligence would know that the wound was mortal in character. Id. State v. Covington, 559 S.W.2d 78, 80 (Mo.App.1977). Even though Johnny may have consumed large amounts of alcohol and drugs, he was able to converse with defendant and either stand up or move about in such a manner that defendant was, according to his testimony, concerned that Johnny might shoot him. While standing or moving, Johnny was shot in areas of his body which could cause his death. He bled, his pulse became weak, and then he died. The coroner testified, without objection, that death was caused by a gunshot wound. The evidence was sufficient for the jury to find that Johnny met his death through gunshot wounds inflicted by the defendant. Point one is denied.

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  • State v. Hubbard
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • October 11, 1983
    ...display and demonstration prior to the close of the state's evidence. Thus, these errors are not preserved for review. State v. Ricks, 642 S.W.2d 375, 377 (Mo.App.1982). Aware of this, defendant suggests in his argument that his first point on appeal constitutes plain error. We have discret......
  • State v. Smith
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • May 22, 1987
    ...action or ruling he believes to be called for when the occasion for it first appears or the claimed error is waived." State v. Ricks, 642 S.W.2d 375, 377 (Mo.App.1982). Also see State v. Farris, 649 S.W.2d 554 (Mo.App.1983); State v. Dickerson, 646 S.W.2d 884 Nor may the defendant prevail u......
  • State v. O'Dell
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • March 25, 1983
    ...or ruling which he believes to be called for when the occasion for it first appears or the claimed error is waived. State v. Ricks, 642 S.W.2d 375, 377 (Mo.App.1982). Plain error review under Rule 30.20 is not appropriate as we see no prejudice from this evidence and cannot say from the rec......
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