State v. Rousselo, No. SD31799

CourtMissouri Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtJEFFREY W. BATES
PartiesSTATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. CHRISTOPHER M. ROUSSELO, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date13 December 2012
Docket NumberNo. SD31799

STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent,
CHRISTOPHER M. ROUSSELO, Defendant-Appellant.

No. SD31799

Missouri Court of Appeals Southern District Division One

Filed: December 13, 2012


Honorable Mark Orr, Circuit Judge


Christopher Rousselo (Defendant) was charged by information with committing the following crimes involving R.E. (Victim): (1) the class B felony of domestic assault in the first degree; (2) the unclassified felony of armed criminal action (ACA); and (3) the class D felony of unlawful use of a weapon. See § 565.072; § 571.015 RSMo (2000); § 571.030.1 After a bench trial, Defendant was convicted of first-degree domestic assault and ACA and acquitted on the weapon charge. On appeal, Defendant challenges the denial of his motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of all of the evidence. First, he

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contends his conviction for first-degree domestic assault should be reversed because the evidence was insufficient for the trial court to reasonably find that Victim suffered a serious physical injury. Second, he contends his conviction for ACA should be reversed because the evidence was insufficient for the trial court to reasonably find that the ceramic bowl used to strike Victim was a dangerous instrument. Because these contentions lack merit, we affirm.

We apply the same standard of review in this bench-tried case as in a jury-tried case. State v. Johnson, 81 S.W.3d 212, 215 (Mo. App. 2002). We will affirm a trial court's denial of a motion for judgment of acquittal if, at the close of evidence, there was sufficient evidence from which reasonable persons could have found the defendant guilty of the charged offense. State v. Castoe, 357 S.W.3d 305, 308 (Mo. App. 2012). "When reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, we review all evidence and inferences reasonably drawn from the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict, and disregard all contrary evidence and inferences." State v. Berry, 54 S.W.3d 668, 675 (Mo. App. 2001). "The trier of fact determines the credibility of the witnesses, and may believe all, some or none of the testimony of a witness." State v. Warren, 141 S.W.3d 478, 490 (Mo. App. 2004). Our function is not to reweigh the evidence, but only to determine whether the conviction is supported by sufficient evidence. State v. Mann, 129 S.W.3d 462, 467 (Mo. App. 2004). Viewing the record from that perspective, the following evidence was presented at trial.

Victim was a shift supervisor at the KFC restaurant in Hollister. Defendant was Victim's ex-husband. On the evening of May 24, 2011, Victim was at Defendant's apartment picking up some of her belongings. Defendant and Victim began arguing over

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a case involving their daughter. Defendant was holding a ceramic bowl in his hand. As the argument grew more intense, Victim turned around to get a box. Defendant raised the bowl and slammed it down on Victim's head. Victim fell to the ground. Defendant then grabbed Victim from behind and placed his hands over her nose and mouth, cutting off her ability to breathe. While Defendant was doing this, he kept repeating that he would kill Victim unless she told everyone that Defendant did not molest their daughter. Victim begged for her life and told Defendant that their daughter needed parents. Defendant then let Victim go. She had blood gushing from her head, and she was so disoriented that she could not drive. Defendant told Victim to take him to the police station "because he was going to jail anyway."

Victim ran out the door and called a friend, who picked Victim up and took her to KFC. Once there, Victim called the police. Next, she called an ambulance and was taken to the hospital. Victim had a wound on the back of her head that was four to five inches in length. Four staples were needed to close the wound. She also had bruising on her arms and around her mouth.

Officer Flowers of the Hollister Police Department saw Victim at KFC and observed that her head looked like it had been cut with a knife. Officer Flowers went to the apartment complex, found Defendant and placed him under arrest. Inside Defendant's apartment, Officer Flowers found a ceramic bowl that had been broken in half. He saw a pool of blood on the linoleum, blood on the carpet, blood on the box springs and mattress, and blood on a comforter.

During Defendant's direct examination at trial, he admitted that he hit Victim in the back of the head with the ceramic bowl:

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Q Now, you don't deny that there was some pretty - there was some pretty serious injury there?
A Yes. I don't deny. I accept full responsibility of the bowl hitting [Victim] in the back of the head. That's true.

After Victim left the apartment, Defendant changed his bloody shirt and waited for police to arrive. Additional facts necessary to the disposition of the case are included below as we address Defendant's two points of error.

In Point I, Defendant argues that he was entitled to a judgment of acquittal with respect to the first-degree domestic assault charge. According to Defendant, there was insufficient evidence from which the court reasonably could have found that Victim suffered a serious physical injury. The underlying premise of the argument is that Defendant could not be found guilty of committing the class B felony of first-degree domestic assault absent proof Victim sustained a serious physical injury.

Defendant was charged with a violation of § 565.072. An examination of that statute makes it clear that there are multiple ways in which this crime can be committed:

1. A person commits the crime of domestic assault in the first degree if he or she attempts to kill or knowingly causes or attempts to cause serious physical injury to a family or household member or an adult who is or has been in a continuing social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the actor, as defined in section 455.010, RSMo.
2. Domestic assault in the first degree is a class B felony

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