State v. Taylor

Citation747 S.W.2d 150
Decision Date09 February 1988
Docket NumberNo. 51235,51235
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Jerry TAYLOR, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)

Holly G. Simons, Asst. Public Defender, St. Louis, for defendant-appellant.

William L. Webster, Atty. Gen., Elizabeth A. Levin, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for plaintiff-respondent.

GARY M. GAERTNER, Judge.

Defendant Jerry Taylor appeals from his conviction by a jury of first degree murder, RSMo § 565.020 (1986). Defendant received a sentence of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole. On appeal, defendant argues that the trial court erred in: (1) denying defendant's motion to quash the jury panel based on the prosecuting attorney's allegedly racially discriminatory use of peremptory challenges; (2) denying his motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of all evidence because the State presented insufficient evidence to prove defendant's deliberation and knowledge that his actions were practically certain to cause death; and (3) allowing the prosecutor on redirect examination to elicit testimony from the victim's mother regarding past medical care of the victim. Finding no error in the trial court proceedings, we affirm.

On December 22, 1984, Sherrian Moore and her seventeen month old daughter Ashley, the victim, were staying in defendant's room at defendant's parent's residence in west St. Louis. Sherrian and defendant had been dating for several months. Sherrian was pregnant with defendant's child. At some point in the afternoon defendant brought the victim downstairs to see Santa Claus. When defendant later returned to his room he told Sherrian that the victim was downstairs with the other children. Defendant left the room and returned some time after dark with the victim. The victim had bruises all over her body. Her eyes were rolling and she was mumbling. Defendant laughed and said the victim was drunk. Defendant told the victim's mother that the victim had fallen while playing with the children. Defendant and the victim's mother brought the victim to the hospital where efforts to revive her were futile. The victim died of internal bleeding.

A subsequent autopsy showed that the victim had blood clotted under her scalp and bruises on her head, face, chest, abdomen, back, and limbs. There was a tear under the victim's lip with bruising of the upper and lower lips. Her tenth rib was broken and the lung was cut. Her heart showed bruises on the surface. She had three blood clots in her abdominal cavity. The liver and spleen were torn. There was hemorrhaging in the soft tissue surrounding the pancreas and kidneys. The autopsy revealed twenty-one or twenty-two points of injury. The victim also had .44 milligrams of alcohol in her blood.

The night of the murder the police conveyed both defendant and the victim's mother to the police station for interrogation. After having been informed of his constitutional rights pursuant to Miranda, defendant admitted in a taped statement that he had used a belt to punish the victim. He further confessed that he slapped the victim on the front and back and then she fell while in the basement. At trial defendant claimed that the confession was coerced by the police, and further that he was attempting to protect the victim's mother. Defendant testified at trial that the victim was injured while in her mother's care. The jury found defendant guilty of murder in the first degree.

In his first point on appeal, defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his motion to quash the jury panel. Defendant alleges that the prosecutor used his peremptory challenges against members of defendant's race motivated solely by racial discrimination. Such use of peremptory challenges has been held unconstitutional. See Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 1719, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986); State v. Antwine, 743 S.W.2d 51 (Mo. banc 1987); State v. Jones, 747 S.W.2d 229 (Mo.App., E.D. 1988).

The prosecutor used seven peremptory strikes against seven black panel members and one strike against a black alternate. Defendant is also black. At the evidentiary hearing held after remand from this court, 1 the trial court made an initial finding of prima facie discrimination which required further inquiry. The prosecutor then offered race neutral explanations for each of the strikes used against blacks. The trial court considered each explanation offered by the State and found that the State rebutted the initial showing of prima facie discrimination. The trial court concluded that race was not the motivating factor in the peremptory challenges made by the State against blacks.

At the mandated evidentiary hearing the prosecutor gave the following race neutral explanations for the black members he removed from the panel. The prosecutor removed Thomas Neely, a black male, for several reasons. The prosecutor felt that Neely's occupation indicated that he apparently lacked the educational background the prosecutor would have liked insofar as the juror's ability to deal with the jury instructions. The prosecutor also expressed some concern about Neely being similar in age to defendant's father, a potential witness, and the possibility of Neely sympathizing with defendant's father. The prosecutor's primary reason for striking Neely was that Neely responded well to defense counsel and Neely seemed to be an assertive man who could have lead the jury. The prosecutor was unsure whether Neely was "with" him or not.

The prosecutor also struck Louise Hale, a black female, for several reasons. The prosecutor felt that since Hale was approximately the same age as defendant's mother and had children of similar age to defendant, Hale might identify with defendant's mother, a potential defense witness. Further, Hale had two nephews who had been convicted of crimes and she responded positively to defense counsel's questioning. Hale also affirmatively indicated her belief that a family member would not be less believable than another witness. But the prosecutor wanted jurors who would feel that family members are less believable since several of defendant's family members would be testifying.

The prosecutor removed Warzella Raymond, a black female, because she might have identified with defendant's mother and had used a belt to discipline children. The prosecutor wanted to eliminate those jurors who had used a belt to discipline children since defendant had used a belt on the victim. Further, Raymond appeared inattentive. As an additional consideration, the prosecutor pointed to the fact Raymond initially expressed that she might believe defendant was guilty if he did not testify. Although Raymond was later rehabilitated, the prosecutor suspected that defense counsel had an ulterior motive for not moving to strike her for cause.

The prosecutor considered many factors in making his decision to strike Janet Parks, a black female. The prosecutor thought Parks might be favorable to the State because she was a professional and might relate to the victim's mother, the State's key witness. But the prosecutor felt that middle aged women could often be overly critical of other women and that Parks might be too critical of the victim's mother in this case. (For example, the victim's mother should not have placed herself in the situation that lead to the victim's death). Parks brother was a police officer which the prosecutor found to be a plus, her ex-husband was a police officer which he felt was a minus. Parks also exhibited what the prosecutor perceived as negative body language. Parks also wavered as to the State's and defendant's respective burdens of proof. The prosecutor felt that Parks was assertive and thought Parks might lead the jury. As previously stated, the prosecutor did not want anyone leading the jury.

The prosecutor struck Mable Long, a black female, because she might identify with defendant's mother and had used a strap to discipline a child. The prosecutor also thought Long was inattentive. The prosecutor removed Lula Hunter, a black female, because she might have identified with defendant's mother and had used a belt to discipline children. Hunter was also overweight, an attribute the prosecutor did not favor in a juror. The prosecutor also removed Louise Moore, a black female, because she might have identified with defendant's mother and had used a belt to discipline children. The prosecutor felt Moore dressed unusually, a fact that caught his attention.

The prosecutor used his alternate strike against Harold Gill, a black male. The prosecutor feared that Gill might identify with defendant's father. The prosecutor also stated that he generally removed federal employees, and more specifically postal workers. Additionally, the prosecutor did not believe Gill's response to a question.

Defendant attacks the prosecutor's explanations based on the prosecutor's failure to strike allegedly similarly situated white jurors. See State v. Butler, 731 S.W.2d 265 (Mo.App., W.D.1987). Specifically, defendant describes in brief eleven white jurors who were approximately the same age as defendant's mother or father and had children approximately the same age as defendant, thus purporting to negate the prosecutor's "identify with" defendant's mother or father explanations. Defendant also points to the prosecutor's failure to strike two white jurors who had sons accused of crimes, a white postal worker, and two white jurors with similar work experience to black juror Thomas Neely.

Although the "identify with" reason might apply to white jurors who were not removed, the prosecutor provided other legitimate, specific and clear explanations for each of the black jurors who were struck...

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3 cases
  • State v. Andrews
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • April 11, 1989
    ...explanations of unemployment and a low income level who might identify with witnesses or the venireperson's mentality. See State v. Taylor, supra, 747 S.W.2d at 152. There was no showing by defense counsel that whites were treated differently. Upon review of the voir dire transcript we can ......
  • State v. Rogers, 50615
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • May 24, 1988
    ...it is a factor to be considered by the trial court in making its final determination. Antwine, 743 S.W.2d at 65; State v. Taylor, 747 S.W.2d 150, 153 (Mo.App.E.D.1988). Differences in age, sex and occupation are also factors for consideration. In addition, Batson requires the trial judge to......
  • State v. Franklin, WD
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • June 1, 1993
    ...of Joshua's injuries that Franklin knew his actions were practically certain to cause Joshua serious physical injury. State v. Taylor, 747 S.W.2d 150, 154 (Mo.App.1988). The state presented sufficient evidence for a jury to reasonably conclude that Franklin acted with intent to cause Joshua......

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