State v. Williams, No. ED 98275.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Missouri (US)
Writing for the CourtKURT S. ODENWALD
Citation409 S.W.3d 428
PartiesSTATE of Missouri, Respondent, v. Reginald I. WILLIAMS, Appellant.
Docket NumberNo. ED 98275.
Decision Date29 October 2013

409 S.W.3d 428

STATE of Missouri, Respondent,
Reginald I. WILLIAMS, Appellant.

No. ED 98275.

Missouri Court of Appeals,
Eastern District,
Division Four.

June 25, 2013.
Motion for Rehearing and/or Transfer to Supreme Court Denied Aug. 22, 2013.

Application for Transfer Denied Oct. 29, 2013.

[409 S.W.3d 429]

Maleaner Harvey, Assistant Public Defender, Office of the Missouri Public Defender, St. Louis, MO, for appellant.

Chris Koster, Attorney General, Mary H. Moore, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, MO, for respondent.


Reginald Williams (“Williams”) appeals from the judgment entered upon a jury verdict of felony stealing, Section 570.030.1 A jury convicted Williams of stealing property worth in excess of $500, and the trial court entered judgment accordingly. On appeal, Williams argues that the trial court erred in admitting into evidence the laptop computer and tracking device obtained from Williams and statements made by Williams upon his arrest because the City of St. Louis police officers who arrested

[409 S.W.3d 430]

Williams were outside of their jurisdiction at the time of the arrest. The police officers had followed Williams from the City of St. Louis, Missouri into East St. Louis, Illinois where they arrested him. Williams also contends that insufficient evidence exists in the record to support his conviction. Because the police officers were engaged in a lawful fresh pursuit of Williams, the physical evidence and statement obtained by the officers at the time of Williams's arrest were lawfully seized, and were admissible at trial even though they were obtained outside of the police officers' jurisdiction. Further, because sufficient evidence exists in the record to support Williams's conviction, we affirm the judgment of the trial court convicting Williams of felony stealing.

Factual and Procedural History

The evidence at trial, viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, is as follows. On January 18, 2011, Detective Rodney Hickman (“Det. Hickman”) set up a bait car at 1401 Chestnut Street in the City of St. Louis, Missouri. Det. Hickman placed a black bag containing a laptop computer and an electronic tracking device in the front seat of the vehicle. Det. Hickman also notified other officers in the department of the existence of the bait car and tracking mechanism. On January 23, 2011, the tracking device activated, indicating that the laptop had been removed from the bait car.

At the same time, St. Louis Police Officers Willie Haymore (“Officer Haymore”) and James Zwilling (“Officer Zwilling”) were patrolling in the City of St. Louis, and received a notification from their dispatcher that the tracking device on the laptop had been activated. Officer Haymore had previously received Det. Hickman's notification of the bait car and tracking mechanism, and understood that the activation of the tracking beacon meant that someone had removed the laptop bag from the bait car. The officers immediately began following the signal from their location in order to pursue the suspect they believed was in the act of stealing the laptop and tracking device. Following the tracking device signal, the officers pursued Williams from the City of St. Louis, Missouri to the MetroLink station in East St. Louis, Illinois. As the officers approached the MetroLink platform, they heard another officer shout “laptop bag,” and saw Williams with the laptop. After a brief struggle, Officer Haymore forced Williams to the ground and handcuffed him. Williams informed the officers that he found the laptop on the train. Approximately 15 minutes elapsed between the time the tracking beacon activated, and Williams's arrest.

Kenneth McCaster (“McCaster”) was nearby at the time of Williams's arrest, and heard Williams tell Officer Haymore that Williams found the laptop bag. McCaster informed a nearby officer that McCaster had been on the MetroLink with Williams and that he had seen Williams board the MetroLink with the laptop in his possession at a station in the City of St. Louis. McCaster stated that Williams initially offered to pay him to “hack the code” of the computer. McCaster also informed the officer that after McCaster refused to help him activate the laptop computer, Williams attempted to sell the computer to McCaster for $100, which McCaster also refused.

The State charged Williams with felony stealing and, in the alternative, felony receipt of stolen property. Williams filed a motion to suppress the laptop and tracking device, and also his statement to police upon arrest on the ground that his arrest occurred outside of the arresting officers' jurisdiction. The trial court denied the

[409 S.W.3d 431]

motion. After a trial, a jury found Williams guilty of felony stealing, and the trial court entered a judgment accordingly. Williams now appeals.

Points on Appeal

In his first point on appeal, Williams argues that the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress and admitting into evidence the laptop and electronic tracking device. Williams argues that admission of the evidence was improper because the items were retrieved outside of the officers' jurisdiction, and therefore constituted an unlawful search and seizure. In his second point on appeal, Williams contends that the trial court similarly erred in denying his motion to suppress and admitting into evidence Williams's statement that he found the laptop because the statement was coerced by an unlawful arrest that occurred outside the arresting officers' jurisdiction. In his final point on appeal, Williams asserts that the trial court erred in denying his motion for acquittal because insufficient evidence exists in the record to support a verdict that Williams committed felony stealing.

Standard of Review

Williams's first point on appeal challenges the validity of evidence obtained upon his arrest on the ground that the underlying arrest was unlawful, and therefore evidence obtained therefrom should have been excluded. Whether a search and seizure violated the Fourth Amendment is a question of law we review de novo. State v. Berry, 92 S.W.3d 823, 828 (Mo.App. S.D.2003).

Williams did not raise the issue relating to the admission of his statement into evidence in his motion for new trial, and therefore did not preserve that issue for appellate review. However, we may, at our discretion, review the trial court's admission of the statement for plain error under Rule 30.20.2 Under plain error review, the movant must demonstrate that the trial court committed an error which is “evident, obvious, and clear” and that such error resulted in a “manifest injustice or miscarriage of justice.” State v. Roper, 136 S.W.3d 891, 900 (Mo.App. W.D.2004).

Williams's final point requires this Court to examine the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his conviction. In examining the sufficiency of evidence, we are limited to a determination of whether sufficient evidence exists from which a reasonable jury may find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Chaney, 967 S.W.2d 47, 52 (Mo. banc 1998), citing Jackson v. Virginia, 443 U.S. 307, 318–19, 99 S.Ct. 2781, 61 L.Ed.2d 560 (1979).

I. The trial court properly admitted evidence obtained outside the arresting officers' jurisdiction because the evidence was obtained pursuant to a lawful fresh pursuit.

Williams's first two points on appeal challenge the admissibility of evidence obtained by law enforcement officers outside of the municipal jurisdiction in which they are employed. Both points present a common question, which in this case is dispositive: whether the officers' arrest and subsequent search and seizure of Williams was unlawful on the ground that it occurred in Illinois.

The validity of the search and seizure at issue on appeal depends on the validity of the underlying arrest. This case involves the pursuit of a suspect from Missouri into Illinois. Under both Missouri

[409 S.W.3d 432]

and Illinois law, the validity of a warrantless arrest is determined by the law of the state in which the arrest occurred. State v....

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