From the Circuit Court of Buchanan County; Criminal Appeal; Judge Frank D. Connett, Jr.
Motion for Rehearing Overruled, Transfer Denied September 27, 1983. Application Denied October 18, 1983.
Before Turnage, P.j., Somerville, C.j., Kennedy, J.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kennedy
The defendant James Jon Potter was convicted upon jury trial of capital murder, § 565.001, RSMo 1978, and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole for 50 years. He appeals.
Finding no prejudicial error in the trial of the case, we affirm the judgment.
The murder victim was Ed Schneider, 70 years old, who lived alone in a mobile home located in a rural part of Macon County, near Bevier. His body was found by officers on August 6, 1981, in a wooded field about a quarter of a mile from his residence. His hands and his feet were tied together behind him. His death had resulted from one or more blows to the head, causing a brain injury. It was later learned that his death had occurred on the evening of August 4, 1981.
The details of his death were supplied by the trial testimony of Lori Walker and of defendant James Jon Potter, both of them participants in the homicide, and by a statement given by Potter after his arrest which was introduced in evidence at the trial.
Potter was 18 years old at the time of the crime. Lori Walker was his friend. She lived, evidently, in Kansas City, Kansas, and it was from there they started out on their criminal adventure. Potter was well acquainted with Schneider and knew where he lived. The preceding February he had lived with Schneider while he was remodeling a trailer. While living there he had stolen some guns from Schneider. In the process of recovering and restoring the stolen guns to Schneider, some of Potter's auto-body-repair tools had been given to Schneider by the police. Potter told Lori he was going to steal them back. The events that followed proceeded according to a plan they formulated.
Potter himself had no car. Lori furnished the car. They took a .22 rifle from Lori's father's house and put it in the car trunk and struck out from Kansas City, Kansas, toward the vicinity of Schneider's home. They stopped at Macon and purchased a pellet gun, a container of BB's, a container of pellets, and two lengths of clothesline.
After it was dark, they drove to a point near the entrance to Schneider's premises, and stopped their car along the blacktop public highway. There was a lane of some undisclosed distance from the highway entrance to the location of the mobile home. In accordance with their plan, Lori went to the door of the mobile home where Schneider lived. Potter stationed himself behind a building along the side of the lane.
When Schneider responded to Lori's knock, she told him that she had a problem with her car and asked him to help her get it started. Schneider said he would drive her to Macon for help. He put on his overalls. He furnished himself with a flashlight and put a pistol in his hip pocket. (Lori saw him do this. Potter had expected him to arm himself with the pistol when leaving the trailer.)
As Schneider and Lori walked along the lane toward the highway, Potter stepped out from his hiding place, pointed his rifle at Schneider and ordered him to stop. Schneider shined his flashlight toward Potter and reached for the gun in his pocket. According to Lori, he never got the gun out of his pocket. Lori wrestled him to the ground. She tied his hands behind his back with the clothesline which she had put in her purse. They also gagged him with some material which Lori had in her purse.
According to Lori's testimony, Potter struck Schneider in the head with the rifle. She heard a "thud noise" and heard Schneider moan. She was unable to remember at trial whether she saw this. She then went to the trailer, and she heard "thud sounds" from the location of where Schneider was lying ...