Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Honorable Timothy J. Patterson.
Motion History: Transfer Denied December 12, 1989
James A. Pudlowski, Presiding Judge, Judge William Crandall, Jr. and judge Kent Karohl, Concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Pudlowski
JAMES A. PUDLOWSKI, PRESIDING JUDGE
This is a combined direct and Rule 29.15 appeal from a conviction of first degree murder under § 565.020.2 RSMo 1986. Defendant was sentenced to life imprisonment without possibility for probation or parole. We affirm.
On appeal, the state is entitled to have the evidence reviewed in the light most favorable to the verdict and also to be afforded all reasonable inferences from the evidence. State v. Rodden, 728 S.W.2d 212, 213 (Mo. banc 1987).
On May 16, 1986, John Jaghab flew into St. Louis to visit his friend Rick Machia. Machia picked Jaghab up at Lambert Field in St. Louis around 2:00 p.m. The two then left the airport and drove towards Machia's home in Jefferson County. They stopped twice along the way to buy beer. Before reaching Machia's home, the two men stopped at the home of two of Machia's friends, Patty Weadon and Debbie Michaelson. They left there and went to Machia's home for dinner, returning to Weadon and Michaelson's home after dinner. They drank beer and socialized until 7:30 p.m. They then went to another residence where they engaged in further drinking and socializing. Between 9:00 and 9:30 the two men went to another residence in search of marijuana. They were unsuccessful so they then drove to defendant's residence in a trailer park in Fenton to attempt to buy marijuana.
The two men arrived at the defendant's trailer about 10:00 p.m. Defendant's girlfriend had earlier invited Weadon and Michaelson to a barbecue at defendant's trailer. Rick Machia then bought one-quarter ounce of marijuana from the defendant for thirty dollars. Jaghab, the victim, was standing close to Machia during the sale. When Machia asked him, the victim stated that he would split the sale with Machia. Victim then pulled his wallet out of his back pocket and said, "I brought plenty of money out here just to blow." At that time defendant was sitting about two to three feet away from the two men. Machia told victim that he would get his contribution later.
The two men stayed at the barbecue and continued eating and drinking. Greg Hollnagle, a friend of theirs that accompanied them to the barbecue, passed out at the picnic table. At one point he got up and said to defendant "I'm going to beat your ass." Later, Hollnagle was carried to his van and his wife drove him home.
About 1:30 a.m. the victim was in the trailer along with Machia, the defendant Danny Kittrell, and the other males. The victim was intoxicated. He fell down inside the trailer. Machia then walked the victim out to the car and placed him in the back seat. Machia's car was about 30 feet from defendant's trailer.
Machia returned to the picnic table outside the trailer. Shortly thereafter, Machia looked over to the car and saw defendant kneeling outside the open car door and talking. About five minutes later, those assembled at the picnic table heard a scream. Machia identified the voice as the victim's. Victim was not in the car or at the party. Defendant was also missing.
The other members of the party began searching for victim and the defendant. They shined flashlights into the woods and called out for the two. At one point they heard someone running through the woods but no one answered the calls.
Deputy Robert Scott of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department arrived at defendant's trailer at approximately 3:00 a.m. He was responding to a neighbor's complaint about a disturbance in the area. Scott was informed of the missing men. He searched the woods but did not find them.
Scott then returned to his car, drove down Treeview Lane and made a right on Flint Drive. As he was driving along Flint, Scott observed the defendant staggering towards him. He was covered with blood and wearing only cut-off blue jean shorts. He had a strip of denim tied around his wrist. Scott stopped his car and asked defendant what had happened to him. Defendant stated that he had been ...