Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Benton County, Missouri. The Honorable Lisa Carter Henderson, Judge.
Robert J. Bartholomew Jr., Jefferson City, MO, Counsel for Respondent.
Thomas D. Carver, Springfield, MO, Counsel for Appellant.
Before Division Two: Victor C. Howard PJ., James E. Welsh, Anthony Rex Gabbert JJ. All concur.
Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judge.
Shannon Shaffer Sr. (Shaffer Sr.) appeals the circuit court's judgment finding him guilty of second degree murder. Shaffer Sr. raises three points on appeal. First, Shaffer Sr. argues that the court erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal because there was insufficient evidence that his steering input to his motor vehicle was done for the purpose of seriously injuring or killing Tommy " Bo" Bryant. Second, Shaffer Sr. argues that the court erred in overruling defense counsel's motion for a mistrial after one of the State's witnesses testified that " people are in jail because they're obviously guilty" because it denied him a fair trial and destroyed his presumption of innocence. Lastly, Shaffer Sr. argues that the court erred in excluding testimony from Erika Fulbright as to whether her boyfriend, Shannon Shaffer Jr. (Shaffer Jr.), was upset
after Bryant struck him in the head with a wooden stick because the testimony was admissible and its exclusion was unreasonable. We affirm.
In April 2012, there were several residences located on the same parcel of land. In the main brick house lived Shaffer Sr.'s daughter, parents, and his brother-in-law, Gene Eagleburger. Shaffer Jr. and Fulbright lived together in a camper right outside of the brick house. Bryant lived in a trailer up the hill from the brick house. Between Bryant's trailer and the brick house, there was another trailer where Johnny and Teresa Davis lived.
On April 22, 2012, Shaffer Sr. appeared at his son's residence. Shaffer Sr., Shaffer Jr. and Fulbright all left in Shaffer Sr.'s Jeep. After driving around various lakes and other sites, they stopped in a store in Springfield for groceries for a barbecue. The group next went to Bryant's trailer and had a few drinks with Bryant before they all left and went to Turkey Creek Lake.
After Turkey Creek Lake, the group went to Orleans Bridge to barbecue. At Orleans Bridge, the group got into an argument with some fishermen there. Bryant and Shaffer Sr. also got into an argument. The group left and dropped Bryant off at the end of his driveway but did not drive him all the way up to his trailer. After Shaffer Sr. dropped Bryant off, Bryant jumped onto the hood of the Jeep as it was moving. Bryant rolled off, and the Jeep kept going. Shaffer Sr., Shaffer Jr., and Fulbright returned to the lake and stopped by a farmhouse before returning home.
When they arrived at the residence, they saw Bryant coming up, holding a wooden stick. They got out of the Jeep and Bryant started swinging the stick, hitting the Jeep and then Shaffer Jr. in the head. Shaffer Sr., Shaffer Jr., and Fulbright jumped back into the Jeep with Shaffer Sr. driving, Shaffer Jr. in the backseat, and Fulbright in the front passenger seat. Shaffer Jr.'s head was bleeding badly.
Eagleburger came up the driveway and grabbed Bryant and pulled him away to take him back to his house. As they were walking off of the concrete driveway and onto the gravel, Eagleburger heard the Jeep's engine rev up. He and Bryant then moved off the road to get out of the way. Shaffer Sr. veered off the driveway and came towards them. Eagleburger jumped out of the way, but Bryant turned around and stuck his hands up as the Jeep hit him going full speed. The Jeep then veered back onto the driveway while Eagleburger was yelling, " Please stop. ...