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State v. Pilant

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

August 14, 2014

STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
MATTHEW G. PILANT, Defendant-Appellant

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF LACLEDE COUNTY. Honorable Kenneth M. Hayden, Circuit Judge.

For Appellant: Travis L. Noble, Jr.

For Respondent: Chris Koster (Attorney General), Robert J. (Jeff) Bartholomew.

Nancy Steffen Rahmeyer, J. - Opinion Author. Don E. Burrell, J. - Concurs. Mary W. Sheffield, P.J. - Concurs.

OPINION

Nancy Steffen Rahmeyer, J.

Matthew G. Pilant (" Appellant" ) appeals his conviction following a bench trial for the class C felony of driving while intoxicated as an aggravated offender. See sections 577.010.1, 577.023.4.[1] In two points, he claims that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction that he was

Page 839

in an " intoxicated condition." Finding no merit in the claim, we affirm.

In his first point, Appellant argues that the testimony of Thomas Miller (" Miller" )--the State's sole witness--lacked probative value under the " destructive contradictions" doctrine.[2] Following the submission of this case, however, our supreme court abolished this doctrine, along with the " corroboration rule," in State v. Porter, .W.3d, 439 S.W.3d 208, 2014 WL 3729864, slip op. at *1 (Mo. banc July 29, 2014), " because, among other reasons, both require appellate courts to act as the finder of fact." As Porter precludes our consideration of the destructive contradictions doctrine, we instead limit our analysis to Appellant's second claim of error which challenges the sufficiency of the evidence under our general standard of review for such challenges.

Under that standard, we review whether or not sufficient evidence was produced from which the trier of fact could have reasonably found guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. Fraga, 189 S.W.3d 585, 586 (Mo.App. S.D. 2006). This standard applies regardless of whether the cause was court-tried or jury-tried. Id. In reviewing the evidence, we accept all inferences favorable to the State as true, while all contrary evidence and inferences are disregarded. Id. Our function is to determine if there is sufficient evidence to support the conviction, not to reweigh the evidence. State v. Mann, 129 S.W.3d 462, 467 (Mo.App. S.D. 2004). " It is the trial court's prerogative to decide whether to believe all, part or none of a witness' testimony." State v. Baumruk, 280 S.W.3d 600, 612 (Mo. banc 2009) (quoting State v. Morton, 229 S.W.3d 626, 629 (Mo.App. S.D. 2007)) (internal quotations omitted).

Analysis

" A person commits the crime of 'driving while intoxicated' if he operates a motor vehicle in an intoxicated or drugged condition." Section 577.010.1. " [A] person is in an 'intoxicated condition' when he is under the influence of alcohol, a controlled substance, or drug, or any combination thereof." Section 577.001.3. " Intoxication consists of three components: impaired ability, presence of a proscribed substance in the defendant's body at the time of the offense, and a causal connection between the proscribed substance and the defendant's impaired ability." State v. Honsinger, 386 S.W.3d 827, 830 (Mo.App. S.D. 2012). Whether a person is intoxicated may be proven by any witness who had a reasonable opportunity to observe the person's physical condition. State v. Edwards, 280 S.W.3d 184, 189 (Mo.App. E.D. 2009).

In this case, the testimony at trial as we must view it revealed that Miller, a Missouri State Trooper, pulled over a vehicle driven by Appellant on April 9, 2008. Miller testified that Appellant had been traveling at an excessive rate of speed and appeared to be " out of control." Upon approaching Appellant's vehicle, Miller noted that the driver's side front and rear tires were blown out and that the driver's outside mirror had been shattered. When Miller questioned Appellant about the damage to the front of his vehicle and if he had ...


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