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State v. Oerly

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

October 28, 2014

State
v.
Oerly

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Boone County. The Honorable Larry A. Bryson, Judge.

Merilee A. Crockett, Columbia, MO, for Respondent.

Ellen H. Flottman, Columbia, MO, for Appellant.

Before Division Two: Victor C. Howard, P.J., and Alok Ahuja and Gary D. Witt, JJ. All concur.

OPINION

Alok Ahuja, Judge

Page 305

Following a bench trial, Douglas Oerly was convicted of the Class A misdemeanor of stealing in the Circuit Court of Boone County. Oerly appeals, arguing that the circuit court erred in excluding evidence concerning medical treatment he received on the day following the theft. We affirm.

Factual Background

On September 21, 2012, a security employee at a Wal-Mart store in Columbia saw Oerly take a calculator with a $140.00 retail price off a store shelf, remove it from its packaging, shove the calculator down the front of his pants, and return the empty packaging to a shelf. Security personnel approached Oerly in a vestibule as he was attempting to exit the store. He was escorted to the security office and found to be in possession of the calculator and some juice; he had not paid for either item. While in the office, Oerly drank the juice and acted as though he was going to faint, but informed Wal-Mart's security personnel that he was " okay."

A Columbia police officer, Justin Riley, arrived and observed that Oerly was hunched forward with his elbows on his knees; Oerly stated that he did not feel well. Officer Riley had been a licensed emergency medical technician prior to becoming a police officer. He called for an ambulance. The paramedics who responded found that Oerly had high blood sugar. Oerly refused medical treatment.

Officer Riley transported Oerly to the Columbia Police Department for processing.

Page 306

Processing took approximately one hour during which Officer Riley observed Oerly. Officer Riley testified that Oerly appeared to be " aware of his surroundings and the situation he was in," and that he did not observe Oerly to be in medical distress at any time.

Oerly was released on bond. The following day, he sought treatment at the University of Missouri Hospital, was found to have high blood sugar (hyperglycemia), and was admitted for three days.

A bench trial was held. Oerly testified that he had been a diabetic since childhood. Because he was having difficulty paying for his prescription medications, Oerly testified that at the time of the theft he was trying to regulate his blood sugar on his own. He testified that, when his blood sugar was low, " [i]t's kind of like . . . being in an alien body. You have no control over it and you really don't know what you're doing." According to Oerly, having low blood sugar would eventually lead him to become unconscious or to have a seizure. Oerly testified that during prior episodes in which his blood sugar was low, he had gone into a store, picked something up, and walked out without paying.

Oerly testified that he stopped at the Wal-Mart on September 21 to get juice because he felt as if his blood sugar was " bottoming out." He testified that he had black spots in front of his eyes and felt " trembly." Oerly testified that he took some juice off of the shelf and drank it in an office at the back of the store, but has no memory of what occurred between the time that he entered the store and when he drank the juice in the office. Oerly testified that after drinking the juice his vision cleared.

According to Oerly, the paramedics told him that his blood sugar level was at or above 500. Oerly testified that his blood sugar should normally be between 80 and 120. He testified that he refused medical attention at the time due to the cost, but that he sought and ...


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