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State v. Brooks

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

November 12, 2014

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
CLAUDE DALE BROOKS, Appellant

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ST. CHARLES COUNTY. The Honorable Jon A. Cunningham, Judge.

Brooks was represented by Samuel Buffaloe of the public defender's office in Columbia.

The state was represented by Robert J. (Jeff) Bartholomew of the attorney general's office in Jefferson City.

OPINION

Zel M. Fischer, Judge

Page 674

Claude Dale Brooks was found guilty in a court-tried case in the St. Charles County Circuit Court of robbery in the second degree, § 569.030.[1] On appeal, Brooks argues that the circuit court erred by overruling his motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of evidence and entering judgment against him for robbery in the second degree because the State did not present sufficient evidence that he used or threatened to immediately use physical force against the bank teller. Affirmed.

Standard of Review

" In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence in a court-tried criminal case the appellate court's role is limited to a determination of whether the [S]tate presented sufficient evidence from which a trier of fact could have reasonably found the defendant guilty." State v. Vandevere, 175 S.W.3d 107, 108 (Mo. banc 2005). " The evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom are viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, disregarding any evidence and inferences contrary to the verdict." State v. Belton, 153 S.W.3d 307, 309 (Mo. banc 2005).

Facts

On August 25, 2011, Brooks entered a bank in St. Charles County wearing bulky clothing, a long-haired wig, a baseball cap, and sunglasses. He approached teller A.E. and handed her a note that read: " 50 & 100's, No Bait Bills, Bottom Drawer." When A.E. began to walk away from her station to retrieve the money, Brooks slammed his hand down hard on the counter, telling her to " get back here." After explaining to Brooks that the money was elsewhere, A.E. retrieved the money and placed it on the counter in front of Brooks. He then put the money into a bag and left the bank. Soon thereafter, police arrested Brooks on a nearby street. Officers found the stolen money in a bag on Brooks's person and the wig and cap in a storm drain not far away.

The State charged Brooks with robbery in the second degree. Brooks did not contest the fact that he stole money from the bank but argued that he did not commit robbery in the second degree by using

Page 675

or threatening to immediately use physical force. At the close of the State's evidence, Brooks moved for judgment of acquittal, arguing there was insufficient evidence of second-degree robbery because he did not use or threaten the use of physical force. The circuit court overruled the motion, and after finding Brooks guilty of robbery in the second degree, stated that his disguise, the note he handed to the teller, his unusual knowledge of bank procedure, and the gesture of slamming his hand down on the bank counter " show[ed] . . . an actual, immediate threat of physical force." The circuit court found ...


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