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State v. Ware

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

November 12, 2014

STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JANE E. WARE, Defendant-Appellant

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF PHELPS COUNTY. Honorable John D. Wiggins, Senior Judge.

For Appellant: Emmett D. Queener Of Columbia, Mo.

For Respondent: Chris Koster, Attorney General, And Karen Kramer Of Jefferson City, MO.

Nancy Steffen Rahmeyer, J. - Opinion Author. Gary W. Lynch, J. - Concurs. Don E. Burrell, J. - Concurs.

OPINION

Page 225

Nancy Steffen Rahmeyer, J.

In a court-tried trial, Jane E. Ware (" Appellant" ) was convicted of the class C felony of tampering with a witness, a violation of section 575.270,[1] for an event that occurred on September 8, 2011. A person commits the crime of tampering with a witness when he uses force, threats, or deception for the purpose of inducing a witness or a prospective witness to (1) disobey a subpoena or other legal process, or (2) absent himself or avoid subpoena or other legal process, or (3) withhold evidence, information or documents, or (4) testify falsely. Section 575.270.1(2). Appellant challenges the sufficiency of the evidence concerning the use of force or threats to " withhold evidence or information" and " to avoid legal process in the felony prosecution" of her husband, Christopher

Page 226

Ware. We reject Appellant's claims of error and affirm the judgment.

Appellant is married to Christopher Ware; Christopher Ware is the father of ten-year-old C.D.C. and was charged with the criminal nonsupport of the child. Prior to the September date, Mr. Ware had very little interaction with C.D.C., and had only one overnight visit. After the criminal charges for nonsupport, Appellant and Mr. Ware continually called the mother of C.D.C. (" Mother" ) in an attempt to get Mother to drop the criminal nonsupport charges against him. Mr. Ware threatened Mother by saying that she did not know who she was " messing with" ; he told Mother that if she did not sign child support papers prepared by his attorneys, he would fight her for full custody of C.D.C. so that he would not have to pay child support. He also told Mother that " the State's on his butt and he needed to get it taken care of." Appellant made similar statements to Mother during this time frame, including " [Mr. Ware] said you might as well sign child support papers because you're not going to receive a dime."

On September 8, 2011, Mr. Ware and Appellant arrived at the school where C.D.C. attended, stating that they wanted to pick up the child. Neither Appellant, nor Mr. Ware, had sought Mother's permission to pick up the child from school; further, they did not have any prior permission to ever pick up the child from school in the middle of the day. When the school questioned his right to pick up the child, Mr. Ware produced a copy of the birth certificate which listed him as the father of C.D.C. and stated that they were picking C.D.C. up to meet Mother at the courthouse.[2] The school official was alarmed and called the resource officer for the school but was unable to reach him; she was told by the police department that if Mr. Ware had proper identification and the original birth certificate, that the school must release the child.

Mother, in the meantime, had received several calls from the Wares but had not answered them; when she did answer Appellant's calls, she was told that " we have C.D.C." Mother called police to report that her daughter had been picked up from school; because the police had been alerted by the earlier calls from the school, Mother was advised to go to the police station. Mother also called her mother, the grandmother of the child, to report the situation. The grandmother called Mr. Ware and was told that he had C.D.C. and would not bring her back until Mother went to " sign the papers." When the grandmother asked him what papers he was talking about, Mr. Ware answered, " saying that she doesn't want me to pay child support."

Appellant called Mother while Mother was at the police station. The officer observed that Mother was in shock and afraid for her daughter, appearing to be hysterical. While on the phone, Mother kept saying, " I'll do whatever you want, I'll sign whatever you want, I just--I just want my baby." The officer instructed Mother to go ahead to the Division of Family Services' office and he would meet her there with several other police officers. Mother told her caseworker that her child had been " taken" and she would not get the child back unless she signed some papers giving ...


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