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State v. Myles

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

September 8, 2015

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
ERIC MYLES, Appellant

Page 650

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 651

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. Hon. Mark H. Neill.

         For appellant: Srikant Chigurupati, St. Louis, MO.

         For respondent: Chris Koster, Daniel N. McPherson, Jefferson City, MO.

          OPINION

         KURT S. ODENWALD, J.

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          Introduction

         Appellant Eric Myles (" Myles" ) appeals from the judgment entered by the trial court following a jury verdict finding Myles guilty of one count of first-degree assault (Count I), one count of first-degree robbery (Count III), and two counts of armed criminal action (Counts II and IV). In his first two points on appeal, Myles contends that the trial court committed plain error by submitting Jury Instruction No. 6, the State's verdict director for Count I, to the jury; and by submitting Jury Instruction No. 8, the State's verdict director for Count III, to the jury. In the remaining points on appeal, Myles challenges the sufficiency of the evidence supporting his convictions as to Counts I-IV, asserting that the trial court erred in accepting the jury's guilty verdicts. Because the trial court did not plainly err in submitting Jury Instructions Nos. 6 and 8 to the jury, and because sufficient evidence was presented at trial from which a reasonable juror could have found the essential elements of each of the charged crimes in Counts I-IV beyond a reasonable doubt, we affirm the judgment of the trial court,

         Factual and Procedural History

         Myles was tried before a jury in February of 2014 and convicted of one count of first-degree assault (Count I), one count of

Page 653

first-degree robbery (Count III), and two counts of armed criminal action (Counts II and IV). Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, the following evidence was adduced at trial.

         On January 10, 2012, Victim stopped at a gas station in the City of St. Louis. While walking back to his car, a man with a gun approached Victim and stated that he was robbing Victim. Victim grabbed the gun and struggled with the man. Two other men intervened, punching Victim and hitting him in the head with a hard object. The man with the gun then shot Victim. Victim's car was taken after the shooting. Victim testified that he could not identify any of the three men who attacked him.

         Victim's car was found on January 11, 2012, in front of a home. The homeowner told police the car had been brought there by Anthony Greene (" Greene" ). Greene was subsequently taken into custody and questioned by the police. Following Greene's interview, Myles was taken into custody and questioned. Myles initially denied any involvement in the robbery and shooting, but he changed his story once the police showed him a portion of Greene's interview in which Greene stated that he, Myles, and Antwon Johnson (" Johnson" ) were involved. At that point, Myles stated that Greene and Johnson were his cousins, and that the three men were at Johnson's home when they decided to go out on a " mission." Myles explained that " mission" meant going out and doing something bad. Myles stated that the three men went to the gas station, and that he and Greene stood at a bus stop across the street while Johnson approached Victim. Myles told police that Johnson pulled a gun on Victim, and that once the struggle ensued, Greene choked Victim and Myles hit Victim with a closed fist. Myles later stated that he hit Victim with a brick. Myles also stated that Johnson shot Victim after Myles and Greene pulled Victim off of Johnson.

         At trial, Myles denied being at the scene of the crime when the robbery and shooting occurred. The detective who interviewed Myles testified that the portion of Greene's interview that was played for Myles did not include the details of the crime that Myles provided when the police interviewed Myles. Before the jury instruction conference, and before the case was submitted to the jury, Myles made a motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of all the evidence which was denied by the trial court. The case was subsequently submitted to the jury.

         Count I, the charge of first-degree assault, was submitted to the jury in Jury Instruction No. 6, which read as follows:

As to Count I, if you find and believe from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt:
That on or about January 10, 2012, in the City of St. Louis, State of Missouri, the defendant, acting with Antwann Johnson and Anthony Greene, knowingly caused serious physical injury to Christopher Bradford by shooting him, then you will find the defendant guilty under Count I of assault in the first degree.
However, unless you find and believe from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt each and all of these propositions, you must find the defendant not guilty of that offense.
As used in this instruction, the term " serious physical injury" means physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes serious disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part of the body.

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          Count III, the charge of first-degree robbery, was submitted to the jury in Jury Instruction No. 8, which read as follows:

As to Count 3, if you find and believe from the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt:
First, that on or about January 10, 2012, in the City of St. Louis, State of Missouri, the defendant, acting with Antwann Johnson and Anthony Greene, took a 1998 Cadillac DeVille, which was property owned by Christopher Bradford, and
Second, that defendant did so for the purpose of withholding it from the owner permanently, and
Third, that defendant in doing so used physical force on or against Christopher Bradford for the purpose of overcoming resistance to the taking of the property, and
Fourth, that in the course of taking the property, Antwann Johnson was armed with ...

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