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State v. Spurgeon

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division

February 23, 2016

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
JAMES E. SPURGEON, Appellant

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Franklin County. 11AB-CR01094-01. Honorable Isidore I. Lamke.

         FOR APPELLANT: Amy M. Bartholow, Office of Public Defender, Columbia, Mo.

         FOR RESPONDENT: Chris Koster, Attorney General, Daniel N. McPherson, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, MO.

          OPINION

         ROBERT M. CLAYTON III

         James Spurgeon (" Appellant" ) appeals the judgment entered after a bench trial convicting him of one count of driving while intoxicated, one count of operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner, and one count of failing to maintain financial responsibility. We dismiss the appeal.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Appellant was charged with one count of driving while intoxicated, one count of operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner, and one count of failing to maintain financial responsibility. Appellant was tried at a bench trial on January 14, 2014, which produced the following facts, viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict.

         Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Matthew Mistler arrested Appellant for driving while intoxicated on June 5, 2010, after Appellant was involved in an accident on Missouri Highway 47 in Franklin County. When Trooper Mistler made the arrest, Appellant was unconscious in the hospital following the accident. Trooper Mistler read the Missouri implied consent law[1] to Appellant and orally requested a blood sample. Hospital personnel retrieved the blood sample while Appellant was still unconscious and unresponsive, and a blood alcohol test was performed.

         Prior to trial, Appellant filed a motion to suppress the results of the blood alcohol test. The trial court denied the motion, and evidence of Appellant's blood alcohol test was admitted at trial over Appellant's objection. The trial court ultimately found Appellant guilty on all counts. The trial court also found Appellant was a prior and persistent offender, based on two prior convictions for driving while intoxicated.

         Sentencing was set for July 29, 2014, but Appellant did not appear on that date. Sentencing was continued to August 12, 2014, and Appellant was ordered to appear but did not. A capias warrant was issued, and Appellant was subsequently arrested in Los Angeles, California. Appellant appeared before the trial court, in custody, on November 25, 2014, and the trial court re-set sentencing for January 27, 2015. Appellant was sentenced on that date to concurrent sentences of three years' imprisonment for driving while intoxicated, six months in jail for operating a motor vehicle in a careless and imprudent manner, and fifteen days in jail for failing to maintain financial responsibility. This appeal followed.

         II. DISCUSSION

         In his sole point on appeal, Appellant asserts the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress the results of the blood alcohol test and admitting the evidence at trial. We need not address the merits of Appellant's claim, as we dismiss his appeal.

         " The escape rule operates to deny the right of appeal to a defendant who escapes justice." State v. Troupe, 891 S.W.2d 808, 809 (Mo. banc 1995). The doctrine originally dates back to State v. Carter, 98 Mo. 431, 11 S.W. 979 (Mo. 1889). Troupe, 891 S.W.2d at 810. The Western District articulated the rationale for the doctrine in State v. Wright, 763 S.W.2d 167, 168-69 (Mo. App. W.D. 1988):

Those who seek the protection of this legal system must [] be willing to abide by its rules and decisions. [The defendant] comes before this court seeking vindication of her Fourth Amendment rights. Earlier, however, when she absconded she showed her reluctance to accept the decision of the trial court or to await the vindication of her rights by this court. She may not ...

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