Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Special Division
from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The
Honorable James F. Kanatzar, Judge.
Before: Zel M. Fischer, Special Judge, Presiding, Mark D.
Pfeiffer, Chief Judge, and Gary D. Witt, Judge.
D. Pfeiffer, Chief Judge.
Leslie M. Baker ("Baker") appeals his conviction of
the class B felony of driving while intoxicated
("DWI"), chronic offender, following a bench trial
on stipulated evidence in the Circuit Court of Jackson
County, Missouri ("trial court"). Baker was
sentenced to six years' imprisonment. Baker challenges
the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction. We
and Procedural Background
trial court entered its judgment in reliance on the following
stipulated evidence. On June 30, 2013, at 10:47 p.m., Officer
Steven Emberton of the Blue Springs Police Department was
dispatched to the intersection of Ashton Drive and Oxford
Lane, Blue Springs, Jackson County, Missouri, in response to
a report by a 9-1-1 caller as to a possible intoxicated
driver passed out behind the wheel of a vehicle. This is a
busy residential area in Blue Springs, Missouri, as evidenced
by Officer Emberton's dashboard camera depicting
thirty-six vehicles proceeding through the intersection
during the span of Officer Emberton's thirty-two-minute
interaction with Baker and his vehicle. Upon arrival at 10:52
p.m., Officer Emberton observed a white 1983 Chrysler
Imperial with the license number YE8-V1W parked in the middle
of the intersection with the driver's-side door open with
the headlights and rear lights still on. Officer Emberton
observed a person later identified as Baker, staggering away
from the vehicle and into the front yard of 2316 Ashton Drive
approximately twenty to twenty-five feet from the vehicle.
Officer Emberton detained Baker, at which time he observed a
strong, overpowering odor of intoxicants coming from
Baker's person and his eyes to be bloodshot and watery.
The officer also observed Baker's speech to be slurred
and mumbling as Baker spoke to Officer Emberton. Officer
Emberton also observed Baker's balance to be uncertain,
swaying, staggering, stumbling, and falling down.
informed Officer Emberton that the vehicle was registered to
Baker. Officer Emberton observed in plain view two open
plastic and largely consumed plastic containers of McCormick
whiskey in Baker's vehicle. One bottle was lying on the
driver's-side floorboard, and the other was wedged
between the driver's seat and the center console. The
officer observed the keys to be in the ignition in the
operating position. The engine was not running at that time.
Baker's sandals were found lying on the driver's-side
floorboard near the foot pedals.
Emberton made contact with the party who originally called
9-1-1 about Baker and his vehicle parked in the roadway. That
person was identified as Nicholas Billingsley. Mr.
Billingsley stated that he and his wife were on their way
home when they observed Baker's vehicle in the middle of
the intersection, and it was not moving. Mr. Billingsley
stated that he waited a brief period of time before driving
around the vehicle. He stated that he saw Baker leaned back
in the driver's seat with his left arm hanging out the
window. He told Officer Emberton that the driver was passed
out. Mr. Billingsley told the officer that no one else was in
the car when he passed the vehicle.
Emberton then requested that Baker submit to standard field
sobriety tests. Baker stated that he would not consent to any
of the field sobriety tests. At that time, Officer Emberton
arrested Baker on suspicion of DWI. Officer Emberton
transported Baker to the Blue Springs police station, read
Baker Missouri's Implied Consent Law, and requested that
Baker submit to a breathalyzer test, which Baker refused.
State charged Baker with one count of the class B felony of
DWI, § 577.010,  and because he had previously been found
guilty of four intoxication-related traffic offenses, he
qualified as a chronic offender, § 577.023.1(2)(a). The
case proceeded to a bench trial. In addition to the
parties' joint stipulation of evidence, the trial court
received into evidence without objection a certified copy of
Baker's driving record, certified copies of Baker's
four prior DWI convictions, a DVD of Officer Emberton's
in-car dashboard camera, and Officer Emberton's written
report of the incident. Baker did not present any evidence at
trial; instead, he moved for a judgment of acquittal at the
close of the State's case and at the close of all the
evidence. The trial court took the case under advisement and
thereafter issued its judgment, finding Baker guilty of DWI
as a chronic alcohol offender. The trial court sentenced
Baker to six years' imprisonment.
reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence in a court-tried
criminal case, the same standard is applied as in a
jury-tried case." State v. Varnell, 316 S.W.3d
510, 513 (Mo. App. W.D. 2010). "The appellate
court's role is limited to determining whether the State
presented sufficient evidence from which a trier of fact
could have reasonably found the defendant guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt." Id. (citing State v.
Johnson, 244 S.W.3d 144, 152 (Mo. banc 2008)). We accept
as true all evidence and inferences favorable to the State
and disregard all contrary evidence and inferences. Id.
See also State v. ...