Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis
1222-CR02054-01, Honorable Thomas J. Frawley
P. Page, Judge.
Hall ("Defendant") appeals from the judgment of his
conviction of resisting a lawful stop, a Class D felony, in
violation of Section 575.150 (RSMo 2000). We dismiss pursuant
to the escape rule.
April 9, 2012, Sergeant Kelly Fisher ("Sergeant
Fisher") was surveilling a silver Mustang-listed on the
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department's "hot
sheet" as a stolen vehicle. To stop the vehicle,
officers deployed spike strips to deflate its tires. Three
tires were punctured, and the vehicle stopped in the middle
of the street. Sergeant Fisher pulled up to the vehicle,
flaring her lights and sirens, but the driver sped off,
entering southbound Highway I-55. The vehicle eventually
stopped on the left shoulder, partially blocking the left
lane. Defendant exited from the driver's side and fled on
foot. Officers pursued and captured Defendant.
Defendant was charged with resisting a lawful stop.
Defendant, while out of jail on a $750 cash-bond, failed to
appear for his plea hearing. A capias warrant was
issued, but was not served on Defendant until over a year
later. At the next scheduled plea hearing, Defendant offered
various excuses why he failed to appear in the first
instance. Defendant again posted bond, and the case was
ultimately set for a bench trial.
December 2013 bench trial, the court found Defendant guilty
of resisting a lawful stop. Sentencing was scheduled for
January 31, 2014, and Defendant again failed to appear.
Another capias warrant was issued, but was not
served until November 2, 2014. Defendant was taken into
custody, and was given a sentence of five years. This appeal
submits one point on appeal, asserting the trial court
clearly erred in overruling his motion for judgment of
acquittal and for convicting him of the class D felony of
resisting a lawful stop, in violation of his right to due
process of law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to
the United States Constitution and Article I, section 10 of
the Missouri Constitution. Specifically, Defendant contends
the evidence failed to establish that he fled in a manner
that created a substantial risk of serious physical injury or
death, and so the imposition of a sentence for the felony
charge was improper.
State argues Defendant's appeal should be dismissed
pursuant to the escape rule. We agree. "The escape rule
is a judicially-created doctrine that operates to deny the
right of appeal to a criminal defendant who escapes
justice." Crawley v. State, 155 S.W.3d 836, 837
(Mo. App. E.D. 2005). A defendant who escapes or flees the
jurisdiction of the court either during trial or in the
process of post-trial proceedings forfeits his rights to an
appeal on the merits of the case. State v. Crump,
128 S.W.3d 642, 642-643 (Mo. App. E.D. 2004). A
defendant's failure to appear constitutes an
'escape' for purposes of applying the escape rule.
whether to invoke the escape rule is left to the sound
discretion of the appellate court. State v. Troupe,
891 S.W.2d 808, 811 (Mo. banc 1995). A reviewing court may
invoke procedural rules to protect the orderly and efficient
use of its resources. Id. In applying the escape
rule, the relevant inquiry is whether the escape adversely
affects the criminal justice system. If so, dismissing the
escapee's appeal is appropriate. Id.
Crump, the defendant's failure to appear
"caused more than a ten-week delay between the original
and actual sentencing date, necessitated the filing of a
capias warrant for his arrest and required the
efforts of law enforcement to locate and apprehend him."
128 S.W.3d at 643. These actions "adversely affected the
criminal justice system." Id.
as both Defendant and the State recognize in their briefs,
Defendant's failure to appear for his sentencing hearing
caused an exorbitantly long delay-over nine months-in the
adjudication of his case. His absence required the court and
law enforcement to spend additional resources. This was the
second such delay, as Defendant's first capias
warrant went unserved for almost a year. Lest we forget,
Defendant was charged with resisting a lawful stop-because he
recklessly fled from the officers. Flight is Defendant's
habit, and his case is exactly the reason why the escape rule