Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable Rex
S. ODENWALD, JUDGE.
Tyrone Taylor ("Taylor") appeals from the judgment
of the trial court. Following a bench trial, Taylor was found
guilty of one count of second-degree murder and one count of
armed criminal action for the death of Antoine Bryant
("Bryant"). Taylor avers that there was
insufficient evidence to support a guilty verdict, that the
trial court erred in allowing emotional testimony of the
victim's mother that was extremely prejudicial and served
no purpose other than to inflame the passions of the
fact-finder, and that the trial court plainly erred in not
striking portions of the State's closing argument which
stated facts not in evidence.
record contains sufficient evidence to support Taylor's
convictions of second-degree murder and armed criminal
action. Further, Taylor failed to show any
outcome-determinative prejudice resulting from testimony of
victim's mother. Lastly, the State's closing argument
argued facts in evidence and reasonable inferences therefrom.
We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
and Procedural History
following evidence, viewed in the light most favorable to the
verdict, was presented at Taylor's bench trial. Bryant
was with friends when he decided to go for a ride on a moped.
Alberto Garcia ("Garcia") was stopped at an
intersection when he saw "an individual... on a small
motorcycle or scooter, " later identified as Bryant,
make a left turn in front of him. Garcia also observed a
second person, later identified as Taylor, emerge from an
alley and shoot a gun at Bryant. Garcia testified that Taylor
shot at Bryant "seven or eight times."
observed that Bryant, the person on the moped, had
"something darker" in his hand, but he could not
tell what it was. Garcia testified that both individuals
"had objects in their hand" when the shooting
occurred. Garcia opined that there were two different guns
involved because he heard two different types of gunshots:
"One was higher. The other one was lower." Garcia
called 911 and subsequently spoke to the police officers
responding to the scene. At that time, Garcia did not mention
to the police, nor did the police ask about, whether he saw
an object in Bryant's hand.
Garcia testified that a motorcycle cannot be operated using
just one hand: "You cannot drive a motorcycle with one
hand. If the gas is on the left-hand side, you can't
drive with one up in the air. So I don't know which one
is the accelerator on the left or-."
Rollins ("Rollins") also witnessed the shooting and
testified at trial. Rollins was in her side yard when the
shooting occurred. Rollins had a clear view of the street and
alley in question. Rollins stated that she saw Taylor, coming
out of the alley toward Bryant, who was riding a moped.
Rollins testified that Taylor was shooting at Bryant and that
Bryant was "trying to get out of there." Rollins
was "confident" that Taylor was the shooter. She
heard "about" eight shots. Rollins testified that
she did not see a gun in Bryant's hand, never saw Bryant
shoot at Taylor, and did not hear shots coming from
Bryant's direction. Rollins testified that Bryant had
"both his hands on the grips" of the moped and
never removed them:
Q. Ms. Rollins, as you saw the young man on the moped ride
by, did you ever see him remove his hands from the-I think
you call them the grips on the moped?
A. For the accelerator.
Q. Okay. So the accelerator, like, where we put our hands if
we're riding a moped. Did he ever remove his hand from
the shooting, Bryant rode his moped back to where he had been
with his friends. Bryant's friend, Breanna Brown
("Brown"), testified that Bryant told his friends
he had been shot by Taylor. Brown further testified that she
was with Bryant before and after the shooting and did not
observe him in possession of a gun. Bryant was taken to the
hospital by ambulance where he later died from the gunshot
police officers and evidence technicians investigated the
crime scene, where they found shell casings and bullet
fragments, but could not determine the location of the
shooter. The analysis of the ballistic evidence could not
establish if the cartridge casings were from the same gun or
two different guns. The medical examiner testified that
Bryant was struck in the leg and back by two bullets. The
bullet that caused Bryant's death struck Bryant in the
back and lodged in his chest.
testified that he acted in self-defense when he shot Bryant.
Taylor said that he and Bryant were "feuding" at
the time of the shooting and had a prior altercation. Taylor
claimed that he saw Bryant earlier on the day of the
shooting, and Bryant immediately started going for a gun.
Taylor ran into a nearby alley. Taylor testified that when he
came out of the alley, Bryant again "started going for a
gun." Taylor testified that he feared for his life and
"had no other choice" but to reach for his own gun
and shoot at Bryant. Taylor could not say who shot first, but
said that he fired his gun approximately five times.
mother, Lawanda Phillips ("Phillips"), testified at
trial about learning that her son had been shot, and her
subsequent identification of his body at the hospital.
Phillips recounted her experience at the hospital before
identifying her son's body. Phillips explained that the
doctor told her he had "opened up" Bryant, that
there was "blood everywhere, " and that Bryant was
not going to make it. Phillips testified that she fainted
upon learning her son was not going to live.
moved for judgment of acquittal at the close of the
State's case and at the close of all evidence. ...