Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Cause No.
1422-CR03331 Honorable Margaret Mary Neill
Colleen Dolan, Judge
Curtis, ("Defendant"), appeals the trial
court's judgment entered upon a jury verdict finding him
guilty of two counts of assault in the first degree, two
counts of unlawful use of a weapon, and four counts of armed
criminal action. Specifically, Defendant contends there is
insufficient evidence to support his convictions with respect
to Counts I and III (assault in the first degree of Ebony
Washington and her sister Errianna Washington) and Counts II and
IV (the accompanying armed criminal action
charges). The Defendant does not appeal his
conviction under Counts V-VIII. We affirm.
Factual and Procedural Background
January 29, 2012, at approximately 6:00 p.m., Ebony and
Errianna Washington witnessed two groups fighting on the
corner of 16th Street and Biddle Street with five to fifteen
people involved. At the time, Ebony lived at 1550 Biddle
Street, sharing a common porch with her great-grandmother,
Mary Hubbard, and Errianna lived nearby at 1647 Cole Street.
When the fight started, Ms. Hubbard was asleep, and Ebony
went onto her porch to observe the fighting. Errianna was
taking her trash out and went to check on her sister after
she heard the commotion.
Ebony called the police and the fight subsided, she walked to
the street corner to talk to one of the participants. She and
her sister observed a woman named Chiffon pacing nearby while
talking on a cell phone. They watched Chiffon approach a
black Dodge Magnum and speak to a person in the back
passenger seat, whom the sisters later identified as the
Defendant. At this point, Ebony and Errianna were standing
together at the corner of 16th and Biddle and each testified
that Chiffon pointed in their general direction, where others
from the fight were standing.
sisters watched the car suddenly accelerate down 16th Street;
turn right on Biddle, stop, and saw Defendant shooting a
semiautomatic handgun in their direction. Ebony stated she
was in the line of fire and ran toward her apartment but when
she reached her door, she looked back and saw her sister
standing frozen and Ebony screamed "my sister, my
sister." Errianna testified she saw Defendant shooting
at the crowd and froze but could hear her sister screaming at
her to run. She stated that as she ran through the crowd
toward her sister's porch, she could feel the dirt flying
in her face from the shots hitting the ground around her.
Both girls identified Defendant as the shooter. Errianna
testified she saw Defendant shooting at another person
running side by side with her through the crowd and that if
she had been a little taller she probably would have been hit
by the gunfire.
revealed bullets had been shot through the windows and into
the home of Mary Hubbard. Both sisters told the police that
Defendant had shot at them and identified him from a photo
lineup and at trial. The Defendant did not testify or present
any evidence. At the close of the state's evidence and at
the close of all the evidence, Defendant filed motions for
judgment of acquittal, which the trial court denied. The jury
found him guilty of all eight counts. The trial court
sentenced Defendant to serve ten years on Counts I-IV, with
the sentences to run concurrently.
Standard of Review
review of a trial court's denial of a motion for judgment
of acquittal is limited to a determination of whether there
is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable juror could
have found the Defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
State v. Bowman, 337 S.W.3d 679, 688 (Mo. banc
2011). In a bench trial, the court's findings of fact
shall have the force and effect of the verdict of a jury.
Missouri Supreme Court Rule 27.01(b) (2016). An appellate
court gives great deference to the trier of fact and does not
act "as a 'super juror' with veto powers."
State v. Wolfe, 13 S.W.3d 248, 252 (Mo. banc 2000)
(abrogated in part on other grounds by Mitchell v.
Kardesch, 313 S.W.3d 667, 678-679 (Mo. banc 2010)). When
reviewing the sufficiency of evidence supporting a criminal
conviction, this Court accepts as true all favorable evidence
to the State and all favorable inferences that can be drawn
from the evidence, and disregards all contrary evidence and
inferences. Bowman, 337 S.W.3d at 688.
is no distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence,
and therefore, a court should not overrule a fact-finder
"simply because the case depended…upon
circumstantial proof." State v. Mosby, 341
S.W.3d 154, 156 (Mo. App. E.D. 2011). Missouri courts have
long recognized that intent is most often inferred from the
circumstances, and it is presumed that a person intends the
natural and probable consequences of his acts. State v.
Mangum, 390 S.W.3d 853, 859 (Mo. App. E.D. 2013).
Additionally, "A jury can infer intent to cause physical
bodily harm when under the circumstances, the prohibited
result may reasonably be expected to follow from a voluntary
act, irrespective of any subjective desire on the part of the
offender to have accomplished the prohibited result."
Id. at 859-60.
Defendant's sole point on appeal, he asserts the trial
court erred in denying his motions for judgment of acquittal
with respect to Counts I and III (assault in the first
degree), and Counts II and IV (armed criminal action).
"A person commits the offense of assault in the first
degree if he or she attempts to kill…or attempts to
cause serious physical injury to another person." §
565.060, RSMo 2000. "An individual is guilty of
purposely causing or attempting to cause physical injury to
another when that individual consciously engages in conduct
that causes such injury." State v. Wren, 317
S.W.3d 111, 123 (Mo. App. E.D. 2010). A person "acts
purposely" when it is his conscious object to engage in
that conduct or to cause that result. § 562.016.2, RSMo
2000. The same mental state is required for the armed
criminal action counts.
argues the evidence was insufficient to show he acted with
the purpose of causing death or serious physical injury to
either Errianna or Ebony. In this case, Defendant relies
heavily on State v. Whalen, in which the Missouri
Supreme Court reversed the defendant's conviction of
first degree assault, holding the evidence did not permit a
finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Whalen was aware of
two of the lawmen he shot. 49 S.W.3d 181, 182-183 (Mo. banc
2001) (overruled in part on other grounds by State v.
Claycomb, 470 S.W.3d 358, 362 (Mo. banc 2015)).
Whalen is distinguishable on its facts, because the
victims in that case were hidden from the defendant's
view. Id. at 183. The Whalen defendant,
holed up in a bedroom, could see and hear one officer through