Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CRAWFORD COUNTY Honorable Sidney T.
W. SHEFFIELD, C.J.
Craig Hobson ("Defendant") appeals from his
conviction for one count of second-degree assault of a law
enforcement officer. Defendant claims (1) the trial court
erred in overruling an objection he made during the
State's closing argument and (2) the trial court plainly
erred in failing to give a self-defense instruction. We
disagree with his arguments and affirm the trial court's
and Procedural Background
November 6, 2013, Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Jeffry
Leathers ("Trooper Leathers") was on patrol when he
heard Dent County dispatch call Dent County Deputy Sheriff
Jordan Davis ("Deputy Davis") regarding a report of
a suspicious person sitting on a homeowner's doorstep in
a rural area. Both Trooper Leathers and Deputy Davis
Leathers approached Defendant, who was "kind of balled
up with his head down, " and noted a strong odor of
vodka. Defendant "appeared to be very intoxicated"
and could not give his name to the officers. Trooper Leathers
asked if Defendant was okay, and Defendant responded with
"kind of a guttural sound."
Leathers and Deputy Davis attempted to identify Defendant but
could only learn Defendant's first name. The officers
helped Defendant stand and walked him to Deputy Davis's
car where he was seated in the back seat without incident.
Defendant got out of the car so that paramedics could conduct
a medical examination. After it was determined that Defendant
did not need medical treatment but was intoxicated, Trooper
Leathers decided to place Defendant in the sheriff's
office on a twelve-hour civil detoxification
Leathers then directed Defendant to sit back down in Deputy
Davis's car. Defendant lifted up his head and swore at
Trooper Leathers. Then Defendant "stiffened up" and
grabbed the top of the car door. Trooper Leathers took his
hand in a V-shape and pushed on Defendant's flank to get
Defendant to bend over and sit in the car. Defendant turned
and hit Trooper Leathers in the face with a closed fist.
was charged with one count of second-degree assault of a law
enforcement officer. Defendant had a trial on August 28,
2015, where the jury found Defendant guilty. The trial court
sentenced Defendant to six years' imprisonment. This
One: Closing Argument
first point, Defendant argues the trial court abused its
discretion in overruling his objection to the
prosecutor's statement during closing argument that
Defendant stiffened up after Trooper Leathers pushed
him rather than before Trooper Leathers pushed him
because that argument was a misstatement of Trooper
Leathers's testimony. Defendant's point is without
merit because Defendant failed to demonstrate prejudice.
'trial court has broad discretion in controlling the
scope of closing argument, and the court's rulings will
be cause for reversal only upon a showing of abuse of
discretion resulting in prejudice to the
defendant.'" State v. Tinsley, 143 S.W.3d
722, 734 (Mo. App. S.D. 2004) (quoting State v.
Cunningham, 32 S.W.3d 217, 219 (Mo. App. S.D. 2000)).
"A trial court abuses its discretion when its ruling is
clearly against the logic of the circumstances before it and
when the ruling is so arbitrary as to shock this Court's
sense of justice and indicate a lack of careful
consideration." State v. Overton, 261 S.W.3d
654, 663 (Mo. App. S.D. 2008). Prejudice exists where
"there is a reasonable probability that, in the absence
of the abuse, the verdict would have been different."
State v. Barton, 936 S.W.2d 781, 786 (Mo. banc
additional facts relate to the disposition of this point. At
trial, Trooper Leathers described the events ...