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State v. Jindra

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division

November 22, 2016

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
FRANK GEORGE JINDRA, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Howard County, Missouri The Honorable Scott A. Hayes, Judge

          Before Lisa White Hardwick, Presiding Judge, and Karen King Mitchell and Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judges

          OPINION

          Karen King Mitchell, Judge

         Frank Jindra appeals, following a jury trial, his convictions of two counts of tampering with a judicial officer, § 565.084, [1] for which he was sentenced to consecutive terms of one year in the county jail on the first count, and six months in the county jail on the second count. The execution of Jindra's six-month sentence was suspended, and he was placed on probation for five years. Jindra challenges the sufficiency of the evidence to support both convictions. Finding no error, we affirm.

         Background[2]

         On February 23, 2015, Jindra filed two adult abuse petitions in Boone County Circuit Court with deputy court clerk Latoya Gatewood. Gatewood gave the petitions to Judge Leslie Schneider, who denied the petitions the following day. Jindra contacted Gatewood to inquire about the status of his petitions, and Gatewood advised that they had been denied, but the matter was set for a hearing the following month. Jindra became upset, asking what he was supposed to do about the two subjects of his petitions, and Gatewood advised him to contact law enforcement. Jindra asked Gatewood which judge had denied his petitions, and Gatewood told him it was Judge Schneider. Jindra then stated that "she would be on the NBC 17 news, and that he was going to get his gun." Gatewood hung up the phone and immediately contacted Judge Schneider, who advised Gatewood to contact the court marshals. Gatewood understood Jindra to be making a serious threat; he was very angry and frustrated.

         Judge Schneider also interpreted Jindra's statement to be a threat, which she took seriously. After learning that an attorney in her husband's law firm previously represented Jindra, Judge Schneider contacted her husband to get his perspective on how concerned they should be with the threat. After speaking with her husband, Judge Schneider was very concerned. Both the sheriff's office and the court marshals advised Judge Schneider not to go home that evening.

         After speaking with Gatewood, Jindra contacted the Jones, Schneider, and Stevens law firm, where Judge Schneider's husband was a senior partner. After several unsuccessful attempts to speak with a different attorney at the firm, Jindra eventually asked for Judge Schneider's husband by name. Schneider was not immediately available, so Jindra continued to call back, each time getting angrier and being loud and belligerent with the receptionist, accusing her of lying about Schneider's availability. The receptionist asked Jindra why he needed to speak with Schneider, as Schneider had never represented Jindra, and Jindra said it was because Schneider was married to Judge Schneider. Jindra then advised the receptionist that the firm had "a really nice private parking lot, and that . . . maybe [they] would like to have happen to [them] what had happened to him in his parking lot in [their] nice parking lot." The receptionist did not immediately understand what Jindra meant, but after speaking with an attorney in the firm that had previously represented Jindra, she understood his comment to be a threat. The police were called, and officers escorted each employee of the firm to their vehicles.

         Jindra was eventually put through to Schneider, but upon learning the identity of the caller, Schneider immediately hung up the phone.

         Boone County Sheriff's deputy Alexandria Leiva initially responded to the Boone County courthouse, but then went to Jindra's residence with three other law enforcement officers for further investigation. After the officers knocked, Jindra opened the door with a rifle in his hand. The officers drew their weapons and ordered Jindra to drop the rifle. Instead of dropping the rifle, Jindra passed the rifle back and forth between his hands before handing it to one of the officers.

         Jindra was advised of his Miranda[3] warnings, and he agreed to speak with the officers. Jindra admitted calling the courthouse and speaking with a woman who told him that Judge Schneider had denied his adult abuse petitions. Jindra acknowledged stating that Judge Schneider would be on the news and mentioning a gun to the woman he spoke with. Jindra also admitted contacting Judge Schneider's husband "to get him to talk to his wife and see reason." When asked if he made any threats that day, Jindra "denied that they were threats, " instead indicating that "he had promised to do certain things." Jindra also indicated that "he had promised to shoot them in the legs, and not kill them."

         Jindra was charged with two counts of tampering with a judicial officer; Count I was directed at the communication he made to Gatewood regarding Judge Schneider, and Count II was directed at his effort to contact Judge Schneider's husband. The jury found Jindra guilty as charged and recommended sentences of one year in the county jail on Count I and six months in the county jail on Count II. The court followed the jury's recommendation, ordered the sentences run consecutively, and suspended execution on Count II in favor of a five-year term of probation. Jindra appeals.

         Analysis

         Jindra raises two points on appeal, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to support each of his convictions. "In reviewing a challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence, appellate review is limited to a determination of whether there is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable juror might have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Hamilton, 130 S.W.3d 718, 719 (Mo. App. S.D. 2004) (quoting State v. Dulaney, 781 S.W.2d 52, 55 (Mo. banc 1989)). "[T]his court accepts as ...


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