FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF HENRY COUNTY The Honorable James K.
Lamont Ransburg was found guilty in a court-tried case of
second-degree assault and armed criminal action. On appeal,
Ransburg argues the circuit court erred in overruling his
motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of evidence and
entering judgment against him because the State did not
present sufficient evidence that he attempted to cause
physical injury by means of a dangerous instrument. The
circuit court's judgment is affirmed.
reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence in a court-tried
criminal case, the appellate court's role is limited to a
determination of whether the [S]tate presented sufficient
evidence from which a trier of fact could have reasonably
found the defendant guilty." State v.
Vandevere, 175 S.W.3d 107, 108 (Mo. banc 2005).
"The evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom
are viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict,
disregarding any evidence and inferences contrary to the
verdict." State v. Belton, 153 S.W.3d 307, 309
(Mo. banc 2005).
evening, Ransburg went to his ex-girlfriend's trailer,
which was occupied by his ex-girlfriend, another man (the
ex-girlfriend's new fiancé), and the
ex-girlfriend's daughter. At the time, Ransburg carried a
long stick with him that was similar to a broom stick.
Finding the trailer locked, he kicked in the door and, once
inside, charged at the other man "like a football player
would to hit another attacker" while holding the stick
in both hands with his clenched fists facing the other man.
The man, however, escaped by running into the bedroom, and
Ransburg turned his attention to his ex-girlfriend, grabbing
her wrist and attempting to pull her out of the trailer. When
she resisted, he punched her in the face before running out
of the trailer with his stick.
other charges, the State charged Ransburg with second-degree
assault and armed criminal action for his actions taken
against the man. Ransburg waived
his right to a jury trial. After overruling Ransburg's
motion for judgment of acquittal at the close of the
State's evidence and again at the close of all evidence,
the circuit court found Ransburg guilty of all charges. The
court sentenced Ransburg to concurrent terms of
seven-years' imprisonment for second-degree assault and
five-years' imprisonment for armed criminal action.
Ransburg appealed, and, after an opinion by the court of
appeals, this Court transferred the case pursuant to article
V, § 10 of the Missouri Constitution.
first point on appeal, Ransburg argues the circuit court
erred in overruling his motion for judgment of acquittal at
the close of evidence and entering judgment against him
because the State did not present sufficient evidence that he
attempted to cause physical injury by means of a dangerous
instrument for purposes of second-degree assault. Predicated
on his argument that there was insufficient evidence to prove
second-degree assault, Ransburg argues in his second point on
appeal that there likewise was insufficient evidence to find
him guilty of the related charge for armed criminal action.
person commits the crime of assault in the second degree if
he . . . [a]ttempts to cause or knowingly causes physical
injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or
dangerous instrument[.]" Section
instrument" is defined as "any instrument, article
or substance, which, under the circumstances in which it is
used, is readily capable of causing death or other serious
physical injury." Section 556.061(9). Additionally,
"[s]ection 564.011 governs all attempt crimes . . .
including attempt-based assault as defined by section
565.060.1(2)." State v. Williams, 126 S.W.3d
377, 381 (Mo. banc 2004). "Attempt, under sec. 564.011,
has only two elements: (1) the defendant has the purpose to
commit the underlying offense, and (2) the doing of an act
which is a substantial step toward the commission of that
offense." State v. Withrow, 8 S.W.3d 75, 78
(Mo. banc 1999). "A person 'acts
purposely', or with purpose, with respect to his
conduct or to a result thereof when it is his conscious
object to engage in that conduct or to cause that
result." Section 562.016.2.
Ransburg was charged with attempt-based second-degree assault
based on his act of charging at the man while holding the
long stick. On appeal, Ransburg challenges the first element
of attempt, arguing the State failed to present sufficient
evidence that it was his conscious object to use the stick as
a dangerous instrument. He relies on several cases where the
court of appeals held ordinary household objects to be
dangerous instruments based on the manner in which they were
used on the victim,  and he points to
the lack of evidence concerning the manner in which he used
the stick because he did not swing or jab the stick at the
man. This argument is without merit.
Ransburg never reached the man due to the man's escape,
he never had an opportunity to use the stick on the man in
any particular manner. But "[i]ntent is rarely
susceptible to proof by direct evidence and is most often
inferred circumstantially." State v. Lammers,
479 S.W.3d 624, 633 (Mo. banc 2016). "The
defendant's mental state may be determined from evidence
of the defendant's conduct before the act, from the act
itself, and from the defendant's subsequent
conduct." State v. Hineman, 14 S.W.3d 924,
927-28 (Mo. banc 1999). Here, the evidence established that
Ransburg, after forcibly breaking into the trailer of his
ex-girlfriend, charged at the man "like a football
player would to hit another attacker" while holding the
stick with both hands across his body. After the man escaped,
Ransburg attacked his ex-girlfriend. A reasonable inference
drawn from these circumstances is that Ransburg's
conscious object was, if he reached the man, to cause
physical injury to the man by using the stick under
circumstances in which it was readily capable of causing
serious physical injury. Any inference to the contrary is
disregarded on review. Belton, 153 S.W.3d at 309. As