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State v. Casey

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

December 27, 2016

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
MICHAEL B. CASEY, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County 14SL-CR07287-01 Honorable Steven H. Goldman

          Gary M. Gaertner, Jr., Judge

         Introduction

         Michael Casey (Defendant) appeals the judgment entered upon his conviction by a jury of one count of second-degree murder and one count of armed criminal action, for which the trial court sentenced him to consecutive terms of life and 30 years in prison, respectively. Defendant argues that the trial court erred in failing to give two of his proffered instructions to the jury and in excluding expert testimony regarding false confessions. We affirm.

         Background

         The State charged Defendant with one count of first-degree murder, one count of first-degree assault, and two counts of armed criminal action, resulting from a shooting on July 26, 2014. Earlier that evening, a University City high school held a reunion at Heman Park in University City attended by approximately three to four hundred people. A fight broke out at some point, involving 15 to 20 people. Defendant was fighting a man he called "Tigga, " when Mario Wallace (Victim) pulled Defendant off Tigga. Police arrived and sprayed mace in the faces of several of those involved to break up the fight. Defendant walked away with Romie Banks (Banks), one of those sprayed with mace.

         Shortly after Defendant and Banks left the area, they saw Victim following them. Victim was yelling at them accusing them of attacking Victim's friend during the fight. Victim had his fists up in a fighting position and was challenging Defendant and Banks to fight. Victim pulled his shirt up and said "I don't have anything." Pamela Christian (Christian) was nearby and saw Victim yelling at Defendant and Banks. She told Victim not to fight, and Victim responded, "Yes, ma'am" and started to walk away. Defendant was standing next to Banks' car. Christian saw Defendant reach into the car, pull out a gun, and start shooting in Victim's direction. Then Defendant and Banks got into the car and drove away. Victim later died from a gunshot wound to his chest.[1]

         On August 7, 2014, Police arrested Defendant and brought him to the police station for questioning and to participate in a live lineup. They gave Defendant Miranda[2]warnings, and Defendant signed a waiver form. Defendant initially denied being involved in either the fight or the shooting. He then admitted he was involved in the fight and that Victim pulled Defendant off Tigga. He later admitted that he walked with Banks and that the gun that killed Victim came from Banks' car, but Defendant said Banks was the one who shot Victim.

         Police took a break from questioning Defendant and placed him in a live lineup. Christian viewed the lineup and identified Defendant as the shooter. She became emotional when she identified him, and she said she was sure Defendant was the person who shot Victim. Police resumed questioning Defendant and then took a later break to take Defendant's fingerprints. After that, they returned to the room and Defendant confessed to shooting Victim. The next day, Defendant participated in a video reenactment of the crime. Defendant grabbed the gun out of the car and fired it at Victim, who he said was running toward him. Defendant said on the video that he was sorry for what happened and wished he could take it back.

         At trial, the trial court gave verdict directing instructions for the charged crime of first-degree murder, as well as for the lesser-included charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. Defendant requested an instruction for voluntary manslaughter, which the trial court denied. Defendant also requested that the trial court instruct the jury regarding eyewitness testimony using a new Missouri Approved Instruction (MAI) that had not yet become effective, and the trial court also denied this request, utilizing a current MAI regarding eyewitness testimony instead. The jury convicted Defendant of second-degree murder and armed criminal action. The trial court sentenced Defendant to consecutive terms of life and 30 years in prison, respectively. This appeal follows.

         Discussion

         Defendant raises three points on appeal. First, he argues that the trial court erred in refusing his proffered verdict directing instruction for voluntary manslaughter. Second, he argues the trial court abused its discretion in refusing his proffered instruction regarding eyewitness testimony. Finally, Defendant argues the trial court abused its discretion in excluding Defendant's expert's testimony regarding risk factors for false confessions in interrogation procedures. We discuss each in turn.

         Point I

         Defendant argues the trial court erred in refusing his requested verdict directing instruction for voluntary manslaughter because the evidence supported a finding that he committed the murder under the ...


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