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State v. Edwards

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

February 7, 2017

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
WILLIAM EDWARDS, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis 1422-CR02617-01 Honorable Michael F. Stelzer

          Gary M. Gaertner, Jr, Judge

         Introduction

         William Edwards (Defendant) appeals the judgment entered upon his convictions of two counts of assault in the second degree, two counts of armed criminal action, one count of resisting arrest, and one count of driving while revoked. He argues that his two convictions for assault resulting from the same act violate his right to freedom from double jeopardy. He also contests the sufficiency of the evidence to support his convictions. We affirm.

         Background

         Defendant waived a jury trial on the above charges. The evidence at his bench trial, in the light most favorable to the judgment, was the following.[1] On July 5, 2105, Sergeant Paul Anderson (Sergeant Anderson) was working at a DWI checkpoint, where it was his task to locate any vehicles turning around or trying to avoid the checkpoint before reaching it. He saw a dark-colored Mercury turn around before reaching the checkpoint and then accelerate away from the checkpoint at a high rate of speed. Sergeant Anderson immediately pulled into the street behind the Mercury, activated his lights and sirens, and attempted to stop the vehicle. The driver of the Mercury, later identified to be Defendant, did not stop.

         Sergeant Anderson followed the Mercury and observed it go through a red light without stopping, traveling at speeds up to 70 miles per hour on a street with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour. After turning onto a different street, the Mercury reached speeds of 90 miles per hour and was crossing over the center lane of the road. Defendant drove the car through another red light while on the left side of the road. At one point, Defendant had to stop the Mercury due to traffic backed up at a red light. Sergeant Anderson pulled up behind the Mercury, exited the police vehicle, walked over to the Mercury, and attempted to take Defendant into custody. The driver's side door handle of the Mercury was locked, and Defendant continued trying to move the vehicle around traffic. The stoplight turned green and traffic started to flow again, so Sergeant Anderson returned to his police vehicle and continued following Defendant.

         As Sergeant Anderson was following Defendant eastbound at a speed of approximately 74 miles per hour, he saw Defendant go through a red light at an intersection without attempting to stop. Another vehicle came through the intersection from the south at the same time and collided with the Mercury. Defendant's vehicle spun to the north, up onto a sidewalk and into a yard, struck a tree, and became tangled with a fence. The other vehicle spun eastbound, rolled a bit south, and came to rest against the curb.

         Sergeant Anderson saw Defendant inside his vehicle trying to get out through the front passenger door. When Defendant saw Sergeant Anderson he tried to go back into the vehicle. Sergeant Anderson was able to put one handcuff on Defendant, and backup officers arrived and helped get Defendant out of the vehicle. Sergeant Anderson and some other officers went to the other vehicle and saw two women, neither of whom were moving. The driver, Pierra Hathaway (Hathaway), was hanging out of the driver's side door where the window was broken. Sergeant Anderson did not have any contact with the passenger, Shawnte Champ (Champ).

         Hathaway's mother, Maria Fonville (Fonville), testified at Defendant's trial that she received a call from the hospital that night regarding her daughter. Fonville went to the hospital and found Hathaway in a coma with a bolt driven into her brain. Hathaway was in a coma for three weeks, and her condition at the time of trial was that she had sustained a spinal cord injury and brain damage, leaving her with the cognitive ability of a 10-year-old. At the time of trial, Hathaway had to use a walker to get around, and she was no longer able to take care of her two children or provide any income for her family as she had previously. At trial, Champ testified that she was not able to remember the moment of impact, but she testified that she suffered a lacerated spleen, a broken wrist, a broken jaw, and head injuries because of the accident.

         The trial court found Defendant guilty in Counts I and III of second-degree assault, one related to Hathaway and one related to Champ, for which the court sentenced Defendant to concurrent terms of 15 years' imprisonment. The trial court also found Defendant guilty in Counts II and IV of the accompanying charges of armed criminal action. The trial court sentenced Defendant to 15 years' imprisonment for each, Count IV to be served concurrently with all of the other counts, and Count III to be served consecutively. Finally, the trial court found Defendant guilty in Count V of resisting arrest and in Count VI of driving while revoked, for which the trial court sentenced Defendant to concurrent terms of seven years and one year, respectively, for a total sentence of 30 years. This appeal follows.

         Discussion

         Defendant raises four points on appeal. First, he argues the trial court erred in finding him guilty of two counts of second-degree assault because the charges arose out of one act, and thus his conviction of more than one charge of assault and the accompanying charge of armed criminal action violates his right to freedom from double jeopardy. In Point II, Defendant argues that the trial court erred in convicting him of all counts of second-degree assault and armed criminal action because the evidence at trial did not support the charging document's language describing the collision. In Points III and IV, Defendant argues that there was insufficient evidence to convict him of each count of assault, and thereby each accompanying count of armed criminal action, regarding the issue of whether the collision caused the injuries to each victim. We discuss each in turn.

         Poin ...


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