Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County 14SL-CR06430-01
Honorable Robert S. Cohen
M. Gaertner, Jr, Judge
Washington, Jr. (Washington) appeals from the trial
court's judgment and sentence following his conviction
for one count of assault in the first degree after a bench
trial. He asserts the trial court erred in admitting certain
evidence. We affirm.
State charged Washington with one count of assault in the
first degree stemming from an incident in which he caused
serious physical injury to Florence Washington (Victim), his
mother, by beating her with his fists and kicking her. Prior
to trial, Washington moved, as relevant to the issues on
appeal, to exclude Victim's hospital records following
the alleged attack as testimonial in nature. The trial court
denied the motion after a hearing.
bench trial, the following evidence was adduced. Patricia
Williams (Williams) testified that she had lived three houses
down from Victim for ten years and that they were close
friends. Washington moved in with Victim sometime in 2014. On
July 8, 2014, Williams was on her front porch when she
witnessed Washington throw Victim out her front door and onto
the ground, and punch, stomp, and kick her. Williams
described that Washington held Victim's head up by her
hair so he could punch her in the face. Williams approached
Washington and Victim, and Washington ran away. Williams
testified that when Victim returned home from the hospital,
her arm was in a cast, her face was very swollen, and she had
trouble eating. Victim did not testify at trial, because she
was deceased. Williams testified that she had not met
Washington but she knew who he was, and that she had once
yelled at him to get off her property when he was drunk and
flirting with her fourteen-year-old daughter.
Hills, Missouri Police Chief Andrew Henley (Chief
Henley) testified that he responded to the scene.
After the police apprehended Washington, Chief Henley read
Washington his Miranda rights and took him into custody.
At the police station, after Chief Henley again advised
Washington of his rights, Washington refused to sign the form
but verbally stated he knew what his rights were. Chief
Henley did not ask Washington any questions, but Washington
spontaneously stated during the booking process that Victim
had nagged him and he snapped. Washington asked Chief Henley
to tell Victim he was sorry.
Rogers (Rogers), a system support analyst from the St. Louis
County Department of Justice Services, testified that she was
the custodian of inmate phone records. When inmates make a
telephone call, they must first enter their inmate number
plus the last four digits of their social security number.
The system has voice-recognition software to indicate if more
than one inmate is talking on the phone call, as that is a
common occurrence. Rogers did not testify that the
voice-recognition software was able to identify the specific
inmate speaking. All inmate phone calls are recorded and
saved on a server. Rogers testified that in response to a
request from law enforcement, she had provided recordings of
all of Washington's inmate phone calls. Washington
objected to the admission of the recordings as without
foundation both as to the recording process and because the
State had failed to establish that Washington's voice was
the one recorded. The trial court overruled the objections,
noting that the voice-recognition issue went to the weight of
the recordings, rather than their admissibility.
court then listened to the recordings, which revealed the
following. During a conversation on August 17, 2014, between
an inmate identified as Washington and an unidentified
female, the inmate referred to himself as Ronald Washington
Junior with inmate number 197502 and referred to the
unidentified female as "ma" and "mom."
During that conversation, Washington stated: "I just
wanted to call you. I just wanted to apologize for getting
mad and hitting you." During the same telephone
conversation, a third person named Lucretia Williams was
linked in and Washington stated to her: "I got real mad
at my mom's house, you know, and I hit her a couple times
and police locked me up and brought me to jail."
the State moved to admit Victim's medical records from
July 8, 2014, as a business record under Section 490.692,
RSMo. (2000). Washington objected to the extent the State
would use the medical records to establish the identity of
Victim's assailant, noting the medical records included
non-medical statements that Victim was a victim of violence
and that she had identified Washington as her attacker.
Washington also objected to the State using medical records
rather than live testimony to establish serious injury,
arguing the medical records were hearsay. The trial court
overruled Washington's objections and admitted the
medical records on the grounds that the Business Records Act
overcame the hearsay objection, and as such the medical
records alone were proper evidence of injuries. To the extent
the medical records identified Washington as the assailant,
the trial court agreed that this was not proper evidence but
nevertheless admitted the records in their entirety. The
medical records showed that Victim suffered a fractured left
wrist and a fractured right cheekbone. The medical records
also in several places stated that Victim had identified her
son, Washington, as her assailant.
the bench trial, the trial court found Washington guilty of
first-degree assault and sentenced him to twenty years'
imprisonment in the Missouri Department of Corrections. This