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State v. Moore

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

May 9, 2017

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
D WIGHT MOORE, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis 1422-CR02410 Honorable Michael F. Stelzer

          OPINION

          James M. Dowd, Presiding Judge

         Dwight Moore was convicted after a jury trial in the Circuit Court of the City of Saint Louis of one count of resisting a lawful stop and three counts of first-degree endangering the welfare of a child. On appeal, Moore contends that (1) there was insufficient evidence to convict him of resisting a lawful stop; (2) there was insufficient evidence to convict him of first-degree child endangerment; (3) the trial court plainly erred by failing to define the term "knowingly" and the phrase "acted with criminal negligence" in response to a request from the jury during its deliberations; and (4) the trial court plainly erred because it incorrectly numbered the one count for resisting a lawful stop and the three counts for first-degree child endangerment in the oral pronouncement and written judgment of his sentences.

         Because we find that there was sufficient evidence from which a reasonable juror could convict Moore of one count of resisting a lawful stop and three counts of first-degree child endangerment, we affirm as to Moore's first and second points on appeal. Moore's third point is denied because we find no plain error. As to Moore's fourth point, we remand with instructions to the trial court to enter judgment nunc pro tunc to correct the clerical errors in the written judgment setting forth Moore's sentences.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On October 25, 2012, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department conducted an undercover investigation pursuant to which an undercover officer arranged to buy heroin from Reginald Saddler. Appellant Moore drove Saddler in Moore's vehicle to the location where Saddler and the officer had agreed to meet to complete the drug transaction. Moore parked next to the officer's vehicle so that Saddler could communicate with the officer through the passenger-side window of Moore's vehicle. While Saddler spoke with the officer, Moore encouraged Saddler to conclude his interaction with the officer. After the sale was complete, the officer communicated that fact to other police officers who then followed Moore from a distance as he drove his vehicle to a nearby street. The officers watched as Moore parked the vehicle and began a conversation through the window with a man who was standing in the street.

         The officers then decided to arrest Moore and Saddler where they were parked. One officer pulled up and stopped his unmarked police vehicle behind Moore's vehicle with the siren on and the lights flashing. Several other officers wearing black vests with the word "police" printed on both sides approached Moore's vehicle, verbally identified themselves as police officers, and asked Moore and Saddler to exit the vehicle. Upon seeing the officers, Moore began driving away from where he was parked, striking with his vehicle the man whom he had been speaking with in the street. Moore drove away at a high rate of speed with the police in pursuit.

         During the pursuit, Moore continued at a high rate of speed through residential streets and through an intersection without stopping at a stop sign. He and Saddler threw cash money from the vehicle. The police placed spike strips on Moore's anticipated route forcing Moore to stop his vehicle after he drove over the spike strips and his tires deflated.

         Moore and Saddler were arrested at the scene and the officers found three children, ages two, three, and seven, in the backseat of Moore's vehicle and none of them had on seatbelts or safety restraints. The children were in the vehicle during the drug transaction, the police officers' initial arrest attempt, and while Moore fled from police. Officers recovered the money thrown from Moore's vehicle, and determined that the serial numbers on the bills matched the money the undercover officer used in the drug transaction.

         A jury convicted Moore of one count of resisting a lawful stop and three counts of first-degree child endangerment. The trial court orally sentenced Moore to seven years in prison for resisting a lawful stop and thirteen years in prison for each of the three counts of first-degree child endangerment. Two of the child-endangerment sentences were to run consecutively while the remainder of the sentences were to run concurrently, for a total of twenty-six years in prison. However, the numbers used by the court during its oral pronouncement and in its written judgment to describe the counts on which the convictions had been rendered were incorrect.

          I, Sufficiency of the Evidence to Prove Resisting a Lawful Stop

         In his first point on appeal, Moore argues that there was insufficient evidence to support his conviction for resisting a lawful stop. Specifically, Moore contends the State submitted evidence insufficient to prove Moore knew or should have known that police officers were attempting to lawfully stop his vehicle, and that he fled from the officers for the purpose of preventing them from making the stop. We disagree.

         Appellate review of the sufficiency of the evidence for a conviction is limited to whether the State has introduced adequate evidence from which a reasonable finder of fact could have found each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. State v. hammers, 479 S.W.3d 624, 632 (Mo.banc 2016) (citing State v. Hunt, 451 S.W.3d 251, 257 (Mo.banc 2014)). The evidence and all reasonable inferences are viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, disregarding any evidence and inferences contrary to the verdict. State v. Jones, 479 S.W.3d 100, 105 (Mo.banc 2016). A court may not supply missing evidence or give the State the benefit of unreasonable, speculative, or forced inferences, hammers, 451 S.W.3d at 257.

         Section 575.150[1] sets forth the crime of resisting a lawful stop. The relevant portion of § 575.150 provides:

1. A person commits the crime of resisting or interfering with arrest, detention, or stop if, knowing that a law enforcement officer is making an arrest, or attempting to lawfully detain or stop an individual or vehicle, or the person reasonably should know that a law enforcement officer is making an arrest or attempting to lawfully detain or lawfully stop an individual or vehicle for the purpose of preventing the officer from effecting the arrest, stop or detention, the person:
(1) Resists the arrest, stop or detention of such person by using or threatening the use of violence or physical force or by fleeing from such officer
3. A person is presumed to be fleeing a vehicle stop if he or she continues to operate a motor vehicle after he or she has seen or should have seen clearly visible emergency lights or has heard or should have heard an audible signal emanating from the law enforcement vehicle pursuing him or her.

In this case, the State submitted evidence from which a reasonable juror could find that Moore resisted a lawful stop. The undercover officer testified at trial that Moore verbally urged Saddler to finish his encounter with the officer. Several officers testified that soon after the heroin sale was complete, an unmarked police car, with its lights visibly flashing and its siren on, stopped behind Moore's vehicle. These officers also testified that Moore fled in his vehicle at a high rate of speed when several officers wearing vests with the word "police" printed on both sides approached Moore's car, announced they were police officers, and instructed Moore to exit his vehicle. In addition to this testimony, there was also evidence that the serial numbers on the money thrown from the vehicle as Moore fled matched the money used to complete the drug transaction. A reasonable juror could conclude that Moore resisted a lawful stop because the evidence indicates that Moore knew officers were attempting to stop his vehicle almost immediately after a drug transaction occurred between Saddler and the undercover officer in Moore's presence, and that Moore fled in his vehicle in an effort to avoid the stop.

         II. Sufficiency of the Evidence to Prove First-Degree ...


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