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State v. Jacobson

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Third Division

May 16, 2017


         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Saline County, Missouri The Honorable Dennis A. Rolf, Judge

          Before: Karen King Mitchell, Presiding Judge, Victor C. Howard, Judge and Gary D. Witt, Judge

          Gary D. Witt, Judge

         The State of Missouri ("State") appeals from the judgment of the Circuit Court of Saline County vacating the defendant Andrew Trae Jacobson's ("Jacobson") finding of guilt by a jury of the offense of armed criminal action. In its sole point on appeal, the State argues the trial court erred in sua sponte entering its judgment of acquittal following the jury's guilty verdict for armed criminal action associated with the accompanying felony conviction for second-degree assault because the record contains sufficient evidence to support the conviction. We reverse and remand for sentencing.

         Factual Background

         This appeal arises out of the prosecution of Jacobson for a hit-and-run incident occurring on January 13, 2015. Jacobson, who was 18 years old, began drinking alcohol alone at 2:00 a.m. on the morning of January 13. At approximately 3:00 p.m., he picked up a friend in his Toyota truck, which was "lifted" above its factory height. After driving around for a while, the two drove to a lake to drink alcohol and listen to music. While at the lake, they drank rum mixed with soda.

         At approximately 5:30 p.m., the two boys decided to go to the Slater High School basketball game. Jacobson drove his truck to the game and parked in a gravel parking lot near the school. The two boys admitted that they were intoxicated. Approximately an hour after arriving at the school, Jacobson decided that he was too intoxicated to be at the school and left alone in his truck.

         Olivia Knox ("Victim") arrived at the high school with her nine-month old daughter to watch a game. The Victim parked her car and proceeded to walk toward the gym holding her daughter in her arms. She approached a street at an intersection over which she had to cross to get from the parking lot to the school. She looked both ways and saw headlights pulling out of a parking lot but thought that the vehicle was stopping behind some busses parked at the school. The Victim proceeded to cross the street and right before she reached the curb she saw the lights of Jacobson's truck right next to her. Realizing she and her daughter were going to be hit by the truck, the Victim got down to try to protect her daughter. The truck's front and back tires proceeded to roll over her back.

         Two bystanders, who did not see the incident but heard a scream, came to the Victim's aid. One of the men tried to chase down the truck, but it sped away. The Victim and her daughter were taken to the hospital. The Victim suffered from spinal and rib fractures, in addition to lacerations and a hematoma. At the time of trial, the Victim could walk but still suffers from constant pain and a limited range of motion. Amazingly, the baby did not sustain any serious injuries.

         Law enforcement received information that identified Jacobson as a possible suspect involved in the incident. An officer drove to his home and saw his pickup truck in the driveway, which matched the description given by the bystanders. When Jacobson came out of the house to speak with the officer, the officer smelled alcohol on his person. Jacobson admitted that he had been drinking but stated he had started drinking when he returned home that evening. Jacobson admitted that he had been at the basketball game but denied any knowledge of a hit-and-run. The officer looked at Jacobson's truck and found a baby hat stuck in the front grill that the Victim's daughter had been wearing that evening. Jacobson was taken to the police station for questioning and field sobriety tests were performed, followed by a breath sample test to determine his blood alcohol content ("BAC"). At 7:43 p.m., Jacobson's BAC was .177.

         In a written statement provided to police, Jacobson stated that he had been drinking alcohol since 2:00 a.m. on January 13 and admitted he was intoxicated when he drove to and from the high school. Jacobson did not remember the incident but did remember that he had felt a bump and thought he had hit a dog but he did not stop and check. At trial, Jacobson testified that he thought he had hit an animal but was embarrassed and did not stop. Instead, he slowed down and looked back. When he did not see anything, he drove home. Jacobson admitted that he was aware that the intersection where he hit the Victim is a high-traffic area for pedestrians, especially between games. In addition, he testified that he was aware that his line of sight from his truck was altered due to the lift kit installed on his truck which raised the body seven inches above the tires. At the time of the accident, his music was turned up loudly.

         The jury acquitted him of endangering the welfare of a child, leaving the scene of an accident, and one count of armed criminal action but found Jacobson guilty of one count of second degree assault, section 565.060.4[1] and the related armed criminal action count, section 571.015.1. The jury recommended a sentence of one year in the county jail for assault in the second degree and three years for armed criminal action. Notwithstanding the jury's verdict on the armed criminal action count, the trial court sua sponte entered a judgment of acquittal for that count at the time of sentencing. Jacobson was sentenced to one year in the county jail for second-degree assault.

         The State now appeals.[2]

         Point ...

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