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State v. Davis

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

June 20, 2017

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
KHYREE D. DAVIS, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County 13SL-CR05208-01 Honorable Sandra Farragut-Hemphill

          OPINION

          James M. Dowd, Presiding Judge

         Khyree Davis was convicted after a jury trial in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County of one count of the unlawful use of a weapon, an associated count of armed criminal action, and one count of second-degree murder. Davis was sentenced to concurrent terms of twenty-five, three, and twenty-five years in prison, respectively. On appeal, Davis contends (1) the trial court clearly erred by denying his motion to suppress and admitting into evidence his statements to a police detective that he asserts were involuntarily made and coerced in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) and his right against self-incrimination; (2) the court abused its discretion by excluding evidence regarding his brother KeyJuan's death; and (3) the court plainly erred by allowing Davis's probation officer to testify about his statements to her.

         We find that Davis's statements to the detective were voluntarily made and were not coerced; that Davis has failed to show he was prejudiced by the exclusion of evidence regarding KeyJuan's death; and that Davis either waived his objections to the admission of his probation officer's testimony about his statements to her, or those statements were cumulative to the detective's testimony about the statements Davis made to him. Accordingly, we affirm on all points.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         On June 3, 2013, thirteen-year-old Tavelle Coleman ("Victim") was fatally shot through the screen door of a residence on Duke Drive in the Castle Point area of St. Louis County. The shooting occurred at the end of a conflict-filled day during which Davis's younger brother KeyJuan, who was either seventeen or eighteen years old, had attempted to steal money from Victim and had gotten into a series of physical altercations with Victim and his younger brother, Delano Coleman. After the last fight before the shooting, in which Davis assisted KeyJuan, Davis told Victim, "Somebody is going to die tonight." Davis then drove away from the scene with KeyJuan in his girlfriend's black Ford Crown Victoria only to return later in the same vehicle and fire a .380 automatic pistol from outside the front of the house on Duke through the screen door, hitting and killing Victim.

         On the morning of June 4, 2013, Davis was arrested. That afternoon, he was interviewed at the police station by Detective Christopher Steib, who also interviewed Davis's girlfriend. At the outset of Davis's interview, Detective Steib read him the Miranda warnings, which Davis confirmed in writing that he understood. Davis initially denied any involvement in the shooting, but later confessed that he borrowed a .380 automatic pistol, drove the Crown Victoria to the house on Duke Drive, and fired four or five shots into the house.

         The State charged Davis with the unlawful use of a weapon; an associated charge of armed criminal action; and second-degree murder on a felony-murder theory, with the unlawful use of a weapon as the predicate offense. Davis filed a motion seeking to suppress his statements to Detective Steib, but the court denied it on the grounds that, by speaking with Detective Steib, Davis had voluntarily and intelligently waived his Miranda rights.

         For its part, the State sought to prevent Davis from proving that Key Juan was unavailable to testify because he died two years after the events here. The court granted the State's request.

         At trial, Davis testified he confessed to Detective Steib solely because he wanted to protect his family. He testified he had actually spent the evening of June 3, 2013 with family members, smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol, and had not gotten back into the Crown Victoria after driving away after the last fight before the shooting.

         The jury found Davis guilty on all three charges, and, after sentencing Davis, the court denied his post-trial motions. This appeal follows.

         I. The Denial of Davis's Motion to Suppress and the Admission of His Statements to Detective Steib

         In his first point on appeal, Davis contends the trial court clearly erred by denying his motion to suppress the evidence of his statements to Detective Steib he asserts were involuntarily made and coerced in violation of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) and his right against self-incrimination. In his interview with Detective Steib, Davis admitted he was involved in the shooting in this case: he said he borrowed a .380 automatic pistol, drove his girlfriend's vehicle to the house on Duke Drive, stopped in front, and fired four to five rounds into the house from the driver's seat before driving away. Assuming arguendo that Davis's claim the court should have suppressed these statements was preserved, we find that Davis's statements were in fact voluntarily made and were not coerced, and thus the court did not clearly err.

         We review for an abuse of discretion the trial court's decision whether to grant a motion to suppress. State v. Feldt, 512 S.W.3d 135, 152 (Mo.App.E.D. 2017) (citing State v. Selvy, 462 S.W.3d 756, 764 (Mo.App.E.D. 2015); State v. MilUorn, 794 S.W.2d 181, 183 (Mo.banc 1990)). We reverse only if the court's decision is clearly erroneous. Id. (citing Milliorn, 794 S.W.2d at 183). Our review is limited to determining whether the court's decision is supported by substantial evidence. Id. (citing State v. Stover, 388 S.W.3d 138, 149 (Mo.banc 2012)). In determining whether there was substantial evidence to support the court's ruling, we consider both evidence presented at trial and any evidence presented at a pretrial hearing on the motion to suppress. State v. Pike, 162 S.W.3d 464, 472 (Mo.banc 2005). We view the facts and any reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most favorable to the court's ruling and disregard any contrary evidence and inferences. Feldt, 512 S.W.3d at 152-53 (citing State v. Johnson, 354 S.W.3d 627, 631-32 (Mo.banc 2011)). We defer to the trial court's determinations of the weight to be given to the evidence and of the credibility of the witnesses. Id. at 153.

         However, the ultimate issue of whether the Fifth Amendment or any other provision of the United States Constitution was violated is a question of law that this Court reviews de novo. Thus, while we review for abuse of discretion the trial court's broader decision whether to suppress evidence, we reach our own, independent determination whether any of the defendant's constitutional rights, including his privilege against forced self-incrimination, was violated. See State v. Norman,431 S.W.3d 563, 568-69 (Mo.App.E.D. 2014) (noting that "[w]hen the issue to be decided involves the constitutional protection against forced self-incrimination, " we "consider the ...


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