Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Boone County, Missouri The
Honorable Kevin Crane, Judge.
Before: Lisa White Hardwick, Presiding Judge, Karen King
Mitchell, Judge, Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judge.
ANTHONY REX GABBERT, JUDGE.
J. Lee ("Lee") appeals the circuit court's
judgment entered upon a jury verdict convicting him of second
degree domestic assault and three counts of endangering the
welfare of a child. §565.073 and §568.045, RSMo
2000. Lee claims that the trial court abused its discretion
in sustaining the State's objection to defense
counsel's questioning of a State witness and, in so
doing, violated Lee's rights to a fair trial and to
confront and cross-examine witnesses. We affirm.
and Procedural Background
does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support
his convictions. In the light most favorable to the verdict,
the evidence at trial showed that on March 31, 2015, Lee
appeared at his ex-girlfriend's (Adult Victim) home where
she resided with her three children. Lee had previously also
lived at the residence. A neighbor who lived in the other
half of Adult Victim's duplex, Damian Peyton, arrived
home a little before 5:00 p.m. that day. After hearing some
"thuds" coming from outside, he looked out his
front window and observed Lee inside his Chevy Impala arguing
with several females, including Adult Victim. Peyton
recognized Lee from Lee's prior visits to Adult
Victim's home. Peyton then observed Lee "rev"
his engine and lurch the car forward "almost like a
warning sign." Adult Victim was standing approximately
ten feet from Lee's vehicle at the time. Peyton then
observed Lee back his car up slightly prior to accelerating
forward and hitting Adult Victim with his vehicle. He then
drove away "very dangerously, " "very fast,
" and with "no regard." Peyton called 911.
Peyton described to the 911 operator that the back
driver's-side window of Lee's Impala was broken out.
He also reported seeing at some point during the incident a
younger-looking female punching Lee through the driver-side
window of his car. Peyton also observed Adult Victim sweeping
up glass in the vicinity of the incident.
testified that within five minutes of calling 911, Lee
returned in his vehicle. Peyton called 911 again and provided
a more detailed description of Lee's car, including a
license plate number. Lee apparently left and then returned
again, prompting Peyton to call 911 a third time. After
hanging up from his third 911 call, Peyton saw the police
approaching and ran outside and waved them down. As the
officers exited their vehicle and began approaching Peyton on
foot, Peyton heard a very loud crash and the officers got
back into their vehicle. Peyton testified that Lee was
"storming out again" in his vehicle but that he was
stopped by the police.
Terranova was one officer who responded to the scene. He
testified that, after arriving at the scene, he heard a loud
crash that sounded like "metal on metal." He then
initiated a traffic stop of Lee's vehicle when he
observed Lee attempting to leave the scene. An accompanying
officer, Officer Williams, stayed with Lee while Officer
Terranova went to speak with Adult Victim who was walking up
the street. Present at the scene were Adult Victim, a female
friend of Adult Victim, Victim's 16-year-old daughter
(Child Victim A), and Adult Victim's twins --
seven-year-old son (Child Victim B) and seven-year-old
daughter (Child Victim C) (Victim Twins collectively).
Officer Terranova testified that Adult Victim was
"hysterical, " "crying, " "panicked,
" and "yelling." A video from a body camera
that Officer Terranova was wearing at the time was partially
played for the jury. It shows that, when Officer Terranova
first approached Adult Victim, Adult Victim expressed,
"My kids was in this car. He just rammed the s*** out of
my car." Child Victim A can then be seen entering the
view of the camera and stating, "He hit my momma with a
car. He threatened to kill us …." Her dialogue
was stopped by Officer Terranova who asked her to wait there
while he took care of something else.
Williams taped a video with his own body camera that Child
Victim A had recorded on a cell phone. It showed Lee saying
to Child Victim A, "You can record it, I'm going to
kill one of your family members." Child Victim A also
video-recorded with her cell phone an argument occurring
between Adult Victim and Lee while Adult Victim swept broken
glass from around her vehicle. After arguing with Adult
Victim, Lee can be observed abruptly leaving and then pulling
his vehicle in front of Adult Victim's vehicle. Children
inside the vehicle can be heard saying, "Mama?
Mama?" followed with, "He's fixing to hit your
car." A loud crash follows, the video jolts and goes
black, and children can be heard screaming and crying.
Victim A testified that on March 31, 2015, she and her
mother, two siblings, and "auntie" had just
returned home from a trip to St. Louis. Lee came to the
family home that day and Lee and Adult Victim got into an
argument. Child Victim A recalled that Lee "stormed
downstairs, upset" and slammed the front door, damaging
the door knob. After leaving, Lee returned to the home and
Lee and Adult Victim continued to argue. Child Victim A heard
Lee threaten to shoot her grandmother in the face. At some
point, Child Victim A began recording Lee's threats on a
cell phone. Lee left the home and then returned a third time.
Child Victim A testified that Lee "punched" a
mirror on Adult Victim's car and "then, with the
hammer, he busted out the window." She testified that
Lee had to hit it multiple times before it broke, and then it
shattered. After that "he kept trying to run [Adult
Victim] over." At some point, Child Victim A jumped in
front of Adult Victim to push her out of the way of Lee's
vehicle; Child Victim A then went over to the driver's
side of Lee's car and "was punching him through the
window." Lee grabbed Child Victim A's hair and began
driving, "like he was trying to drive off with me."
Adult Victim then ran up to Lee's car with the hammer and
"busted out" the back driver's side window. Lee
then released Child Victim A, got out of the car, and began
arguing with Adult Victim.
Victim told Child Victim A to get her siblings into the car
because they were going to leave. However, due to glass on
the ground, they could not leave and Adult Victim began
sweeping it up. Child Victim A got into the back seat of her
mother's vehicle on the driver's side, with Child
Victim C sitting directly next to her in the middle of the
back seat, and Child Victim B on the other side of Child
Victim C. Child Victim A then began videotaping arguing that
was occurring between Lee and Adult Victim. Child Victim A
testified that at some point, Lee became angry with Adult
Victim, said "I'll show you, " and rammed his
car into Adult Victim's vehicle. Child Victim A testified
that Child Victim C "almost flew through the
windshield" but Child Victim A grabbed her. Child Victim
A testified that she had written a letter to the court
indicating that she preferred not to be involved in the case
against Lee and did not want to testify.
not testify. Adult Victim, however, testified for the
defense. She testified that on March 31, 2015, Lee came to
her house several times. At one point he threw a hammer
through the window of her vehicle. He tried to run over her
twice. She later took the hammer and "busted his window
out because he was snatching my daughter by the throat."
She testified on direct examination that she told law
enforcement the day of the incident that she broke Lee's
car window with a hammer. Adult Victim also testified that
she had written a letter to the court asking to have all
charges against Lee dropped - that her children adored Lee
and that he was a good stepfather. She testified that she
brought the Victim Twins to one of Lee's preliminary
hearings because they wanted to see him. She testified that
she signed a statement indicating that she did not believe
Lee intentionally meant to hurt Victim Twins.
cross-examination, Adult Victim testified that she was struck
by Lee's car and was pinned in-between her vehicle and
his car each time he tried to run her over. She testified
that she told Officer Terranova that she thought he was going
to run her over and that she was "dead." She
testified that her daughter, Child Victim A, intervened
during this time and began hitting Lee through his car
window. Lee grabbed Child Victim A's hair and released it
when Adult Victim broke his car window out with a hammer.
Adult Victim testified that she had not been truthful
regarding the hammer when she first spoke with Officer
Terranova at the scene because she was worried she might get
in trouble for breaking the window out. She testified that
she did not initially admit to using a hammer to break out
the window and did not tell the officer that Lee used a
hammer to break out her window. She also testified that Lee
promised to pay for the damages to her car if she did not
testify against him, which is one of reasons she filed a
letter asking for charges to be dropped. She testified that
Lee made other promises to prevent her from testifying and
that she was scared of Lee.
jury was given instructions for domestic assault in the
second degree against Adult Victim, domestic assault in the
third degree against Adult Victim, and instructions for each
child victim for endangering the welfare of the child in the
first degree and endangering the welfare of a child in the
second degree. The jury found Lee guilty of one count of
second degree domestic assault and three counts of first
degree endangering the welfare of a child. Lee appeals.