Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The
Honorable Sandra C. Midkiff, Judge
Before: Edward R. Ardini, Jr., Presiding Judge, and Karen
King Mitchell and Anthony Rex Gabbert, Judges
KING MITCHELL, JUDGE
Collins appeals, following a jury trial, convictions of four
counts of first-degree statutory sodomy, § 566.062,
one count of possession of a controlled substance, §
195.202, for which he was sentenced, as a persistent
offender, to concurrent fifteen-year terms of imprisonment
for each statutory sodomy count and a consecutive term of ten
years imprisonment for the possession count. Before trial,
Collins unsuccessfully sought to sever the possession charge
from the sodomy charges. He now appeals the trial court's
refusal to sever. Finding no error, we affirm.
February 29, 2012, Victim J.M.-who was then six years old-was
referred to her school counselor after her teacher overheard
J.M. telling some classmates that they could not come over to
her house because her stepdad might touch them in their
private parts. In speaking with the school counselor, J.M.
indicated that her stepdad (whom she identified as
Collins-her mother's boyfriend at the time)
"call[ed] his . . . private part his stomach and asks
her to suck on his stomach and he makes her do it even when
she doesn't want to and that he puts white stuff on it to
make it taste better. And when she does suck on it, white
stuff comes out, and he tells her to swallow it." J.M.
told the school counselor that the last time it happened had
been that morning before school.
response to J.M.'s disclosures, the school counselor
placed a call to the Children's Division child abuse
hotline. The Division worker receiving the call labeled it a
Priority 1 Emergency, meaning that it needed to be
investigated immediately. The Division worker went to
J.M.'s home with two law enforcement officers. They
arrived at J.M.'s home, which she shared with Collins,
around 5:00 p.m.
they arrived, Collins answered the door. The Division worker
introduced herself and advised Collins that she was there to
ensure the children's safety and asked if she could enter.
Collins allowed her inside and she asked to first speak with
him privately. She then advised Collins that the
Division's purpose was to ensure the safety of children;
Collins indicated that he knew this because he had been
investigated before. When the worker advised Collins that the
Division had received a new hotline report concerning sexual
abuse of J.M. with Collins listed as the alleged perpetrator,
Collins threw his arms up in the air, said "what?"
and walked out of the room. The officers then took Collins
outside while the worker spoke with J.M.
told the worker that she knew the worker was there because of
what J.M. had told her school counselor but indicated that
she was afraid to repeat the information because she was told
not to say anything or she would get a spanking and Collins
spanked really hard. After receiving reassurance from the
worker, J.M. reiterated the information she had provided to
her school counselor. J.M. further detailed that Collins had
put his "stomach" in her bottom, and it made her
bleed, and that he had put his hand down her pants and
touched "it, " pointing to her private area. J.M.
indicated that the last incident of abuse had happened that
morning before school, but she also stated that it happened
"all the time." J.M. reiterated that Collins told
her not to tell her mother or she would get a spanking.
result of J.M.'s statements, Collins was arrested for an
investigative hold. Collins was searched incident to his
arrest, but before the search began, the officer asked
Collins if he had anything in his pockets the officer needed
to know about before conducting the search. Collins
responded, "I smoke a little." The officer then
conducted the search and located a plastic baggy containing a
beige rock-like substance in Collins's pocket.
Subsequently, when questioned at the police station, Collins
admitted that what the officers found was "$20 worth of
rock in his left pant pocket." Subsequent testing
revealed that the substance found contained cocaine base,
more commonly known as crack cocaine.
was later interviewed by the Child Protection Center, where
she revealed further acts of sexual abuse, all leading to the
State charging Collins, in a single charging document, with
four counts of first-degree statutory sodomy against J.M.,
along with a single count for possession of a controlled
substance based upon the cocaine base found in Collins's
pocket upon his arrest.
trial, Collins filed a motion to sever the possession count
from the sodomy counts, arguing that joinder of the counts
was improper and that a single trial on all of them would
result in substantial prejudice to Collins insofar as
"the jury would likely consider evidence of guilt on one
charge as evidence of guilt on another charge." He
specifically alleged, "Because the jury will likely be
inflamed by evidence regarding Defendant's alleged sexual
contact with the child complainants, it will also likely
conclude that Defendant should be punished for drug abuse
even though they may not believe he is guilty of doing so
beyond a reasonable doubt."
trial court denied Collins's request, and he was tried on
all counts charged in the indictment. The jury found Collins
guilty as charged, and the trial court sentenced him, as a
persistent offender, to concurrent fifteen-year terms on the
statutory sodomy counts and a consecutive ten-year term on
the possession count. Collins appeals.
sole claim on appeal, Collins argues that the trial court
abused its discretion in overruling his motion to sever the
possession count from the sodomy counts because they were
improperly joined in the first place. We disagree.