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State v. Rowland

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

August 30, 2017

STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
JULIAN H. ROWLAND, Defendant-Appellant.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF PULASKI COUNTY Honorable William E. Hickle, Circuit Judge

          NANCY STEFFEN RAHMEYER, P.J.

         A jury found Julian H. Rowland ("Defendant") guilty of three separate offenses against Victim arising out of a series of acts that were part of a single sexual assault in June 2015. Defendant appeals raising four points. Defendant's first three points assert that the evidence was insufficient to permit a reasonable jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant used forcible compulsion to commit the acts in question. Defendant's fourth point claims that the trial court abused its discretion in the admission of evidence. We reject Defendant's points, and affirm the trial court's judgment.

         Points I Through III - Claim Evidence Was Insufficient To Permit Finding of Forcible Compulsion

         Defendant claims that there was insufficient evidence to permit a finding of forcible compulsion in each of the charges against him. Section 556.061(12), RSMo, Cum.Supp. 2013, provides:

"Forcible compulsion" means either:
(a) Physical force that overcomes reasonable resistance; or
(b) A threat, express or implied, that places a person in reasonable fear of death, serious physical injury or kidnapping of such person or another person[.]

         "A victim is not required to physically resist where she submits to an offensive act out of fear of personal harm." State v. Campbell, 143 S.W.3d 695, 699 (Mo.App. W.D. 2004). The existence of an implied threat is based on the totality of the circumstances. See id. at 698-99 (affirming the sufficiency of the evidence to support a finding beyond a reasonable doubt of an "implied threat" based on the totality of the circumstances including prior uses of force, threats and violence). Defendant claims what is at issue in this case is an "implied threat" because no weapon was used and no direct threatening words were used at the time of the assault.

"To determine whether the evidence presented was sufficient to support a conviction and to withstand a motion for judgment of acquittal, [[1] this Court does not weigh the evidence but rather accept[s] as true all evidence tending to prove guilt together with all reasonable inferences that support the verdict, and ignore[s] all contrary evidence and inferences." State v. Ess, 453 S.W.3d 196, 206 (Mo. banc 2015) (internal quotations omitted). This Court, however, "may not supply missing evidence, or give the [state] the benefit of unreasonable, speculative or forced inferences." State v. Whalen, 49 S.W.3d 181, 184 (Mo. banc 2001) (internal quotations omitted). Evidence is sufficient to support a conviction when "there is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable [fact-finder] might have found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." State v. Coleman, 463 S.W.3d 353, 354 (Mo. banc 2015); see also Musacchio v. United States, ___ U.S. ___, 136 S.Ct. 709, 715, 193 L.Ed.2d 639 (2016).

State v. Clark, 490 S.W.3d 704, 707 (Mo. banc 2016) (brackets in original except for footnote). Further, "[i]nferences contrary to the verdict are disregarded unless they are such a natural and logical extension of the evidence that a reasonable juror would be unable to disregard them." State v. Kopp, 325 S.W.3d 466, 467 (Mo.App. S.D. 2010) (internal quotations and citation omitted).

         In this case, Victim, a customer service representative, was showing Defendant an apartment for rent; she testified that, as she opened the closet to show closet space, Defendant approached her from behind and put his hands around her waist. She asked him what he was doing and he replied, "something to the extent of I just want to have a little fun or, want to have a little fun?" Victim told him she was married and backed away, even showing her wedding ring. Victim had not seen a weapon but was concerned that he might have one and felt "terrified", "like [she] couldn't escape", "was afraid and alone in a vacant apartment. And recently a realtor had been murdered in a similar situation." As the situation progressed, Victim was "[r]eally scared, " and "froze in fear." Defendant then physically sexually assaulted her.

         Victim did not "fight back or anything" because she "didn't think it would do any good." Victim "just wanted to be safe and [she] was scared. And [she] was trying to go to a different place in [her] head" - she "was trying to be somewhere else." Victim did tell Defendant "[n]o" and "[s]top" "several times, " but Defendant ignored her demands. Victim did not recall Defendant saying anything to her during this time.

         Defendant claims that Victim's calmness and behavior after the attack is evidence that Victim was not threatened and that the sexual encounter was consensual. These claims ignore our standard of review. The jury heard two conflicting accounts of what occurred and believed Victim that the sex was not consensual. Victim testified that she acted calmly because she was in shock and did not know what to do. Victim testified she "let [Defendant] in" her vehicle because "if I had left him there my thought was, what if he ran? What if he never got caught? I needed to let somebody know." Victim drove Defendant back to her office, which took about "two minutes, max." Victim did not call 911 because she "was still afraid he would hurt me. Or -- I didn't know him. I didn't know his name." When Defendant asked whether Victim "could get him a deal on" the apartment where the sexual assault had occurred, Victim used that question as a reason to call her office, and ask for "George" - a predetermined code word to be used "when you're in trouble or if you need help." On the drive back to her office, Victim did not "jok[e] or laugh[] with" Defendant. Victim "couldn't believe what had just happened to [her]"; she "was tearful, but at the same time [she] was trying to hold it in because [she] ...


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