Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of Adair County, Missouri The
Honorable Russell Ellis Steele, Judge
Before: James Edward Welsh, P.J., Lisa White Hardwick, and
Gary D. Witt, JJ.
EDWARD WELSH, PRESIDING JUDGE.
Darryl Molett ("Molett") appeals from the judgment
of the Circuit Court of Adair County convicting him of
domestic assault in the second degree, section 565.073,
felonious restraint, section 565.120, and
violation of an order of protection, section 455.010. The
convictions arise out of the relationship between Molett and
his former girlfriend (the "Victim"),
whom Molett has a child. Molett raises two points on appeal
challenging evidentiary rulings by the circuit court. We
Victim and Molett met each other in late 2007 and eventually
resided together. They had a child who was born in May of
2013. After the birth of their child, Molett and the
Victim's relationship deteriorated. Towards the end of
November 2014, an incident occurred in their shared home in
which Molett hit the Victim, pushed her to the floor, and
displayed a pocket knife. Law enforcement was called, and
Molett was removed from the home. The Victim sought and
obtained a full order of protection against Molett because
she was afraid that Molett would hurt her or their child. The
full order of protection was granted by the court on January
the full order of protection was granted, the Victim and
Molett continued to have contact to try to provide a stable
environment for their child. In the third week of January
2015, Molett and the Victim met at Cash Advance, a short term
loan company, so that the Victim could make a payment on
Molett's behalf. The Victim did not have the necessary
funds, which angered Molett. Molett followed the Victim to
her car and berated her. Molett hit the Victim in the head a
couple of times and grabbed a piece of luggage and threw it
at the Victim, hitting her in the face. The incident was
investigated by the Kirksville Police Department.
Victim discovered that Molett had a new girlfriend and tried
to end their relationship on March 6, 2015, which again
angered Molett. On March 17, 2015, after returning home from
a family event, the Victim found Molett at her residence
uninvited. Molett met the Victim at her car and immediately
took her keys and cellphone. Molett took the child and led
the Victim inside her residence. The Victim testified that
she could not call for help because she did not have her
phone and she was not willing to flee because Molett had the
child. Molett expressed his desire to be a family and tried
to hug the Victim, but she refused. Molett spun the Victim
around so that she was facing him and head-butted her in the
face. The Victim collapsed onto the floor and lost
Victim regained consciousness shortly thereafter, around 3:00
p.m., and discovered that she had blood on her face and on
her hands. The Victim was terrified. Molett did not call for
help, take the Victim to the hospital, or take any other
action to help the Victim. The Victim convinced Molett to
take her to the hospital around 5:00 p.m., but Molett told
the Victim that she had to report that she received her
injuries from falling down the stairs.
drove the Victim and the child to the hospital, but when they
arrived Molett insisted on keeping the child in the car. The
Victim refused to leave the child in the car with Molett. A
security guard arrived who was followed by a police officer,
Officer Tami O'Haver ("Officer O'Haver").
The Victim told Officer O'Haver that she received her
injury when Molett head-butted her. Molett told the police
officer that he did not hit the Victim and, while he was at
her residence when the injury occurred, he did not know how
the Victim got injured but thought she may have fallen down
Victim was seen by a nurse and doctor in the hospital
emergency room, both of whom observed a laceration and
bruising around the Victim's left eye. The Victim did not
stay for treatment, however, as she did not have health
insurance and knew the cost would be expensive.
on this evidence, the jury returned guilty verdicts for
domestic assault in the second degree, felonious restraint,
and violation of an order of protection. Molett received
consecutive sentences of five years in the Department of
Corrections for domestic assault and felonious restraint, and
a concurrent sentence of one year in the county jail for
violation of a protective order.
two points on appeal both pertain to evidentiary rulings at
trial regarding testimony by Officers O'Haver and Juan
Chairez ("Officer Chairez"). Both officers
testified about relationships involving a "cycle of
violence", and Officer O'Haver testified that the
Victim was a "battered spouse" in that the Victim
had "suffered physical and emotional abuse over
time." Additional information regarding these objections
will be detailed under their relevant points on appeal below.
Point One on appeal, Molett argues the circuit court abused
its discretion in permitting Officers O'Haver and Chairez
to testify over his objections that his relationship with the
Victim included a "cycle of violence" in that in
the context of the trial the testimony was particularized
evidence commenting on the credibility of the Victim's
allegations against Molett, thereby invading the province of
to addressing the substance of the arguments on appeal, we
must first address whether the issue has been properly
preserved for appellate review. The testimony, and objections
thereto at trial, are provided below.
Officers O'Haver and Chairez testified regarding
relationships that include a "cycle of violence."
Officer O'Haver testified as follows:
Q. And how many domestic violence investigations have you
A. I couldn't tell you the number. Several.
Q. Are you then familiar with what is called a "cycle of
Q. And isn't part of that cycle of violence that
sometimes domestic violence victims change their story?
A. It has been known to happen, yes.
Q. And is part of the reason that a victim might change their
story is that they are scared of the suspect?
A. That can be.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Objection.
THE COURT: I'm sorry.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Objection, Your Honor.
THE COURT: Counsel, approach.
[Proceedings at bench:]
THE COURT: What is your ...