Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Charles County Honorable Jon A.
M. Hess, Judge.
Murphy ("Defendant") was found guilty by a St.
Charles County jury of three counts of second-degree assault
and one count of involuntary manslaughter. Defendant received
seven-year sentences on each second-degree assault
conviction, and a twelve-year sentence on his involuntary
manslaughter charge, with all sentences to run concurrently.
On appeal, Defendant argues: (1) there was insufficient
evidence from which a reasonable juror could have found him
guilty of second-degree assault or criminal negligence, and
(2) the trial court erred in granting the State's motion
in limine barring Defendant's expert witness from opining
on whether Defendant was involuntarily intoxicated,
criminally negligent, and unaware of his mental and physical
impairments. Finding no error, we affirm.
facts, viewed in the light most favorable to the jury's
verdict, are as follows.Around noon on March 16, 2013, Andrea
Ledbetter was driving behind Defendant on the highway. Ms.
Ledbetter observed Defendant swerving in and out of the
traffic lane. Ms. Ledbetter honked her horn at Defendant, who
then momentarily returned to his lane but began swerving
again. Ms. Ledbetter stayed behind Defendant as he exited the
highway. Amanda Macias, who had also been behind Defendant as
he exited, honked her horn at Defendant after he failed to
move when a traffic light turned green. Defendant eventually
moved, and Ms. Ledbetter and Ms. Macias continued to follow
Defendant. Defendant again failed to move when another
traffic light turned green until Ms. Macias honked at him.
Defendant continued to swerve between the right and left
lanes, and crossed the centerline into oncoming-traffic. Ms.
Macias passed Defendant's car by driving on the right
shoulder to avoid being hit by Defendant. As Ms. Macias
passed Defendant, she noticed he was looking down and not
then crossed the centerline again and collided with a car
driven by Renee Ferrier ("Victims' Car"). In
the car with Ms. Ferrier were her daughter, N.F., and
fiancé Nathan Hart. Ms. Ferrier was five months
Amann, who had been driving behind the Victims prior to the
collision, hit the Victims' car as it spun backwards
after the impact. Ms. Amann got out of her car and went to
the Victims' car. She spoke with Ms. Ferrier, who was
trapped inside the car. Ms. Ferrier appeared dazed but asked
about N.F. Ms. Amann noticed that N.F. was in the backseat
slumped over and unconscious. Mr. Hart was in obvious pain,
and he was removed from the car by other people present at
the scene. Ms. Amann went over to Defendant's car to
check on his condition. Defendant was still sitting in his
car, and although he was awake, he appeared dazed. He did not
verbally respond when Ms. Amann asked him if he was OK.
Mortimer had been driving behind the Victims when they were
hit by Defendant. Ms. Mortimer did not believe there was
anything the Victims could have done to avoid being hit by
Defendant. Ms. Mortimer pulled over after the accident, and
she removed N.F. from the vehicle. Ms. Mortimer observed that
N.F. was unconscious and not breathing. Ms. Mortimer
performed CPR on her, after which N.F. began breathing again,
but remained unconscious.
arrived on the scene and interviewed Defendant. Officer Dean
Meyer, who spoke with Defendant while he was still inside his
vehicle, noticed that Defendant seemed incoherent and had a
lethargic demeanor. Defendant was transported to a hospital,
where Officer Penberthy spoke with Defendant shortly after he
arrived. During his interaction with Defendant, Officer
Penberthy observed that Defendant seemed to awaken when asked
a question, but would gradually become incoherent as he tried
to answer the question. Defendant denied taking any legal or
illegal drug within 72 hours of the crash. He told Officer
Penberthy he was taking Xanax and Antrypol as medication.
Officer Penberthy asked Defendant when he had last taken his
medication, and Defendant replied "3:00 in the
morning." When asked how much he took, Defendant replied
"half." Officer Penberthy requested Defendant's
consent for a blood test, which Defendant gave.
Hart and Ms. Ferrier were taken to St. Joseph's Hospital
and were later transferred to St. John's Hospital. Ms.
Ferrier suffered multiple bone fractures in her foot, pelvic
bone, neck and arm. The day after the collision, doctors
induced Ms. Ferrier to deliver her unborn child ("Unborn
Victim") after discovering that Unborn Victim had no
heartbeat. Ms. Ferrier delivered Unborn Victim, who did not
survive. It was established that prior to the accident Ms.
Ferrier had a normal and healthy pregnancy, and that Unborn
Victim's death had resulted from the car accident.
was taken to Cardinal Glennon and was later transferred to
Ranken Jordan for physical therapy, where she remained until
June 28, 2013. Due to brain injuries sustained in the car
accident, N.F. initially could not eat, talk, or see,
although she regained the ability to do so after therapy. She
attended kindergarten after finishing therapy, but had to
retake it because she was not as mentally developed as her
results of Defendant's blood test demonstrated that he
had both Temazepam, which is a sleeping pill, and Alprazolam
("Xanax") in his blood. Results indicated that he
had .26 micrograms per milliliter of Temazepam and .22
micrograms per milliliter of Xanax. Dr. Christopher Long, a
forensic toxicologist, testified that the blood test results
indicated Defendant took Temazepam less than 10 hours, and
possibly less than 5 hours, before the accident. Dr. Long
testified that a person who takes 20 milligrams of Temazepam
at night will be impaired to operate a vehicle the next
morning, and that Defendant's blood tests indicated he
took over 20 milligrams the evening prior to the accident.
Dr. Long testified the Temazepam alone could have caused
Defendant to fall asleep at the wheel.
Long testified that Xanax can be fatal starting a .1
micrograms per milliliter of blood. Defendant had .22
micrograms of Xanax per millileter in his blood. Dr. Long
testified that Defendant had been prescribed six milligrams
per day of Xanax, which he considered a high dosage, and that
Defendant's blood test results indicated Defendant had
taken at least twice his prescribed dose prior to the
accident. Dr. Long testified that although Defendant would
have developed a tolerance to Xanax, the level of Xanax in
his blood could still have caused him to lose consciousness,
and that taking Temazepam with Xanax increased the risk of
jury convicted Defendant of involuntary manslaughter,
three counts of second-degree assault. This appeal follows.
Further testimony and evidence will be provided when
necessary in our analysis.
I.Point One: Sufficiency of ...