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State v. Prince

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

December 5, 2017

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
JORDAN L. PRINCE, Appellant.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF ST. CHARLES COUNTY The Honorable Nancy L. Schneider, Judge

          GEORGE W. DRAPER III, JUDGE

         Following a jury trial, Jordan L. Prince (hereinafter, "Prince") was found guilty of first-degree murder, section 565.020, RSMo 2000, [1] felony abuse of a child, section 568.060, and forcible sodomy, section 566.060. Prince waived jury sentencing. The circuit court sentenced Prince to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for murder and to consecutive sentences of life imprisonment for felony child abuse and forcible sodomy. Prince appeals.

         Prince claims the circuit court abused its discretion in admitting evidence of his juvenile adjudication for lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor and evidence pornographic websites were viewed on his cellular telephone and computer. Prince asserts none of this evidence was logically or legally relevant. This Court finds there was no abuse of discretion in admitting such evidence. The circuit court's judgment is affirmed.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         In 2004, Prince was fifteen years old and living in Idaho. Prince was adjudicated for committing lewd and lascivious conduct for manual to genital contact with his six-year-old niece. Prince served three years in a juvenile correctional facility for this offense.

         Prince moved to Missouri and began dating Jessica Howell (hereinafter, "Howell"). Howell had an infant daughter (hereinafter, "Victim"). While they dated, Prince and Howell exchanged text messages wherein Howell expressed her desire for Prince to have sex with Victim.

         On December 2, 2012, Howell and Victim, aged four-months, spent the night at Prince's home. The following morning at 11:30 a.m., Prince discovered Victim unresponsive on the living room couch. At 12:30 p.m., emergency responders were called. Prince informed the first responders he found Victim face down and not breathing. Prince stated he was the last person to see Victim alive.

         Victim was taken from the home to St. Joseph's Hospital and flown to Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. She was placed in the pediatric intensive care unit. Victim died at the hospital.

         Victim suffered from multiple injuries. Victim was sexually assaulted anally. This assault caused numerous internal tears, including one internal tear approximately six centimeters in length. These internal tears resulted in Victim losing more than one-third of her blood supply. Victim was subjected to trauma resulting in multiple bruises to her body, including her face, chest, and legs, as well as a cranial laceration. While the internal injuries from the sexual assault inflicted upon Victim would have killed her, the ultimate cause of her death was intentional, sustained strangulation. Prince was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, felony abuse of a child, and forcible sodomy.

         During his trial, evidence was admitted demonstrating Prince's cellular telephone and computer were used to view multiple pornographic websites, including information concerning incest. This information had been viewed, searched, or downloaded on Prince's computer up to and including the morning of December 3, 2012. Prince and Howell had multiple text messaging conversations regarding sexual contact with underage girls. Following Victim's death, there were Internet searches on his cellular telephone regarding child autopsies.

         A quilt seized from the couch at Prince's home was analyzed because it appeared to have blood or bodily fluid stains on it. After analysis, ten spots of blood were discovered: two of them consistent with Prince's DNA and five consistent with Victim's DNA.

         The state admitted part of Prince's Idaho juvenile record through the testimony of the police detective who interrogated Prince. The detective read substantive portions of Prince's juvenile record to the jury, including the allegations of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor, the criminal statute defining the acts as a felony under Idaho law, and the certified adjudication showing Prince admitted to committing the acts alleged.

         Additionally, the state introduced into evidence videotaped clips of Prince's interrogation. During the interrogation, Prince acknowledged his juvenile record. Prince tried to explain Victim's injuries, claiming she had fallen out of bed and Prince had bounced her too hard on his knee. Prince also stated his hand accidentally might have slipped around Victim's neck while he was bouncing her.

         Following trial, the jury returned its verdict, finding Prince guilty of first-degree murder, felony abuse of a child, and forcible sodomy. The jury did not recommend a sentence because Prince waived his right to jury sentencing. Accordingly, the circuit court imposed sentence.

         Prince appeals his conviction and sentence. After an opinion by the court of appeals, the case was transferred to this Court. ...


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