Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County Honorable John
RICHTER, PRESIDING JUDGE.
("Appellant") appeals from the trial court's
judgment granting a Full Order of Protection pursuant to the
Adult Abuse Act, Sections 455.010 to 455.085 (RSMo. Cum.
Supp. 2013). The court granted P.D.J.
("Respondent") a full order of protection against
Appellant for one year with an automatic renewal for a period
of one year, effective until January 11, 2019. The trial
court awarded $13, 045.58 in damages to Respondent for
damages sustained to her two vehicles. We affirm the trial
court's judgment in part, and reverse in part.
and Appellant are neighbors. In November 2016, Respondent
filed an Adult Abuse (Harassment)/Stalking Petition for Order
of Protection (the "Petition") under the Adult
Abuse Act against Appellant. In January 2017, the trial court
conducted a hearing on the Petition. At the hearing,
Respondent explained that she filed the Petition because she
felt that Appellant was a threat to her. When asked to
describe the actions that Appellant committed which caused
her concern for her safety, she responded that: (1) she
received phone calls in which the caller refused to identify
himself and told her to keep her dogs quiet; (2) she had
received a threatening note telling her to keep her dogs
quiet "OR ELSE"; and (3) her cars had been
vandalized on her property in the middle of the night. As the
hearing progressed, this evidence was adduced.
testified that when she received the anonymous phone calls,
she asked the caller "Who is this, " but never got
a reply. Appellant admitted he made the anonymous phone calls
to Respondent. He admitted that he called Respondent after
"9:00, 10:00" in the evening, and admitted he never
identified himself in the phone calls. When asked why he did
not identify himself, he replied "I -- I don't know.
I -- I -- I just did not."
admitted to leaving a note on Respondent's car. When
asked whether the note told Appellant to keep her dogs quiet
"or else" in all capital letters, Respondent
replied "that sounds fairly accurate." Appellant
testified that by "OR ELSE, " he meant that he
would call the police or Humane Society. However, he admitted
that he understood Respondent could have perceived the phrase
"OR ELSE" as a threat.
the vandalism of Respondent's car, Respondent testified
that on September 30, around 1:00 in the morning, she heard
someone outside her house. She heard what sounded like glass
breaking and loud banging noises coming from outside. She
called the police. While she waited for the police to arrive,
she looked outside her bedroom window which faced her
driveway. She saw Appellant "walking out of [her]
driveway back to his house." She testified that the
lighting outside was sufficient to identify Appellant because
there is a streetlight directly across the street from her
house and she could always see her driveway. When asked
whether she was confident that it was Appellant walking from
her driveway, she answered affirmatively and stated she was
"Very confident." Appellant testified that she
later discovered her cars' paint had been ruined by an
unknown chemical and that at least one of her vehicles
appeared to have been damaged by someone throwing rocks at
it. The total damage to her vehicles was approximately $13,
denied any involvement in the vandalism of the vehicles and
testified that he had not been outside at the time alleged by
Respondent. Appellant testified that police officers from the
Florissant Police Department came to his house on October 1,
and he was cooperative. Appellant testified that after his
encounter with the police officers, a detective contacted him
and asked him to come in for questioning. Appellant refused
to do so, and was never arrested.
testified that she feared Appellant due to his
"escalating" actions. She testified she felt he was
a threat to her. She did not know what he was going to do to
her next, and she installed security cameras at her home,
explaining that she "never had to live like that."
the close of evidence, the trial court found that Respondent
proved "the allegations of stalking and/or of harassment
against [Appellant], and [Appellant] cannot show that his
actions alleged to constitute such harassment were otherwise
justified under the law." The court entered a full order
of protection against Appellant, valid for one year, which
will renew automatically for a second year. The court further
entered a judgment for damages for $13, 045.58 in favor of
Respondent for the damage caused by Appellant to her
vehicles. This appeal follows.
Standard of Review
review an order of protection the same as any bench-tried
case, and the trial court's judgment will be affirmed
unless there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is
against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously
declares or applies the law. C.D.R. v. Wideman, 520
S.W.3d 839, 843 (Mo. App. W.D. 2017). All facts and
reasonable inferences are viewed in the light most favorable
to the judgment. Schwalm v. Schwalm, 217 S.W.3d 335,
336 (Mo. App. E.D. 2007). "We defer to the trial
court's credibility determinations, recognizing that the
court is free to believe all, part, or none of the testimony
presented. Hance v. Altom, 326 S.W.3d 133, 135 (Mo.
App. S.D. 2010).
Sufficiency of Evidence (Point I)
first point on appeal, Appellant argues the trial court erred
in entering a full order of protection against him because
there was insufficient evidence to support its judgment.
Specifically, Appellant argues that Respondent failed to
prove both that Appellant engaged in an unwanted course of
conduct that served no legitimate purpose and that
Appellant's conduct caused Respondent alarm. Respondent
declined to file a brief.
Missouri Adult Abuse Act provides that "[a]ny person who
has been subject to domestic violence by a present or former
family or household member, or who has been the victim of
stalking, may seek relief under sections 455.010 to 455.085
by filing a verified petition alleging such domestic violence
or stalking . . . ."
oral findings, the trial court stated that Respondent proved
her "allegations of stalking and/or of
harassment against [Appellant], and [Appellant]
cannot show that his actions alleged to constitute
such harassment were otherwise justified
under the law." (Emphasis added). It is therefore not
entirely clear whether the court entered its order ...