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State v. Demery

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

February 26, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
RAMON D. DEMERY, Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis 1522-CR00176-01, Honorable David L. Dowd Judge.

          GARY M. GAERTNER JR. JUDGE.

         Introduction

         Ramon D. Demery (Defendant) appeals his convictions and sentences for murder in the second degree, armed criminal action, and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, arguing (1) the State failed to disprove Defendant acted in self-defense and (2) there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict of murder in the second degree and armed criminal action. We affirm.

         Background

         The evidence at trial in the light most favorable to the judgment was as follows.[1] Defendant and Tameka Whalen (Whalen) dated for eight months in 2013 and 2014. As of January 14, 2015, they were no longer together. Nonetheless, Defendant visited Whalen a few times each week. Whalen was pregnant by Defendant.

         Several months prior to January 14, 2015, Leon Jason Rivers (Rivers) had reconnected with Whalen and-for the first time-met D. R., his thirteen-year-old biological son. Rivers and Whalen made arrangements for Rivers to get to know D.R.; Rivers and D.R. had met three times prior to January 14, 2015.

         On January 14, 2015, Rivers visited Whalen and D.R. at their home. Whalen shared the house with a total of eight children and grandchildren. Rivers and Whalen were in the laundry room, located at the back of the house, washing clothes and smoking marijuana. At one point, D.R. left the house through the front door to take out the trash.

         While D.R. was taking out the trash, Defendant entered the house through the front door and spoke to Whalen's children and grandchildren. Whalen recognized Defendant's voice and began to leave the laundry room. When Defendant saw Whalen and Rivers in the laundry room, he turned around and walked back toward the front door. Whalen followed Defendant and entered the kitchen. Defendant turned back around and pulled a silver revolver with a white handle from his pocket, placing it against Whalen's head. The Defendant stated, "Bitch, I'll kill him. I'll kill you, him, and myself." The children started running everywhere.

         With the revolver placed against her head, Whalen asked Defendant not to shoot. Rivers tried to leave the house, but Defendant argued with Rivers. Whalen broke away from Defendant and ran out of the house. At this point, D.R. was walking back toward the house. Whalen screamed, "Oh, your daddy got a gun to his head." While on the front porch, Whalen told D.R. to tell Defendant, "Don't shoot my dad." Whalen then fled to a neighbor's house, called the police, and hid in the closet.

         Meanwhile, D.R. entered the house and made his way toward the back laundry room. D.R. saw Defendant and Rivers talking. Defendant had the silver revolver with a white handle pointed at Rivers. D.R. told Defendant that Rivers was his "daddy." Defendant and Rivers continued talking and moved closer to the front door. The revolver remained trained on Rivers. Defendant remained closest to the door. Defendant told Rivers, "Get on your knees." Rivers then grabbed a glass ashtray and tried to knock the revolver from Defendant's hand three times. During the third attempt, the revolver fired. Defendant fled the scene.

         Police officers responded to the scene. Based on the information gathered, police officers identified Defendant as the probable shooter. The next day, police officers arrested Defendant while in possession of a .38 caliber revolver with a pearl handle and nine rounds of .38 ammunition. Forensic experts determined that Rivers died from a single gunshot wound to the chest and that Defendant's revolver fired the bullet that killed Rivers.

         The State charged Defendant with murder in the first degree, armed criminal action, and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon. Defendant testified at trial. He acknowledged owning the revolver and admitted bringing it fully-loaded to Whalen's house. Defendant testified he drew the revolver prior to Rivers picking up the ashtray because Rivers was "coming at" him in an aggressive manner. Defendant stated he was afraid that Rivers, who was physically larger than Defendant, would hit him with the ashtray, take the revolver, and kill him. Defendant stated he shot Rivers while Rivers was swinging the ashtray.

         The trial court instructed the jury on murder in the first degree along with the lesser included charges of murder in the second degree, felony murder in the second degree, and involuntary manslaughter. Because Defendant injected the issue of self-defense, the trial court also instructed the jury on self-defense. The jury found Defendant guilty of murder in the second degree, armed criminal action, and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon. The trial court sentenced Defendant as a prior and persistent offender, as follows: Count I life imprisonment for murder in the second degree, Count II thirty years imprisonment for armed criminal action to be served concurrent with Count I, and ...


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