Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF CRAWFORD COUNTY HONORABLE KELLY W.
PARKER, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Steffen Rahmeyer, J.
convicted Sereno Bruce Thompson ("Defendant") of
statutory sodomy in the first degree, and the trial court
sentenced him to life in prison. Defendant appeals claiming
in a single point relied on that the trial court erred in
permitting, over Defendant's objection, the child victim
to testify while wearing a jacket that defense counsel, in
his objection, described as "a biker jacket from BACA
[Bikers Against Child Abuse]." We deny Defendant's
point because he fails to persuade us that the trial court
abused its discretion in permitting the child victim to
testify while wearing the jacket.
and Procedural Background
trial commenced on April 10, 2017. Before voir dire,
Defendant waived arraignment on, and pled not guilty to, a
second amended information that charged him with statutory
sodomy in the first degree and alleged that he was a prior
offender based on two, prior felony convictions. Based on
exhibits that were admitted without objection by defense
counsel, the trial court found "that Defendant is a
prior and a persistent offender beyond a reasonable
In the course of voir dire, defense counsel asked
the venire panel:
Is there anyone here that's part of the rape victim
advocate group? I see no hands. What about the bikers, the
Bikers Against Child Abuse, you guys know what I'm
talking about, the ones that wear the leather jackets and
they show up at trials. And is there anyone here that's a
member of BACA? I see no hands.
State's first witness was the child victim who was ten at
the time of the offense, and was eleven at the time of trial.
Immediately after the child victim was placed under oath and
before any testimony was elicited, the prosecutor asked to
approach the bench and the following exchange occurred
between the trial court, prosecutor and defense counsel:
[Prosecutor]: Judge I have a chair that's a little
taller. In that chair he has trouble seeing over the stand is
what he had indicated previously. I have a red chair here
that sits a little higher and I'm requesting him be
allowed to sit in it.
The Court: Any objection?
[Defense Counsel]: No but I'm going to object to what
he's wearing. He's wearing a biker jacket from BACA
on this witness stand. It is not his jacket and they are
doing this to deliberately influence the jury.
The Court: Okay.
[Defense Counsel]: I did not know he was going to wear this
judge so now the jury's already seen it. I don't know
if we can remove that taint at this point, because now if the
court rules in my favor we'll have him remove the jacket.
The Court: He's, I've allowed these jackets in the
past. I've had witnesses testify with them on in the
past. The objection to the jacket is overruled and denied.