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State v. Newman

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division

June 5, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent,
v.
KEVIN C. NEWMAN, Defendant-Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF GREENE COUNTY Honorable Michael J. Cordonnier, Circuit Judge

          NANCY STEFFEN RAHMEYER, J.

         Kevin C. Newman ("Appellant") was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. He appeals claiming (1) that the trial court erred in allowing the State to argue facts in closing argument that were not admitted at trial and (2) that the trial court erred in allowing hearsay statements into evidence. We reject both claims and affirm the conviction.

         We omit many of the gruesome facts that led to this conviction and subsequent appeal, as they are not necessary for this appeal, and proceed to the first point. Appellant claims that the State offered facts during closing argument that were not admitted into evidence. In fact, what Appellant is really arguing is that the State was allowed to make an inference from facts that were admitted into evidence.

         During the State's closing argument, the prosecutor referred to witness King Thomas:

It took a little while to get there, but yesterday we heard from King Thomas. You heard lots of things and mentions about him in the first couple days of it. Then he was here. See the fear, maybe the guilt, the anguish that he had over this. He saw a sense of duty to be here.
. . . .
King, I'm sure, wished he would have done something sooner. Many of us -- I might wish he would have done something sooner. But he was the only person with the information. He testified, "I was scared; I had two little girls; I know that they were out of state at the time but they weren't always going to be out of state." He feared [Appellant]. He feared what [Appellant] would do. And he knew what [Appellant] had told him that [Appellant] had done to [the victim]: I made it look like Freddy Krueger got her.

         The prosecutor also referred to witness Alyssa Stewart during the State's final closing argument:

Now, Alyssa Stewart didn't have that same direct contact with [Appellant]. But, she testified that whenever [Victim] was missing, an associate, Terry, who she'd had almost no contact with, out of the blue started messaging her.

         It is these two references that Appellant now complains were not admitted into evidence. Appellant is mistaken. King Thomas testified at trial to the following:

[Prosecutor:] King, just before we broke, I asked you why you would be afraid. Can you tell me why you would be afraid to testify today?
[King Thomas:] Because [Appellant] told me that if I ever said anything about this situation that we're here for today, that he would hurt my kids, me, kill us.

         Alyssa Stewart also testified at trial. During redirect examination, the prosecutor asked if she knew Terry ...


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