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State v. Ryan

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

June 11, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, Plaintiff-Respondent,
ANGALINE RYAN, Defendant-Appellant.


          MARY W. SHEFFIELD, J.

         Angaline Ryan ("Defendant") appeals her convictions, following a jury trial, for assault in the first degree and armed criminal action. See §§ 565.050, 571.015.[1] In two points relied on, Defendant claims: (1) the evidence was insufficient to support her convictions because the State presented no evidence identifying her as the perpetrator; and (2) the trial court erred in admitting evidence of certain expended shell casings because such evidence was not logically or legally relevant. Defendant's arguments are without merit, and the trial court's judgment is affirmed.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, State v. Belton, 153 S.W.3d 307, 309 (Mo. banc 2005), the following evidence was adduced at trial.

         Tammy Shipp ("Victim") married Defendant's son in 2006. Victim and Defendant's son lived in the country on the same property as Defendant, in a house located approximately 100 yards from Defendant's house. Windows in the master bedroom of Defendant's house looked out onto Victim's house.

         Defendant "wasn't happy" about her son marrying Victim. At one point during the marriage, Victim approached Defendant about the fact that Defendant's son had cheated on her, and Defendant told Victim, "well, you've got to put up with it." Victim's relationship with Defendant's son continued to deteriorate and they filed for divorce. Victim had discussions with Defendant regarding the pending divorce. Divorce proceedings were contentious until approximately four weeks before April 14, 2015, the scheduled court date for the divorce, when Defendant's son suddenly agreed to give Victim more than she had requested during negotiations. Pursuant to this agreement, Victim would be awarded full custody of their daughter, their house, three years of house payments, and child support.

         On April 13, 2015, the day before the scheduled divorce hearing, Victim was shot. Victim had been out of town that morning for an appointment and planned to go directly to work afterwards. Driving back, she unexpectedly changed plans and returned home to change clothes. Victim had not advised Defendant of her schedule, nor did she tell anyone of the change in plans. At home, Victim let her three dogs outside. The dogs ordinarily barked at strangers, but did not normally bark at Defendant because they were familiar with her. In the approximately five-minute time period that the dogs were outside shortly before Victim left, "they were just quiet."

         At about 2:10 p.m., Victim let the dogs back inside and walked out to her car. Victim had just sat down in the driver's seat when she "noticed someone come right around . . . the left of the garage[.]" The individual was "definitely a woman." She "resembled" Defendant, and was wearing dark clothing, a camouflage top, gloves, and a dark mask. Although the person's face was concealed, Victim "could see the person's eyes[, ]" her "shaped" eyebrows, and part of her nose. The shooter's eyes were hazel and "familiar" to Victim because she "[had] seen them before." Victim also discerned that the person was Caucasian and was "just glaring" at her. After staring at Victim, the person raised a gun and shot her through the car window. As the shooter was preparing to fire again, Victim screamed, "you know I have babies?" The shooter "just kept shooting and shooting." The shooter slowly turned away, and "walk[ed] back where [Victim's] garage was[.]" The shooter's shape, height, and walk were "familiar" to Victim; Defendant "had that walk and that shape."

         Although Victim was in "excruciating" pain, she started her vehicle and "laid on [her] horn to try to get someone." Victim "just kept . . . driving and honking" until she reached her daughter's elementary school a few miles away. The school's nurse came out and attempted to stop Victim's bleeding until an ambulance arrived. During that time, Victim said that she thought Defendant's son "may have had [the shooting] done."

         Victim was transported by ambulance to the nearest trauma hospital in Springfield having been shot in the chest, abdomen, arms, and legs. Victim was experiencing "severe pain" but remained coherent. Victim told the paramedic in the ambulance that a shooter had approached from the rear of her residence to the side of her car, that she thought the shooter was a woman, that the shooter shot her with a handgun, and that the shooter then ran back behind the house. Later, in the emergency room at the hospital, Victim told Sergeant Carrie Roddy ("Sergeant Roddy") that she thought the shooter was Defendant, but she wasn't sure and that she thought Defendant was capable of shooting her.

         Investigator Don Reid ("Investigator Reid") and Investigator Will Riley ("Investigator Riley") with the Howell County Sheriff's Office went to the location of the shooting. They observed broken glass on the concrete pad in front of the garage, Victim's shoe, and seven shell casings lying on the concrete and gravel driveway. The shell casings were all stamped, indicating that they were Winchester .380 auto handgun ammunition.

         Shortly after 5:00 p.m., Investigator Reid was leaving Victim's house and passed Defendant driving home. He followed her to her home. Defendant walked into the house without acknowledging any of the law enforcement officers present. When Investigator Reid told Defendant that he would like to talk to her, Defendant "wasn't overly friendly" and responded that she did not have anything to say to him. Investigator Reid explained that he did not know anything about Victim's relationship with Defendant's son and asked "what their problem was," to which Defendant replied that "[Victim] had . . . hot panties." At no time did Defendant ever ask about Victim or her condition. Defendant also told Investigator Reid that she first heard Victim had been shot at 3:00 or 3:15 p.m. on the day of the incident

         Investigator Paul Wells ("Investigator Wells"), a criminal investigator with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, also attempted to interview Defendant on April 13, 2015. From the beginning of the interview with Investigator Wells, "[Defendant] was reluctant to provide [Investigator Wells] with . . . information," including her date of birth and address. Investigator Wells testified that Defendant's demeanor was "odd[, ]" "wasn't welcoming" and "wasn't what [he] would consider to be routine in [his] experience with folks who are living nearby an incident that occurred that's violent[.]" Based on Defendant's unexpected demeanor, Investigator Wells inquired as to Defendant's whereabouts on the day of the shooting. Defendant responded that she "had been at her office in West Plains all day."

         Defendant's friend Angela Stasney ("Stasney") arrived at Defendant's house at the end of Investigator Wells' interview with Defendant. Defendant remarked to Stasney, "wasn't it amazing that [Victim] knew to honk her horn to get attention?" Stasney had not previously heard that Victim had honked her horn. The only people that Victim remembered telling that she had honked her horn, were the officers who came to the hospital.

         Surveillance video from the day of the shooting, recovered later, showed Defendant's vehicle left her office at approximately 12:11 p.m., and returned at approximately 2:29 p.m. Defendant was wearing a dark-colored top and black pants. Defendant was interviewed on April 15, 2015, two days after the shooting, and was asked again where she was at the time of the shooting. Defendant now answered she thought she had been at her mother's rental house around noon or 12:30 p.m. The following day, April 16, Defendant called Investigator Riley and told him "she had remembered . . . that she had went home that day" with her husband and had sex with him at lunch. On April 17, Defendant again called Investigator Riley to tell him "she had ...

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