Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF TEXAS COUNTY Honorable Judge John
W. SHEFFIELD, J.
Ryan ("Defendant") appeals her convictions,
following a jury trial, for assault in the first degree and
armed criminal action. See §§ 565.050,
571.015. 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.
and Procedural Background
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.
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.
"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.
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
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."
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]
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.
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.
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
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."
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.
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 ...