Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of St. Charles County Honorable
Deborah J. Alessi.
B. SULLIVAN, P.J.
Damon Courtney (Appellant) appeals the trial court's
judgment following a jury trial convicting him of class B
felony assault in the first degree, unclassified felony armed
criminal action, class D felony unlawful use of a weapon,
class C felony unlawful possession of a firearm, and class B
felony burglary in the first degree, for which he was
sentenced as a prior and persistent offender to a total of 25
years' imprisonment. We affirm.
December 10, 2015, Kenneth Strong (Strong), a small business
owner, was returning home from the barber shop with his
two-year-old son. Strong brought his son into the garage and
returned to his car to retrieve a package. When he returned
to the garage, he encountered a man wearing a mask over half
his face and holding a gun. Strong lunged for the gun, and a
struggle ensued. The man struck Strong in the head with the
gun several times, causing lacerations that would require
staples. During the struggle, the gun fired; a bullet was
later found lodged in Strong's house. The man then fled
through Strong's and neighbors' backyards.
and several neighbors each called 911, and law enforcement
responded. A crime scene investigator processed the scene,
collecting 20 blood samples from the area. Near the blood,
investigators found a Bluetooth device, which they sent to a
lab for blood swabs and DNA testing. The blood samples in the
area belonged to Strong. The DNA found on the Bluetooth
device belonged to Appellant.
time later, law enforcement received a tip Appellant was at
his girlfriend's home in St. Louis County. Officers
responded to the location, and several officers approached
the front door to demand entry, while others surrounded the
home to cover other exits. As the officers knocked loudly on
the door, they heard a male voice within tell someone not to
open the door. Eventually, Appellant's girlfriend
answered the door. As she answered, Appellant slipped out
from a second story window, jumped to the ground, and fled.
pursued Appellant for several blocks before they caught up to
him when he attempted to hide under a bush. Two detectives
tried to pull Appellant out, and he began to struggle,
thrash, and kick. Officers subdued Appellant as he fought,
administering some knee strikes, one or more of them hitting
Appellant's face. Detectives searched the bushes where
Appellant was found, locating a cellphone. Appellant was
handcuffed and returned to his girlfriend's home to be
arriving back at his girlfriend's home, Appellant was
read his Miranda rights.Appellant stated he
understood his rights. A detective asked Appellant whether he
had discarded any firearms as he fled. Appellant replied the
officers would find what they were looking for where they had
arrested him. When asked why he would throw his phone away,
Appellant replied, "Because they can get me in
trouble," and, "I'm done, I'm f-ked,
I'll die in prison, bro."
enforcement obtained a warrant and searched Appellant's
cellphone. They found a video depicting two men surveilling
Strong's home from a car while discussing plans to rob
Strong. When showed this video, Strong recognized one of the
voices as belonging to James Scott, an acquaintance of his.
Strong knew James Scott because Strong had sold him a car,
and later repossessed it due to nonpayment on the loan. Also
visible in the video was a decal of a rose on the window of
the car, which was the same decal as one on Appellant's
girlfriend's car. James Scott later confessed to police
he had been in the car with Appellant surveilling
Strong's home, but Appellant was the individual who
was tried before a jury and convicted of first degree
assault, armed criminal action, unlawful use of a weapon,
unlawful possession of a firearm, and first degree burglary.
Additional facts will be adduced as necessary.
makes three points on appeal. Point I claims the trial court
plainly erred by allowing into evidence statements Appellant
made to police officers shortly after his arrest. Point II
claims the trial court plainly erred by overruling
Appellant's Batson challenge made after the
State used a peremptory challenge to strike an
African-American juror. Point III claims the trial court
abused its discretion by overruling Appellant's objection
to the State questioning jurors about small business owners
making cash deposits, which inaccurately characterized the
facts of the case.