Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis Honorable
Thomas C. Clark II.
B. Sullivan, Judge.
C. Whittier (Appellant) appeals from the trial court's
judgment entered after a jury trial convicting him of
first-degree murder. We affirm.
was convicted of murdering his estranged girlfriend (Victim)
by shooting her from outside of her window at night. Victim
was in her apartment she shared with her younger brother,
Reggie Jackson (Reggie), who was 13 years old at the time of
his sister's shooting. On the evening Victim was shot,
Reggie was in the living room playing video games. Reggie
testified he heard Appellant yell "F__you" followed
by gunshots. Reggie testified he was familiar with the sound
of gunshots in their neighborhood, and usually when he heard
them his sister would yell for him to get down. That night,
Reggie did not hear his sister yell, so he went to her room
to check on her. Reggie entered his sister's room and saw
blood everywhere, and then ran from their apartment to a
services responded, finding Victim dead at the scene. She had
been shot four times from outside the apartment; it was not
clear how many shots had been fired in total.
interviewed Reggie at the scene. Reggie recounted what he had
observed. He told police Victim had a restraining order
against Appellant, who was the individual he heard yell
before Victim was shot.
accessed security camera footage from the apartment complex.
The footage depicted a male subject pacing around the complex
shortly before the shooting. The subject was wearing a dark
shirt and jeans with distinctive tearing and bleach marks.
The shooting itself was not shown, but the individual stalked
the area outside of Victim's window sometime before the
shooting, and then suddenly ran away.
spoke with a neighbor who had witnessed an individual walking
around the apartment complex that night. The neighbor
recognized the individual as a man who been at the complex on
numerous occasions, and who drove a noisy car with engine
troubles. While dating Victim, Appellant had been to the
apartment complex numerous times. At trial, Reggie testified
about Appellant's battered car with noisy engine
obtained the restraining order Victim had recently obtained
against Appellant from Victim's apartment. Investigation
led police to a residence in St. Louis where Appellant had
been staying. A vehicle connected with Appellant was located
outside the residence. Inside the residence police found a
box containing Appellant's belongings, including his
driver's license. In the closet of a bedroom occupied by
another individual, police found a .38 caliber revolver with
five spent shell casings. An examination of the revolver
could not conclusively determine whether the bullets that
killed Victim were fired from it, nor could fingerprints be
identified. However, examiners were able to conclude the
revolver was the same caliber as the murder weapon. Examiners
also concluded the revolver had the same eight-right barrel
rifling that would produce the same type of lands and grooves
as were found on the slugs fired into Victim's apartment.
Appellant was arrested wearing clothes similar to the subject
depicted in the surveillance footage.
facts will be adduced as necessary.
brings three points in this appeal. Point I claims the trial
court erred by excluding evidence of an alternative suspect.
Point II claims the trial court erred by admitting into
evidence the security camera footage from the apartment
without a proper foundation. Point III claims the trial court
erred by admitting into evidence the revolver found in the
closet at the residence where Appellant was staying.
trial, Appellant sought to introduce evidence that Nelson
Hall, Jr. (Hall), an individual Victim had dated before
Appellant, was the actual shooter. The State of Missouri
(State) filed a motion in limine to exclude such evidence. At
a pretrial hearing on the State's motion in limine,
Appellant told the trial court he wished to introduce
evidence of a number of violent incidents between Victim and
Hall, including one incident where Hall brandished a gun and
punched a hole in Victim's wall. Appellant also stated he
wished to elicit testimony from Reggie that Hall continued to
appear at Victim's and his apartment after Hall and
Victim broke up, including one instance where Reggie saw Hall
lingering outside their window. The State argued there was no
evidence placing Hall at the scene of the shooting that
night, and all the other evidence was thus inadmissible. When
the trial court asked whether Appellant had any evidence
directly connecting Hall to the shooting, Appellant stated he
did not. The trial court ruled evidence regarding Hall as an
alternative suspect was inadmissible.
conclusion of Reggie's testimony, Appellant made an offer
of proof consisting of testimony from Reggie regarding Hall.
At the end of the offer of proof, Appellant asked Reggie
whether the voice he heard yell "F__ you" the night
his sister was shot could have been Hall's, and Reggie
trial court is vested with broad discretion to exclude or
admit evidence at trial." State v. Wright, 551
S.W.3d 608, 616 (Mo. App. E.D. 2018), citing State v.
Bowman, 337 S.W.3d 679, 686 (Mo. banc 2011). "We
review the trial court's evidentiary rulings for an abuse
of that broad discretion." Id. An abuse of
discretion occurs when the trial court's decision is so
against the logic of the circumstances then before it, or so
unreasonable and arbitrary, that it shocks one's sense of
justice and indicates a lack of careful consideration.
State v. Shegog, 521 ...