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State v. Gray

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fifth Division

October 22, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
RICHARD D. GRAY, Defendant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Francois County 14SF-CR00709-01 Honorable Randall Head

          OPINION

          LISA P. PAGE, JUDGE

         Richard D. Gray ("Defendant") appeals the judgment entered upon his conviction of first-degree involuntary manslaughter in violation of Section 565.024 RSMo (Cum. Sup. 2008) and second-degree assault in violation of Section 565.060 RSMo (Cum Supp. 2006). Defendant asserts multiple points on appeal relating to alleged errors at trial. Defendant also filed a supplemental point on appeal challenging the trial court's denial of his motion for new trial following an evidentiary hearing to consider newly discovered evidence as mandated by this court upon remand. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         On the evening of January 16, 2013, Defendant, Kasey Stevens ("Stevens"), her brother Michael Petty ("Petty"), her boyfriend Robert Radford ("Radford"), and Radford's friend Dale Ingram ("Ingram") spent the evening drinking. When Radford passed out, Stevens took the keys to his van so she, Ingram, and Defendant could buy drugs. As they were driving, the van skidded through a curve and rolled over. Some unknown time later, in the early morning of January 17, Missouri Highway Patrol Corporal Andrew Woods ("Corporal Woods") was dispatched to the single-vehicle accident scene. Upon arrival he observed the van upside down with Ingram trapped inside. Defendant and Stevens were unconscious and bleeding outside the van. They were ultimately transported via helicopter to a trauma center in St. Louis County where Stevens died from her injuries. At the scene, Ingram informed Corporal Woods that Defendant was driving and lost control of the van.

         Defendant was charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter and second-degree assault. He was released to the St. Francois County jail after a lengthy stay in a rehabilitation center. Corporal Woods met Defendant at the jail where he gave conflicting reports about whether he was driving. Initially, Defendant told Corporal Woods that Petty was driving the van. He also stated, "It wasn't me. I ain't going to lie to you. I got nothing to hide." However, he later said, "I think maybe I might have drove. I don't know. I might be going nuts." According to Corporal Woods, Defendant seemed incoherent and confused.

         At trial, the defense strongly disputed that Defendant was, in fact, driving the van the night of the accident. There was significant testimony presented, including accident reconstructionists for both the State and Defendant, as well as other fact witnesses who testified about potential evidence that Petty was actually driving that night. A jury convicted Defendant of both counts and he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for each count, to be served concurrently. Defendant appealed his conviction.

         Defendant asserted three points in his initial June 9, 2017 brief. He claimed the trial court erred in denying his motion to suppress because blood drawn while he was unconscious at the hospital - absent a warrant - violated his Fourth Amendment rights. Defendant also claimed the trial court erred in denying the motion to suppress statements he made to Trooper Woods while Defendant was in jail following the accident because the State failed to establish Defendant knowingly and intelligently waived his right to remain silent. Finally, Defendant argued the trial court erred in sustaining the State's objection excluding the testimony of Robert Fucetola, M.D. ("Dr. Fucetola") regarding Defendant's general intelligence.

         While his appeal was pending, Defendant filed a motion to remand the case to the trial court to consider newly discovered evidence. He alleged that in May 2017, after the time available to file a motion for new trial, he learned of a witness named Jill Johnson who claimed she overheard a conversation in which Petty, Steven's brother, admitted he was driving the van the night of the accident. On October 5, 2017, we granted the motion and remanded the cause to the trial court to conduct a hearing "on whether the newly discovered evidence warrants a new trial."

         However, the trial court failed to conduct the mandated hearing by denying Defendant's motion to continue for additional time to produce Johnson. The court then denied his supplemental motion for new trial. Defendant filed a supplemental brief, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion for continuance to allow him to present newly discovered evidence. We granted Defendant's point and reversed the trial court's decision to deny his motion for continuance in contravention to our October 5, 2017 mandate. State v. Gray, 2018 WL 5538761.

         Upon remand, the trial court heard the testimony of Jill Johnson and denied the motion. Defendant filed a supplemental point on appeal, in addition to the three points initially asserted, challenging the trial court's decision to deny his motion for new trial based on the newly discovered evidence.

         DISCUSSION

         Standard of Review

         Defendant's initial points one and two on appeal concern the trial court's denial of his motions to suppress and the admission of certain evidence at trial. We review the trial court's ruling on a motion to suppress to determine whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence. State v. Fortner, 451 S.W.3d 746, 750-51 (Mo. App. E.D. 2014). We reverse the ruling only if it is clearly erroneous. Id. at 751. We consider both the evidence presented at the pre-trial hearing and any ...


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