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State v. Snyder

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division

November 19, 2019

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
CREGG ALLEN SNYDER, Appellant.

          APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF PHELPS COUNTY Honorable John D. Beger

          GARY W. LYNCH, P.J.

         AFFIRMED

         Following a jury trial, Cregg Allen Snyder ("Defendant") was convicted of two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy involving S.L. (Counts 1 and 2) and two counts of first-degree statutory sodomy involving T.L. (Counts 3 and 4). See section 566.062.[1]

         Defendant raises three points on appeal. His first point alleges an abuse of trial court discretion in the exclusion of certain testimony from Nikki Breuer, a Division of Social Services ("DSS") employee, from evidence. His second and third points request plain error review of the trial court's submission of jury instructions 13 and 17, the verdict directors for Counts 3 and 4, respectively. Determining that Defendant's first point is not preserved for appellate review and that his requests for plain error review in his second and third points are denied, we affirm.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         Defendant does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence to support his conviction. Briefly summarized and viewed in the light most favorable to the finding of guilt, State v. Lammers, 479 S.W.3d 624, 632 (Mo. banc 2016), the evidence reveals that S.L. and T.L., born in May 2008 and June 2004, respectively, moved in with Defendant in January 2015 and lived with him until July 2015. During this timeframe, Defendant committed acts of abuse against S.L and T.L., which included inserting his penis in S.L.'s mouth and anus, touching T.L's penis, and making T.L. touch Defendant's penis.

         Following his convictions on four counts of first-degree statutory sodomy, Defendant was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment for each count and those terms were ordered to run consecutively. Defendant timely appeals.

         Additional relevant background is set out, infra, as we discuss Defendant's three points relied on. Due to their similarity, Defendant's second and third points are addressed together.

         Discussion

         Point 1 - Claim not Preserved for Appellate Review

         In his first point, Defendant contends that "[t]he trial court abused its discretion in sustaining the State's objection and excluding the testimony of Nikki Breuer[.]" Specifically, he asserts that the trial court erred in "excluding the testimony of Nikki Breuer that the Division of Family Services ceased its investigation of [Defendant.]" (Emphasis added.) This evidence, according to Defendant, "was relevant to show that the children's story changed, either due to pressure from investigators or the children's family, which caused the State to charge these allegation [sic] and calls into question the children's credibility." For the reasons set forth below, the claim in this point was not preserved for appellate review.

         At trial, Defendant called Nikki Breuer as a witness and attempted to ask her questions relating to a July 25, 2016, letter from the Children's Division in Dent County that was addressed to Defendant and signed by Breuer ("the letter"). The letter stated that the Children's Division, following an investigation into a report alleging sexual abuse by Defendant against S.L. and H.L., [2] had determined that there was insufficient evidence to conclude based on a preponderance of the evidence that S.L. and H.L. had been abused.

         Following an objection by the prosecutor, the trial court looked over the letter and asked "For the record, this is marked as Exhibit A; is that correct?" Defense counsel responded, "That is correct. That was before [H.L.] dropped out of it." The trial court then indicated that it did not think that the letter was admissible. Defense counsel responded, "I'm not gonna admit it" and clarified that "I'm just gonna have her acknowledge that she sent the letter and that it is . . . ." Before defense counsel could finish, the trial court stated, "You're gonna have her acknowledge that she sent a letter saying they were not gonna pursue the investigation?" Defense counsel responded in the affirmative "as far as [S.L.]" The trial court then stated that it thought the ...


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