Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Special Division
from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The
Honorable Jalilah Otto, Judge
Mark D. Pfeiffer, Presiding Judge, and Edward R. Ardini, Jr.,
and Thomas N. Chapman, Judges
D. PFEIFFER, PRESIDING JUDGE
Ramon D. Boyd ("Mr. Boyd") appeals from the
judgment of his conviction and sentence, following a jury
trial in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri
("trial court"), for voluntary manslaughter,
assault in the second degree, two counts of armed criminal
action, and leaving the scene of a shooting. Mr. Boyd asserts
three points on appeal: (1) that the trial court clearly
erred in denying his Batson challenge to the State's
strike of an African-American venireperson; (2) that the
trial court clearly erred in granting the State's
reverse-Batson challenge to the defense's strike
of a Caucasian venireperson; and (3) that the trial court
committed evidentiary error relating to the admission of
Boyd's girlfriend's cell phone records. We affirm.
and Procedural History
Year's Eve 2015, friends Kierra Ramsey and Destynie
Wright planned to go to a party. After getting ready, they
left Ms. Ramsey's mother's house in Ms. Wright's
car. The party ended at about 1:00 a.m. When they left, Ms.
Ramsey was surprised that her boyfriend, Sederick Jones, was
there. He said, "Come on, let's go," and he and
Ms. Ramsey and Ms. Wright walked out of the building
together. They got in Ms. Wright's car, with Ms. Wright
in the driver's seat, Ms. Ramsey in the front passenger
seat, and Mr. Jones in the back seat on the passenger side.
They were in the car for about an hour, during which time Ms.
Wright and Mr. Boyd, Ms. Wright 's boyfriend (who also
went by the nickname TK), were texting each
Ms. Ramsey decided to leave with Mr. Jones, she got her bags
out of Ms. Wright's car, moved them to Mr. Jones's
car, which was parked next to Ms. Wright's car, and got
in on the passenger side of Mr. Jones's car. Mr. Jones
was standing on the driver's side of Ms. Wright's
car, talking to her. As Mr. Jones walked between the cars, he
said something, and Ms. Ramsey leaned out and asked,
"What are you talking about?" She saw "a
person standing back there" and then heard gunshots. Mr.
Boyd was the shooter. Ms. Ramsey was shot numerous times, and
Mr. Jones started running. Ms. Ramsey heard more gunshots.
Ms. Ramsey was shot in the arm, chest, and legs, and she
underwent three surgeries during her month-long hospital
stay. Mr. Jones died of multiple gunshot wounds at the scene;
his body was found on the ground at the front left quarter
panel area of his vehicle.
Ms. Ramsey was taken to the hospital, her mother informed
police that Ms. Ramsey had been with Ms. Wright the previous
evening. The police obtained an address for Ms. Wright. When
police arrived, Ms. Wright was not there, but police later
learned that the car Ms. Wright had been driving was parked
next door to her sister's house.
police went to Ms. Wright's sister's house and made
contact with Ms. Wright. Ms. Wright voluntarily agreed to go
with the police to the police station and give a statement.
As they were leaving the residence, Ms. Wright's sister
reminded Ms. Wright not to forget her cell phone and handed
the phone to one of the detectives as they were walking out.
station, Ms. Wright lied and told police that she did not
know who the shooter was. She also stated that she had
performed a "hard reset" on her cell phone to
permanently delete all the data on her phone. Immediately
thereafter, the police applied for and received a search
warrant to search the contents of the phone. After the cell
phone data was extracted, relevant and incriminating text
messages between Ms. Wright and Mr. Boyd from the evening of
the crimes were recovered. Ms. Wright and Mr. Boyd were
arrested on March 1, 2016.
State charged Mr. Boyd with one count of the class A felony
of murder in the first degree for knowingly causing the death
of Sederick Jones by shooting him, one count of the class A
felony of assault in the first degree for shooting at Ms.
Ramsey, two counts of the unclassified felony of armed
criminal action, and one count of class A misdemeanor of
leaving the scene of a shooting.
trial, Mr. Boyd testified in his own defense, alleging that
he shot Mr. Jones in self-defense. The jury found Mr. Boyd
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the class B felony of
voluntary manslaughter, the class C felony of assault in the
second degree, two counts of armed criminal action, and the
class A misdemeanor of leaving the scene of a shooting. After
additional evidence in the penalty phase, the jury returned
the following punishment recommendations: twelve years'
imprisonment for voluntary manslaughter, five years'
imprisonment plus a fine in an amount to be determined by the
trial court for assault in the second degree, five years'
imprisonment for each count of armed criminal action, and one
year's imprisonment in the county jail plus a fine in an
amount to be determined by the trial court for leaving the
scene of a shooting. The trial court sentenced Boyd in
accordance with the jury recommendations except that the
court did not impose any fines. The trial court ordered that
the sentences run consecutive to one another for a total of
twenty-eight years' imprisonment.
Boyd timely appealed.
I - Denial of Batson Challenge to Venireperson No.
Boyd's first point, he asserts that the trial court
clearly erred in denying his Batson challenge to the
State's strike of African-American Venireperson No.
standard of review of a trial court's findings on a
Batson challenge is clear error. State v.
Meeks, 495 S.W.3d 168, 172 (Mo. banc 2016). "The
trial court's findings are clearly erroneous if the
reviewing court is left with the definite and firm conviction
that a mistake has been made." Id. (internal
quotation marks omitted). If the trial court's ruling on
a Batson challenge is clearly erroneous, it will be
set aside. Id. A trial court's determination
that a peremptory strike was made on racially neutral grounds
is entitled to great deference on appeal. State v.
Cole, 71 S.W.3d 163, 172 (Mo. banc 2002). "Further,
because of the subjective nature of peremptory challenges we
place great reliance in the trial court's judgment when
it comes to assessing the legitimacy of the [S]tate's
explanation." State v. Morrow, 968 S.W.2d 100,
114 (Mo. banc 1998) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Equal Protection Clause in the United States Constitution
prohibits parties from using a peremptory challenge to strike
a potential juror on the basis of race." Meeks,
495 S.W.3d at 172. "In Batson, the Supreme
Court described a three-step, burden-shifting process for
challenging a peremptory strike on this basis."
Id. (citing Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S.
79, 96-98, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986)). "The
Supreme Court, however, 'decline[d] . . . to formulate
particular procedures to be followed upon a defendant's
timely objection to a prosecutor's challenges.'"
Id. (quoting Batson, 476 U.S. at 99). To
fill that void, the Missouri Supreme Court articulated a
three-step procedure for trial courts to use in evaluating a
First, the defendant must raise a Batson challenge
with regard to one or more specific venirepersons struck by
the [S]tate and identify the cognizable racial group to which
the venireperson or persons belong. The trial court will then
require the [S]tate to come forward with reasonably specific
and clear race-neutral explanations for the strike. Assuming
the prosecutor is able to articulate an acceptable reason for
the strike, the defendant will then need to show that the
[S]tate's proffered reasons for the strikes were merely
pretextual and that the strikes were racially motivated.
Id. at 173 (quoting State v. Parker, 836
S.W.2d 930, 939 (Mo. banc 1992)).
preface to making the Batson challenges at Mr.
Boyd's trial, defense counsel observed that out of the
twenty-four persons remaining in the jury pool, "the
State elected to use four out of their six peremptory strikes
to strike four of the six African Americans." In point
of fact, defense counsel made Batson challenges to
all of the State's peremptory strikes of these four
African-American venirepersons and the trial court
granted three of defense counsel's
Batson challenges and only denied defense
counsel's Batson challenge as to Venireperson
No. 23. Specifically, at trial, defense counsel made a
Batson challenge to the State's strike of
Venireperson No. 23, whom counsel identified as African
In response to Mr. Boyd's Batson challenge, the
No. 23 made extensive comments about-the defense elected to
get into some of the facts of their case in voir dire,
including not calling 911. And 23 specifically talked about
cultural reasons why you might not do that and why that might
be okay similarly to Juror No. 22, which was the reason that
both of them were peremptory strikes by the State.
counsel responded that when she asked the venire panel if
they could imagine a situation where someone would not call
911 under these circumstances, there was "a lot of
feedback from white and black jurors alike that they can
imagine a circumstance where someone would not necessarily
call 911." Defense counsel stated that Venireperson No.
23 "specifically referenced that there could be cultural
reasons why someone wouldn't call the police."
Defense counsel asserted: "I think that there is not a
race neutral reason for either of those two jurors
[Venireperson No. 22 and Venireperson No. 23] to be struck.
In fact it appears the reason that it is being offered is
that it is race-based."
prosecutor disagreed that the reason was race-based, stating
that her strikes were based on "the responses to why you
wouldn't call 911, not because of [the
trial court responded that it recalled that line of
questioning, and "there were quite a few people that
indicated there were a number of reasons as to why they could
concede when 911 would not be called." The trial court
deferred ruling on ...