Jury doesn’t believe story witness was driving

A man was found guilty of driving while intoxicated by a Maries County jury.  The jury felt that there was enough evidence to support a DWI conviction.

In this Southern District of Missouri appellate case, the appellate court stated that a jury may believe all, some, or none, of any witness’s testimony. The testimony of the Defendant’s girlfriend was that she was doing the driving while he was sick and laying down in the car.  The man appealed his DWI conviction. Appellant argued that although there was evidence of his intoxication six hours after his car was seen, there was not sufficient evidence that he was driving at the time that he was intoxicated.

However, the following evidence as listed out in the Appellate Court’s opinion tells another story that was more believable for the jury:

*There was a 12-pack of beer in Appellant’s fridge and he “drank before [he] left” in his truck with his girlfriend.  (Appellant’s girlfriend)

*Appellant and his girlfriend got into Appellant’s truck by approximately 6:30 p.m.  (Appellant’s girlfriend and Sheriff’s deputy)

*The truck was observed traveling 85 mph and was chased by a Maries County Sheriff’s deputy.  The truck sped down highways and private roads with the deputy going 100 mph to try to catch it.  The truck went into a field and failed to come out the gate from the field.  (Sheriff’s deputy)

*The truck passed the farm owner who observed it traveling at a high rate of speed on his private road at approximately 6:45 p.m.  (Witness Breeding)

*The officer searched by foot and located tire tracks along a creek.  He followed the tracks and found the truck resting “nose first” in an overgrown cluster of willow trees.  The truck’s doors were locked and the hood was “warm to the touch.”  The truck had been driven over some rocks and logs and was immovable.  (Sheriff’s deputy and Witness Breeding)

*The truck was traced to Appellant’s mother.  The Sheriff called Appellant’s phone around 8 p.m. and left a voice mail message stating that police were looking for him.  (Sheriff’s deputy and Sheriff)

*Appellant returned the call twenty to twenty-five minutes later, identified himself and said they “were only going to be able to get him for speeding and maybe driving without a license.”  (Sheriff)

*Appellant became more agitated during the call and began yelling; his speech was slurred.  When asked if he had been drinking, Appellant replied, “Yes, earlier, but not while driving” and “I’m not even that drunk.”  Appellant told the Sheriff he was lost in the woods and did not know where he was; Appellant agreed to turn himself in when Appellant found a mailbox number on the road and told the Sheriff.  The Sheriff stayed on the phone with Appellant until he heard officers arresting him.  (Sheriff)

*Appellant’s shirt was ripped, he had abrasions on his legs and dirt and mud on his face; he had a cell phone and set of vehicle keys in his pocket.  (Sheriff’s deputy and Lieutenant)

*Appellant smelled of intoxicants, his speech was slurred, and he had to be held up because he was swaying.  (Lieutenant)

*The keys found in Appellant’s pocket opened the pickup truck found in the field.  (Lieutenant) 

*After obtaining a search warrant, Appellant’s blood was drawn.  The first blood draw was .123% and the second was .120%.  (Criminalist)

After all these facts, Appellant still wanted the jury to believe that he was not driving. But the jury has the right to believe or not believe all, some, or none of the girlfriend’s testimony.

The jury was presented evidence that appellant was driving (remember Appellant’s admission to officer that the only thing they would get him on was speeding and maybe driving without a license). They also were told that he had consumed alcohol before driving and had a blood alcohol content of 0.123 percent six hours after driving.  Then there no evidence was presented that appellant consumed alcohol after driving.

The Appellate Court basically felt a jury could find that appellant was intoxicated while appellant was driving based on these facts. And a jury did not have to believe testimony of a witness that she was driving. Therefore, her testimony does not change his conviction.

The conviction was affirmed. Judge Nancy Steffen Rahmeyer wrote the opinion, with Judges Gary W. Lynch, P.J., and William W. Francis, Jr., concurring.

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