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State v. Storey

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

November 24, 2014

Kevin Storey

Page 642

Appeal from Superior Court. Providence County. (P2/09-3811A). Associate Justice Susan E. McGuirl.

For State: Michael W. Field, Department of Attorney General.

For Defendant: Jeanne M. Scott, Esq.

Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.


Page 643

Suttell, Chief Justice.

The defendant, Kevin Storey, appeals from a Superior Court judgment of conviction for one count of assault with a dangerous weapon and one count of simple assault and battery. After a jury trial, the defendant was sentenced to a term of fifteen years at the Adult Correctional Institutions, with five years to serve and ten years suspended, with probation. On appeal, the defendant argues that the trial justice erred by: (1) denying his motions for judgment of acquittal and new trial; (2) not allowing him to cross-examine the complaining witness concerning custody issues involving her sons; and (3) imposing

Page 644

an illegal sentence. This case came before the Supreme Court pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. After considering the parties' written submissions and reviewing the record, we conclude that cause has not been shown and that this case may be decided without further briefing or argument.[1] For the reasons set forth in this opinion, we affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.


Facts and Travel

Danielle Saleeba testified at trial that on the night of October 27, 2009, she awoke to defendant (then her husband) shaking her shoulders and demanding to know why she had not told him that David Liese, the general manager at the restaurant where she worked, had been working with her the previous night. According to Saleeba, defendant struck her on the head with an open palm and began choking her with both hands pushing down on her throat. Saleeba recalled that she could not breathe and thought that she was going to die. She managed to get out of defendant's chokehold, but he then stuck his fingers down her throat, only pulling them out when she bit him. Saleeba further testified that, as she tried to get off the bed, defendant struck her left temple with either his fist or his elbow.

Ms. Saleeba said she was bleeding profusely from the side of her head. She testified that when her eldest son saw her emerge from the bedroom on her way to the bathroom, he told her that she had " blood squirting out the side of [her] head." [2] Saleeba recalled hearing defendant tell her son that his mother had " hit her head on the computer desk." The computer desk was located next to the bed but on the other side from where she always slept. At trial, Saleeba stated that she " went along with it [because she] didn't want anything bad to happen to [her] son * * *." When Saleeba looked in the mirror in the bathroom, she saw a " big gaping hole" on her temple that " looked like a fountain coming out the side of [her] head." Saleeba told defendant she needed an ambulance to get to the hospital, but he insisted on driving her to the hospital himself. Before leaving, Saleeba testified, she called her mother (who lived ten minutes away), told her that she had cut her head, and asked her to come over to sit with the children while she went to the hospital.

Ms. Saleeba's mother, Cynthia Saleeba (Cynthia),[3] testified that when she arrived at her daughter's house, she saw a lot of blood around the house. She observed blood on a pillow and towel on the kitchen floor, smears and trails of blood between rooms as well as in the bedroom on the pillow, sheet, and blanket on the side of the bed farthest away from the computer table. She did not recall seeing any blood on the computer table in the bedroom or between the computer table and the bed.

Ms. Saleeba testified that she had been married to defendant for four years at the time of the incident, but that they had not been getting along for a couple of years. Saleeba recalled that, over the course of the previous month, defendant had been accusing her of having an affair with David Liese. At trial, Liese testified that he saw defendant at the restaurant the evening before the incident occurred, and that defendant

Page 645

made comments insinuating that there was more than an employer and employee relationship between Liese and Saleeba. Liese testified that the comments made him feel uncomfortable because they were not true, but that defendant did not threaten him.

According to Saleeba, during the ten-minute drive to Rhode Island Hospital, defendant told her that he had to beat her up because he could not " beat up [Liese]," and he repeatedly told her that " [t]he next time I'm going to kill you." At the hospital, Saleeba received approximately twenty-four stitches along her left temple. She admitted at trial that she did not tell any of the staff at Rhode Island Hospital the truth about how she had sustained her injuries because she feared for her life and because defendant was with her most of the time that she was at the hospital.

Several days later, however, Saleeba told her mother what had happened. On Halloween, after trick-or-treating with all three of her sons, she returned home with them and the father of her eldest son. Saleeba testified that, sometime after defendant arrived, he announced his intention to " take care of [Liese] once and for all" and then left. Saleeba recalled that, when defendant returned, he was angry because Liese had not been at the restaurant, which was where defendant had expected to find him. The defendant announced that Saleeba was never to return to her employment at the restaurant. Saleeba testified that she called her mother because her children were upset and afraid, and wanted to leave. Cynthia testified that she received a telephone call that evening around 10 p.m. from her daughter, asking her to come to her daughter's house. When Cynthia arrived at the house, she found her two eldest grandsons in tears. Saleeba testified that she then told her mother the truth about what had happened four days ...

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