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State v. Funches

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

May 26, 2017

Hakim Funches.

         Providence County Superior Court, P2/13-1299ADV, Associate Justice Netti C. Vogel.

          For State: Lauren S. Zurier Department of Attorney General.

          For Defendant: George J. West, Esq.

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



         This case came before the Supreme Court on May 3, 2017, pursuant to an order directing the parties to appear and show cause why the issues raised in this appeal should not be summarily decided. The defendant, Hakim Funches (Funches or defendant), appeals from a judgment of conviction entered in the Superior Court, following a jury trial. The defendant was convicted of one count of domestic assault by strangulation and one count of simple assault. After hearing the arguments of counsel and examining the memoranda submitted by the parties, we are of the opinion that cause has not been shown and that this case should be decided without further briefing or argument. We affirm the judgment of conviction of the Superior Court.

         Facts and Travel

         Funches and the complaining witness, Jennifer Bacon (Bacon), were involved in a relationship for approximately four years and were the parents of two daughters. They also lived together for a period of time.[1] On October 23, 2012, Bacon departed her home at 4:30 p.m. to begin her night shift at Domino's Pizza in Warwick, Rhode Island. Funches was at Bacon's apartment, watching their children. The pair argued through text messages and phone calls throughout Bacon's shift about whether Bacon was romantically involved with another man. Funches denied sending or receiving text messages from Bacon on this particular night. Bacon testified that, because Funches was so "hostile, " she went to a friend's house after work. The defendant continued to contact Bacon, threatening to "take [her] daughters up to Massachusetts with no car seats at three something in the morning" if she did not return home. Bacon responded that she was returning home and that, as soon as she arrived, Funches could leave. She returned home at approximately 3:30 a.m. It was a violent homecoming.

         Bacon testified that, when she entered her home, Funches "immediately came from behind the door and ripped [her] phone out of [her] hand and slammed [her] into the kitchen table." Funches placed Bacon's cellphone in the pocket of his pants. He then "threw [her] on the floor[, ] and he got on [her, ] and put his knees against [her] shoulders and * * * took [her] chin and repeatedly smacked [her] head into the tile floor." Throughout this episode, Funches repeatedly declared that he would not tolerate any romantic involvement with another man. When Bacon stated that she was going to contact the police, Funches responded that "[i]f [he was] going to go to jail, [he was] going to make it worth it." At that point, Funches lifted Bacon from the floor by her shirt and tried to place her on a chair, but he did so with such force that the chair "shattered" and Bacon fell to the floor. Bacon testified that Funches "dragged [her by her hair] back to the center of the room and started hitting [her] head against the floor again." Funches then grabbed their daughter's jump rope, wrapped it around Bacon's neck, and "continuously choked [her] for about an hour on and off." When it appeared that Bacon was about to "pass out, " he would pause; but he would then start choking her again. Bacon testified that she was seeing stars and felt dizzy.

         Funches eventually stopped choking Bacon when his daughters began to wake up in the next room; however, according to Bacon, the abuse did not end. Funches dragged her by her hair to the bedroom and threw her on the bed. When Bacon called Funches a "scumbag, " he attempted to remove her slacks, declaring, "I'll show you a scumbag." However, when the youngest daughter began crying, Funches went to check on the child and Bacon attempted to flee. The defendant followed her and pushed her down two flights of stairs. She eventually reached the front door and proceeded directly to the Providence police station. She returned to the apartment with three police officers. Funches subsequently was arrested.

         Funches testified and provided a different version of events. According to defendant, when Bacon returned home, he informed her that he was ending their relationship, filing for joint custody, and requesting physical placement of their daughters. He explained that he made this decision after Bacon told him that she did not have enough money for the monthly bills. According to Funches, the argument lasted approximately forty-five minutes, at which time Bacon left the apartment. He denied that he physically assaulted Bacon.

         Funches was convicted by a jury of one count of domestic assault by strangulation in violation of G.L. 1956 § 11-5-2.3 and one count of simple assault in violation of § 11-5-3. He was sentenced to ten years at the Adult Correctional Institution, three years to serve with seven years of probation on the strangulation count and one year, suspended, on the simple assault count, to run concurrently. The defendant also was required to complete a batterer intervention program while incarcerated. He was acquitted of one count of assault with a dangerous weapon-that being the jump rope-in violation of § 11-5-2. He timely appealed.

         Before this Court, defendant argues that the trial justice erred in denying his motion to pass the case after the prosecutor posed an allegedly prejudicial question to defendant. The defendant also contends that the trial justice erred in denying his motion for judgment of acquittal, arguing that he was twice placed in jeopardy for the same act.

         Standard ...

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