State of Missouri v. Bernard Rhodes

Missouri Supreme Court Case Number SC80825

Case Facts:¬†Appellant stated in his confession that, on July 16, 1997, he entered the home of Dorothy Martin, age 81, looking for something to steal. After Martin spotted appellant, he knocked her down and she stopped moving. As appellant searched for valuables, he observed Martin trying to get up. He bound her arms and legs, again searched for valuables, but was interrupted by Martin’s screams for help. Appellant wrapped a green cloth around her head and resumed his search. After still hearing her screams through the cloth, he placed a plastic bag over her head. The screaming stopped. He then took Martin’s car keys, a few of her belongings, and drove away in her car.

The autopsy revealed that Martin had black eyes, lacerations on her lips and above her eyes, a broken nose, bruises on her shoulders, contusions on her elbows, marked hemorrhaging under the skin of her head, a broken rib, and a broken neck. Despite these injuries, the cause of death, according to medical testimony, was asphyxiation from the multicolored plastic bag tied over her head.