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COURT OF APPEALS OF VIRGINIA
Present: Judges Benton, Humphreys and Senior Judge Hodges
Argued at Chesapeake, Virginia
Record No. 2083-02-1
TEMEAKA M. HARRIS
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
BY JUDGE WILLIAM H. HODGES
DECEMBER 9, 2003
FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE CITY OF NEWPORT NEWS
Randolph T. West, Judge
Theophlise L. Twitty (Jones & Twitty, on brief), for
Paul C. Galanides, Assistant Attorney General (Jerry W. Kilgore,
Attorney General, on brief), for appellee.
Temeaka Harris (appellant) contends the evidence was
insufficient to support her conviction
of maiming. Specifically, appellant argues that the evidence
failed to prove she possessed and
used a weapon and failed to prove the victim saw appellant stab
or cut her. We disagree, and
affirm the conviction.
"On appeal, ‘we review the evidence in the light most
favorable to the Commonwealth,
granting to it all reasonable inferences fairly deducible
therefrom.’" Archer v. Commonwealth,
26 Va. App. 1, 11, 492 S.E.2d 826, 831 (1997) (citation
omitted). So viewed, the evidence
proved that appellant’s companion, Katina Woodson, approached
Venus King in a nightclub,
made comments to King and repeatedly thrust "a plastic
rose" in King’s face. Appellant
approached King’s companion, Tina Harmon, and "hit"
Harmon in the face "with [a] beer
bottle." Security personnel immediately removed appellant
and Woodson from the club. King
and Harmon decided to report the attack to the police. A short
time after appellant and Woodson
had been ejected the club closed. King and Harmon proceeded to
King’s vehicle in the parking
In the parking lot, appellant, Woodson and a third, unidentified
female "came rushing up
to" Harmon and King. Harmon pushed King out of the way, so
King could start her vehicle, and
confronted the three onrushing attackers. Appellant, Woodson and
their unidentified companion
"started tussling [with Harmon] and all of a sudden a guy
came from nowhere and just hit Tina
Harmon." Appellant, Woodson and the third female then
attacked King. King testified that,
among her many injuries, she sustained a deep cut on her breast
with "something really sharp."
The wound "cut a main artery" requiring seventeen
stitches "inside and outside" to close the
wound. King identified appellant as the person who cut her. She
explained that appellant "was
the only one directly in front of [her]." Woodson "was
to [King’s] right" and appellant "was
right in front of" King when King felt a "sharp
pain" just "before [she] hit the ground." King
then fell to the ground and assumed a fetal position as her
attackers continued to kick and hit her.
The police arrived, and the attackers entered a vehicle. As an
officer approached the
vehicle containing appellant, Woodson and the others, appellant
shouted at King, "‘That’s what
you get for taking up for Bonnie.’" King explained that
Bonnie was "one of [appellant’s and
Woodson’s] former girlfriends" who is now friendly with
King. King unequivocally denied
attacking appellant and her friends at any time.
Harmon corroborated King’s account of the events inside the
club. Harmon also
described how four females "bum-rushed" and attacked
her and King in the parking lot. Harmon
also denied being the aggressor in the incidents.
Officer Cook arrived at the scene and confronted appellant and
her companions. Cook
recalled appellant "hollering at Ms. King." He also
described a small abrasion on the inside of
appellant’s "right pinkie finger." In a statement to
Cook, appellant admitted "she was in a fight
Appellant testified that Harmon initiated an attack on Woodson
in the parking lot, while
King attacked appellant with a bottle. According to appellant,
King hit her with the bottle after
which they "fell to the ground." Appellant testified
that she "was defending [her]self."
Katina Woodson testified that Harmon and King attacked her and
said she fought with Harmon while appellant fought with King.
Woodson recalled appellant’s
hand being cut and bleeding.
Code ? 18.2-51 provides: "If any person maliciously shoot,
stab, cut, or wound any
person or by any means cause him bodily injury, with the intent
to maim, disfigure, disable, or
kill, he shall, except where it is otherwise provided, be guilty
of a Class 3 felony."
"Circumstantial evidence is as competent and is entitled to
as much weight as direct evidence,
provided it is sufficiently convincing to exclude every
reasonable hypothesis except that of
guilt." Coleman v. Commonwealth, 226 Va. 31, 53, 307 S.E.2d
864, 876 (1983). However, the
Commonwealth is required to exclude only such reasonable
"hypothesis . . . that . . . ‘flow[s]
from the evidence itself, and not from the imagination of
defendant’s counsel.’" Tyler v.
Commonwealth, 254 Va. 162, 166, 487 S.E.2d 221, 223 (1997)
(citation omitted). The fact
finder is permitted to draw reasonable and justified inferences
from proven facts, including the
inference "that a person intends the immediate, direct, and
necessary consequences of his
voluntary acts." Moody v. Commonwealth, 28 Va. App. 702,
706-07, 508 S.E.2d 354, 356
(1998). "‘[W]hether the required intent exists is
generally a question for the trier of fact.’"
Crawley v. Commonwealth, 25 Va. App. 768, 773, 492 S.E.2d 503,
505 (1997) (citation
"‘Malice is evidenced either when the accused acted with
a sedate, deliberate mind, and
formed design, or committed any purposeful and cruel act without
any or without great
provocation.’" Luck v. Commonwealth, 32 Va. App. 827,
833, 531 S.E.2d 41, 44 (2000)
(citation omitted). "‘Malice inheres in the doing of a
wrongful act intentionally, or without just
cause or excuse, or as a result of ill will[,]’" Long v.
Commonwealth, 8 Va. App. 194, 198, 379
S.E.2d 473, 475 (1989) (citation omitted), and "may be
inferred ‘from the deliberate use of a
deadly weapon,’" Doss v. Commonwealth, 23 Va. App. 679,
686, 479 S.E.2d 92, 96 (1996)
(citation omitted). Similarly, use of a deadly weapon may
support an inference of intent to
maim, disfigure or kill, when attended by circumstances
otherwise suggestive of such intent.
Vaughn v. Commonwealth, 34 Va. App. 263, 268, 540 S.E.2d 516,
In this case, the trier of fact did not accept the testimony of
the appellant and her
witnesses that King and Harmon were the aggressors and attacked
them. "The credibility of the
witnesses and the weight accorded the evidence are matters
solely for the fact finder who has the
opportunity to see and hear that evidence as it is
presented." Sandoval v. Commonwealth, 20
Va. App. 133, 138, 455 S.E.2d 730, 732 (1995). The trier of fact
is not required to believe all
aspects of a witness’ statement or testimony. Rather, it may
reject that which it finds
implausible, and accept other parts that it finds believable.
Durham v. Commonwealth, 214 Va.
166, 169, 198 S.E.2d 603, 606 (1973). Furthermore, a defendant’s
exculpatory account may be
treated, by inference, as an attempt to conceal guilt. See
Marable v. Commonwealth, 27
Va. App. 505, 509-10, 500 S.E.2d 233, 235 (1998).
The fact finder relied on circumstantial evidence to find
appellant guilty of maiming.
That evidence included appellant’s admission that she fought
with King while her friend,
Woodson, fought with Harmon, appellant’s comment to King
explaining why she attacked King,
King’s testimony that appellant was in front of her when she
felt a sharp pain, Woodson’s
testimony that she fought with Harmon while appellant fought
with King in the parking lot, and
Woodson’s observation of blood on appellant’s hand. The
Commonwealth’s evidence was
competent, was not inherently incredible and was sufficient to
prove beyond a reasonable doubt
that appellant was guilty of maiming. Accordingly, we affirm.
Code ? 17.1-413, this opinion is not designated for publication.