Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. Honorable Steven R. Ohmer.
Roxanna A. Mason, St. Louis, MO, for appellant.
Chris Koster, Andrew C. Cooper, Jefferson City, MO, for respondent.
CLIFFORD H AHRENS, Judge. Roy L. Richter, P.J., concur. Glenn A. Norton, J., concur.
CLIFFORD H AHRENS, Judge
Ardell Fields (Movant) appeals from the judgment of the circuit court denying,
without an evidentiary hearing, his post-conviction motion for DNA testing. We reverse and remand for an evidentiary hearing.
In 1996, a jury convicted Movant of forcible rape, resisting arrest, and third-degree assault. The evidence supporting Movant's conviction primarily consisted of witness identifications and police testimony. Forensic evidence, including a rape kit and clothing, was collected at the scene but never tested for DNA. This court affirmed Movant's convictions on direct appeal as well as his motion for post-conviction relief under Rule 29.15.
State v. Fields, 948 S.W.2d 201 (Mo. App. E.D. 1997); Fields v. State, 991 S.W.2d 213 (Mo. App. E.D. 1999).
In 2012, Movant filed the present motion for DNA testing. As relevant here, Movant asserted that the forensic evidence in his case was not tested for his trial because DNA testing was still in its infancy in 1996 and the technology was not reasonably available to him at that time. The motion court denied relief without an evidentiary hearing. Movant appeals.
Standard of Review
This court reviews the denial of a post-conviction motion to determine whether the motion court's findings of fact and conclusions of law were clearly erroneous.
Weeks v. State, 140 S.W.3d 39, 44 (Mo. 2004). The motion court's findings and conclusions are clearly erroneous if, after review of the record, the appellate court is left with the definite and firm impression that a mistake has been made. Id. A movant is entitled to a hearing unless the court finds that the motion and the files and records of the case conclusively show that he is not entitled to relief. § 547.035.6. This Court reviews the motion court's determination that no hearing was required for clear error. Weeks at 44.
Section 547.035 provides for DNA testing for any person " in the custody of the department of corrections claiming that forensic DNA testing will demonstrate the person's innocence of the crime for which the person is in custody." Id. To succeed on the ...