Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, First Division
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF HOWELL COUNTY. Honorable David P. Evans, Circuit Judge.
For Appellant: Scott Thompson, of St. Louis, Missouri.
For Respondent: Chris Koster, Attorney General and Andrew C. Hooper, Assistant Attorney General, of Jefferson City, Missouri.
WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., C.J./P.J. - OPINION AUTHOR. JEFFREY W. BATES, J. - CONCURS. DANIEL E. SCOTT, J. - CONCURS.
WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., C.J./P.J.
Annette Cross (" Cross" ) appeals from the judgment of the motion court denying her amended Rule 24.035 motion to set aside her convictions for committing the crimes of murder, armed criminal action, and arson. Because the motion court's decision to deny relief after an evidentiary hearing was not clearly erroneous, we affirm.
Factual and Procedural Background
On November 24, 2009, Cross was charged by information with the class A felony of murder in the first degree (Count I), the class A felony of arson in the first degree (Count II), and armed criminal action (Count III). It was alleged that Cross had conspired with her brother,
mother, and a friend to murder A.D., the father of two of Cross's children.
On March 2, 2012, Cross signed a " Petition to Enter Plea of Guilty," pursuant to an agreement with the State. In that document, Cross stated, inter alia, that: (1) in exchange for the State's sentencing recommendations of 25 years each for second-degree murder and armed criminal action, to run consecutively, and 7 years for second-degree arson, Cross would plead guilty to those charges; (2) she had read the information and discussed the charges with her attorney; (3) counsel had explained the nature of the charges; (4) Cross understood the charges; (5) counsel advised Cross of all lesser-included offenses and all possible defenses; (6) she was satisfied with her legal representation; (7) she admitted that she " committed the crimes of murder 2nd, ACA and arson 2nd" ; (8) she was pleading guilty because she was guilty; and (9) her guilty pleas were made freely and voluntarily and with a full understanding of all the matters in the information. In addition, Cross stated that, " Neither I, nor any of my friends or loved ones, has been mistreated, threatened, coerced, or forced in any manner by anyone to get me to plead guilty . . . ."
At the plea hearing on the same date, Cross admitted to the plea court that she understood and agreed to the admissions contained in her plea agreement; specifically, she was pleading guilty to all three charges of her own free will, no one had forced her to plead guilty, she did not need any more time to think about her pleas or confer with counsel, and was waiving her right to a sentencing report.
The State recited substantial evidence against Cross that would be used by the State should the matter go to trial, which Cross testified was substantially true and correct. After the plea court concluded its examination, Cross again confirmed she wished to plead guilty to all three charges, and that she was competent and capable of making the decision to plead guilty. The plea court accepted Cross's pleas after finding there was sufficient factual bases for the pleas, and that the pleas had been voluntarily, freely, and intelligently made. Cross was then sentenced to 25 years for Counts I and II, ...