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Bridgewater v. State

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District

January 13, 2015


Page 431

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Vernon County, Missouri. The Honorable Gerald D. McBeth , Judge.

Adam D. Bridgewater, Appellant Pro se.

Robert J. Bartholomew Jr., Jefferson City, MO, for respondent.

Before Division Three: Lisa White Hardwick, Presiding Judge, Mark D. Pfeiffer, Judge and Cynthia L. Martin, Judge.


Cynthia L. Martin, Judge

Page 432

Adam Bridgewater (" Bridgewater" ) filed a motion to recall mandate on October 24, 2014 (" Motion" ). An exhibit attached to the Motion was missing from trial counsel's file at the time of Bridgewater's Rule 24.035 hearing and is material to his claim of ineffective assistance which alleged that trial counsel affirmatively misrepresented that Bridgewater would receive a single life sentence[1] if he pleaded guilty. The motion court's judgment denying the claim of ineffective assistance of counsel relied exclusively on a credibility determination favoring trial counsel's testimony that appears to be inconsistent with the exhibit attached to the Motion. And Bridgewater's guilty plea hearing does not plainly refute his claim of prejudicial reliance on trial counsel's affirmative representation. We therefore recall our mandate issued November 20, 2013; withdraw our order/memorandum dated September 10, 2013; vacate the motion court's judgment in the Rule 24.035 proceeding; and remand this matter to the motion court for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

Factual and Procedural Summary

Bridgewater was charged as a prior offender with four counts of the class A felony of assault of a law enforcement officer in the first degree in violation of section 565.081[2] and four associated counts of armed criminal action in violation of section 571.015. The information alleged that, on or about March 16, 2007, Bridgewater knowingly fired a gun at Officer Dan Cook, a Neosho police car driven by Officer Mike Sharp, and a Highway Patrol car driven by Trooper Grant Hendrix. Bridgewater was twenty years old at the time of the offense.

On September 24, 2008, Bridgewater pleaded guilty to three counts of assault of a law enforcement officer and the three associated counts of armed criminal action. The written plea petition reflected Bridgewater's agreement that:

3. I received a copy of the information (charge against me). I read the information and have discussed it with my attorney. My attorney explained every charge to me and I understand that I am charged with 4 counts of 1st degree assault on law enforcement officer & 4 counts armed criminal action. I understand the nature of the charge against me and my lawyer informed me that the range of punishment which the law provides is 10 to 30 or life on the assaults and minimum 3, no maximum on armed criminal action.

(Emphasized material is handwritten on document). The written plea agreement reflected Bridgewater's understanding that the State would, in exchange for his plea, dismiss " Counts VII & VIII," (the fourth charge of assault of a law enforcement officer and its associated armed criminal action charge), and other pending but unrelated traffic and criminal charges except an arson charge. The written plea agreement expressed Bridgewater's understanding

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that " [a]ny sentence received on the arson charge would be designated to run concurrent."

A guilty plea hearing for the assault and armed criminal action charges was conducted on September 24, 2008. During this hearing, Bridgewater testified that he had seen a copy of the amended information and that he understood the charges against him. Bridgewater testified that he understood that as to " each count of first degree assault on a law enforcement officer, the range of punishment is minimum of 10, maximum of 30, or life." Bridgewater also testified that he understood that as to " each count of armed criminal action, the minimum sentence is three years and the maximum sentence is not set forth in the statute, and therefore there is no maximum." Bridgewater was not asked by trial counsel or the plea court whether he understood that the sentences on each of these six counts could be made to run consecutively.[3]

The trial court found that Bridgewater's pleas were voluntarily and intelligently given with a full understanding of his rights and the effect of his guilty pleas on those rights. After finding that there was a factual basis for the guilty pleas, the trial court accepted Bridgewater's guilty pleas and ordered a Sentencing Assessment Report.

The trial court held a sentencing hearing on January 2, 2009.[4] The officers assaulted by Bridgewater and other witnesses testified. Following the evidence, the State argued that the sentencing court should give Bridgewater " whatever number [of life sentences] the court thinks is justified . . . [and] run everything consecutive." Bridgewater's trial counsel asked the court to follow the Sentencing Assessment

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Report which recommended either ten years or fourteen years in prison.

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, the trial court imposed six life sentences on Bridgewater. The trial court ordered that each life sentence for armed criminal action would run concurrently with the related life sentence for assault of a law enforcement office, and that the three life sentences for assault of a law enforcement officer would run consecutively. As a result, Bridgewater is serving three consecutive life sentences.

Immediately after announcing sentence, Bridgewater was asked by the trial court:

Q: Other than discussing this--the plea of guilty with you, did your attorney communicate any threats or promises to you to induce you to enter your plea of guilty?
A: No, sir.
Q: Are you satisfied with the services rendered to you by [trial counsel] and --and the public defender's office?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: Is there anything you wish to add concerning the--the assistance received from ...

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