Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis. Honorable Thomas J. Frawley.
FOR APPELLANT: Robert W. Lundt, Assistant Public Defender, Office of the Missouri Public Defender, St. Louis, Missouri.
FOR RESPONDENT: Chris Koster, Attorney General, Daniel McPherson, Assistant Attorney General, Jefferson City, Missouri.
Kurt S. Odenwald, Presiding Judge. Robert G. Dowd, Jr., J., Concurs. Gary M. Gaertner, Jr., J., Concurs.
Kurt S. Odenwald, Presiding Judge
Appellant Frederick Barnes (" Barnes" ) appeals from the judgment of the motion court denying his Rule 29.15
motion for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. A jury
convicted Barnes of one count of murder in the first degree, and the trial court
sentenced Barnes to life in prison without the possibility of probation or
parole. This Court affirmed Barnes's conviction and sentence on direct appeal in
State v. Barnes, 384 S.W.3d 298 (Mo. App. E.D. 2012). Barnes then timely filed a rule Rule 29.15 motion for post-conviction relief alleging, inter alia, that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise on direct appeal that the trial court improperly applied Batson and its progeny when it ruled that two of Barnes's
peremptory strikes were racially motivated and returned the veniremembers to the venire panel. The motion court denied Barnes's motion without an evidentiary hearing. Because Barnes's Rule 29.15 motion failed to allege facts which, if true, would warrant relief, we affirm the judgment of the motion court.
Factual and Procedural Background
Barnes was charged with murder in the first degree and twelve other charges for an incident occurring on September 29, 2007. When the State of Missouri (" State" ) filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty on the murder charge, Barnes moved to have the murder charge tried separately pursuant to Section 565.004. The trial court granted Barnes's motion and proceeded to trial on the murder charge separately.
Voir dire was conducted in two stages. Punishment voir dire, commonly called " death qualification," was conducted first, followed by standard voir dire. Prior to the start of punishment voir dire, the trial court divided the venire panel into nine groups and directed each veniremember to fill out a questionnaire to assist in the voir dire process. Both the State and defense counsel then asked questions designed to determine the ability of the veniremembers to consider both available sentencing options -- the death penalty and life without parole -- in the event that the jury returned a verdict of guilty of first-degree murder. Standard voir dire examination of the entire venire panel followed punishment voir dire, and the parties then proffered their strikes for cause and peremptory strikes.
The State lodged a Batson challenge to all nine of Barnes's peremptory strikes on the ground that all of the stricken veniremembers were Caucasian. After hearing argument from defense counsel that the veniremembers were struck due to their support for the death penalty, the trial court granted the Batson challenge as to two of the veniremembers and returned them to the venire panel. Defense counsel objected to the trial court's ruling, explaining that the ...