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Christian v. State

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division

March 3, 2015

RYAN C. CHRISTIAN, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County. The Honorable Peggy Stevens McGraw, Judge.

Ellen H. Flottman, Columbia, MO, for appellant.

Daniel N. McPherson, Jefferson City, MO, for respondent.

Before Division Four: Alok Ahuja, C.J., and Karen King Mitchell and Cynthia L. Martin, JJ.

OPINION

Alok Ahuja, Chief Judge

Page 524

Following his convictions of multiple counts of assault and armed criminal action, Ryan Christian filed a motion for post-conviction relief under Supreme Court Rule 29.15. The motion alleged that Christian's trial counsel was ineffective for failing to ask prospective jurors during voir dire whether they would consider Christian's prior felony convictions as evidence of his guilt. The circuit court found

Page 525

that Christian's trial counsel was ineffective for failing to conduct this inquiry. The court concluded, however, that Christian had failed to prove that he had been prejudiced by counsel's ineffectiveness, and denied Christian post-conviction relief. Christian appeals. We affirm.

Factual Background

In October 2008, Christian was involved in a violent altercation with five undercover Kansas City Police Department detectives, during which he shot at the officers multiple times. Given the nature of the issue Christian raises on appeal, it is unnecessary to describe in detail the facts surrounding the underlying offenses.

Christian was charged with five counts of assault of a law enforcement officer in the first degree, in violation of § 565.081.1, RSMo, and five associated counts of armed criminal action. The case was tried to a jury. Christian testified in his own defense, claiming that he shot at the officers because he did not realize that they were police officers, but instead believed they were members of a rival gang attempting to murder him. During his direct examination, Christian acknowledged that he had previously been convicted of first-degree assault and armed criminal action.

The jury found Christian guilty of four counts of first-degree assault, one count of second-degree assault, and five counts of armed criminal action. He was sentenced as a prior offender to a total of thirty years in prison. We affirmed his convictions on direct appeal. State v. Christian, 347 S.W.3d 548 (Mo. App. W.D. 2011) ( mem.).

Christian filed a pro se post-conviction relief motion pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 29.15. His appointed counsel later filed an amended motion. As relevant here, the amended motion alleged that trial counsel was ineffective for failing to question prospective jurors whether Christian's prior felony convictions would ...


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