Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Third Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Washington County. Honorable Kenneth W. Pratte.
FOR APPELLANT: Amy M. Bartholow, Assistant Public Defender, Office of the Missouri Public Defender, Columbia, Missouri.
FOR RESPONDENT: Chris Koster, Attorney General, Robert J. Bartholomew, 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 Floyd Snow (" Snow" ) appeals from the judgment of the motion court denying his Rule 24.035 motion for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. Snow avers that the motion court clearly erred in denying his Rule 24.035 motion because there was an insufficient factual basis to support his guilty plea for hindering prosecution. Because the record fails to demonstrate that Snow's conduct fell within the charge of hindering prosecution, the motion court clearly erred in finding a factual basis for Snow's guilty plea. Accordingly, we reverse the motion court's judgment denying Snow's motion for post-conviction relief and remand the case with instructions to the motion court to set aside Snow's guilty plea and vacate his conviction and sentence for hindering prosecution.
Factual and Procedural Background
On June 25, 2009, Snow was involved in a physical altercation with a man named James Quinn (" Quinn" ). Quinn attacked Snow with a knife and tried to stab him. Snow reacted by hitting Quinn with a wrench. Quinn was injured in the altercation, so Snow went to his landlord's house and asked him to call the police. As a result of Snow's actions following this altercation, the State of Missouri (" State" ) charged Snow by Amended Information with four felonies: two counts of tampering with physical evidence (Counts I and
III); one count of making a false report (Count II); and one count of hindering prosecution (Count IV).
Pursuant to a plea agreement with the State, Snow pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with physical evidence and to the count of hindering prosecution. At the plea hearing, the plea court announced the essential elements of the charges to which Snow was pleading guilty as follows:
Count III, that you did on or about June 25, 2009, in the County of Washington, State of Missouri, you destroyed, suppressed, or concealed a wrench used to hit James Quinn repeatedly with the purpose to impair its availability in an attempted murder investigation, an official investigation, and thereby impaired and obstructed the prosecution of James Quinn for the crime of attempted murder, a felony.
Count IV, the essential elements of the charge are: That you did on or about June 25, 2009, in the County of Washington, State of Missouri, for the purpose of preventing the apprehension of James Quinn for conduct constituting the crime of attempted murder, prevented or obstructed, by means of deception, Jennifer Ernst, a law enforcement officer, from performing an act that might aid in the apprehension of James Quinn, by manipulating the crime scene to make it appear as a burglary instead of an attempted murder.
Snow affirmed that he understood and admitted all the essential elements of the charges. After stating the range of punishment for each offense, the plea court then inquired as to the factual basis supporting the guilty pleas as follows:
Q. Mr. Snow, Count III, the charge of tampering with physical evidence, tell me what you did on or about June 23, 2009, which led to this charge filed against you.
A: Yeah. Ricky Blake and James Quinn, who I didn't know at the time, they knocked on my door at approximately 2:00 and said the car broke down at the end of my driveway, I tried to help them with the car. To make a long story short, I was asking them . . . Yeah, they said they needed help with their car, so myself and my kids went to try and help them with their car. Didn't appear to be anything wrong with it. They was asked to leave, and when they was asked to leave, they pulled a knife on me, and there was a physical altercation between me and them. Basically I ...