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Bell v. State

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division

September 6, 2016

JERRELL J. BELL, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Louis County 13SL-CC02474, Honorable Colleen Dolan

          Lisa P. Page, Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Jerrell J. Bell ("Defendant") appeals from the denial of his Rule 24.035 motion for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         On January 25, 2011, Reginald Gillespie and Jerome Streeter were standing near the corner of Shepley Drive and Lilac Drive in St. Louis County. Defendant shot at Mr. Gillespie, intending to hit him, but missed. Instead, the bullet hit Mr. Streeter, seriously injuring him.

         Defendant was charged with one count of felony assault in the first degree, as a class A felony, and one count of armed criminal action. On November 2, 2011, attorney Christine Goulet ("Plea Counsel") entered her appearance on behalf of Defendant.

          On April 11, 2013, Defendant appeared in court with Plea Counsel and pleaded guilty- pursuant to a plea agreement-to the felony assault charge.[1] During the hearing, the court found no probable cause to indicate that Plea Counsel was ineffective. Defendant received a twelve year sentence.

         Defendant timely filed both his pro se and amended motion for post-conviction relief per Rule 24.035, [2] which the court denied without an evidentiary hearing.

         This appeal follows.

         DISCUSSION

         Defendant submits two points on appeal, asserting in each that the motion court clearly erred in denying his motion for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing, thereby depriving him of his right to due process of law and effective assistance of counsel as guaranteed by the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Article I, sections 10 and 18(a) of the Missouri Constitution, as well as his right to be free of cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Specifically, Defendant contends that (I) the trial court clearly erred in accepting Defendant's guilty plea on the class A felony without a sufficient factual basis, and (II) Plea Counsel was ineffective in brokering and recommending the plea deal containing the class A felony, and but for Plea Counsel's acts, the results of his proceedings would have been different.

          Point I - No Clear Error by Trial Court in Accepting Defendant's Guilty Plea

         Defendant first contends that the trial court clearly erred in accepting Defendant's guilty plea on the class A felony without a sufficient factual basis. We disagree.

         Standard of Review

         Appellate review of the denial of a Rule 24.035 motion is limited to determining whether the trial court's findings and conclusions are clearly erroneous. See Rule 24.035(k). The motion court's findings and conclusions will be deemed clearly erroneous only if a review of the entire record leaves this court with the definite and firm impression that a mistake has been made. Chipman v. State, 274 S.W.3d 468, 471 (Mo. App. S.D. 2008); see also Weeks v. State, 140 S.W.3d 39, 44 (Mo. banc 2004). Defendant's burden is by a preponderance of the evidence. Roberts v. State, 276 S.W.3d 833, 835 (Mo. banc 2009). Appellate review in ...


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