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Renn v. State

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

November 16, 2016

CHRIS RENN, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF DUNKLIN COUNTY Honorable Benjamin F. Lewis, Judge

         AFFIRMED

          OPINION

          WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., J.

         Chris Renn ("Renn") appeals from the judgment of the motion court denying his amended Rule 29.15[1] motion, without an evidentiary hearing, to set aside his conviction of the unclassified felony of statutory sodomy in the first degree. Renn challenges the judgment of the motion court in one point on appeal. Finding no merit to Renn's point, we affirm the judgment of the motion court.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         We set forth only those facts necessary to complete our review. In doing so, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the motion court's judgment. McCauley v. State, 380 S.W.3d 657, 659 (Mo.App. S.D. 2012).

         On August 31, 2009, a probable cause statement was filed. On February 24, 2010, Renn was charged by information with one count of statutory sodomy in the first degree for having deviate sexual intercourse with D.B., the twelve-year-old son of a friend.

         Renn's case was set for a jury trial on November 29, 2010. A motion hearing was set on October 18, 2010. Prior to the motion hearing, Renn, his attorney, and the State entered into and signed a two-page agreement[2] wherein Renn agreed to waive jury trial, take a polygraph exam, and if he failed the exam, plead guilty and accept a ten-year sentence. However, if Renn passed the polygraph exam, the State would dismiss the case. The parties then appeared before the trial court and the case was set for a bench trial on November 29, 2010.

         Renn failed the polygraph exam. He did not plead guilty, but instead moved for a jury trial. The State opposed this and filed the October 18, 2010 agreement with the trial court. The trial court denied Renn's motion for a jury trial, and set a new bench trial date. Renn filed three more motions attempting to withdraw, quash, or otherwise negate his jury trial waiver. All of these attempts were unsuccessful. Ultimately, following a bench trial, Renn was convicted of first-degree statutory sodomy, and was sentenced to twenty years' in the Department of Corrections.

         Renn appealed his conviction and sentence, asserting that he "never validly waived his right to jury trial in open court or on the record." State v. Renn, 453 S.W.3d 276, 277 (Mo.App. S.D. 2014). This Court found no plain error by the trial court, and affirmed Renn's conviction and sentence. Id. at 278. Mandate was issued on February 4, 2015.

         On March 2, 2015, Renn timely filed a pro se Rule 29.15 motion. On March 23, 2015, the motion court denied the motion as untimely filed. A public defender entered an appearance on behalf of Renn on March 31, 2015. The same day, counsel for Renn filed a motion to reconsider the dismissal and, on April 16, 2015, the motion court reinstated the case and granted a thirty-day extension to file an amended motion. On June 29, 2015, Renn timely filed his amended motion.[3]

         Renn's motion asserted that "trial counsel was ineffective for failing to obtain [Renn]'s informed consent for his waiver of his right to a jury trial[.]" More specifically, Renn asserted that trial counsel

incorrectly advis[ed] [Renn] that, in addition to the written agreement with the prosecutor, [Renn] would have an oral agreement with the prosecutor that, should the state's examiner determine him to be deceptive, the prosecutor would turn over an audio-video recording of the polygraph exam, the charges from the exam, and the exam report generated by the state's polygraph examiner.

         Renn contended that, in fact, "[n]o such [oral] agreement existed[, ]" and "[t]he polygraph examination was not video or audio taped." Renn asserted further that "trial counsel told [Renn] that they could hire an independent polygraph examiner, who could use the audio-video recording of the polygraph examination, the charts, and the exam report to refute the state's examiner's opinion, to restore his right to jury trial, and possibly get the case dismissed." Renn contends he was prejudiced because, ...


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