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State v. Williams

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division

November 22, 2016

STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent,
v.
CLIFFORD L. WILLIAMS, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri The Honorable James F. Kanatzar, Judge

          Before Mark D. Pfeiffer, Chief Judge, and Karen King Mitchell and Gary D. Witt, Judges

          OPINION

          Mark D. Pfeiffer, Chief Judge

         Mr. Clifford L. Williams ("Williams") appeals the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri's ("trial court") denial of his motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History[1]

         On March 24, 2012, Jimmy Dean Crawford ("Crawford") and Williams were drinking together at the Calico Cat bar and restaurant. Crawford asked Williams for a ride home in Williams's pickup truck, since they lived two blocks from each other. On the way home, Williams stopped at a QuikTrip, and Crawford went in to purchase several items. As they were leaving the QuikTrip in Williams's truck, Williams collided with another vehicle. Crawford asked Williams if Williams needed him to stay on the scene; Williams said "no, " and Crawford left the scene because he was on parole for driving while intoxicated and drinking alcohol was a violation of the terms of his parole.

         Sergeant Mike Buffalow, a patrol officer with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, was working at the QuikTrip as off-duty security. His shift ended at 2:00 a.m. At 1:50 or 1:55 a.m., he was standing inside the door of the store watching the parking lot. He witnessed the collision in the parking lot. Sergeant Buffalow immediately exited the store and approached the pickup truck. The driver's door was open, and the sergeant noticed the individual in the driver's seat (Williams) was slumped over to the right of the steering wheel. Williams was the only person in the truck. The sergeant noticed another man (later determined to be Crawford) walking away from the scene.

         When Sergeant Buffalow made contact with Williams, he detected a strong odor of alcohol, and Williams's speech was mumbling and incoherent. The sergeant instructed Williams to place the truck in park, turn off the ignition, and exit the vehicle. When Williams got out of the truck, he had to steady himself using the open door and side of the truck. The sergeant asked Williams for his driver's license, and Williams began moving his hands around his upper body as though he was searching his pockets. Williams had difficulty maintaining an upright position without swaying. Williams did not produce his license. Sergeant Buffalow later confirmed that Williams's driving privileges had been revoked.

         Sergeant Buffalow asked Williams if he would submit to a series of field sobriety tests, to which Williams agreed. The results of the field sobriety testing were that Williams exhibited numerous signs of alcohol impairment and, subsequently, Williams was placed under arrest for driving while intoxicated ("DWI"). After Williams was taken to the police department, the sergeant read Williams the implied consent law on the Alcohol Influence Report. Williams refused to take the breathalyzer test.

         Williams was charged with the class B felony of DWI as a chronic offender, the class D felony of driving while revoked ("DWR"), and the class C felony of possession of a controlled substance.[2] Two witnesses testified for the State at trial: Sergeant Buffalow and Crawford. Williams did not testify or present any evidence. On March 25, 2014, a jury found Williams guilty as charged. He was subsequently sentenced to ten years' imprisonment on the DWI offense and three years' imprisonment on the DWR offense, to be served concurrently. Williams appealed, and this court held that Williams's sentence was imposed on the mistaken belief that Williams was subject to a minimum term of ten years' imprisonment. State v. Williams, 465 S.W.3d 516, 520 (Mo. App. W.D. 2015). We reversed Williams's sentence and remanded the matter to the trial court for resentencing. Id. at 520-21.

         Upon remand, Williams filed a Rule 29.11 motion for new trial on September 21, 2015. The motion alleged newly discovered evidence of actual innocence. This evidence allegedly would "strongly suggest[ ]" that Williams was not operating the motor vehicle on the evening of March 24, 2012, and that, instead, Crawford was the driver. This evidence did not include any evidence of a recantation by Crawford, nor any forensic evidence suggesting that it was not possible for Williams to have been the driver. Instead, the evidence consisted of witness statements from Williams's sister and some of his neighbors that Williams had known for years. The gist of the evidence was that Crawford had allegedly made statements implicating himself as the driver (instead of Williams) and the witnesses had other knowledge to impeach and otherwise discredit Crawford's trial testimony.

         On October 16, 2015, the trial court held a hearing regarding Williams's resentencing, as well as his motion for new trial. The trial court concluded that Williams's motion for new trial was untimely, had thus presented nothing for review, could not be considered by the trial court, and was thus denied. The trial court did, however, permit the defense to present witnesses "for dual purposes, one being an offer of proof as it pertains to the denial of your motion for new trial as untimely[, ] and two as evidence that you want the Court to consider as it pertains to sentencing."

         After hearing the evidence and the argument of counsel, the trial court entered judgment, again sentencing Williams to ten years' imprisonment on the DWI offense and three years' ...


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