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Barnes v. State

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Fourth Division

December 27, 2016

FREDRICK A. BARNES, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri 1322-CC08864 Honorable Thomas J. Frawley.

          OPINION

          James M. Dowd Presiding Judge.

         Fredrick A. Barnes was convicted of first-degree murder and twelve other counts arising out of a night of horrific events that occurred on Brantner Place in the City of St. Louis on September 28, 2007. Barnes forced a female victim to perform oral sex, raped her in front of her two-year-old child, killed her boyfriend, and set fire to the victims' apartment. Because the State did not waive the death penalty for the first-degree murder charge, Barnes was tried separately on that count.[1] A jury convicted Barnes of first-degree murder, and Barnes was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of probation or parole. Barnes's murder conviction was affirmed on appeal. See State v. Barnes, 384 S.W.3d 298 (Mo.App.E.D. 2012).

         Following Barnes's first-degree murder trial, Barnes waived his right to a jury trial on the remaining twelve charges and agreed to have those charges submitted to the court in a bench trial based upon the trial transcript from the murder trial. The waiver was made pursuant to an agreement with the State that Barnes's sentences would not exceed twenty-five years and any sentence would be ordered to run consecutively to the life sentence he received for the first-degree murder conviction.

         The trial court found Barnes guilty on all twelve charges, including first-degree assault, forcible rape, forcible sodomy, first-degree robbery, first-degree arson, first-degree endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree assault, and five counts of armed criminal action. Consistent with the agreement described above, the court issued numerous sentences for the twelve convictions but ordered those sentences to run concurrently to each other such that the maximum sentence Barnes received was twenty-five years which the court ordered to run consecutively to his life sentence for the first-degree murder charge. Barnes's convictions were affirmed on direct appeal. See State v. Barnes, 395 S.W.3d 43 (Mo.App.E.D. 2013).

         Barnes now appeals the denial without an evidentiary hearing of his Rule 29.15[2] motion for post-conviction relief. In his sole point on appeal, Barnes claims he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial attorneys pressured him and improperly induced him into waiving his right to a jury trial on the twelve charges he agreed to have tried by the court using the trial transcript from the first-degree murder jury trial. Finding no clear error, we affirm.

         Standard of Review

         Appellate review of the denial of a Rule 29.15 motion is limited to a determination of whether the motion court's findings, conclusions, and judgment are clearly erroneous. Anderson v. State, 196 S.W.3d 28, 33 (Mo.banc 2006). Findings and conclusions are clearly erroneous if after a review of the entire record we are left with the definite and firm impression that a mistake has been made. Id. We presume that the motion court's findings are correct. Id.

         Discussion

         A. The motion court did not clearly err in denying without an evidentiary hearing Barnes's claim of ineffective assistance of trial counsel.

         Barnes argues that he received ineffective assistance of counsel because his trial attorneys pressured him and improperly induced him into waiving his right to a jury trial and into agreeing to have the remaining charges in the case submitted to the trial court for a bench trial based on the trial transcript from Barnes's first-degree murder trial. Barnes contends that he was persuaded to waive his right to a jury trial because the trial court agreed to sentence him to no more than twenty-five years to run concurrently with his life sentence, but argues that the court did not comply with the agreement and instead sentenced him to twenty-five years and ordered that sentence to run consecutively to, and not concurrently with, his life sentence. The motion court denied Barnes's amended motion without an evidentiary hearing. Finding no clear error, we affirm.

         An evidentiary hearing is not required with every Rule 29.15 motion. See Rule 29.15(h). "To be entitled to an evidentiary hearing, a movant must: (1) allege facts, not conclusions, that, if true, would warrant relief; (2) these facts must raise matters not refuted by the record and files in the case; and (3) the matters complained of must have resulted in prejudice to the movant." Barnett v. State, 103 S.W.3d 765, 769 (Mo.banc 2003) (citing State v. Brooks, 960 S.W.2d 479, 497 (Mo.banc 1997)).

         To prove ineffective assistance of trial counsel, the movant must satisfy the following two-prong test from Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984): 1) that counsel's performance did not conform to the degree of skill and diligence of a reasonably competent attorney; and 2) that as a result thereof, the movant was prejudiced. Zink v. State, 278 S.W.3d 170, 175 (Mo.banc 2009). The movant must overcome a strong presumption that counsel's performance was reasonable and effective to meet the first prong. Id. at 176. To satisfy the second prong, the movant must show that there was a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's alleged errors, the outcome would have been different. Id. If either the performance or the prejudice prong is not met, then we need not consider the other and the claim of ineffective assistance must fail. State v. Simmons, 955 S.W.2d 729, 746 (Mo.banc 1997).

         Here, we find that Barnes has failed to meet both prongs of the Strickland test. As to the performance prong, the record refutes that Barnes was improperly pressured and induced into waiving his right to a jury trial. Barnes filed a written waiver of his right to a jury trial signed by him, his attorney, and the attorney for the State in which he specifically stated that it was his desire, after consulting with his attorneys, to have the remaining untried counts tried to the court without a jury using the trial transcript from the first-degree murder trial. Barnes acknowledged that he had a right to a jury trial unless he waived that right, and stated that it was his understanding that in exchange for the waiver, the State and the court would agree, that ...


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