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Murray v. State

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division

February 28, 2017

LANCE MURRAY, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis 1522-CC11159 Honorable Robert H. Dierker, Jr.

          Lisa P. Page, Judge.

         Lance Murray ("Movant") appeals from the denial of his Rule 29.15 post-conviction relief motion without an evidentiary hearing. We affirm.

         BACKGROUND

         On December 15, 2012 at approximately 2:00 p.m., a male suspect entered the White Castle located on Herbert Avenue in the City of St. Louis. The male suspect jumped over the counter and pointed his gun at a White Castle employee. He demanded money from the cash register, and the White Castle employee complied. The suspect fled the scene in a purple van. The entire robbery-which lasted just a few minutes-was recorded by the White Castle's surveillance system.

         The police were summoned to the scene of the crime and conducted an investigation. Detective Thomas Meyer ("Detective Meyer") reviewed the surveillance footage and discovered the suspect was wearing dark clothing, distinctive shoes, and a bandana covered his face below the eyes. Detective Meyer also interviewed several of the White Castle employees who were present during the robbery. Victoria Tanksley ("Tanksley"), a White Castle employee, witnessed the robbery from a just a few feet away and saw the suspect's eyes and forehead.

         That same afternoon, shortly after the robbery and in a nearby neighborhood, Ashley Burnett ("Burnett") saw a man park a purple van in the middle of her street and get into a gray, four-door car. Upon witnessing this unusual behavior, Burnett called the police. Burnett informed the police that she recognized the man as someone who worked at a nearby business.

         Detective Meyer proceeded to Burnett's street and upon arrival found the gray, four-door car matching Burnett's description. As Detective Meyer approached the vehicle, the male suspect exited. Detective Meyer recognized the suspect was wearing the same distinctive shoes as appeared on the White Castle surveillance footage. Detective Meyer arrested the suspect- Movant-for the robbery of the White Castle, and found $102 in Movant's pocket.

         Upon arriving at the police station, Detective Meyer informed Movant that there was surveillance footage depicting his face, and that he was preparing a photographic line-up to show to witnesses. Movant immediately retorted: "This is bullsh*t. I want to go to court tonight. They couldn't see my face. I had it covered."

         Detective Meyer prepared a six-person photographic lineup to show both Burnett and Tanksley. The photographic lineup was comprised of Movant's photograph and photographs of people with similar characteristics. Before presenting the photographic lineup individually to Burnett and Tanksley, Detective Meyer informed both witnesses that the suspect may or may not be in the lineup, and that they were not obligated to pick anyone. Tanksley identified Movant as the man who had robbed the White Castle both in the photographic lineup and in court, stating that she recognized him because of his distinctive forehead. Similarly, Burnett identified Movant in the photographic lineup and in court as the man whom she saw park and exit the purple van and then enter the gray, four-door car on her street.

         At trial, Detective Meyer testified that he believed Movant was the robber at the time he presented said lineups, and that it was possible he could have subconsciously given some signal to either witness to choose Movant's photograph. However, Detective Meyer also testified that he did not provide any explicit indication to Burnett or Tanksley who they should choose from the photographic lineup.

         After a jury trial, Movant was convicted and sentenced, as a prior and persistent offender, for first degree robbery, armed criminal action, and tampering with a motor vehicle. Movant unsuccessfully appealed his convictions, this court's mandate being issued on October 9, 2015. See, generally, State v. Murray, 469 S.W.3d 921 (Mo. App. E.D. 2015).

         Movant timely filed his pro se motion for post-conviction relief. The motion court then denied Movant's motion on April 26, 2016 without ...


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