STEWART R. HOPKINS, Appellant,
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent.
from The Circuit Court of Taney County The Honorable Laura J.
W. DRAPER III, JUDGE.
Hopkins (hereinafter, "Movant") appeals from a
judgment overruling his Rule 29.15 motion for post-conviction
relief without an evidentiary hearing. As in State v. Creighton, No.
SC95527, ___S.W.3d ___(Mo. banc April 25, 2017), the
threshold issue is whether the motion court appointed counsel
and triggered the Rule 29.15(g) timelines for filing an
amended motion by notifying the public defender that Movant
filed a pro se motion. Consistent with
Creighton, this Court holds the notification was not
an appointment. Movant's amended motion was timely
because it was filed within the applicable time period
following counsel's entry of appearance.
Court further holds the motion court did not clearly err in
denying relief on Movant's claim that counsel was
ineffective for failing to object to the introduction into
evidence of telephone calls recorded while Movant was
incarcerated. The judgment is affirmed.
convicted Movant of murder in the first degree and armed
criminal action for killing his ex-wife (hereinafter,
"Victim"). The circuit court sentenced Movant to
concurrent terms of life imprisonment without the possibility
of parole for murder and twenty-five years for armed criminal
action. Movant's convictions and sentences were affirmed
on direct appeal. State v. Hopkins, No. SD32486 (Mo.
App. S.D. May 5, 2014).
in the light most favorable to the jury's verdicts, the
evidence at trial showed that Movant and Victim engaged in an
argument in a motel room. During the argument, Movant called
another of his ex-wives. Movant spoke to that ex-wife's
boyfriend and, when told she was unavailable, stated that he
had killed Victim.
next morning, a motel housekeeper found Victim's body on
the floor of the motel room. The housekeeper called the motel
manager, who called 911. The manager and the housekeeper
observed Victim lying on the floor, on her back, in a puddle
of blood with a cut across her neck. Police and emergency
personnel arrived and confirmed Victim was deceased. An
autopsy concluded that Victim sustained twenty sharp injury
was arrested in a motel room in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During a
police interrogation, Movant disclosed the details of how he
killed Victim. According to Movant, he and Victim began
arguing. Victim slashed at Movant with a knife. Movant
responded by slashing at Victim with his own knife. Movant
then took Victim's knife and threw it into the parking
lot. Movant stated everything after that point was a
"cloudy area, " but he proceeded to describe how he
stabbed Victim in the throat. Movant then described
Victim's appearance after she died.
was also DNA evidence linking Movant to Victim's murder.
A mixture of Movant's blood and Victim's blood was on
the handle of Movant's knife. Only Victim's blood was
on the blade.
the jury heard recordings of three telephone calls Movant
made from jail. In the first phone call, Movant said that he
took the knife away from Victim, threw it in the parking lot,
and then drew his knife because he "had to kill
her." Movant also stated he wanted to be transferred to
a different correctional center. In the second call, Movant
said he would plead self-defense because Victim had her knife
and "got me first." In the third call, Movant said
that he could not wait to get out of jail and back to the
department of corrections. Movant also said he was not going
to take his case to trial.
his convictions and unsuccessful direct appeal, Movant filed
a timely pro se motion for post-conviction relief on
July 16, 2014. On August 18, 2014, the motion court entered
an "Order of Notification" stating:
The Court orders the Circuit Clerk to notify the Central
Appellate Division for the State Public Defender of the
filing of this 24.035 [sic] action and to provide the State
Public Defender with a copy of Movant's Form 40.
The Circuit Clerk is ordered to furnish to the State Public
Defender any and all pleadings from this file or the
underlying criminal case that the ...