United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, St. Joseph Division
AMENDED ORDER AND OPINION (1) DENYING PETITION FOR
WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS, (2) DENYING ISSUANCE OF CERTIFICATE OF
APPEALABILITY, AND (3) DISMISSING MATTER WITH
D. SMITH, SENIOR JUDGE
is Petitioner Veronica Michelle Davis's Petition for Writ
of Habeas Corpus filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254.
Doc. #1. For the following reasons, the Court denies the
Petition, and declines to issue a Certificate of
underlying facts were summarized by the Missouri Court of
At the time of trial, Defendant had three minor children, two
girls, C. and K., and one boy, J. (collectively, “the
children”). Near the end of 2005 or the beginning of
2006, the children were in State custody as Defendant was
hospitalized for a drug problem. While the children were in
State custody, Defendant began dating Nelson. In November
2006, Defendant told Sheena Petit (“Juvenile
Officer”) that Nelson was living in her home. Juvenile
Officer asked for Nelson's information so she could run a
background check on him. Nelson told Defendant he had been
accused of touching his step-daughter. The background check
conducted by Juvenile Officer confirmed Nelson was a
registered sex offender. Defendant “felt no need for
concern with it[, ]” but Juvenile Officer told
Defendant that Nelson could not have any contact with the
children while they were in State custody. Defendant told
Juvenile Officer she would comply with this requirement.
In May 2007, however, Juvenile Officer discovered Nelson was
having contact with the children when they were staying with
Defendant for weekend visits. Defendant's visits were
suspended for some time. Juvenile Officer had strong concerns
about the children, especially C., who was about the same age
as the victim in Nelson's previous sex offender case.
Nonetheless, the children were eventually returned to
Defendant on December 17, 2007.
Defendant married Nelson on January 1, 2008. In February
2008, Defendant filed a petition for an order of protection
from Nelson. In that petition, she described Nelson's
violence towards her. She stated Nelson was
“unpredictable” with her and the children. She
also stated “I'm afraid he will harm us.”
Sometime later, Juvenile Officer saw Defendant and C. at a
grocery store. Defendant leaned down to C., pointed to
Juvenile Officer and said “You don't ever tell this
In May 2008, Defendant was remanded to the Department of
Corrections on another case. In June 2008, Children's
Division received a referral indicating that upon her
incarceration, Defendant had left the children in
Nelson's care. A Children's Division investigator,
Jessica Tyrell (“Investigator”), and a
sheriff's deputy went to Nelson's residence to
investigate. Investigator informed Nelson she had received a
referral regarding his care of the children. Nelson advised
he had a power of attorney from Defendant and showed
Investigator a handwritten, notarized document in which
Defendant said she was giving custody of the children to
Nelson. Investigator explained the children had been placed
in protective custody and removed the children from the home.
After their removal, C. and K. made disclosures of sexual
abuse. C. and K. were interviewed at the Lakes Area Child
Advocacy Center. In one of those interviews, the interviewer
asked C. if she ever told anyone about the abuse. C. replied
she had told “you guys.” The interviewer then
asked if C. had ever told anyone else. C. said she had told
her mother, Defendant. C. also explained Defendant and Nelson
had a fight “because I told.” Nelson was
subsequently convicted of several sex offenses involving C.
Defendant was charged with two counts of first-degree
endangering the welfare of a child. At the time of trial, C.
was 10 years old, J. was 9 years old, and K. was 8 years old.
C. testified at trial. C. explained Nelson had touched her
inappropriately. C. said she did not tell Defendant that
Nelson was doing things to her that she did not like, because
Defendant told her not to tell her if something happened and
that Defendant would kill the children if C. told. The trial
court found Defendant guilty as charged. The trial court
sentenced her as a prior and persistent offender to two
concurrent terms of eight years['] incarceration.
Doc. #7-5, 4-6. Petitioner appealed her conviction to the
Missouri Court of Appeals, which affirmed the trial
court's judgment on September 16, 2013. Doc. #7-5, at
3-10; State v. Davis, 407 S.W.3d 721 (Mo.Ct.App.
2013). The Missouri Court of Appeals issued its mandate on
October 2, 2013. Doc. #1, at 2; Doc. #7-5, at 2.
December 12, 2013, Petitioner, proceeding pro se, sought
post-conviction relief in Missouri state court. Doc. #7-6, at
8-14. With the assistance of counsel, an amended
motion was filed on July 10, 2014, alleging ineffective
assistance of counsel. Doc. #7-6, at 15-31. After an
evidentiary hearing on June 30, 2015, Petitioner's
amended motion was denied. Doc. #7-7; Doc. #7-6, at 31-36.
Petitioner appealed to the Missouri Court of Appeals, but
later voluntarily dismissed her appeal. Doc. #1, at 6; Doc.
#7-8. The Missouri Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal, and
issued its mandate on May 4, 2016. Doc. #7-9.
April 18, 2017, Petitioner filed a petition for writ of
habeas corpus. Doc. #1. She asserts claims based upon alleged
ineffective assistance of trial. Doc. #1, at 16. Respondent
opposes Petitioner's request for a writ of habeas corpus.
Doc. #7. After Petitioner failed to timely file her reply,
the Court directed Petitioner to file a reply by no later
than September 1, 2017. Doc. #8. On September 1, 2017,
Petitioner filed a “Notice.” Doc. #9. Therein,
Petitioner's counsel states he “can find no
authority to refute claims…about the timeliness of the
petition, and does not believe there is a credible argument
to be made for equitable tolling….” Id.
Thus, Petitioner's counsel believed “the filing of
a traverse would be of no additional benefit to the
Court.” Id. Petitioner's request for a
writ of habeas corpus is now ripe for consideration.