STATE ex rel. STEPHANIE WINDEKNECHT, Petitioner,
ANGELA MESMER, Respondent. STATE ex rel. JOSHUA HOLMAN, Petitioner,
JENNIFER SACHSE, Respondent. STATE ex rel. SUMMER ROBINSON, Petitioner,
ANGELA MESMER, Respondent. STATE ex rel. SCARLETT R. ADAMS, Petitioner,
ANGELA MESMER, Respondent.
PROCEEDINGS IN HABEAS CORPUS
Windeknecht, Joshua Holman, Summer Robinson, and Scarlett R.
Adams (collectively, "Petitioners") were each
charged pursuant to section 570.030.3(1) with a class C
felony for stealing property worth $500 dollars or more but
less than $25, 000 dollars. Each pleaded guilty and was
sentenced to either six or seven years' imprisonment
based on the felony classification. Petitioners, who are each
still incarcerated,  now seek habeas corpus relief, relying on
this Court's decision in State v. Bazell, 497
S.W.3d 263 (Mo. banc 2016) (per curiam). Petitioners claim
they were sentenced in excess of the maximum sentence
authorized by law because the offense of stealing is a class
A misdemeanor that could not have been enhanced to a felony
pursuant to the statute then in effect. Habeas relief is
times relevant to Petitioners' claims, section 570.030.1
provided: "A person commits the crime of stealing if he
or she appropriates property or services of another with the
purpose to deprive him or her thereof, either without his or
her consent or by means of deceit or coercion." Section
570.030.9 provided: "Any violation of this section for
which no other penalty is specified in this section is a
class A misdemeanor." However, section 570.030.3(1),
pursuant to which Petitioners were charged and convicted,
provided: "Notwithstanding any other provision of law,
any offense in which the value of property or services is an
element is a class C felony if . . . [t]he value of the
property or services appropriated is five hundred dollars or
more but less than twenty-five thousand dollars[.]"
2012, the court of appeals addressed a direct appeal wherein
the appellant argued the offense of stealing could not be
enhanced to a class C felony pursuant to section 570.030.3
because "the value of the property or services"
simply is not an element of the offense of stealing as
defined by section 570.030.1 - and thus the stealing
conviction had to be classified as a class A misdemeanor.
State v. Passley, 389 S.W.3d 180, 182-83 (Mo. App.
2012), abrogated by Bazell, 497 S.W.3d at 267 n.3.
The court of appeals rejected this argument in
Passley, holding it would lead "to the absurd
and illogical result that the legislature chose to amend the
stealing statute to provide an enhanced punishment for some
other offense or offenses but not for the offense [of
stealing] mentioned in that very statute." Id.
at 184. Transfer of Passley to this Court was not
sought. Four years later, this Court considered the same
argument for the first time. See Bazell, 497 S.W.3d
at 266-67. In Bazell, this Court came to the
opposite conclusion of the court of appeals in
Stealing is defined in section 570.030.1 as
"appropriat[ing] property or services of another with
the purpose to deprive him or her thereof, either without his
consent or by means of deceit or coercion." The value of
the property or services appropriated is not an element of
the offense of stealing. . . . .
Here, there is no need to resort to tools of interpretation
because the language of section 570.030.3 is clear. We cannot
know why the legislature, in 2002, decided to amend section
570.030.3 to add the requirement that only offenses for which
"the value of property or services is an element"
may be enhanced to a felony, but this is what the legislature
clearly and unambiguously did. As a result, section 570.030.3
does not apply here. Defendant's offenses must be
classified as misdemeanors because they cannot be enhanced to
felonies by the terms of section 570.030.3.
Id. (footnotes omitted). This Court also stated
Passley "should no longer be followed."
Id. at 267 n.3.
this Court in State v. Smith, 522 S.W.3d 221 (Mo.
banc 2017), reaffirmed its holding in Bazell. In
rejecting the State's argument that this Court's
holding in Bazell was limited to a felony
enhancement made pursuant to section 570.030.3(3), this Court
This argument misconstrues the holding of Bazell and
the structure of section 570.030. Bazell's
analysis regarding the applicability of section 570.030.3 to
the offense of stealing does not depend on which particular
enhancement provision is at issue. Instead, Bazell
looked at the definition of the offense of stealing in
section 570.030.1 and held that, because the definition does
not contain as an element "the value of property or
services, " "section 570.030.3 does not apply
here." Bazell draws no distinction among the
numerous subcategories enumerated within section 570.030.3.
Furthermore, the structure of the statute compels this
conclusion because, unless the offense contains the value of
property or services as an element, section 570.030.3, in its
entirety, cannot be used to enhance the offense to a felony.
To argue one of the subcategories for enhancement under
section 570.030.3 can be used to supply the value element for
an offense otherwise lacking that element is flawed and
circular reasoning. Appropriation of property or services
worth more than $500 may be charged as a felony under section
570.030.3(1) only if the underlying offense contains
as an element "the value of property or services."
[Furthermore, ] Judge Stith's [dissenting] opinion
understates the importance of this operative language in the
introductory clause of section 570.030.3. This language
conditions the application of all the subdivisions
enumerated below it-including section 570.030.3(1)-on the
presence of a value element in the offense for which
enhancement is sought. In other words, enhancement pursuant
to one of those subdivisions is available
"if" "the value of property or
services" is an element. According to this plain and
unambiguous statutory language, an offense must contain the
"value" element before considering whether
additional facts justifying enhancement under one of the