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Crider v. State

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Southern District, Second Division

October 23, 2017

CLEAT CRIDER, Movant-Appellant,
v.
STATE OF MISSOURI, Respondent-Respondent.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF PHELPS COUNTY Honorable William E. Hickle, Judge

          WILLIAM W. FRANCIS, JR., J.

         Cleat Crider ("Crider"), appeals the judgment of the motion court denying his Rule 29.15[1]motion to set aside his conviction for statutory sodomy in the first degree, for which he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. In one point, Crider asserts the motion court clearly erred in denying his Rule 29.15 motion because trial counsel was ineffective for failing to notify the trial court of juror nondisclosure prior to the hearing on Crider's motion for new trial. Because the motion court's decision to deny the post-conviction motion was not clearly erroneous, we affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         In reciting the facts of this matter, we view the evidence in the light most favorable to the motion court's judgment. Day v. State, 495 S.W.3d 773, 774 (Mo.App. S.D. 2016).

         Crider sexually abused a 13-year-old girl ("Victim"), nearly every day from April 2004 to May 2005. In early December 2004, T.D., a friend of Victim's sister, witnessed Crider sexually assault Victim. T.D. later reported the incident and the police were contacted. T.D. gave a statement to police about the incident in May 2005.

         Crider was charged with the unclassified felony of statutory sodomy in the first degree. See § 566.062, RSMo 2000.[1] A jury trial was held on January 21, 2009.

         During voir dire, the prosecutor asked whether anyone on the panel was "familiar with [T.D.]?" The prosecutor indicated that her last name had changed, and gave the new last name to the panel. No members of the panel responded affirmatively.

         The State put on the testimony of Victim and T.D. in its case in chief, and both described Crider's sexual abuse of Victim. Crider did not testify or put on any evidence. The jury found Crider guilty of first-degree statutory sodomy.

         On February 3, 2009, Crider called trial counsel and indicated that the jury foreperson, Juror D.B., knew T.D.'s father. Crider gave trial counsel the names of two former employees of Juror D.B., and said they would know more about the relationship between Juror D.B. and T.D.'s father. Trial counsel passed those names to the defense investigator, who interviewed both former employees.

         Those interviews yielded the following information: Juror D.B. "might have been in the area[]" when the two former employees discussed newspaper accounts of Crider's arrest; that T.D.'s father had some appliances repaired by Juror D.B.'s business; and that T.D.'s father and Juror D.B. had "typical interaction[s] that you have [in] running a business."

         On February 9, 2009, defense investigator contacted Juror D.B. Juror D.B. came to trial counsel's office. He was "upset" because he "felt that he had performed his duties as a juror, and, in fact, went against the other jurors who wanted to convict [Crider] just based on his appearance[.]" Juror D.B. had opposed that and "wanted [the other jurors] to look at the facts[]" of the case. T.D.'s last name was different from her father's, and Juror D.B. did not deduce that T.D. and her father were related until sometime during the trial.

         Juror D.B. said he had fired the two former employees in question because they had smoked "pot" in his place of business. In contrast, Crider said the two former employees were friends, and Juror D.B. had fired them both after one of them had missed too much work. Trial counsel evaluated this information and believed that "either way, they appeared to be disgruntled employees, or it may have affected their credibility and believability with what they were telling me, which was already just general information, not specific information." The investigation did not indicate that Juror D.B. and T.D.'s father had discussed the case, or that Juror D.B. knew anything more than general knowledge about the case. There was no information to indicate that Juror D.B. "had any kind of relationship with [T.D.] prior to trial[.]"

         At the conclusion of the week-long investigation, trial counsel spoke with the district defender about the investigation and whether ...


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